Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Teacher Tuesday: On Food & Gratitude

As a child, I was always surprised when I heard people say that Thanksgiving was their favorite holiday. “But there aren’t any presents!” I would say with bemusement to my siblings, and we would wonder at the oddness of adults.

Now I get it. 

I love the anticipation leading up to Thanksgiving. My kids start texting their travel plans early in the month. I begin my list making – Family Favorite Recipes to Make, New Recipes to Try, Grocery Shopping for the 1st Week of November, Grocery Shopping for the 2nd Week, Grocery Shopping for the 3rd Week, Cooking Plans for the three days leading up to Thanksgiving, and Chores that Need to Get Done Before the Family Arrives. 

Every picture of a golden brown and glistening turkey makes my stomach rumble.  The aisles of the grocery stores are filled with amazing food items I want to try and incorporate into my Thanksgiving recipes.  Memories of the savory smells of sage, thyme, melted butter, and caramelized onions tantalize my mind as I try to stay focused on my daily responsibilities.

 My husband and I spend our evenings leading up to the family’s homecoming freshening up bedrooms and bathrooms, and shopping for new movies to watch late into the night with the kids. Prayers fill our quiet times – “God, please let all our loved ones stay healthy. Keep their cars running smoothly, and keep them safe as they’re driving home. Bless our time together with love and laughter and fun new memories. Teach us to be mindful of all Your blessings and let gratitude fill our home and hearts. Amen. And please don’t let the oven break down. Amen… again.”

A lot of the staff and students at Shepherds College share my love for this holiday, for all the delicious food shared with family & friends, and for a time set aside for purposeful gratitude.  

“Although I love the traditional turkey, stuffing, etc., the food I most look forward to is my wife Emilie’s sweet potato casserole. Her recipe isn’t topped with marshmallows, but is instead made with mashed sweet potatoes and a crunchy pecan and brown sugar topping. Yum!”  ~  Mr. Gaschke


“I’m so thankful for all the people at Shepherds College, the staff and students.”  ~ Kati, student

“I love a good stuffing. My father-in-law makes stuffing with Italian sausage and it is phenomenal. I also love gravy over everything!”  ~ Mr. DeCiccio

"My favorite food at Thanksgiving is green bean casserole. The thing I am thankful about at Shepherds College is that I am able to have the opportunity to grow in maturity and social skills. This school has made a huge positive impact on my life."  ~ Suzanne, student

“My FAVORITE food for Thanksgiving is my Grandma’s green bean casserole!! It’s a secret family recipe so I can’t share it… all I can tell you is that it is amazing!
I am thankful for the growth I have seen in the students this semester. They have worked very hard!”  ~ Mrs. Kolkman


“I love the devil’s food cake and apple cider. I’m thankful for all the friends and staff members who love me at Shepherds College.”  ~ Anthony, student

“My favorite Thanksgiving food is turkey, crock-pot stuffing and my aunt’s sweet potato casserole.
I have so much to be thankful for – my hard-working and creative staff, the opportunity to teach On and For a Purpose, and the students’ growth toward Appropriate Independence.”  ~ Miss Houk


“I love French Silk Pie! I’m thankful for the Academic Advisors.”  ~ Megan, student

 “The foods I look forward to the most on Thanksgiving – turkey, mashed potatoes, deviled eggs and pumpkin pie! I am so thankful that my students make me laugh!”  ~ Mrs. Luchterhand


“My favorite Thanksgiving food is homemade rolls. I am thankful for my friends.”  ~ Katherine, student


“I love mashed potatoes! I think they’re delicious!
I’m thankful for the great conversations I’ve had with the students while driving this semester. I love when they open up and feel comfortable sharing what is going on in their lives with me!”  ~ Mrs. Patton


“My favorite food is sweet potatoes. I’m thankful for friends who love me so much.”  ~ Andrew, student

 “I’m thankful for the students’ enthusiasm. It’s a great feeling to be greeted with so much joy and energy!”  ~ Mrs. Konopasek

“My favorite food is green bean casserole and I’m thankful for all the fun outings we go on at Shepherds College.”  ~ Krista, student

 “I’m looking forward to Elegant Farmer’s brown bag, caramel apple pie.
“I’m thankful that I work with such a high caliber, creative, passionate and caring group of people, and I’m thankful for the impact the students have made in my life.”  ~ Mr. Canright

"My favorite food is Pumpkin Cheesecake. I'm thankful for my Academic Advisor, Miss Pollard. She has helped steer me in the right direction of how I'm supposed to be acting and following the rules."  ~ Jonathan, student

“I am thankful for all my students and the joy, diversity, and energy they bring into my life!! They are all wonderful, and I’m thankful to have a small part in their lives.”  ~ Miss Pollard


“Turkey and pumpkin pie! I’m thankful I can be at Shepherds College.”  ~ Alex, student

“I love plain sweet potatoes without brown sugar or marshmallows on top. I think they are so delicious just the way they are. I like to savor the flavor, with maybe just a little butter, but it’s not required to enjoy!
I’m thankful coming in on Sunday evenings to be with the first-year ladies as the overnight person. It is so refreshing to see them outside of the academic arena and have time to just talk to them.”  ~ Mrs. Harvey

“My parents are coming for Thanksgiving so I’m hosting for the first time! I’m most looking forward to potatoes – mashed and sweet! My husband Matt is looking forward to the HUGE turkey my parents are lugging all the way from New York, and pumpkin cheesecake!
I am thankful for two things – the support of my supervisors and the way that God continually uses Shepherds College to sanctify me, to make me more like Him. I think I often forget that God has me here to accomplish His own will within me, not just so I can serve.”  ~ Mrs. Cyr

Mr. Wright's favorite Thanksgiving dishes.

From the Shepherds College family to yours –
We pray that you find love reflected in each face seated around your table, that you find joy in the memory of each precious face that is no longer there, and that each morsel of delicious food, each beloved family tradition, and each moment of shared happiness ultimately serves to bring you closer to the One who provided it all.

Have a Blessed & Happy Thanksgiving!

Shepherds College - Guiding Your Transition to Appropriate Independence. Please visit us at www.shepherdscollege.edu.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

On Bread Alone

Do you remember the Food Pyramid and the massive block of carbs that filled the entire base? It allowed us to feed our children spongy white bread, mac ‘n’ cheese, SpaghettiOs, and chicken nuggets and feel pretty righteous about it.

Growing up, my little brother would eat a piece of white bread between two pieces of white bread and call it a bread sandwich. My mom would smile and say, “Well, we don’t have to worry about Stevie getting enough bread in his diet, do we?” In her eyes, and in the eyes of caring mothers everywhere, little Stevie was eating three of the required six to eleven servings of breads and grains.  The other three to eight servings would be consumed in large bowlfuls of Count Chocula cereal.

The Food Pyramid has gone through several evolutions throughout the last couple of decades. Each new version soon morphed into another hopefully clearer representation of a healthy American diet. 

But each version failed. 

Heart disease, strokes and obesity were on the rise, and Americans were more confused than ever about their diets.  One reason? Servings were mentioned, but serving sizes were obscure.

Then, in June of 2011, the USDA released a visual that all people can understand – a dinner plate. The plate was divided into serving sections representing healthy food groups – fruits, vegetables, grains, dairy and protein. They called this helpful diet planning tool MyPlate. 

MyPlate was designed so the average user could see at a glance that half of their plate should be filled with vegetables and fruit with the rest of the plate taken up by smaller amounts of grain, protein and dairy products. The interactive version on the website was programmed to allow the user to click each section to see pictures of what serving sizes for specific foods looked like.

It’s clear and it’s smart – just how we like to teach at Shepherds College.

Recently, I had the chance to visit Mrs. Pechous and her Daily Living Skills class. A student’s parents had donated 25 MyPlates to the school which gave Mrs. Pechous the perfect teaching opportunity to lead her first-year class in portion size and healthy eating. 

Mrs. Pechous started her class by having students work in pairs to identify foods from different food groups.

The students had pictures of various foods, and Mrs. Pechous instructed them to create a balanced meal using items from each of the food groups.

Mrs. Pechous also demonstrated portion sizes using the Helping Hands method:

Palm = serving of meat, fish, poultry (3-4 oz)
Fist = cereal, soup, casserole, fresh fruit, raw veggies, salad (1 cup)
Thumb = salad dressing, sour cream, cream cheese, peanut butter, hard cheese (1-2 Tbsp)
Thumbnail = butter, margarine, mayo, oil (1 tsp)
1 cupped hand = pasta, rice, beans, potatoes, cooked veggies, pudding, ice cream (1/2 cup)
2 cupped hands = chips, crackers, pretzels (1 ounce)

The students then had the opportunity to practice the skill in a real-life application. Each person was given a MyPlate plate and asked to make a salad, putting each ingredient in the proper amount in the correct food section.


In this R.E.A.L. lesson, the students learned that they can take a measure of control over their own health and well-being.  What a great way to empower the students in their lifetime of Appropriate Independence!

Shepherds College - Guiding Your Transition to Appropriate Independence. Please visit us at www.shepherdscollege.edu.