By Lia Jonsson

Although there is never a shortage (at least in my world) of interesting things to read, it seems that the last few weeks have brought even more than the usual number of “good reads” to my inbox; I also have a stack of “real” books awaiting my attention.

This week, I’d like to pass on a few of the best:

On Schools, Students and Teachers – and the Possibilities

  • Many of us believe the old adage: “If they grow it or cook it, they will eat it.” Generations of children in this country and throughout the world have grown up this way – helping to grow and cook their own food. The concept works as well for teaching children how to prepare omelettes as it does for grilling steaks, eating salads or baking cookies. And the skills last a lifetime. Luckily, more and more families and educators once again have discovered the benefits of gardening as a teaching tool, and “DIY” as a life lesson. You may already have discovered the Grow Your Lunch website and blog. If not, it’s definitely worth visiting – for the fun of reading about various successful projects and because its well-written blog is chock full of good info and worth visiting on a regular basis.
  • Another “success story” that I found online tells the experience of one public school in Queens, New York, that has seen a dramatic rise in student engagement, health and test scores since implementing a fully vegetarian school lunch I was fascinated by the story, did a bit more research and am passing it on as one possible solution to the issue faced by many schools — providing meals that stimulate learning, encourage health and actually taste good. Not that I advocate a vegetarian diet for everyone – but it’s an idea worth exploring for a healthy in-school meal for our kids. Do you agree?

I also have found several fascinating books:

  • My current favorite (and I’m salivating over some of the included recipes) is “The Sacred Cookbook,” by Nick Polizzi. The book chronicles this filmmaker’s journeys in Peru’s Amazon rainforest, and notes the role of indigenous plants in cultural traditions and diets. Polizzi then expanded the focus with recipes adapted from other remote cultures, noting their historic uses and powers. Note that the subtitle is “Forgotten Healing Recipes of the Ancients.” If you are interested in viewing the film that Polizzi produced, or in buying the book, visit his website HERE.

I’ll be writing more about some of the healing ingredients from this book and others, but to whet your appetite, here’s a recipe for Amazon Roasted Fish that is totally doable right here in North Texas. I hope you’ll try it.

You will need:

4 whole small fish: Sea Bass, Trout or Tilapia are good choices
Lemon juice, plus 12 thin fresh lemon slices (substitute orange or lime for variety, if you wish)
4 sprigs fresh thyme or oregano
4 large banana leaves; you can also substitute corn cob leaves; or use oiled foil to wrap the fish.
8 toothpicks soaked in water
1 Tbsp. olive oil
Salt & Pepper to taste

This one is so simple, it can hardly be called a recipe: Mix the herbs, oil and a bit of citrus juice in a bowl. Season the outside of the fish with salt & pepper and brush both sides with the lemon/oil mixture. Place each fish on a banana leaf or its foil packet. Top with lemon slices and wrap the fish well, securing the leaves with toothpicks.

Grill the packets for 4 to 6 minutes on each side. Take care unwrapping the fish.

These would be good served with simple grilled vegetables, or perhaps with baked sweet potatoes and a fresh green salad. Keep it simple for summer, and you’ll have a healthy, nutritious meal ready for your family in just minutes.

Until next week . . .