The Perfect Plumcot: Ripe Fruit for the Picking! (Week 23, 52 New Foods)

Posted by Jennifer Tyler Lee on June 19, 2013 0 Comments

Pick the perfect plumcot Ripe fruit Crunch a Color

A local farmer shares her tips on how to pick the perfect plumcot!


A happy, orange colored fruit caught our eye this week at the local market. “Would you like a taste?” enquired the sun-drenched farmer. Her generosity was met with enthusiasm, as my kids clamored to taste a bite of this sweet surprise. “It’s a plumcot!” the farmer explained. No matter the name, my kids decided it was absolutely delicious and would be our new food of the week.

Picking through the pile, they noticed subtleties in the color of the fruit. Some of the little gems were a warm orange color, similar to an apricot, while others had a yellow-ish, green hue.

“How can I tell which ones are the juiciest?” my son asked. James, who is six years old, is not at all shy about engaging in a conversation, especially when it’s about food!

“If you’re looking for ripe fruit, that you plan to eat today, pick the ones that are a soft orange color. Touch them gently. They should have a little bit of give, but not too much.” guided the farmer. James went to work, carefully placing his treasure in his tattered woven bag, while saving a few to be enjoyed immediately.

plumcot ripe fruit crunch a color

“Be sure to pick a few that are green near the top.” the farmer advised. “Those will be perfect in a day or two if you leave them on the counter to ripen.”

As for how we prepared our new food of the week, it was a simple wash, slice, eat. The fruit was so delicious that it wasn’t around long enough to make anything! No complaints here.

What have you discovered at your local farmers’ market? What are your tips for knowing when a fruit is ripe and picking the best of the crop?

About the author: Jennifer Tyler Lee is a mom of two children, creator of Crunch a Color® -- award-winning nutrition games that make healthy eating fun, and author of the forthcoming book The 52 New Foods Challenge (Penguin / Avery 2014). 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. Winner of the Dr. Toy and Parent Tested, Parent Approved awards, Crunch a Color® has been featured by Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, Rachael Ray's Yum-O!, Laurie David’s Family Dinner, Kiwi Magazine, Dr. Greene, and Yum Food & Fun For Kids, among many others, as a simple, fun and playful way to get kids to eat healthy and try new foods. Jennifer’s passion is making mealtime fun and healthy for busy families. Her easy recipes, quick tips, and new food adventures are regularly featured at Pottery Barn Kids, Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, The Huffington Post, and on her weekly recipe blog at crunchacolor.com.

 

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Try Something New: Learn How to Cook Radish (Leaves and All) (52 New Foods, Around the World Week 18)

Posted by Jennifer Tyler Lee on May 18, 2013 1 Comment
how to cook radish crunch a color


Grow a love of new foods from the ground up. Fresh from the garden, this week we try the often underappreciated radish (leaves and all).


A love of new foods starts in the garden. Our tiny kitchen garden has been a steadfast source of new food inspiration for our family. It’s where my daughter discovered that she likes cauliflower – raw more than cooked. It inspired both of my kids to try all sorts of leafy greens – from butter lettuce to baby kale. And this week, it invited them to try radishes (leaves and all).

radish leaves crunch a color


We’ve spotted radishes at the local market many times, with lackluster interest. But growing radishes changed our perspective. Sowing seeds, helping them grow, and thrilling in the pleasure of pulling those little pink buds straight from the ground changed our relationship with radish.

We started simply -- sampling radish in its raw form. My daughter, who tends toward artistry in her approach to foods of any kind, spent an unencumbered weekend morning gingerly slicing our fresh radish into delicate, wafer thin layers, creatively cutting them into fun shapes inspired by her favorite characters like Totoro, and artfully arranging her creations on a tiny tasting platter for everyone to enjoy.

how to cook radish raw crunch a color

how to cook radish raw 2 crunch a color


Then we moved to cooking. Drawing inspiration from Deborah Madison’s captivating new book, Vegetable Literacy, we gathered a few more ingredients from our garden and together we experimented with how to cook radish, ending in a lovely sautéed radish salad. This recipe is a wonderful example of how to use the whole plant – it incorporates the radish and its lovely dark green leaves, leaving nothing to waste.

how to cook radish vegetable literacy crunch a color


We plan to continue experimenting with other ways to try radish -- marinated with pomegranate molasses, tossed into a Mediterranean style salad with spinach, chickpeas and tomatoes, or nestled in a hummus-stuffed pita.

hummus pita with radish crunch a color


Sauteed Radish Salad

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 5 minutes
Yield: Makes 4 servings
Crunch a Color points: 15 red, 15 green, 10 green

Inspired by Deborah Madison’s Vegetable Literacy

Ingredients:

3 to 4 small radishes, finely chopped
½ cup shelled peas
½ cup asparagus, sliced on a diagonal
A handful of radish leaves
Juice from ½ of a lemon
1 Tbsp olive oil
Sea salt to taste

Directions:

1. Wash and prepare your vegetables. Gather as much as you can from your garden. Round out your recipe with fresh veggies from the farmers’ market.

2. Heat a pan over medium heat. Add the olive oil, then the asparagus and radishes. Simmer for about 3 minutes.  

how to cook radish leaves crunch a color


3. Add the peas and radish leaves. You can add a touch of water at this point if you need. Continue to simmer for another 2 minutes, or until the peas are bright green and the leaves are wilted. Finish with a squeeze of lemon and a little salt.

sauteed radish leaves 2 crunch a color


* Have you tried radish leaves? What other ways should we try radish? Share your ideas! 

Craving more easy recipes to try? Catch up on last week’s post: Homemade Hummus.

About the author: Jennifer Tyler Lee is a mom of two children and the creator of Crunch a Color® -- award-winning nutrition games that make 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. Winner of the Dr. Toy and Parent Tested, Parent Approved awards, Crunch a Color® has been featured by Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, Rachael Ray's Yum-O!, Laurie David’s Family Dinner, Kiwi Magazine, Dr. Greene, and Yum Food & Fun For Kids, among many others, as a simple, fun and playful way to get kids to eat healthy and try new foods. Jennifer’s passion is making mealtime fun and healthy for busy families. Her easy recipes, quick tips, and new food adventures are regularly featured at Pottery Barn Kids, Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, The Huffington Post, and on her weekly recipe blog at crunchacolor.com.

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Healthy Homemade Hummus (52 New Foods, Around the World Week 17)

Posted by Jennifer Tyler Lee on May 13, 2013 0 Comments
homemade hummus


A healthy homemade hummus is the first of many ways we plan to try our new food of the week: chickpeas.


There’s a lot to love about chickpeas. Mark Bittman recommends them as an ingredient in one of his top three go-to recipes. They are inexpensive, healthy and can be prepared in a myriad of ways. When I asked what we should make with our new food of the week, friends brought a bounty of ideas to the table: pop ‘em in stews, toss ‘em in salads, blend ‘em into hummus, snatch a few for a snack!

dried chickpeas


We decided to start with a simple, homemade hummus. And we did it the slow way -- gently toasting sesame seeds to create our own tahini, slowly soaking the dried beans overnight, then blending it all together to create a delicious homemade hummus.

Getting my kids to try our new food this week relied on two key strategies.

First, cook together. When my kids prepare a new food, they are much more likely to try it! Cooking together is an essential part of the equation.

The other key is timing. Fresh veggies (along with a new food or two) arrive at the table first. At our house we call it the “veggie course.” This strategy gives my hungry helpers a choice of veggies first (before they load up on carbs!). It also buys me extra time to put the finishing touches on the rest of the meal before we sit down together as a family.

What we Liked: Our healthy homemade hummus outshined any store-bought hummus by a long shot. From a taste perspective, there was absolutely no comparison. As for my kids, they were willing to give it a try, but the garlic in this version was a bit too strong for their liking. Instead of chalking it up to a failure (which it wasn’t), we talked about what parts of the recipe they might change. What did they think of the texture? Which flavors did they taste and which were too strong? The next version we plan to make is with roasted garlic, which we all agreed would soften the flavor a bit. Most importantly, we are working together to find the right mix for our family.

Healthy Homemade Hummus

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 0 minutes
Yield: Makes 6 servings
Crunch a Color points: 10 protein

Ingredients:

homemade hummus ingredients


2 cups chickpeas
½ cup olive oil
1 Tbsp tahini (see make ahead below)
Juice of one lemon
1 large clove of garlic, chopped

Make ahead:

For the tahini, lightly toast 1 cup of sesame seeds in a sauté pan over medium heat. About two minutes. Let cool, then blend with 1/3 cup olive oil in a food processor until smooth. 

For the dried chickpeas, cover fully with water and soak overnight. Drain, then boil gently for about an hour and a half. Let cool before using.

Directions:

1. Load your ingredients into a food processor. Blend! Add a touch more olive oil to adjust the consistency if you like.

homemade hummus step 1


2. Serve with freshly cut veggies.

homemade hummus


* How do you like to prepare hummus? Share your ideas!  

Craving more easy recipes to try? Catch up on last week’s post: Amazing Avocado.

About the author: Jennifer Tyler Lee is a mom of two children and the creator of Crunch a Color® -- award-winning nutrition games that make 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. Winner of the Dr. Toy and Parent Tested, Parent Approved awards, Crunch a Color® has been featured by Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, Rachael Ray's Yum-O!, Laurie David’s Family Dinner, Kiwi Magazine, Dr. Greene, and Yum Food & Fun For Kids, among many others, as a simple, fun and playful way to get kids to eat healthy and try new foods. Jennifer’s passion is making mealtime fun and healthy for busy families. Her easy recipes, quick tips, and new food adventures are regularly featured at Pottery Barn Kids, Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, The Huffington Post, and on her weekly recipe blog at crunchacolor.com.

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Amazing Avocado: Recipes to Try with your Picky Eaters (52 New Foods, Around the World Week 16)

Posted by Jennifer Tyler Lee on April 28, 2013 0 Comments
avocado recipes to try with picky eaters


The secret to getting past picky? Try it lots of different ways.


Avocado was one of the first foods that I served to my son James, and it continues to be one of his favorites. But for my daughter Catherine, it’s a struggle. Whether I didn’t expose her early enough, or the texture is one that she just doesn’t enjoy, it’s a challenge to get her to try avocado.

But our Cinco de Mayo party wouldn’t be complete without this wholesome, healthy fruit. So this week in our 52 New Foods adventure, we’re trying avocado -- a few different ways. It's the secret to getting past picky!

amazing avocado recipes


First we tried it sliced in a quesadilla. Then rolled in our sushi. And finally tossed into our mango salsa.

avocado recipes mango avocado salsa


Avocado hasn’t yet made it onto Catherine’s “favorite foods” list. More important than whether she liked this new food was her willingness to try a new food. That is what we are celebrating at our family table this Cinco de Mayo!

Tip: Avocado can quickly turn brown when it’s exposed to the air. Add a squeeze of lime or lemon juice to prevent browning. Leaving the pit intact will help too.

Mango Avocado Salsa

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 0 minutes
Yield: Makes 4 to 6 servings
Crunch a Color points: 10 green, 5 yellow / orange, 5 red. Bonus points (x2) for each new food you try.

Ingredients:

avocado recipes ingredients


1 avocado
1 mango
5 strawberries
1 Tbsp meyer lemon juice
A few sprigs of cilantro

Directions:

1. Dice your fruit into ¼” to ½” size pieces. Load into a medium size bowl.

2. Add lemon juice.

3. Toss gently.

4. Garnish with cilantro.

5. Enjoy on its own or atop grilled salmon or chicken. Yum!

avocado recipes mango avocado salsa


* What’s your favorite way to serve avocado? Share your ideas!  

Craving more easy recipes to try? Catch up on last week’s post: Eat Your Colors!

About the author: Jennifer Tyler Lee is a mom of two children and the creator of Crunch a Color® -- award-winning nutrition games that make 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. Winner of the Dr. Toy and Parent Tested, Parent Approved awards, Crunch a Color® has been featured by Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, Rachael Ray's Yum-O!, Laurie David’s Family Dinner, Kiwi Magazine, Dr. Greene, and Yum Food & Fun For Kids, among many others, as a simple, fun and playful way to get kids to eat healthy and try new foods. Jennifer’s passion is making mealtime fun and healthy for busy families. Her easy recipes, quick tips, and new food adventures are regularly featured at Pottery Barn Kids, Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, The Huffington Post, and on her weekly recipe blog at crunchacolor.com.

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Eat Your Colors! (52 New Foods, Around the World Week 15)

Posted by Jennifer Tyler Lee on April 22, 2013 2 Comments
eat your colors crunch a color


A fun (and colorful) way to try new foods and cook together.


This week we’re boosting up the color in our 52 New Foods challenge. Instead of just one new food, we’re bringing together a few new foods and having fun eating our colors with a rainbow salad bar! It’s an easy way to sample new tastes – jicama, radicchio, and tomatillo – along with familiar favorites like strawberries, blueberries, mango and avocado.

It’s also a fun and simple way to cook together with your kids. As Michael Pollan put it in his recent interview with Mark Bittman of The New York Times, “Cooking is probably the most important thing you can do to improve your diet.” But cooking with your kids can feel overwhelming for busy parents. How to tackle that challenge? Make it easy!

Cooking together can be as simple as chopping up fresh fruits and veggies and assembling them in a salad. Setup your cooking project like an activity, with all of the ingredients and supplies you’ll need within arms reach. Let the little ones peel and squeeze, and the more experienced kids chop and dice. Most importantly, let each person create their own mix.

What we Liked: It’s highly unlikely that my kids would have tried radicchio simply on its own. But sprinkled on a colorful salad that they created? You bet! Same goes for jicama. Be sure to put out a few favorites along with your new foods to give your kids a safe place to start. Encourage them to try even a few small sprinkles of radicchio or a couple of jicama matchsticks. Your goal is to get them to try something new, and it’s 100% okay if they don’t like it on the first try. Keep trying!

Eat Your Colors: A Rainbow Salad Bar

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 0 minutes
Yield: Makes 4 to 6 servings
Crunch a Color points: 15 blue / purple, 15 white (x2), 10 green (x2), 10 yellow / orange, 5 red, 5 blue / purple, 5 yellow (x2). Bonus points for each new food you try.

Note: Crunch a Color points will be different for each person depending on their mix.

Ingredients:

eat your colors crunch a color ingredients


3 rainbow carrots
2 tomatillos
1 jicama
1 avocado
1 mango
1 pint strawberries
½ pint blueberries
½ head radicchio
5 slices pineapple
1 small onion
1 Meyer lemon
1 lime
Cilantro for garnish

Directions:

1. Peel and dice your veggies and fruits. Let your kids do as much of the prep as possible! My only exception is with using the mandoline. To create super thin shreds of radicchio, as well as jicama and carrot matchsticks, I prefer to use a mandoline. I’m not quite brave enough to let my kids have at it with that slicer – at least not until I find a safer version! Everything else is fair game.

Note: If you choose to include tomatillos in your salad bar, consider roasting them first. Ten minutes in a 350 degree oven will do the trick. My kids preferred the flavor of roasted tomatillo to the raw version, although you can serve it either way.

eat your colors crunch a color step 1c

eat your colors crunch a color step 1a

eat your colors crunch a color step 1


Tip: Light a votive when cutting an onion to banish tears!

eat your colors crunch a color step 1b


2. Serve your ingredients in small bowls, lined up in the colors of the rainbow. You should have between a ½ cup and 1 cup of each ingredient.

eat your colors crunch a color


3. Let each person create their own recipe. Encourage everyone to include at least three colors in their mix. Bonus points for trying any of the new foods, even just a taster. I was floored when my 6-year-old son James included everything in his salad – even the onions!

eat your colors crunch a color step 3


4. To finish, squeeze a little Meyer lemon or lime on top of your salad. Enjoy!

eat your colors crunch a color salad


* What’s your favorite way to eat your colors? What are your tips for cooking together with your kids? Share your ideas!  
 

Craving more easy recipes to try? Catch up on last week’s post: Taco Night!

About the author: Jennifer Tyler Lee is a mom of two children and the creator of Crunch a Color® -- award-winning nutrition games that make 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. Winner of the Dr. Toy and Parent Tested, Parent Approved awards, Crunch a Color® has been featured by Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, Rachael Ray's Yum-O!, Laurie David’s Family Dinner, Kiwi Magazine, Dr. Greene, and Yum Food & Fun For Kids, among many others, as a simple, fun and playful way to get kids to eat healthy and try new foods. Jennifer’s passion is making mealtime fun and healthy for busy families. Her easy recipes, quick tips, and new food adventures are regularly featured at Pottery Barn Kids, Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, The Huffington Post, and on her weekly recipe blog at crunchacolor.com.

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