A Winning Recipe Inspired by Michelle Obama

Posted by Jennifer Lee on June 17, 2012 0 Comments

Inspired by Michelle Obama’s garden book, American Grown, a group of elementary school kids create a community lunch that brings together garden fresh veggies, good friends, and a healthy meal even picky eaters will love.

Friendship Garden Soup Friends

One of the most effective ways to get kids eating (and enjoying) vegetables is to get them out in the garden: growing, picking, and preparing their own food. That’s old news for many, including my picky eaters. For months our food adventures have focused on finding new foods to try from our garden or the local farmers’ market. It’s been an effective strategy for getting my picky eaters to eat healthy and try new foods, and a great source of Crunch a Color™ bonus points at our family table.

A call to action from First Lady Michelle Obama brought a new twist to our weekly food challenge, and sparked an idea for my 8 year old.

As part of her mission to get kids eating healthy, Michelle Obama issued a healthy lunchtime challenge to kids across the country. The goal: design a kid-inspired, healthy lunch recipe. Like most kids, there’s nothing more fun for my daughter than spending an afternoon with friends, so she decided to turn Michelle Obama’s challenge into just that.

Friendship Garden Soup Chopping Cauliflower

The invitation to each child was simple: bring a favorite fresh vegetable from your garden and join us for an afternoon of cooking “Friendship Garden Soup.” In a garden get-together worthy of the classic tale, Stone Soup, my daughter’s friends gathered for an afternoon of chopping, dicing, sautéing, simmering and sipping a delicious soup together. For the recipe she created, check out Friendship Garden Soup.

“My idea for Friendship Garden Soup came from a book I read when I was little. The book is called Stone Soup and tells the story of villagers who bring food to make a soup with a stone in it. They learned to make something by sharing everything they had. So I thought that it would be nice to invite my friends to share vegetables from their own gardens. When you share it makes everything better” – Catherine, age 8


The best part of this activity was how a community of friends came together to create something special – and each person’s contribution (no matter the size) was important. One brought oregano from her garden, infusing a beautiful herbal flavor into the dish. Another found rainbow carrots at her local farmers’ market, adding playful color and crunch. My daughter added cauliflower, a new food favorite from our school garden.  My son added a “magic leaf” – a small bay leave that we ceremoniously add to all of our homemade soups to magically turn our ingredients into a tasty dish. Each child contributed something different to the soup to add to its unique flavor, in the same way that each friend brings something unique and special to my daughter’s life.

Friendship Garden Soup Friends 2

Who knows whether my daughter’s recipe will win Michelle Obama’s healthy lunchtime challenge. But in the end, the journey was worth every minute. Bringing friends together for a laughter-filled afternoon, enjoying fresh vegetables (familiar and new) grown from our gardens, and celebrating the joy of cooking and eating together. That’s a winning recipe in my family cookbook.

Friendship Garden Soup

Are your kids more likely to try new foods when they come from the garden?

Does a visit to a local farmers’ market result in the same positive changes in eating habits?

If you only have space for a small planter, which vegetables would you plant with your kids?

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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Friendship Garden Soup

Posted by Jennifer Lee on June 17, 2012 0 Comments

Inspired by Michelle Obama’s healthy lunchtime challenge, my 8 year old daughter created this simple recipe that brings together garden fresh veggies and good friends for an afternoon of kid-style cookin’! 


Friendship Garden Soup Friends

Invite your friends to bring a favorite vegetable from their garden (or local farmers’ market). This recipe is wonderfully flexible; it can accommodate pretty much anything you can throw at it! Just be sure to have at least onions, celery and carrots as your base.  The best part of this recipe is that each person adds something unique to the pot, in the same way that each friend brings something unique and special to your life. Enjoy cooking and eating healthy together!

Friendship Garden Soup

Prep time: 15 min
Cook time: 20 min
Servings: 6 to 8

Ingredients:

2 cups cauliflower, diced (see our tips for how to prepare cauliflower)
1 cup celery, diced
1 cup rainbow carrots, diced (use regular carrots if you can’t find the multi-colored variety)
1 cup fresh English peas, removed from the pods
½ medium onion, diced
1 handful fresh oregano
1 bay leaf
1 cup cooked chicken, cut into ¼” cubes
2 32oz boxes of low sodium chicken broth (use homemade broth if you have it)
2 cups cooked pasta (macaroni or penne work the best)
1 Tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

1)   Wash and prepare the vegetables. Give each child one vegetable to prepare.

Peel and dice the carrots and celery...

Friendship Garden Soup Peeling Carrots 

 and the cauliflower. Here's a quick tip for how to prepare cauliflower.

Friendship Garden Soup Chopping Cauliflower 

Remove the peas from the pods.

Friendship Garden Soup Fresh Peas

Dice the onions (remember to light a votive to stop the tears!).

Friendship Garden Soup Chopping Onions

2)   Heat a large stockpot, add the olive oil, then add the onions. Sauté until translucent, about 3 minutes.

Friendship Garden Soup Saute Onions

3)   Add the cauliflower, celery and carrots. Cook an additional 3 to 5 minutes, or until the veggies are slightly browned.

Friendship Garden Soup Saute Veggies

4)   Add the chicken broth, cooked chicken, a few handfuls of oregano, and the bay leaf. Bring to a boil.

Friendship Garden Soup Bay Leaf

5)   Lower heat and simmer for 10 minutes.

6)   Add the fresh peas. Simmer 2 minutes more.

7)   Add the cooked pasta. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste before serving.

Friendship Garden Soup

8)   Enjoy with friends and family!

Friendship Garden Soup Friends 2

“I brought oregano, which grows wild in my garden. My family planted seeds a few years ago and now it just keeps growing. The oregano added familial flavor. My family grew up eating lots of Italian food and oregano is in all of it, so it reminds me of my Grandma, who makes the best pasta sauce.” – Elli, age 10

“Celery is one of my favorite vegetables. I like it cooked in many different ways, including soup.” – Carissa, age 8

"I brought rainbow carrots and peas. I chose them because they are really good in soups and the colors were so pretty." - Marina, age 8

"I put a 'magic leaf' in because it makes soup taste good." - James, age 5

Have you hosted a cooking party with your friends? What did you prepare? Share your comments!

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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Growing a Meal: Fava Beans

Posted by Jennifer Lee on June 09, 2012 0 Comments

Farmers’ market tables are filled with fava beans! What do they taste like? How do we prepare them? Can we grow them? Our new food adventure takes us on a journey up the bean stalk as we explore fava beans. 

The local farmers’ market has been a wonderful inspiration for getting my picky eaters to try new foods. Fresh crisp air, bustling crowds, and overflowing tables of colorful fruits and veggies come together to set the perfect stage for exploring. Some mornings my kids eat an entire meal just sampling from each table. Recently, a new veggie has been making regular appearances at our market: fava beans. New to me, and my kids, we thought we’d give them a try.

Fava Beans

How to Prepare Fava Beans

Big, broad fava beans seem to be made for tiny fingers. Like a sweet pea, but even easier to unfurl, my kids enjoyed peeling open each bright green pod to reveal the treasure inside. But before you dig in, there’s one extra step: remove the waxy outer coating. Here's how:

Prep time: 8 to 10 min
Cook time: 1 to 2 min
Ready in: 9 to 12 min

Step 1: Shell the Beans. Pull the stem, unzipping the pod on both sides.

Step 2: Boil the Beans. Boil the shelled beans in water for about 1 to 2 minutes.

Step 3: Bathe the Beans. Give the beans a cool bath in ice water before peeling off the waxy outer covering.

Step 4: Enjoy! Now those tasty fava beans are ready for eating!

Fava beans have a buttery texture, and a mild, nutty flavor. Simply delicious on their own, they made a perfect snack and lunchbox companion. We also discovered a simple recipe for grilling fava beans, from Sunset Magazine, which we’ll give a try this weekend. Sounds like a tasty and fun weekend activity!

A note of caution: Some people may experience allergic reactions to fava beans, according to NPR. Be sure to consult your doctor if you are concerned. 

What inspired you at your local farmers’ market this weekend? Share your comments!

Craving more new recipes to try? Catch up on last week’s new food adventure: How to pick your own strawberries.

 

 

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 children’s nutrition programs including Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution and FoodCorps. Available online at www.crunchacolor.com and in stores nationwide at Pottery Barn Kids.

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Summer Fun: Pick Your Own Strawberries

Posted by Jennifer Lee on June 06, 2012 0 Comments

Imagine the giddy laughter heard from kids picking and eating their way through an open farm field covered with fresh, ripe strawberries. Pure joy. This week our new food adventure takes us to a coastal farm where you can pick your own strawberries.

Our new food adventure took on a different flavor this week. We were traveling, so cooking wasn’t top on our list. But we found a new food inspiration at a local farm. Nestled in a sun-drenched field along the California coast, my kids discovered the joy of picking your own strawberries. 

Pick Your Own Strawberries

How and Where Pick Your Own Strawberries

There is something thrilling about venturing into a wide-open field, little pails in hand, to find and pick your own bounty of summer fruit. Maybe it’s the simple pleasure of eating fruit straight from the vine, or the excitement of standing face to face with thousands of sweet buds lining the carefully laid rows of strawberry plants. Whatever the reason, this adventure provided a jam-packed morning for the whole family. It’s a food adventure we’d highly recommend adding to your list of summer activities.  A few tips to get you started:

Pick Your Own Strawberries 21)   Find a local pick-your-own farm. Pick Your Own is a great resource for finding farms in your area, as well as what’s in season.

2)   Choose organic. Seek out farms that are certified organic. When grown conventionally, strawberries are considered part of the dirty dozen, which means they can be laden with pesticides. 

3)   Bring two pails. One for perfectly ripe fruit, the other for just-past-ripe fruit. Farmers will often give you the just-past-ripe fruit for free (as they did in our case this week), and the fruit is perfect for making jam!

4)   Save a portion of your bounty for freezing. You’ll appreciate those sweet summer berries in smoothies when the winter blues hit.

5)   Use your just-past-ripe strawberries to make jam. The Naptime Chef has a wonderfully easy and tasty recipe for Strawberry Vanilla Jam – yum! 

6)   Enjoy with friends. Upon returning to our hotel, the resident chef was kind enough to wash and prepare the several pounds of berries that we picked. The most fun part: enjoying an overflowing bowl of fresh local strawberries, and the stories of our adventure, with friends and family.

 

 

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 children’s nutrition programs including Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution and FoodCorps. Available online at www.crunchacolor.com and in stores nationwide at Pottery Barn Kids.

 

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How to Prepare Cauliflower (52 New Foods, Week 21)

Posted by Jennifer Lee on May 28, 2012 0 Comments

A visit to our school garden ignited our new food adventure this week: how to prepare cauliflower.

A school garden is a true treasure. At its best, it is a wonderfully integrated classroom. Children experience the full life cycle of our food, planting-growing-harvesting-cooking-eating-composting-planting, and they literally step inside the world of living math, science and literature. It surrounds them.  For our family, the school garden has an additional benefit – an opportunity to try new foods.

“Today we tried cauliflower from the garden! I loved it!” my daughter declared with pride. My heart smiled a big smile. I had been trying to get her to try cauliflower for months, to no avail. “How did you prepare the cauliflower?” I inquired. “We just picked it and ate it!” she replied, enthusiastically. In that spirit, this week we focused on the simple ways to enjoy cauliflower. I taught my daughter how to prepare cauliflower after it is harvested and we enjoyed it both raw and lightly roasted – simple pleasures.

How to Prepare Cauliflower

Step 1: Pull off the outer leaves and trim the stem.

How to prepare cauliflower step 1

How to prepare cauliflower step 2

Step 2: Turn the cauliflower upside down, stem facing up. Using a paring knife, cut around the core to remove it. Remind kids to always cut away from themselves and down.

How to prepare cauliflower step 3

Step 3: Cut the florets from the inner stem.

How to prepare cauliflower step 4

Step 4: Cut the florets in half.

How to prepare cauliflower step 5

Step 5: Enjoy raw or lightly roasted.

To roast cauliflower, simply toss in a little olive oil, then sprinkle with salt and pepper. You can do this right on the baking pan. Bake in a 400 degree oven for about 15 minutes, tossing frequently to ensure even roasting. Remove from the oven and add a squeeze of lemon juice. Enjoy!

What we liked: The simple preparation of this garden fresh veggie was our favorite part of this week’s adventure.

How do you like to prepare cauliflower? Share your tips and recipes!

Next up: Heirloom tomatoes caught our eye at the market this week. We’re experimenting with a few different recipes. Tune in next week when we share our favorite!

Craving more new recipes to try? Catch up on last week’s recipe: Simple cherry compote.

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 and Twitter to tune into Crunch a Color's healthy eating adventure and Jennifer’s tips and kid-friendly, easy recipes.

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