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