Veggie Pizza: When Pizza is a Vegetable (52 New Foods, Week 29)

Posted by Jennifer Lee on July 16, 2012 0 Comments
veggie pizza


Veggie pizza grown from our school garden will certainly challenge the debate that pizza is a vegetable.

Our school lunch menu listed “pizza” as one of the menu items this week. I was jumping for joy (and so were my kids). After the fierce debate about Congress declaring pizza a vegetable this year, why would I be cheering? Because this wasn’t your regular school pizza! With ingredients grown and harvested from our school garden – beets, onions, basil, oregano and fresh tomatoes – my food explorers harvested and cooked a delicious and healthy veggie pizza that we all happily enjoyed.

Pizza is a Vegetable (When it’s Garden Grown)

veggie pizza school garden


Running down the shaded, tree-lined path, the roosters beckoned us to join them in their playground. Nestled like a jewel in a sun drenched clearing at the bottom of a gentle hill was our school garden – an outdoor classroom of sorts where my kids and their friends happily tend to a cornucopia of fruits and vegetables and enjoy getting their hands dirty learning how to grow and harvest their own food. Today was a particularly special day. Gathered around the weather-worn picnic tables were hungry friends and teachers, ready for a feast. To celebrate the end of week’s worth of hard work in the garden, the children were preparing a lunchtime meal worthy of Outstanding in the Field.

Veggie Pizza

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes
Makes one medium pizza, about 8 slices

Ingredients:
Use whatever fresh veggies are growing in your garden. This week we used:
2 large beets, steamed and chopped
1 medium tomato, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1 bunch oregano
1 Tbsp olive oil
Homemade tomato sauce
Fresh pizza dough

Directions:

1) Harvest your vegetables. Use whatever is growing in your garden and add veggies from the local farmers’ market if you need extra. Tomatoes, onions, beets, basil and oregano were the features in our school garden this week.

veggie pizza garden

veggie pizza harvest

2) Spread the fresh pizza dough onto a baking sheet.

3) Add olive oil and homemade tomato sauce as your base.

4) Add the chopped veggies.

5) Sprinkle lightly with shredded mozzarella.

6) Bake in a 400 degree oven for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the edges of the crust are slightly browned. 

7) Enjoy!

veggie pizza enjoy

Crunch a Color Kids Vote: Delicious!

What we liked: Gathering friends together to enjoy harvesting and cooking fresh garden veggies is one of our favorite summer activities. Enjoying veggie pizza together made it even more fun! To our absolute delight, we gobbled up the beets (a vegetable even I have had a notoriously hard time with!). With a bounty of garden fresh veggies on our pizza, we think you’ll agree that our version of pizza is a vegetable. 

* What are your favorite veggies to feature on your pizza?

Craving more new recipes to try? Catch up on last week’s recipe: Watermelon Popsicles with a Twist (of Lime).

About the author: Jennifer Tyler Lee is a mom of two children and the creator of Crunch a Color™ -- the award-winning game that makes healthy eating fun. Like most parents, she struggled to get her kids to eat healthy, balanced meals, so she decided to make it into a healthy eating game. Watch her picky eaters tell the story of how they turned into healthy eaters playing the game. Follow @crunchacolor on Facebook Twitter and Pinterest to tune into Crunch a Color's healthy eating adventure and Jennifer’s tips and kid-friendly, easy recipes. Crunch a Color™ is a proud supporter of non-profit kids' nutrition programs including Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution and FoodCorps. Available at www.crunchacolor.com and in stores nationwide at Pottery Barn Kids.

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Cool It: Watermelon Popsicles with a Twist (52 New Foods, Week 28)

Posted by Jennifer Lee on July 15, 2012 1 Comment

watermelon popsicles with a twist of lime 

A summer heat wave inspired us to chill out and make a frosty treat: watermelon popsicles with a twist (of lime).

Opening the door to the back garden, a rush of sun burnt air came barreling into the house announcing the arrival of a summer heat wave. There’s no better way to cool rising temperatures than with a homemade frosty treat. Thanks to The Naptime Chef, it was watermelon popsicles to the rescue!

Where’s Watermelon?

Despite our best gardening efforts, the melons in our kitchen garden didn’t make it. Staying true to our Eat Dirt challenge, we sourced our summer giant from the local farmers’ market. According to Jeff Leach, author of Dirtying up Our Diets, dirt from the farmers’ market is the next best thing to dirt from our garden. Armed with a farm fresh juicy watermelon and an easy recipe, we headed to the kitchen to cool off.

Watermelon Popsicles with a Twist (of Lime)

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes
Makes about 9 ice pops
Adapted from The Naptime Chef

Ingredients:
4 cups seedless watermelon

Juice from 3 fresh limes

Directions:

1) Using a melon baller, scoop about 4 cups of watermelon. You could cut the watermelon with a knife, but my kids think the melon baller is much more fun!

watermelon popsicles scoop

watermelon popsicles scoop step 2

2) Load the watermelon into a food processor and blend until smooth.

watermelon popsicles puree
3) Run the watermelon puree through a sieve or food mill to remove the seeds.

watermelon popsicles strain

4) Squeeze in the juice from three fresh limes. Stir.

watermelon popsicles with lime

5) We made our pops with a Zoku ice pop maker. For best results when using a Zoku, chill the watermelon lime juice for about 10 minutes before loading into the popsicle maker.

watermelon popsicles zoku

6) Enjoy!

watermelon popsicles enjoy

Crunch a Color Kids Vote: Cool!

What we liked: This recipe is colorful, easy and tasty! With garden fresh summer fruit, we didn’t need a drop of sugar to sweeten this treat. Such a welcome change from the sugary treats you’ll find in the frozen dessert aisle at the grocery store – and a fraction of the cost!

What is your favorite fruit to use in summer popsicles?

Craving more new recipes to try? Catch up on last week’s recipe: Nut free basil pesto.

About the author: Jennifer Tyler Lee is a mom of two children and the creator of Crunch a Color™ -- the award-winning game that makes healthy eating fun. Like most parents, she struggled to get her kids to eat healthy, balanced meals, so she decided to make it into a healthy eating game. Follow @crunchacolor on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest to tune into Crunch a Color's healthy eating adventure and Jennifer’s tips and kid-friendly, easy recipes. Crunch a Color is a proud supporter of non-profit kids' nutrition programs including Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution and FoodCorps. Available at www.crunchacolor.com and in stores nationwide at Pottery Barn Kids.


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Dig In: Nut Free Basil Pesto (52 New Foods, Week 27)

Posted by Jennifer Lee on July 09, 2012 3 Comments
nut free basil pest


This week we dirty up our diets with nut free basil pesto made straight from our garden. Dig in!


Our new food adventures this week continue to focus on dirtying up our diets. Overflowing in our tiny kitchen garden is fresh basil. A distinct and refreshing partner in soups and pasta dishes, basil is one of our favorite garden herbs. With a hearty crop on our hands, we decided it was time to try basil pesto!

Basil Pesto (Without the Nuts)

basil pesto pasta

Most basil pesto recipes call for pine nuts, or walnuts, but Susan from Our Family Eats had a creative twist on this simple recipe: sunflower seeds. Our school is nut free, so I am always looking for delicious and easy recipes that can be equally featured on our dinner and lunchbox menus. Nut free basil pesto was the ticket!

Nut Free Basil Pesto

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 0 minutes
Makes about 1 cup of pesto, enough for 2 to 3 meals

Ingredients:
1 cup garden fresh basil, packed
1/3 cup sunflower seeds
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup olive oil
1 clove of garlic
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

1) Harvest your fresh basil! Wash thoroughly with water. Give your hands a good wash too, with soap and water.

basil pesto harvest

2) Load your ingredients into a food processor.

basil pesto load

3) Blend it up! Add salt and pepper to taste. We added a little extra olive oil to give our pesto a smoother texture.

basil pesto blend

4) Enjoy!

basil pesto enjoy

Tip: If you want to freeze your basil pesto, leave out the cheese. It doesn't freeze well. Portion the cheese-free pesto into an ice cube tray, cover and freeze. Once frozen, remove from the tray and store in a freezer bag. When you’re ready to use your sauce, defrost and add the grated Parmesan.

Crunch a Color Kids Vote: Let’s dig in!

What we liked: This recipe is so fresh and easy! It’s also super flexible. We featured our basil pesto on homemade pasta. It would also be tasty served over chicken, or on a fresh, crusty French baguette. The possibilities are endless!

* What is your favorite way to prepare pesto?

Craving more new recipes to try? Catch up on last week’s recipe: Butter Lettuce with a Side of Dirt.

About the author: Jennifer Tyler Lee is a mom of two children and the creator of Crunch a Color™ -- the award-winning game that makes healthy eating fun. Like most parents, she struggled to get her kids to eat healthy, balanced meals, so she decided to make it into a healthy eating game and she’s giving back to support non-profit kids' nutrition programs including Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution and FoodCorps. Watch her picky eaters tell the story of how they turned into healthy eaters playing the game. Follow @crunchacolor on Facebook Twitter and Pinterest to tune into Crunch a Color's healthy eating adventure and Jennifer’s tips and kid-friendly, easy recipes.

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Butter Lettuce with a Side of Dirt (52 New Foods, Week 26)

Posted by Jennifer Lee on July 04, 2012 3 Comments

Dirt (along with butter lettuce) is our new food of the week. It may be what we need to stay healthy.

A recent article in The New York Times on the merits of dirtying up our diets ignited a lively discussion at our dinner table. Could dirt help us ward off the germs that lead to the inevitable sniffles in the first weeks of school? Or reduce the itchy, watery eyes that plague our outdoor summer adventures? If what these researchers are arguing is true -- that a little dirt in our diets can improve our health by strengthening our immune systems and reducing allergies – then getting down and dirty might be a fun and inexpensive way to stay healthy.

Butter Lettuce

 

Digging Deeper

Before we decided to dig in, we needed to know, “What kind of dirt is good dirt?” Is dirt from our garden just as healthy as the dirt found lining the shelves of the grocery store? Certainly I had to provide some guidelines to my new food adventurers out of fear that they might throw all of their hygiene cares to the wind. Jeff Leach, science and archaeology writer and founder of the Human Food Project, offered this practical guidance:

No matter worrying about the soil in your local grocery store, as there is almost none (aside from the occasional potato and mushroom). Dirt from your local sources (yard, farmers’ market, etc) would be best. Importantly, the simple act of playing outside will expose our kiddos to a vast microbial community - so, from Angry Birds to Dirty Birds.”

With those simple rules as our guiding principles, we headed out to the garden to add a little dirt to our diet.

Butter Lettuce Wraps with Sunbutter

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 0 minutes
Makes about 12 wraps

Butter Lettuce with Sunbutter

 

Ingredients:

1 head, garden grown butter lettuce
¼ cup, sunflower butter

Directions:

1) Harvest your butter lettuce. Have fun getting your hands dirty!

Harvest the Butter Lettuce

 

2) Wash the lettuce thoroughly with water. Give your hands a good wash, too, with soap and water (don’t kill all the good bugs with super zapper hand sanitizer).

Wash the Butter Lettuce

 

We found a teensy chameleon critter, the same vibrant green as the butter lettuce, which we gingerly placed back in our garden.

Critter

 

3) Keeping the leaves intact, spread about a teaspoon of sunflower butter into each piece of lettuce.

Spread Sunbutter on the Butter Lettuce

 

4) Wrap and enjoy!

Enjoy Butter Lettuce

 

5) Then plant a new crop.

Plant a New Crop

 

Crunch a Color Kids Vote: Diggin’ it!

What we liked: Anything grown from our tiny kitchen garden seems to taste better. The kids thrilled at enjoying the lettuce they planted as seeds and grew into a nourishing meal. Harvesting the lettuce inspired us to plant another crop of new vegetables to try, and gave us the wonderful opportunity to spend more time outside, soaking up the beautiful sunshine and soil that makes us healthy. The experience even inspired our first family food challenge – more to come on that soon!    

* What will you plant in your garden this week?

* How do you dirty up your diet?

Lettuce is a super easy crop to grow. If you don’t have any growing in your garden right now, plant a few seeds and you’ll have a feast before the end of summer.

Craving more new recipes to try? Catch up on last week’s recipe: Healthy Zucchini Muffins.

About the author: Jennifer Tyler Lee is a mom of two children and the creator of Crunch a Color™ -- the award-winning game that makes healthy eating fun. Like most parents, she struggled to get her kids to eat healthy, balanced meals, so she decided to make it into a healthy eating game and she’s giving back to support non-profit children’s nutrition programs including Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution and FoodCorps. Watch her picky eaters tell the story of how they turned into healthy eaters playing the game. Follow @crunchacolor on Facebook Twitter and Pinterest to tune into Crunch a Color's healthy eating adventure and Jennifer’s tips and kid-friendly, easy recipes.

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Healthy Zucchini Muffins (52 New Foods, Week 25)

Posted by Jennifer Lee on June 28, 2012 6 Comments

Healthy zucchini muffins were the pick of the week in our new food adventure. A tasty treat for kids (and adults)!

I’m a sucker for a warm basket of fresh baked muffins. Everything about them feels cozy. They are fun to make and even more fun to enjoy cuddled up with my kiddos on a leisurely Saturday morning. You can imagine my absolute delight when my new food adventurers decided to make zucchini our new food of the week. A perfect opportunity for healthy zucchini muffins!

Feature Recipe: Healthy Zucchini Muffins

Finding an easy recipe for healthy zucchini muffins was a snap! I took a wonderful family recipe for zucchini bread from The Naptime Chef, and tweaked it a little – adding whole-wheat flour and grapeseed oil. My 5 year old loved these tasty little tidbits, but my daughter didn't like the texture of the grated zucchini in my first batch. So I whipped up another version with pureed zucchini. My strategy wasn’t to “hide” the veggie, she cut and pureed the zucchini herself, but rather to change the texture to get my daughter to give it a try. It worked!

Healthy Zucchini Muffins

healthy zucchini muffins Adapted from The Naptime Chef
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: about 20 minutes
Makes 24 muffins

Ingredients:
2
cups whole-wheat flour
1 ½ tsp baking soda
¾ tsp baking powder
1 tsp kosher salt
3 ½ tsp cinnamon
3 eggs
½ cup grapeseed oil
½ cup applesauce
1 ½ cups sugar
2 medium zucchinis, pureed
2 tsp vanilla extract


Directions:

1) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a muffin tin with baking cups. I have fallen in love with silicon baking cups – they make perfect muffins (every time!) and are a breeze to use. When using the silicon cups, spray lightly with oil.

healthy zucchini muffins step 1

2) Sift together your dry ingredients – flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon.

healthy zucchini muffins step 2

3) Chop then puree the zucchini.

healthy zucchini muffins step 3

4) In a mixer, stir together your wet ingredients – eggs, oil, applesauce, zucchini puree, vanilla, and sugar.

healthy zucchini muffins step 4

5) In small batches, pour the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Stir gently.

healthy zucchini muffins step 5

6) Pour batter into muffin tins. Fill each cup about ¾ of the way.

healthy zucchini muffins step 6

7) Bake about 20 minutes, or until the tops spring back when touched lightly.

healthy zucchini muffins step 7

Crunch a Color Kids Vote: Mmmarvelous muffins!

What we liked: I was thrilled that the pureed version of this recipe turned out to be a winner for my picky eater. The muffins were a wholesome treat, and will make a great lunchbox snack.   

* Do you have a favorite recipe for healthy zucchini muffins?

* What other ways do you like to prepare zucchini?

* Have you ever tried zucchini flowers?

Next up: Next week marks the halfway point in our 52 New Foods adventure. Be sure to tune in to see what fun new food ideas we have in store.

Craving more new recipes to try? Catch up on last week’s recipe: Friendship Garden Soup.

About the author: Jennifer Tyler Lee is a mom of two children and the creator of Crunch a Color™ -- the award-winning game that makes healthy eating fun. Like most parents, she struggled to get her kids to eat healthy, balanced meals, so she decided to make it into a healthy eating game and she’s giving back to support non-profit children’s nutrition programs including Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution and FoodCorps. Watch her picky eaters tell the story of how they turned into healthy eaters playing the game. Follow @crunchacolor on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest to tune into Crunch a Color's healthy eating adventure and Jennifer’s tips and kid-friendly, easy recipes.

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