Archive for the ‘healthy eating’ Category

Kids Cook: Strawberry Radish Salsa {and Delaplane Strawberry Festival}

Wednesday, May 29th, 2013

We took advantage of the unusually mild weather this past holiday weekend to finally check out the Delaplane Strawberry Festival in Virginia’s Fauquier County. The annual event is packed with old-fashioned family fun, from the cupcake walk and face painting to tug-of-war, potato sack races, hay rides and pony rides. There were food vendors and live music, too. There’s not much better than chowing down on crab cake sandwiches while the kids dance to bluegrass under a bright blue sky.

foodietots @ the delaplane strawberry festival

We capped the day off with strawberry sundaes. Unfortunately they’d sold out of fresh berries, and other local farms were struggling to keep up with demand over the busy weekend. Our cool spring has delayed our summer berries and fruits, but I hear there will be plenty of berries available by this coming weekend.

Whether you pick your berries at the farm or just pick them up at market, here’s a fun salsa recipe that incorporates the radishes that are also in season.

Strawberry Radish Salsa

Recipe: Strawberry Radish Salsa
Makes 4 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup chopped strawberries
  • 1/4 cup chopped radish
  • 1 finely chopped green onion
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon honey

Instructions:

1. In a small bowl, combine chopped strawberries, radish and green onion.

2. In an even smaller bowl, whisk together honey and vinegar until honey is dissolved. Pour mixture over strawberries and stir gently to combine.

3. Let stand at room temperature for at least 15 minutes before serving.

~

view from Sky Meadows State Park

That’s the view from Sky Meadows State Park, where the festival was held. Mark your calendars for Memorial Day weekend, 2014. We’ll see you there!

(As a reminder, here are some of our favorite places to pick strawberries in Northern Virginia — but remember to ALWAYS call first to confirm availability before you make the trip.)

A is for Apple Sundaes

Monday, March 4th, 2013

It’s the third month of the year — how’s everyone doing on your food resolutions? I confess, I’m not a big resolution maker — I’m more likely to start something new as spring approaches than in the depths of winter. But one thing I’ve been working on, since the holidays ended (well, except for Valentine’s Day) is pushing back on my son’s nightly candy/sweets habit. (You know, since Halloween. Sigh.) The boy is old enough now to understand the game rules: the one-bite rule has grown to at-least-three-bites of nearly everything, always something green, and he’s even eating salad without complaint most of the time. Still, I keep trying to rein back the treats, as I don’t believe kids need dessert every single night. So exasperated one night last week, when we’d already gone out for frozen yogurt after school, I told him his sugar-quota had already been reached and he could have fruit for dessert. And before he was two words into the predictable “but fruit is not a dessert” whine, inspiration struck: “How about if I cut up some fruit and you can make your own fruit sundaes?”

make-your-own apple sundaes

Honestly I was a little surprised that he stopped mid-whine and agreed to the suggestion. So I arranged some cut apples, bananas, blueberries and blackberries on a plate, gave them little glass bowls and let them mix their own creations. And they loved it! In the words of my six- year-old, “It’s a healthy dessert that tastes good and everyone can make it!” Score one for healthy alternatives.

apple sundaes

Now if you wanted to gussy these up a little more, for a special occasion like, you know, random Thursdays off from school (seriously, why aren’t three-day weekends enough?) you could offer one or more of these additions:

  • plain, Greek-style yogurt or unsweetened, vanilla-flavored whipped cream
  • toasted coconut flakes
  • a touch of honey or maple syrup
  • pomegranate seed “sprinkles”

For bonus points, let kids help you chop the fruit with kid-safe knives. Bananas make an easy starter fruit for teaching toddlers safe knife practices.

What new food habits has your family adopted this year? How are they going?

Apple Cranberry Kale Salad and Kale Day with October Unprocessed

Wednesday, October 10th, 2012

We love our kale in the foodie tots’ house — yes, even tofu-fearing husband has learned to appreciate it — so of course we had to jump on the Kale Day bandwagon on social media today. You see, the blog Eating Rules has an “October Unprocessed” challenge, now in its third year.october unprocessed 2012

The challenge urges people to go one month without processed foods, using a simple “kitchen test”: if the item you’re buying contains only ingredients that could be made in a home kitchen with whole ingredients, it’s okay. This rules out artificial colors and flavors, preservatives and high fructose corn syrup, for starters. It’s a great way to jump start a change in your family diet, if you’ve been contemplating a switch to real foods, or just follow along for a ton of great information and recipe ideas. And, as part of the real food love fest, founder Andrew Wilder declared today International Kale Day. Kale is a superfood packed with fiber, antioxidants and vitamins A, C and K, and most of us could stand to eat a little more of it.

Like the classic lemon-parmesan version, making this apple kale salad begins by massaging kale with salt. (Kids love to help with this step.) Let it stand while chopping the apple and nuts, and whisk together a quick dressing of maple syrup, apple cider vinegar and olive oil. Toss it all together and let it sit while you finish up the rest of dinner. The salt and dressing help tenderize the kale, and the finished salad is simple and full of fresh fall flavors. (Credit is due to my friend Jill, who first turned me on to the apple-kale combination.)

apple cranberry kale salad

Recipe: Apple Cranberry Kale Salad
Makes 4 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 bunch kale, rinsed, drained and chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 apple, cored and chopped
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup pecans, chopped

Dressing:

  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • pinch black pepper, optional

Instructions:

1. Place kale in a large bowl and sprinkle with salt. Massage salt into kale for two minutes.

2. Whisk together maple syrup, apple cider vinegar and olive oil (and pepper, if using–I usually add to the adults’ salads later). Add apples, cranberries and pecans to kale, add dress and toss gently to combine. Let stand 5 to 15 minutes before serving.

Check out the link round-up for more kale inspiration — and feel free to add a link of your own. Happy Kale Day!


A Lighter Shade of Green for St. Patrick’s Day {Leprechaun Smoothies}

Thursday, March 15th, 2012

I’m not sure when St. Patrick’s Day became a national holiday nearly on par with Christmas. I know it can be a slow slog through the months of school between winter and spring breaks, but we still have a few stray pieces of Valentine’s candy around and now we’re in full-fledged leprechaun territory. And for kids, corned beef and cabbage has long since been supplanted with shamrock cookies and pots of gold. At least the chocolate is, well, slightly natural, but the barrage of bright rainbow-colored and artificially-dyed green treats flooding the internet frankly makes me nauseous. Even so, I wasn’t sure how my own little leprechauns would react to my latest green smoothie. Neither has touched avocado on its own since their first birthdays, though they will still dabble in guacamole occasionally. (I doubt anyone would suspect a toddler of being a rational being.)

leprechaun smoothie

Recently my five-year-old watched a VitaMix demonstration at the supermarket with rapt attention. When the woman placed handfuls of kale and spinach in the smoothie, he declared, “I LOVE kale and spinach!” Um, news to me, to say the least — but I determined to test his enthusiasm at home. And so my Leprechaun Smoothie was born — avocado, banana, orange juice and spinach. (According to the folks at Avocados from Mexico, a slice of avocado has a full gram of fiber — always something little ones can use more of.) Even if your kids load up on junk food the rest of the day, at least they can get a healthy start this St. Patrick’s Day.

st. patrick's day green smoothie

As for my leprechauns? They both demanded seconds. To quote my five-year-old, “I’ll die if you don’t get me some more smoothie immediately.” That’s better than a pot of gold to this mama.

Recipe: Avocado Spinach Smoothie

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 avocado, sliced
  • 1 banana
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • several fresh spinach leaves

Instructions: Place all ingredients in blender and blend until smooth. Makes 2 small servings or 1 large smoothie.

A few other healthy green options for St. Patrick’s Day:

(and if you really want to go even more naturally green, check out my “Eat More Kale {and Other Greens}” board on Pinterest.)

Grapefruit Avocado Salad

Thursday, January 5th, 2012

I once had the fortune to ride out a Florida hurricane at my great aunt’s house. How was this fortuitous, you may ask. Well for starters, I was with my uncle and aunt. Like any good son of an Italian mother, my uncle cooked up a storm as long as the power held out — there was pasta, scallops, and more. And in the backyard of the house, there were avocado trees. The fruits were strewn across the yard after the storm passed (thankfully, there was no serious damage in the neighborhood), and I flew back home several days later with a suitcase partially filled with fresh fallen avocados. If you’ve never had a Florida avocado, they are quite different than the standard Californian/Mexican Haas avocados found at supermarkets. They are several times larger, lighter colored and smooth skinned, and I find they have a fruitier flavor.

Once home with my hurricane souvenirs I set about to recreate a salad I first fell in love with on our honeymoon in Puerto Rico: the grapefruit avocado salad. The salad is simple to throw together, full of bright flavors to add cheer to cold winter days, and the healthy fats in the avocado help make it deceptively filling. Sometimes I just drizzle my grapefruit and avocado slices with straight olive oil, but it doesn’t take much longer to whisk it with lemon juice for the dressing.

Even when I have to make it with California avocados, it still serves to boost my mood during the dreary days of January.

grapefruit avocado salad

Recipe: Grapefruit Avocado Salad

Ingredients:

  • 1 large grapefruit
  • 1 large Florida avocado or 2 Haas avocados
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons good olive oil
  • sea salt

Instructions:

  1. In a small bowl, whisk together lemon juice and olive oil to make dressing. Set aside.
  2. Peel grapefruit and separate sections.
  3. Halve avocado(s) lengthwise and remove pit. Cut into thick slices, still in the skin, and gently scoop the slices out with a spoon.
  4. Arrange grapefruit segments and avocado slices in bowl or serving dish. Drizzle dressing over salad and then season generously with sea salt.

Makes 2-4 servings.

There are a number of ways to build upon this recipe — adding fennel or seafood, for example. Do you have a favorite version?