Shannon had me laying on a basketball court, coloring veggies.
That’s not easy to do. If you know anything about me, it’s much easier to believe I’d lay on a basketball court, coloring dinosaurs. Or football helmets. Or pictures of pizza. The veggies? That’s the surprising part.
Shannon Bourret is Healthy Eating Specialist at Whole Foods Market. I met her during her visit to Red Ventures during the Bounce out the Stigma basketball camp. She asked the kids to draw what appeared on their dinner plates the night before.
She encouraged them to use all the colors they could. She also invited them to color in items they could add to balance out their meals healthily.
Any good coach or teacher will realize the power in teaching through fun.
Please welcome Shannon as the latest woman featured in the #GirlsRock series, dedicated to shining a spotlight on girls doing cool stuff in our world.
SB: When I was little, my ideal future career changed every day! I wanted to be everything from a teacher, a lawyer, a nurse, a chef and a mom. I grew up with two older brothers so I was always that really annoying little sister who wanted to be just like them! So, I played any and every sport I could- soccer, basketball, softball, volleyball, tennis, track… everything.
When I was a senior in high school, I remember finding out that I could major in exercise science! I thought, ‘Oh my goodness! Other people like this stuff as much as I do?!’ So, I got my Bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology and my Master’s in Exercise Science. Obviously, you learn quite quickly when you are so active how much your diet affects your performance. So, nutrition was always something that I had an interest in!
My grandfather and father have always been in the restaurant business so I was in the kitchen at an early age. I even remember pretending to host my own cooking show when I was in elementary school! To this day, whenever I’m with my family there is nothing I love more than cooking with them.
CD: What’s one great dish you’ve made with your family, and maybe one that didn’t pan out?
When I think about cooking with my family, the first dish that comes to mind is pasta! My dad is a pasta master! Whenever I visit them and we cook, we never follow a recipe and basically throw our entire vegetable stash and spice cabinet into the mix. It has kind of become joke that we just open all of the cabinets and ask, “What else would be good?”. We just taste and adjust along the way.
Basically, you will never have the same dish twice with us! Although, it has gotten interesting lately since I have stopped eating meat and cooking with oil. Those are like my dad’s two favorite food groups!
When it comes to a dish that didn’t turn out well… umm pretty much any baking project I try to take on takes a left turn somewhere along the way! I hate following recipes and precisely measuring out ingredients! I’m much more of a ‘throw stuff in until it tastes good’ kind of girl. Cooking and baking are two totally different beasts. Needless to say, I am very thankful for no-bake desserts!
CD: A lot of people think healthy eating means goodbye, delicious. Tell us how that’s just not true.
SB: Oh, great question! That is a very common misconception! Plant-based foods are absolutely glorious in their pure, natural form! Without all of the extra fat and processed flavors masking them, you get to taste the actual food! If you think about it, most people’s taste preference these days favor three things: sugar, fat and salt. But it really is amazing how the more whole, unprocessed foods you eat, the more your palate will change.
And there are SO many ways to add flavor to your dishes to really bring them to life without the use of added oils and salt. My two secret weapons are fresh herbs and citrus juice. For a Mexican inspired dish, add some cilantro and a squeeze of lime juice. Going Italian for the night? Add some fresh parsley or rosemary and bit of lemon juice. The meal will immediately brighten up! But if you’re really wanting to up the ante, go for a raw, vegan dessert!
CD: You get to teach kids about nutrition as part of your job. What’s that like for you?
SB: This is one of my biggest passions! I adore children and absolutely love when I get the opportunity to talk with them about healthy eating. I do a lot of store tours for schools, home-school families, girl scout troops, etc. which is a great way for them to learn more about where their food comes from. I think it’s so important for kids to make that connection and learn that carrots actually don’t come perfectly round with pretty, little ridges on them.
I, also, get to go to schools and give presentations to students like “How to Eat a Rainbow,” which helps them learn the importance of eating a wide variety of fruits and vegetables in order to get a broad spectrum of nutrients for their growing and developing bodies. I do Kids’ Clubs at the stores, too, which has a different focus every time. We read stories, do crafts and the kids make their own snacks.
I think it is so imperative that children get into the kitchen and actually help make their meals and snacks! That helps them to have more ownership over their food and they have vetted interest in what they eat. Working with kids is absolutely one of the most rewarding parts of my job!
CD: Shannon, thanks so much for taking the time to talk with us. What advice would you give girls about finding a job they love?
Finding a job that you love is so incredibly important! I just can’t even imagine getting up every morning and heading off to a job I hated. My best advice is to follow your passion! Determine what it is that you really love to do. For me, that’s cooking, being physically active and learning about health and wellness.
Do you find yourself drawing in your free time? Look into becoming a graphic designer! Do you love decorating and re-arranging your room? Consider interior decorating! There are so many careers out there, some I can guarantee you have never even heard of yet! So follow your heart, follow your passion and the job will come.