Tips and Recipes

A Convenient Meal: How to Cook Black Beans (52 New Foods, Week 32) August 17 2012, 4 Comments

How to cook black beans 

Stopping at a convenience store on our road trip, the healthy food choices were scarce. But nestled between the canned spaghetti and corn chowder we found a healthy friend: black beans.


Road Tripping: Eating Healthy On the Road August 06 2012, 9 Comments

healthy eating on the road 

Our family may be taking a vacation, but our healthy eating habits are not. How we plan to keep eating healthy on the road.


Strawberry Lemonade Without Sugar (52 New Foods, Week 30) August 01 2012, 0 Comments

strawberry lemonade 

A sip of sunshine, this strawberry lemonade is worthy of any roadside lemonade stand. Even better that it’s made without refined sugar!

 

Veggie Pizza: When Pizza is a Vegetable (52 New Foods, Week 29) July 23 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.


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



Dig In: Nut Free Basil Pesto (52 New Foods, Week 27) July 10 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.


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


Healthy Zucchini Muffins (52 New Foods, Week 25) June 28 2012, 9 Comments

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

 

A Winning Recipe Inspired by Michelle Obama 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. 


Friendship Garden Soup 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.


Growing a Meal: Fava Beans 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.


Summer Fun: Pick Your Own Strawberries 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.

 

How to Prepare Cauliflower (52 New Foods, Week 21) May 28 2012, 0 Comments

How to prepare cauliflower step 1

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


 

Simple Cherry Compote (52 New Foods, Week 20) May 21 2012, 1 Comment

Cherry CompoteLife’s a bowl of cherries – especially when you’re enjoying the simple pleasures of homemade cherry compote.

 

How to Cook Artichokes the Easy Way! (52 New Foods, Wk 19) May 15 2012, 3 Comments

How to Cook Artichokes

Teach your kids how to cook artichokes for a fun and tasty family treat.


Healthy Chicken Lettuce Wraps (52 New Foods, Week 18) May 08 2012, 2 Comments

Healthy Chicken Lettuce WrapsPlan a "build your own dinner" night with healthy chicken lettuce wraps, featuring fresh mint from the garden.


Meet Alotta Colada: A Pineapple Smoothie (52 New Foods, Week 17) May 01 2012, 0 Comments

Pineapple smoothieA recent trip to Hawaii left us longing for the tastes of the islands. What better way to bring back a sweet Hawaiian breeze than with a healthy pineapple smoothie!

 

Healthy Caesar Salad (52 New Foods, Week 16) April 26 2012, 1 Comment

Move over mayo! Jamie Oliver’s healthy Caesar salad is coming to dinner.

Last week I started on the journey of introducing Caesar salad to my kids, so I was thrilled when I came across Jamie Oliver’s healthy version of this classically delicious dish. Made with Greek yogurt instead of mayonnaise, this healthy Caesar salad dressing is a winner and a Crunch a Color™ family favorite in the making!

Feature Recipe: Jamie Oliver's Healthy Caesar Salad

Healthy Caesar Salad

Finding healthy alternatives to mayonnaise is difficult, so the advice from nutrition experts is often “enjoy it sparingly.” Many recipes suggest substituting yogurt in dishes featuring this creamy creation, but could the tantalizing tang of a deliciously homemade Caesar Salad dressing be achieved with any ingredient other than mayonnaise? I was skeptical, and thoroughly delighted when Jamie’s recipe for healthy Caesar salad turned out to be even better than I expected! I tweaked the recipe slightly to suit my family. Here’s how I made it:            `

Jamie Oliver's Healthy Caesar Salad

Ingredients:
1 bunch organic Romaine lettuce
1/3 cup non-fat Greek yogurt
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
1 small clove of garlic, finely chopped
Juice from 1/2 lemon
1 anchovy filet
1/8 tsp table salt
½ loaf of herbed Italian bread

Directions:
For the dressing:
1) Place the garlic, anchovy, yogurt, Parmesan cheese, 2 Tbsp olive oil, salt and lemon juice in a food processor. Blend for 2 minutes. Refrigerate until ready to use.

For the croutons:
1) Slice the bread into ¼” cubes.
2) Toss in the remaining 1 Tbsp olive oil and a pinch of salt.
3) Bake in a 250 degree oven for about 10 minutes, tossing occasionally, until lightly browned.

Pull it all together:
1) Wash and dry the romaine lettuce. Tear into bite size pieces.
2) Add the dressing and croutons and toss until fully coated.

Crunch a Color Kids Vote: Tasters all around!

What we liked: This healthy Caesar salad dressing is deliciously easy to make. I dialed down the garlic and anchovies to create a milder version of the dressing that would be easier on the palates of my burgeoning Caesar salad fans. Blending in the food processor ensures a consistent, creamy dressing, which is key for my kids. Like the last dressing I tried, I worked in a few appearances of the recipe over the course of the week, letting them try it with some familiar favorites like teriyaki chicken wings. Slowly, they are coming around. Remember, it can take up to 10 times of exposure to a new food before some children will like it, so don’t give up! If they don’t like it the first time, wait a few days, bring it to the table again and suggest, “Give it another try. Your taste buds may have grown!”

Do you have a favorite healthy homemade dressing? Share the details! 

Next up: May is the month for Mothers. To celebrate, we’ll be featuring a fun lineup of my favorite recipes. Be sure to tune in.

Craving more new recipes to try? Catch up on last week’s recipe: Easy, Italian chicken

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.

 

 

 


How to make Caesar Salad a New Food Favorite! (52 New Foods, Week 16) April 23 2012, 0 Comments

Spin up a healthy side! Teach your kids how to make a Caesar Salad your whole family will love and add this classic dish to their list of new food favorites.

How to Make Caesar Salad

Salad is the Mount Everest of new foods at our house. It remains a mystery to me what is so daunting about the notion of a bowl overflowing with beautiful green leafy ruffles drizzled in creamy, homemade dressing. It seems so simple and enjoyable, but it’s a trail my kids haven’t been willing to hike. How will we get over this mountain together?

Feature Recipe: Easy, Caesar Salad

As with any adventure (culinary or otherwise), it’s always more fun and interesting to put the kids in charge of the journey – it’s a surefire way to get them having fun making, sharing and trying new foods. Salad is no exception, so this week my kids and I had great fun learning how to make Caesar Salad.             `

How to Make Caesar Salad

Ingredients:
1 bunch organic Romaine lettuce
½ tsp minced garlic
½ cup organic mayonnaise
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp table salt
Juice from 1/2 lemon
½ loaf of herbed Italian bread

Directions:
For the croutons:
1) Slice the bread into ¼” cubes.
2) Toss in 1 Tbsp olive oil and a pinch of salt.
3) Bake in a 250 degree oven for about 10 minutes, tossing occasionally, until lightly browned.

For the dressing:
1) Place the garlic, mayonnaise, cheese, olive oil, salt and lemon in a food processor. Blend for 2 to 3 minutes. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Pull it all together:
1) Wash and dry the romaine lettuce. Tear into bite size pieces.
2) Add the dressing and croutons and toss until fully coated.

Dressing recipe inspired by Amy The Family Chef.

Crunch a Color Kids Vote: I’ll try a “taster”

What we liked: This easy Caesar salad dressing is fun for the kids to make with no worrisome ingredients like raw eggs. At its first appearance on our table, my kids hesitantly tried a “taster”, but they weren’t sold. So I worked in a few other cameos over the next few days: as a dipping sauce for snacktime vegetables, as a spread on fresh, chewy herbed bread, and as a dip for their favorite chicken wings. Slowly but surely they are warming to the taste, so we’ll keep trying. It’s important to remember, it can take up to 10 times of exposure to a new food before some children will like it, so don’t give up if they’re not gobbling up the dressing on the first try.

Do you have a family favorite salad dressing? Share the details!

Next up: May is the month for Mothers. To celebrate, we’ll be featuring a fun lineup of my favorite recipes. Be sure to tune in.

Craving more new recipes to try? Catch up on last week’s recipe: Easy, Italian chicken

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.


How to Make Italian Chicken the Easy Way! (52 New Foods, Week 15) April 16 2012, 0 Comments

how to make Italian chicken Need an easy recipe for busy weeknights? Here’s how to make Italian chicken that's deliciously simple and tasty. Less than 15 minutes to fabulous!


Easy, Homemade Tomato Sauce (52 New Foods, Week 14) April 10 2012, 5 Comments

homemade tomato sauceThat’s amore! No longer will plates be brimming over with boring buttered pasta. Enjoy a boost of color with this deliciously easy, homemade tomato sauce that will have your whole family singing the praises of simple Italian cooking.

 

52 New Foods: Week 13, Kale Chips April 03 2012, 0 Comments

Snack attack! We all have them (kids and adults included). The trick is to make the snacks you grab healthy. Here’s how!

It’s that dreaded no man’s land between the end of school and the start of dinner. My kids barrel through the front door after a fun and active day – and they’re hungry! A freight train drives into the kitchen and throws open the refrigerator door. “What’s for snack, Mom?”     

Feature Recipe: Kale Chips, A Fast and Healthy Snack Idea

Fast, healthy snack ideas: Kale ChipsOn the food love spectrum for my kids, potato chips are like a “high-school crush” and kale is more like a “first and last date." When I discovered kale chips I paused and pondered, “Could this relationship change?” Crunchy, colorful and deliciously satisfying, it was a match made in heaven. Kale chips are the answer to our daily snack dilemma!

 

Crunch a Color’s Kale Chips

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: about 18 to 20 minutes
Makes about 4 servings

Ingredients:
1 bunch lacinto ("dino") kale
1 Tbsp olive oil
Salt

Directions:

1) Preheat oven to 250°F.

2) Wash kale. Peel or cut leaves from center stalk. Chop into medium size pieces. Pat dry.

3) Toss in 1Tbsp of olive oil. Sprinkle with salt.

4) Arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet.

5) Bake about 18 to 20 minutes, or until crisp. Cool then serve.

Crunch a Color Kids Vote: Crunch!

What we liked: Kale chips are a colorful, healthy snack food that my kids love (their nutty flavor is akin to seaweed). They are easy enough for a 5 year old to prepare, which wins them more points in my book. This is the kind of snack food I can get into.       

What is your favorite healthy snack? Do tell!

Next up: Spaghetti with Meatballs

Having grown up in an Italian family, it’s impossible to imagine a week without spaghetti and meatballs! Next up, a deliciously healthy Italian dinner that will have you singing, “That’s amore!”

Craving more new recipes to try? Catch up on last week’s recipe: Asparagus with Ginger-Soy Glaze.

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.


52 New Foods: Week 12, Asparagus with Ginger-Soy Glaze March 27 2012, 3 Comments

Celebrate spring with the perennial harbinger of buds and butterflies: asparagus. With bushels of bright green spears crowding our local markets, we decided to welcome asparagus to our family table.

A perfect spring meal at our house always includes asparagus. Beautiful and easy to prepare, asparagus is a welcome guest at our table for the few weeks that it is in season. Asparagus recipes abound, but this deliciously simple recipe is one that my family loves.     

Feature Recipe: Asparagus with Ginger-Soy Glaze

Asparagus is one of my favorite vegetables. Its delicate flavor always reminds me of playful spring brunches with my family and simple summer outdoor meals. Grilled or broiled and tossed with a touch of olive oil and salt, it epitomizes wholesome, simple cooking. It’s also a fun way to start the conversation with your kids about colorful, seasonal vegetables. Can you name a few?

Asparagus with Ginger-Soy Glaze

asparagus with ginger-soy glazePrep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 8 to 10 minutes
Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Ingredients:
2lbs thin asparagus
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp minced ginger
3 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp honey
Juice from one lime
Salt to taste

Directions:

1) Set oven to broil.

2) Snap off ends of asparagus.

3) Toss with olive oil and salt. Lay on a baking sheet.

4) Broil for about 8 minutes, turning halfway through.

5) Whisk soy sauce, ginger, honey and lime juice together in a small bowl.

6) Arrange asparagus on a platter. Drizzle lightly with ginger-soy glaze.

A special thanks to Aida Mollenkamp for the beautiful pictures of this family-friendly dish. Check out her take on our Asparagus with Ginger-Soy Glaze, along with her other wonderful recipes, at aidamollenkamp.com.

Crunch a Color Kids Vote: Let’s celebrate!

What we liked: This recipe is delicious, colorful and easy enough for kids to prepare. Make it more than a meal! Stop by your neighborhood farmers’ market, scout out locally grown asparagus, and enjoy swapping recipes with the people who grow the food we eat.       

What is your favorite colorful springtime recipe? Share your comments.

Next up: Kale

kale chipsMy kids love potato chips but they haven’t been willing to try kale. Could a healthy, colorful twist be the answer? Tune in next week for the latest in our new food adventure: kale chips.

Craving more new recipes to try? Catch up on last week’s recipe: Whole wheat banana pancakes.

 

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.


52 New Foods: Week 11, Whole Wheat Banana Pancakes March 21 2012, 6 Comments

Health up your hot cakes! Banana pancakes get a whole lot healthier with the addition of whole-wheat flour. Thanks to Jamie Oliver, they’re deliciously tasty too!

Brunch. Like Ramona Quimby, the sound of the word makes me smile. The perfect combination of half breakfast and half lunch, it’s my most favorite meal. Brunch brings together family, friends, delicious comfort foods, and great conversation. Banana pancakes are a must on my brunch menu, but could I make them healthier?