Our April SMArt Kids session, which focused on increasing fruit and vegetable consumption, could not have come at a better time, as we move into Spring and the warmer, more bountiful months in New England.
We all enjoyed learning how to make a tasty and satisfying salad using Romaine lettuce (rich in Vitamin A, C, K and folate), strawberries (rich in Vitamin C), walnuts (filled with protein and Vitamin E) and a light raspberry vinaigrette dressing. We discussed that protein is key to feeling satisfied and controlling one’s appetite. The kids did a great job thinking of creative ways of varying this salad recipe to make it suitable for a lunch or dinner – try adding chicken, tofu or tuna and….Ta-da!
We also worked on our “Rainbow Foods” worksheets. Fruits & veggies are packed with vitamins and nutrients we can’t get from other foods. The wide variety of nutrients in these foods is what makes them so colorful. An apple a day may keep the doctor away, but eating a “rainbow” means SUPER healthy you will stay! The chart below can be a helpful way to think of new ideas for eating the healthiest foods and can be used when making selections in the supermarket:
One SMArt Kid suggested ARTICHOKE as a new “green” veggie to try – an excellent suggestion, as one large artichoke contains only 25 calories, no fat, is full of potassium, antioxidants, Vitamin C, folate, magnesium and fiber! Many are not familiar with this “super food” and all its benefits, much less how to prepare it for eating. Here are some tips on how to prepare and try this awesome food:
1. Slice about 3/4 inch to an inch off the tip of the artichoke.
2. Pull off & discard any small, tough leaves near the base and on the stem.
3. Cut excess stem, leaving up to an inch on the artichoke. The stems tend to be more bitter than the rest of the artichoke, but some people like to eat them. I like to cut off the stems and peel the outside layers, which are more fibrous , and cook the stems along with the artichokes.
4. Rinse the artichokes in running cold water.
5. Fill a large pot with a few inches of water and a few squirts of lemon juice. Bring to a boil, add artichoke and cook for 25-30 minutes, or until the outer leaves can easily be pulled off.
To Eat an Artichoke…
1. Pull off outer petals, one at a time.
2. Dip white fleshy end in a light butter, low-fat dressing or balsamic vinegar for flavor. Hold the other end of the petal, then place in mouth, dip side down, and pull through teeth to remove the soft, delicious portion of the petal. Discard remaining petal. Continue until all of the petals are removed.
3. Once you get to the fuzzy center, or “choke” of the artichoke, with a knife or spoon, scrape out and discard the fuzz covering the artichoke heart. The remaining bottom of the artichoke is the heart – the best part! Cut into pieces and enjoy!
It’s important to think of ways to make healthy change also be practical change. Washing, prepping and storing fruits and vegetables ahead of time can help make that quick “grab and go” snack a lot easier. Also check out what’s “on special” in your local stores and buy what’s in season for better prices. There is no doubt that incorporating at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables into our diet each day promotes health and good energy. Put this together with the willingness to try new things, and we can discover a whole new world in our local grocery stores. Happy chomping!