V-Day with the Kids

Happy Valentine’s Day! Are you celebrating with your children? Ditch the candy and cupcakes and head to your produce department for Fresh from Florida strawberries. They are currently in season (which means CHEAP and FRESH!) and are perfect to use for Valentine’s Day treats. Here is our favorite recipe for a simple and healthy strawberry snack:

Strawberry Pops

Ingredients

  • 12 Florida strawberries
  • 12 4-inch lollipop sticks
  • 1 cup lightly crushed whole grain cereal
  • 12 paper candy cups, or use plate

Preparation

  • Rinse strawberries and remove leaves.
  • Dip berry in yogurt, then in the cereal.
  • Insert sticks into the narrow end of the strawberry. Serve immediately

Blanching Vegetables

Steamed vegetables are a nutritious and great choice for snacks. The best way to cook vegetables is a method called blanching. This simple technique maintains a vegetable’s nutrients and flavor while keeping its crunchiness. Blanching is especially good for green vegetables.

Steamed Florida Vegetables

Ingredients

  • Assorted Florida vegetables such as carrots, cauliflower, green beans, zucchini and squash.

Preparation

  • Fill a saucepan halfway with water and place on medium-high heat. Cover with a lid and bring water to a rapid boil.
  • Add cut vegetables to boiling water. Vegetables will cook quickly so check them every other minute to see if they are cooked. Vegetables should be slightly crisp but tender at the same time. See below for suggested cooking times.
  • When the vegetables are cooked, use a slotted spoon to transfer them from the pan to a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process. Let the vegetables cool completely.
  • Remove vegetables from the bowl and dry with a paper towel.
  • Repeat the process for each type of vegetable. You can use the same boiling water and ice bath.

Tips: Cut vegetables into bite-size pieces or sticks for easy toddler handling.
Store in an airtight plastic container or bag for later use. The blanched vegetables should last at least 3 days in the refrigerator.

Estimated Cooking Times for Selected Vegetables

Note: Cooking times vary based on which vegetables are used and how large they are cut; therefore, cook one vegetable type at a time.

  • Broccoli, chopped or stalks – 3 minutes
  • Carrots – diced/strips – 2 minutes; whole baby carrots – 5 minutes
  • Cauliflower – 3 minutes
  • Eggplant – 4 minutes
  • Greens (spinach, collards) – 2 to 3 minutes
  • Okra – 3 minutes
  • Bell pepper, strips – 2 minutes
  • Snap Beans – 3 minutes
  • Zucchini, slices or chunks – 3 minutes
  • Squash, slices or chunks  – 3 minutes

Healthy for the Holidays

Have you ever noticed how most of our holidays revolve around food?  That’s because the food we eat can often be a holiday tradition itself. Sometimes our favorite holiday foods are unfortunately not the healthiest.  When you’re trying to set an example for your kids by eating right, this time of year can be the hardest (which is probably why everyone starts new diets on January 1)!   Here are some of our favorite Thanksgiving dishes with a healthy, Florida twist:

Fresh from Florida Veg-a-Bird

Looking for ways to make Thanksgiving a little more fun for the kids?  Try creating your own Florida “Veg-a-Bird” with a melon, bamboo skewers, toothpicks, and your favorite fruits, veggies and cheese.  This would make a great appetizer for your Thanksgiving meal!

Fresh from Florida Veg-a-Bird

Ingredients

  • 1 large honeydew melon or Florida cantaloupe
  • 1 small Florida yellow squash
  • 1 cup cubed cheddar cheese
  • 1 medium Florida yellow pepper
  • 1 medium Florida red pepper
  • 1 medium Florida green pepper, cut into squares
  • 1 cup Florida cucumber, peeled and cubed
  • 1 pint Florida grape tomatoes
  • 8 pieces Florida carrots, cubed and slit 3 times at one end (This step should be completed by an adult or left out entirely)
  • 2 whole cranberries
  • Bamboo skewers
  • Toothpicks

Preparation

  • To keep the melon from rolling, cut a shallow slice off the rind to form a flat base.
  • Attach the squash, large portion pointing up, to the melon with part of a bamboo skewer.
  • Cut a square of green pepper in diagonally in half, forming two triangles. Cut a thin slice of red pepper for the wattle. Attach both using a toothpick to the squash.
  • Attach two cranberries, one for each eye, using toothpicks.
  • Cut red pepper into six strips for the feet and set into place.
  • Alternate tomatoes, cheese, green pepper and cucumber on skewers to use as tail feathers. Top 8 pieces with slit carrots cubes. Insert skewers into the back of the melon.
  • Slice 4 red pepper pieces and 5 yellow pepper pieces into ½-inch slices to use as side feathers. Stick the pepper slices in place with toothpicks.