Hollie Greene is a friend and fellow real-food advocate, which is why I’m thrilled to feature her as a #52NewFoods Tastemaker.
Hollie Greene is a featured blogger in our ongoing #52NewFoods series on Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution. If you haven’t already tried Hollie’s #52NewFoods-inspired recipes, be sure to check out her Sweet Potato and Kohlrabi Fritters and her Pomegranate Chia Pudding. Both recipes are delicious ways to add a few new good-for-you foods to your table.
In her weekly video series, The Joyful12®, she gives parents and kids the inspiration to cook something new together each week. As you can imagine, I was thrilled with this idea! It’s exactly what I’m trying to inspire each week with The 52 New Foods Challenge. Hollie’s Barnraiser campaign is her latest move to make food education more accessible to families, starting in California. I hope you’ll check it out and support her great work.
Q. Describe your family food philosophy.
A. My philosophy starts and ends with joy. Enjoying and sharing good food with loved ones is essential to living a good life. As a child, my mom was so in love with her food, I don’t think we even knew we had a choice to not like it! She made food fun just by her attitude and confidence as a great cook. My entire family loves to share food. They reach over and grab things off each other’s plates. I grew up thinking food was a fun ceremony with your family clan, including the dogs under the table.
After teaching thousands of kids how to cook and love vegetables and fruits, my philosophy also began to include exploring without fear. Food is an adventure. If you’re a pickier eater that adventure can be scarier, but it can still be fun and full of sensory delights. I have learned over time to adore cauliflower (especially roasted), love exploring sushi (sea urchin is wild!), and have discovered an appreciation for spicy foods.
Q. What inspired you to create JoyFoodly?
A. JoyFoodly has been my dream ever since I graduated from the French Culinary Institute in New York City six years ago. After teaching 2,000 public school children in New York and California through my work with non-profit programs such as Wellness in the Schools, The Sylvia Center, and the California Healthy Kids Initiative, I knew that if I wanted to truly reach our entire country, I was going to have to think bigger about how I could help bring the joy of good food to every American family’s dinner table.
My first JoyFoodly online program was born this year called the Joyful 12. It’s my yearlong online crash course in seasonal eating that gets parents cooking at home by teaching vegetable and fruit preparation skills that are missing in many families’ kitchens. My goal in creating the Joyful 12 was to make learning how to cook vegetables and fruits not only pleasurable, but also economical, easy, and readily accessible.
Q. What are your top tips for getting kids engaged in the kitchen?
A. I have three principles I share with parents for every recipe in my Joyful 12 Kitchen Learning Lab that are meant to help them engage their kids in the kitchen.
1) Yum Up Your Food: If you want to help children learn to eat well and explore new foods, role modeling that you’re happy to try and to eat those same foods is the first step.
2) Become a Food Explorer: Exciting kids to eat a variety of foods is a great adventure that will last a lifetime. It won’t happen overnight! Great explorers never give up! It may take multiple times of exposing your child to a new food before they like it. Don’t force your kids to eat (but do remind them of your expectations).
3) Taste More, Talk Less: Food is all about pleasure. Smell foods, touch them, and taste them together. Talk about them! Engage your kids with all of their senses instead of just talking about what health benefits we’d get from eating that food.
Q. What is the most important piece of advice you give to parents trying to change the way their families eat?
A. Redefine what success looks like! There’s so much pressure on parents today to have all the answers. Kids are unique, and no matter how great your efforts, they will learn at their own pace and many times even if they are absorbing and accepting new foods, they may not give you positive cues, but you have to trust that every seed you are planting around balanced and nourishing eating habits are growing and working. What I tell parents is that getting your child to love a new food is actually the stretch goal. What’s more important than that is making sure food interactions are all positive building blocks for taking the fear out of trying new foods.
Q. What did you get out of The 52 New Foods Challenge?
A. I love the way you turned your food role from dictator to facilitator in your family. When I read where you wrote, “facile, means ‘easy’ in French,” I smiled. As a chef and educator, I always see my role as a facilitator—create a space that can excite and inspire, keep the class on track and focused so we can create a beautiful result in the time we have, and lastly to probe and help facilitate the ability for kids (and adults!) to build confidence in their own abilities and take away from each sensory experience what they want to learn. By becoming a facilitator in your home and using a points system to help empower your kids to not only see trying new foods as fun but also by giving them tools they can apply when you’re not around, I think you’ve created a genius method that millions of parents would gladly adopt. Onward and upward food facilitators!