In Honduras, the Super Tortilla has helped give Henry a whole different childhood!
Getting my boys to eat vegetables has been a constant battle.
They’ve developed ingenious ways to ditch those veggies, smuggling them away from the table in jeans and hoodie pockets.
I’ve found carrots in their closets. Red pepper behind the sofa. And green beans in the washing machine, undetected by the trusting parent doing the laundry.
I used to panic about it. Vegetables are so critical to children’s health. But after years of stressing, I’ve come to realize that my sons are fine. At 16 and 12, they’re tall, strong and athletic. They have loads of energy and almost never get sick.
You see, I’ve learned to sneak vegetables into sauces, casseroles, and even my cakes and muffins. Secret Chocolate Cake, for instance, is loaded with grated zucchini and pureed beets – and no one is any the wiser!
Taking it to the field
It’s the kind of approach that World Vision is using in Honduras, where chronic malnutrition plagues one child out of every four. This number almost doubles in rural areas, where 34 per cent of kids will suffer from stunting.
Bring on the Super Tortilla! Families are fighting malnutrition in Honduras, with a new way of thinking about adding vegetables to the kids’ tortillas. Not rolled up inside, where they can be detected and avoided, but mashed into the actual dough.
These greens are used to make the “Super Tortilla” dough
Instead of making daily tortillas from corn alone, parents add local vegetables such as coyote squash stem, yucca, and chipilin. These pack the power of fibre, protein, calcium, iron, potassium, and a good serving of Vitamin C.
Nutritional experts taught parents to flavor their tortillas with oregano, basil and onions. The result? A tasty, portable staple, loaded with endless ingredients for health and growth.
To ensure families have those ingredients on hand, cultivators teach them how to grow a broader variety of vegetables and herbs in their gardens.
Blending in the goodness
The goodness doesn’t end with tortillas. Families are learning to blend these good things into other daily dishes, like soups and bread. Some parents are even making veggie drinks for their kids – and they’re noticing a real difference.
These green tortillas look delicious!
“There was a big change after we used the recipes,” says one mother, Birgilia. “After just twelve days we saw a change. The children started to gain weight. It is in our diet now. We eat these commonly. Now we don’t have malnourished children in our community.”
Eight-year-old Henry is healthy and strong today, because of foods like the Super Tortilla. When he was born, Henry was worryingly small. At age two, his mom took him to the local health centre, where he was diagnosed with malnutrition.
Today, Henry is a thriving, happy eight-year-old, thanks to foods like the Super Tortilla.
“He was very, very skinny and very, very small,” says Henry’s mother, Iris. I thought he would not be able to grow. He didn’t eat very much from the time he was born.”
Iris was trained by her friend Birgilia to cook differently. “I learned from Birgilia. Now I make tortilla, soup, drinks, tortillas with vegetables” she says.
The payoff is in the children
Today, Henry is nothing but smiles. “He’s not getting sick anymore,” says Iris. And looking his pictures, that’s easy to believe.
In another family, Francisco’s twin sons were tiny as babies, just like Henry was. “Then they started to eat the Super Tortilla,” their father remembers. “After that, the children were more awake. They were more active with more energy.”
Francisco and his two healthy twin boys, Freddy Mauricio and Freddy Onan.
Cooking with additional vegetables has made Francisco’s tortillas healthier, improved his sons' health, and that of many more children throughout their community.
Lessons for a Canadian mom
Reading about these parents in Honduras, I’ve realized that there’s a whole world of ways to sneak vegetables into children. How many may have I been missing?
I’ve picked up some special tortilla flour, and am looking forward to spending this weekend experimenting in my kitchen with different vegetables. The Super Tortilla looks easy to make, and so much fun, that I daresay my kids will be first in line to try. They may even come up with their own variations!
My dream is that young people will not only thrive today, but that they’ll grow up loving the taste, the ease and the payoff of adding vegetables to unsuspecting dishes. Hail the Super Tortilla.