In like a lion, out like a lamb. So goes the folklore of March. While the month’s advent wasn’t exactly made with a roar, we hope to be enjoying mild temps and easy, breezy days ahead. Gardens are on the minds of many of us, that selection of edibles we’d like to be harvesting for our tables before too long — homegrown goodies, salad fixings, juicy strawberries and sweet corn. If there is a prime time for focus on adding more vegetables to our family diet, March qualifies. As important as it is for our own health, it’s as much if not more so for any youngsters in our home.
Kids should eat two servings of fruit and three servings of vegetables daily, says canr.msu.edu. They learn from us so if mom, dad, grandparents, aunts and uncle munch on a few carrot sticks at snacking time, all the better. Let the children plant a few carrots in that spring garden you put in last year when COVID had us keeping close to the homestead. Let youngsters pick some other produce to grow, get them hands on, not only planting when the time comes, but also in the kitchen washing, peeling, chopping (if they’re old enough), mixing. Remember to give the young chefs a shout-out at mealtime for anything they had a hand in.
Form the two-bite club: encourage a minimum of two bites of a new food, then don’t push it. Retreat and return another day to try again. If it doesn’t go over well, try a different recipe or dip next time. It generally takes eight to 10 bites of a new food before kids accept it, so don’t give up, advises the site. Never forget that young eaters like to dip fruit and veggies in dips like peanut butter, hummus, low-fat yogurt, guacamole, or low-fat or no-fat ranch. Use everything at your disposal; some of these easy recipes may help, no matter how young or old the folks around your table are.
CELERY WITH APRICOT BLUE CHEESE SPREAD
2 tablespoons crumbled blue cheese
3 tablespoons fat-free cream cheese
1/2 cup fat-free yogurt (plain)
4 dried apricots
4 dried figs or dates
1/4 cup pecans
8 stalks celery
■ Chop dried fruit and pecans.
■ Mix blue cheese, cream cheese and yogurt with a form or hand mixer until smooth.
■ Stir in chopped, dried fruit and pecans. Refrigerate spread until ready to use.
■ Slice celery stalks into 3-4 inch sticks. Fill celery pieces with spread.
CHICKEN AND FRUIT SALAD
Makes 8 servings (2/3 cup)
3 cups cooke chicken, chopped
1 20-ounce can pineapple chunks in 100 percent juice, drained
1 11-ounce can mandarin oranges in 100 percent juice, drained
3/4 cup chopped celery
1 cup halved seedless grapes
1/4 cup low-fat mayonnaise
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
8 large lettuce leaves
■ In a large bowl, mix gently chicken, pineapple chunks, oranges, celery and grapes.
■ In separate bowl, mix low-fat mayonnaise and black pepper.
■ Gently stir mayonnaise mixture into chicken mixture. Cover and chill in refrigerator.
■ To serve, scoop 2/3 cup of chicken salad onto a lettuce leaf. (Using a lettuce leaf instead of a bun is a great way to include more vegetables in your diet.)
CUCUMBER DILL YOGURT DIP
2 cups plain Greek yogurt, low-fat
1 lemon, squeezed to make 1 tablespoon juice
1 tablespoon fresh dill, chopped
1/4 teaspoon garlic, minced
Black pepper, to taste
■ Peel cucumber. Cut in half length-wise and remove seeds. Grate cucumber and place on paper towel. Squeeze out excess fluid.
■ Mix grated cucumber, plain yogurt, lemon juice, dill, garlic and pepper together in a medium sized bowl.
■ Serve dip with your favorite vegetables, like carrots, bell peppers, squash or tomatoes.