Fun With Food

Before the kids head back to school, let's have a little fun with our food.  Since food is made of many different compounds and elements, there are many experiments we can do with food.  Here are a few to get the kids thinking about science before going back to school.  

Of course there is the popular Mentos and Diet Cola experiment, which is just plain fun, and messy.  If you try this, be sure to do it outside and have a hose nearby to wash away the soda after the geyser. Yes, geyser!  The Mentos candies cause the carbon dioxide to attach to the Mentos instead of being in the diet soda and as a result the Mentos at the bottom of the diet soda bottle causes the soda to be pushed out of the top of the bottle in a geyser.  

Mixing vinegar with baking soda is another fun chemical reaction.  Vinegar is a common ingredient in salad dressings and baking soda is added in many baked goods, such as cookies, to help them rise up.  Here the vinegar is acidic and the baking soda is basic, so when mixed they create a acid-base reaction that decomposes into carbon dioxide and water all while creating an eruption similar to a volcano.  

Another fun experiment is two fill two vases each about three quarters full with water.  You will also need to two oranges, one peeled and one not.  Will both oranges float?  Will the oranges sink?  The reason why one will sink and one will float lies within the peel of the orange!  The orange peel displaces enough water to make the orange buoyant and to float.  Another comparable example is with people... we sink in water; however, when we wear lifejackets, we will float.  The orange peel works like a lifejacket!

Enzymes are part of every living creature and plant.  Enzymes play important roles in breaking down other compounds.  For example, our bodies produce enzymes that break down nutrients in our foods.  Prepare a packet of Jell-O according to package directions and divide into three bowls. Next add raw pineapple to one bowl, canned pineapple to another, and strawberries to the last bowl.  Place the bowls in the refrigerator.   Which Jell-O sets properly?  Raw pineapple contains an enzyme called bromelain which prevents the Jell-O from setting.  When pineapple is canned, it is heated up and that makes the enzyme inactive so it does not affect the Jell-O.  For the last bowl, strawberries do not contain bromelain so the Jell-O sets normally, just like with the canned pineapple.  Yum!

If you have younger kids and worry about them eating the Play-Doh, mix 1 cup Our Family powdered milk, 1 cup Our Family smooth peanut butter, and 1 tablespoon Our Family honey in a bowl and stir until combined.  After mixing, this dough can be molded and squished just like Play-Doh and is safe if eaten.  

Lastly, try this recipe to make a Layered Lemonade.  The various sugar to water ratio mixtures in each layer allows for the layers to lay on top of one another.  Each different layer has a different density which allows for the layers to be created.  

Layered Lemonade
Recipe from:  Andrea Hawksley  

Ingredients

Fresh squeezed lemon juice
Simple syrup, prepared at home or purchased at the supermarket in the liquor section; simple syrup does not contain alcohol!
Food coloring of choice
Water

Instructions
You will need 7 cups.  Fill each cup with 4 ounces or 1/2 cup of water.  Next add the following, each to a different cup.  
    Add to cup #1:  5 tsp. lemon juice, 8 tsp. simple syrup
    Add to cup #2:  3 tsp. lemon juice, 5 tsp. simple syrup
    Add to cup #3:  2 tsp. lemon juice, 3 tsp. simple syrup
    Add to cup #4:  1 tsp. lemon juice, 2 tsp. simple syrup
    Add to cup #5:  1 tsp. lemon juice, 1 tsp. simple syrup
    Add to cup #6:  1 tsp. simple syrup
    Add to cup #7:  1 tsp. lemon juice

Stir to blend the ingredients in each cup.
Starting with cup #1, slowly pour a layer from each cup into your drink glass. You want to pour directly onto an ice cube, the ice cubes are there to slow down your liquid as it goes down the cup and to help keep the layers distinct.   Enjoy!

Have a great rest of your summer and fun with food!


Stephanie Edson Wellness Specialist SpartanNash Company
Stephanie Edson Regional Wellness Specialist, MS, RDN, LD, LMNT

Stephanie is an award-winning registered dietitian who believes in empowering every individual to make nutritious food choices to support a healthy lifestyle. She believes in the power of food as medicine and loves sharing about nutrition with others.