Integrative Nutrition Blog

IIN Grad Cara Buffalino-Silman Helps Children Discover a Love for Healthy Eating, One Class at a Time

January 16, 2015

Happy National Health Coach Week! To celebrate, we’re featuring inspiring stories of Health Coaches who are doing amazing work in their homes, workplaces, schools, and communities. Today we’re excited to feature Cara Buffalino-Silman, Class of 2012! She’s taking over our Instagram account today – follow along here to see what she’s up to!

Perhaps the most heart-breaking aspect of the current health crisis is how it’s affecting our children. One in three American kids is overweight or obese, and the incidence of high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and elevated cholesterol among children is skyrocketing.

Enter Cara Buffalino-Silman, Class of 2012. This Integrative Nutrition graduate has made it her life’s work to instill a love of healthy eating in children. Her weapon of choice? Cooking classes! Cara is the founder of Freshmade NYC, a kid’s cooking school and event space in New York City. Freshmade fosters a love for healthy eating and nutritious foods through creative, hands-on classes.

Read below to hear how Cara got her start, why cooking is so important, and how she makes healthy eating fun!

On enrolling at Integrative Nutrition: Prior to enrolling at Integrative Nutrition, I was managing a restaurant that my husband and I owned. I managed Vero Wine Bar for four years until the birth of my daughter in 2008. She was the inspiration behind Freshmade NYC.

I had heard about Integrative Nutrition through a few friends. While the idea for Freshmade was being developed, Integrative Nutrition kept coming to me through different friends and online ads. I knew it was my next step.

On the inspiration for Freshmade: There are many cooking schools in Manhattan for children. However, we are the only one that focuses on teaching kids the importance of eating whole foods. While many of the other schools bake cookies and cupcakes, we make mostly vegetarian and vegan meals and use organic ingredients. I love to try to get as many colors as I can into every meal. We are big on promoting eating a rainbow of colors to our little chefs. We also are the only child-friendly catering company with healthy options that I know of.

On the importance of learning to cook: I grew up in the restaurant business and some of my fondest memories are cooking with my dad and my grandmother. I spent a lot of time in the kitchen with them and learned many family recipes. Learning to cook at a young age not only gave me a great sense of healthy eating, but it helped develop pride, self-esteem and confidence. 

To me that wealth of experience is priceless. Not only has it created this passion in me for food and cooking, but it has led me to create this business so that I can help young children also maybe find that passion for food and healthy living. Who knows? Maybe I am grooming the next Top Chef!

On making cooking fun: When working with young kids in the kitchen, our motto is "healthy minds, healthy bodies."  We pride ourselves on our amazing book wall that is filled with stories all about food and the environment.  We find it helpful for our youngest chefs to make the connection between food and the love of reading through entertaining narratives.

On spreading a ripple effect: Not only has Integrative Nutrition changed my own diet, but it has changed my family’s as well. I have been able to help my father manage his diabetes, help my mother make better food choices, and inspire friends to eat clean. And course, I inspire families and children every day to eat better through my classes.

Parents always comment to us how happy they are that their children are more open to trying new things after a semester with us. Many of them are cooking at home with their children now and eating together as a family. It's an honor to be able to provide a kitchen for other young, budding chefs to develop a lifelong love of food and mindful eating.

Connect with Cara

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