All posts by Alyssa McDowell

July Fruit of the Month: Okra

The July Fruit of the Month is Okra!

Okra isn’t native to the midwest, but it’s still a yummy fruit we all get to enjoy. Okra is a flowering plant that is almost entirely edible—really! You can eat almost the entire plant! If you’ve ever had gumbo before, you’ve likely tried this delicious food. If not, there are plenty of other ways to incorporate okra into your meals. Keep reading to learn more about okra and how to enjoy it at home.

An Okra is a Great Source of:

  • Fiber—great for liver and digestive health
  • Vitamin B6—essential for a healthy nervous system, skin, muscles, and blood
  • Zinc—for an optimal immune system, wound healing, thyroid function (and more!)
  • Antioxidants—for a boost to the immune system
  • Vitamin K—known to help decrease the risk of certain cancers

Did You Know?

  • Okra has an aroma that smells like cloves!
  • The leaves, buds, flowers, pods, stems, and seeds of okra are all edible.
  • Okra is recognized most widely as a vegetable, but since it has seeds it’s actually a fruit!
  • It can be found in grocery stores year-round, but it is in season in late summer/early fall.

How to Harvest and Store Okra

Okra is ready to eat when it’s firm and brightly colored. Unwashed and whole, store okra in the fridge for up to 5 days in a container that is not airtight. Once the ridges and tip of the okra start to turn dark in color, it should be thrown out. Okra can also be frozen for long-term storage.

Tips to Get Children to Eat Okra

  • Eat it raw with their favorite condiment, like ranch!
  • Add it to a fruit smoothie!
  • Okra can be pickled and can be a fun (and yummy!) experience for both children and adults.
  • Cook in an air fryer for a crispier texture!
  • The inside of a raw okra can be slimy if you slice it and leave it to sit. To eliminate this, serve cooked! Sautéing okra in a pan coated in oil will eliminate the slimy texture. 

Ways to Eat Okra

  • Raw
  • Sauté
  • Fry
  • Boil
  • Steam

Let’s Get Cooking

Okra with Corn and Tomatoes

Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp canola oil
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • ½ tsp thyme
  • ½ tsp red pepper flakes
  • ½ tsp basil
  • 1 green bell pepper, seeded and finely diced
  • 3 large ripe tomatoes, seeded and chopped
  • 2 cups corn, fresh, frozen, or canned
  • 2 cups small okra pods (2-inch pods), whole or in ¼-inch thick rounds
  • ½ cup water or chicken stock
  • ¾ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper

Directions

  1. In a 10-inch iron skillet or heavy pan, heat olive oil. Add onions, bay leaves, thyme, basil, and red pepper flakes.
  2. Sauté and stir until onions are limp. Add bell pepper and continue cooking until onions are translucent.
  3. Add tomatoes, okra, water, salt, and pepper.
  4. Reduce heat to low and simmer uncovered for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. Add corn and cook for 5 minutes.
  6. Season to taste if needed. 
  7. Serve hot on top of rice or pasta if desired.

Lite Fried Okra

Ingredients

  • 2 cups okra, fresh and sliced
  • ¾ tsp vegetable oil
  • ⅛ tsp salt
  • ⅛ tsp pepper
  • Cooking spray

Directions

  1. In a bowl, mix sliced okra, oil, salt, and pepper.
  2. Coat a large iron skillet or heavy pan with cooking spray. Heat over medium heat and add okra mixture.
  3. Turn the contents of the pan often with a wooden spoon or spatula. Cook until the okra is browned, about 10 minutes.
  4. Serve with hot sauce or favorite relish.

For more creative okra-based recipes visit MyPlate Kitchen! With so many possibilities, like Spicy Okra, Veggie Stir-Fry with Turkey, and Okra and Greens you’re sure to find something that is tasty for the whole family!

Fact Check: SDSU Extension, MyPlate Kitchen, Dr. Axe

Can’t get enough fruits and veggies? Be sure to check out Harvest of the Month, a downloadable educational program designed to make learning about fruits and veggies easy, tasty, and fun!

Explore more Fruits & Veggies of the Month!

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June Fruit of the Month: Strawberry

The June Fruit of the Month is Strawberry!

It’s hard to imagine someone who doesn’t love strawberries, but in case you need convincing, this information is for you! The strawberry fruit is a versatile berry that can be eaten raw or cooked—though it’s eaten raw most often. Talk about an easy snack! They’re low-carb and rich in fiber and antioxidants (among many other goodies!), making them a nutritional haven for both adults and children!

A Strawberry is a Great Source of:

  • Vitamin C—a powerful antioxidant for your immune system
  • Folate—important for red blood cell formation and healthy cell growth
  • Potassium—helps body tissues and cell function
  • Manganese—great for healthy bones
  • Fiber—essential for healthy gut bacteria and digestive health

Did You Know?

  • Studies show that eating strawberries increases heart health!
  • Strawberries are related to roses.
  • Because the strawberry plant doesn’t have a woody stem, they are classified as an herb.

How to Harvest and Store Strawberries

Strawberries should be shiny and bright red when ready to eat. Avoid eating if they are moldy or wrinkled. Before eating, wash, drain, and dry your strawberries. Refrigerate strawberries for up to one week. You can also freeze strawberries for long-term storage.

Tips to Get Children to Eat Strawberries

  • Let them help you harvest
  • Make a kabob with other fruit and veggies
  • Add to blended smoothies
  • Top your oatmeal or yogurt with strawberries

Ways to Prepare Strawberries

  • Raw
  • Blend or Purée
  • Bake
  • Sauté

Let’s Get Cooking

Berries with Banana Cream

Ingredients

  • ⅓ cup yogurt, low-fat plain
  • ½ ripe banana
  • ½ ounce orange juice
  • 2 cups sliced strawberries
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1 tsp cinnamon

Directions

  1. Combine yogurt, banana, and juice. Mash with a fork until most chunks are gone.
  2. Place strawberries in a bowl and top with the yogurt banana mixture.
  3. Top with honey and cinnamon and enjoy!

Fruit and Yogurt Breakfast Shake

Ingredients

  • 1 ripe banana
  • ¾ cup pineapple juice
  • ½ cup yogurt, low-fat vanilla
  • ½ cup strawberries, stems removed

Directions

  1. Blend the banana, pineapple juice, yogurt, and strawberries in a blender until smooth.
  2. Divide between 2 glasses and serve immediately.

For more creative strawberry-based recipes and information visit MyPlate Kitchen! With so many possibilities, like Broccoli Strawberry Orzo Salad, Strawberry S’Mores, and Whole Grain Strawberry Pancakes you’re sure to find something that is tasty for the whole family!

Fact Check: SDSU Extension, MyPlate Kitchen, Healthline, StrawberryPlants.org

Can’t get enough fruits and veggies? Be sure to check out Harvest of the Month, a downloadable educational program designed to make learning about fruits and veggies easy, tasty, and fun!

Explore more Fruits & Veggies of the Month!

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May Vegetable of the Month: Artichoke

The May Vegetable of the Month is Artichoke!

Artichokes may feel a bit alien at first, but they can be fun and delicious! Not to mention, it’s one of the top vegetables containing the most antioxidants, keeping the whole family strong and healthy.

Artichoke is a Great Source of:

  • Fiber—great for liver and digestive health
  • Iron—improves muscle and brain function
  • Antioxidants—for a boost to the immune system
  • Vitamin A—for cell health
  • Vitamin K—aiding bone and brain health

Did You Know?

  • Artichokes are a staple health food within the Mediterranean diet.
  • The artichoke plant can grow to be six feet in diameter and up to four feet tall!
  • There are 140 different species of artichokes, but only 40 are grown commercially as food.
  • The edible part of the artichoke is a flower bud before it begins to bloom!

How to Harvest and Store Artichoke

Ready-to-eat artichokes should be firm, compact, and heavy with an even, bright green color. You want to avoid black bruises or a purple tint. To safely store, cut off the bottom stem from the artichoke, sprinkle with water and place in an airtight bag for 5-7 days. Before cooking, cut off the thorny leaf tips with a kitchen scissors and remove any dry leaves completely.

How to Eat Artichoke

Remove the individual leaves and use your teeth to remove (and eat!) the softer flesh. Discard the leaves after you have removed the soft flesh.

Tips to Get Children to Eat Artichoke

  • Under a guardian’s supervision, have your child help prepare the artichoke before cooking. They can help peel off dry leaves or even cut off the thorny leaf tips with safety scissors!
  • Let them dip the artichoke in their favorite dips or condiments like butter, cheese, or ranch.
  • Because you use your teeth to remove the soft flesh of the artichoke, they are generally more fun for kids to eat. Make it an adventure!

Ways to Eat Artichoke

  • Boil
  • Steam
  • Microwave
  • Sauté
  • Roast

Let’s Get Cooking

Spring Vegetable Soup

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups red cabbage, finely shredded
  • 2 ripe tomatoes, chopped
  • ½ cup canned artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
  • 1 cup green peas, fresh or frozen
  • 2.5 cups vegetable juice, low-sodium
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tsp dried basil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. In a large soup pot, heat oil over medium heat. Sauté the cabbage, tomatoes, artichoke hearts, and peas for 10 minutes.
  2. Add vegetable juice and water. Bring to a boil.
  3. Reduce heat and add basil. Let simmer for 10 minutes, or until all vegetables are tender.
  4. Serve in individual serving bowls and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Stuffed Artichokes

Ingredients

  • 4 large artichokes
  • 3 cups breadcrumbs
  • 3 garlic cloves, grated
  • 1 cup parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1 cup pecorino cheese, grated
  • 1 cup chopped parsley
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 1 ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp pepper

Directions

  1. Cut 1” off the top of the artichoke with a serrated knife and snap off any dry or tough leaves. Use a kitchen scissors to trim off any thorny leaf tips. Remove the stems.
  2. Combine the breadcrumbs, garlic, salt, pepper, parmesan, pecorino, parsley and olive oil in a bowl.
  3. Separate the leaves on the artichoke to give them some breathing room. Stuff the crumb mixture between each leaf.
  4. Stand upright in a steamer basket over simmering water. Cover and steam over medium-low heat until tender (add more water if needed), about 1 hour 20 minutes. 
  5. Remove from basket and drizzle lightly with olive oil.
  6. Serve while warm.

For more creative artichoke-based recipes and information visit this Pick it! Try it! article from South Dakota State University Extension.

Fact Check: SDSU Extension, MyPlate Kitchen, Nutrition and You

Can’t get enough fruits and veggies? Be sure to check out Harvest of the Month, a downloadable educational program designed to make learning about fruits and veggies easy, tasty, and fun!

Explore more Fruits & Veggies of the Month!

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April Vegetable of the Month: Asparagus

The April Vegetable of the Month is Asparagus!

Asparagus is a stalk-y vegetable that is both nutritious and delicious! It has the potential to grow super fast—up to 10 inches a day—and with all its nutrients, your children may just have a healthy growth-spurt of their own! Once they experience the crunchy, subtly-sweet taste of asparagus, they’ll be coming back for seconds!

Asparagus is a Great Source of:

  • Iron—to make red blood cells, muscles, and carry oxygen throughout the body.
  • Fiber—a needed nutrient to stay “regular.”
  • Antioxidants—for a boost to the immune system!
  • Vitamin K—aiding bone and brain health
  • Copper—for healthy red blood cells and nerve cells.

Did You Know?

  • Asparagus is a vegetable that grows wild. You just have to know which ditch or other grassy area to look in!
  • Asparagus is a perennial, which means, when taken care of, it will continue to come back year after year!
  • The asparagus was once a delicacy for the Greeks and Romans.
  • Asparagus is part of the Asparagaceae family, making it a cousin to onions, garlic, tulips, and even daffodils!”
  • After you eat asparagus, it has the potential to make your urine smell a little strange! Don’t worry, it’s completely normal and the odor will go away!

How to Harvest and Store Asparagus

When harvesting or shopping, choose asparagus stalks that are firm and even in color—avoid stalks that are wilted and dry. Both thick and thin stems of asparagus are okay to eat! Whether you picked your own asparagus or bought it from the store, you’ll want to rinse it with water when you get home. To store, trim the bottom of the stalks (optional) and set inside a glass with 1–2 inches of fresh water. Cover with a plastic bag and store in the refrigerator for up to 2–3 days.

Tips to Get Children to Eat Asparagus

  • Make finding asparagus an adventure! If you grow asparagus in your garden or know a local spot where it grows in the wild, let your children help harvest! They’ll be much more excited to try the veggie once it’s cooked if they’ve lent a helpful hand!
  • The flavor and texture is most liked when asparagus is cooked briefly and still has a little bit of a crunch to it!

Ways to Eat Asparagus

  • Sauté
  • Steam
  • Boil
  • Grill
  • Roast

Let’s Get Cooking

Sautéed Asparagus with Mushrooms

Ingredients

  • 1 lb asparagus, trimmed
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 ½ tbps. extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ cup fresh mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 tsp. fresh thyme, chopped (or ½ tsp dried)
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Ice water

Directions

  1. In a large skillet, bring 2 inches of water to boil with salt. Prepare ice water, set aside.
  2. Add asparagus to boiling water, cook for 4–5 minutes, until barely tender.
  3. Remove spears from the water, and place in ice water to cool. Once cool, drain the water, and set the asparagus aside.
  4. Heat oil over medium-high heat in the skillet. Add mushrooms, asparagus, thyme, salt, and pepper to taste.
  5. Cook until mushrooms are wilted and asparagus is heated through (about 3–4 minutes). Serve warm or chilled.

Asparagus with Gremolata Souce

Ingredients

  • 2 cups asparagus, washed and trimmed
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 2 tsp. lemon peel, grated
  • 1 garlic clove, large, minced
  • 2 tbsp. lemon juice, fresh

Directions

  1. Cook asparagus in a large pot of boiling water until tender, about 4 minutes
  2. Drain, rinse with cold water to cool quickly
  3. Pat dry and wrap asparagus in a paper towel, then plastic wrap and refrigerate
  4. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat
  5. Add lemon peel and garlic and stir for 30 seconds
  6. Add asparagus and toss to coat
  7. Sprinkle with lemon juice. Sauté until asparagus is heated through and coated with the Gremolata sauce (butter, lemon peel, garlic, and lemon juice), about 3 minutes
  8. Transfer to a plater and serve.

 

For more creative asparagus-based recipes visit MyPlate Kitchen! With so many possibilities, like Grilled Asparagus and Shrimp Quinoa Salad, Pasta Primavera, and Spring Vegetable Sauté, you’re sure to find something that is tasty for the whole family!

Fact Check: SDSU Extension, MyPlate Kitchen, Nutrition and You

 

Can’t get enough fruits and veggies? Be sure to check out Harvest of the Month, a downloadable educational program designed to make learning about fruits and veggies easy, tasty, and fun!

Explore more Fruits & Veggies of the Month!

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March Vegetable of the Month: Cooked Greens

The March Vegetable of the Month is Cooked Greens!

Cooked greens can include a variety of (green!) leafy vegetables like collard, mustard, kale, swiss chard, spinach, and bok choy! Their super power is that they are rich in antioxidants, which help fight aging and disease. The darker the color, the higher levels of antioxidants the vegetable has!

While each nutrient make-up is different for each type of green, leafy cooked greens are often rich in:

  • Vitamin C—a powerful antioxidant for your immune system.
  • Vitamin E—great for eye health.
  • Vitamin A—for cell health.
  • Vitamin K—known to help decrease the risk of certain cancers.

Did You Know?

  • When you cook leafy greens, the taste of the vegetable changes and more of the nutrients become available to your digestive system!
  • Cooked greens are low in sugar, carbohydrates, sodium, and cholesterol!
  • Dandelion greens are edible (yes the weed) and enhance heart and liver health! If you’re picking dandelion greens from the lawn, make sure they haven’t been sprayed with pesticides and herbicides that can make you sick!

How to Harvest and Store Cooked Greens

Keep unwashed greens in a plastic bag in the refrigerator’s crisper drawer for 3 days, or 5 days if wrapped in a wet paper towel. Edible greens will have fresh, green leaves. Do not eat leaves that appear wilted or yellow in color to avoid rot.

Tips to Get Children to Eat Cooked Greens

  • Add to sandwiches and wraps
  • Toss into a green smoothie
  • Make a fun kabob stick with their favorite foods
  • Add to a breakfast omelet

Ways to Eat Cooked Greens

  • Steam
  • Sauté
  • Bake
  • Boil

Let’s Get Cooking

Wilted Swiss Chard with Garlic

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs. swiss chard, cleaned and coarsely chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • Fresh lemon juice, optional

Directions

  1. Rinse the greens in several changes of cold water
  2. Remove the stems and chop them into 1-inch pieces, set aside
  3. Stack the leaves and roll them into a tube shape
  4. Using a sharp knife, cut across each tube until all the greens are chopped
  5. Heat a skillet or saucepan over medium-low heat with olive oil and minced garlic. Add the wet swiss chard, one handful at a time and stir after each addition
  6. Cover with a tight fitting lid and cook the greens for about 5 minutes, keeping the bright color
  7. Remove the lid and cook over medium-high heat until all the liquid has evaporated (about 2-3 minutes)
  8. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve with a squeeze of lemon juice, if desired

Garlic Bok Choy

Ingredients

  • 1 bok choy (1 pound)
  • 5 cloves garlic (use 4-6 cloves, minced or 1–1 ½ teaspoons of garlic powder)
  • 2 tsp. vegetable oil
  • ½ tsp. salt

Directions

  1. Cut the bok choy crosswise into easy-to-eat pieces
  2. In a medium skillet, over medium-high heat, saute garlic in oil until fragrant. If using garlic powder, add with salt in the next step
  3. Add bok choy and stir quickly, add salt, and stir until greens are wilted and stem pieces are tender-crisp
  4. Serve hot

For more creative parsnip-based recipes visit MyPlate Kitchen! With so many possibilities, like Collard Green Gumbo, Seared Greens, and Smothered Greens, you’re sure to find something that is tasty for the whole family!

Fact Check: SDSU Extension, MyPlate Kitchen, Dr. Axe

 

Can’t get enough fruits and veggies? Be sure to check out Harvest of the Month, a downloadable educational program designed to make learning about fruits and veggies easy, tasty, and fun!Explore more Fruits & Veggies of the Month!

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February Vegetable of the Month: Parsnip

The February Vegetable of the Month is Parsnip!

Parsnips can be used much like any root vegetable (think carrots and potatoes). They actually look a lot like creamy colored carrots, but they do taste a little different. Parsnips have a naturally sweet, nutty, and peppery flavor—and they smell more like celery. You can cook them in lots of different ways, add them to soups, casseroles, or prepare as an easy side dish kids will love. If you’re ready to experiment with parsnips, a good rule of thumb is to use them the same way you would normally prepare potatoes or carrots.

A Parsnip is a Great Source of:

  • Manganese—great for healthy bones.
  • Vitamin C—a powerful antioxidant for your immune system.
  • Vitamin K—known to help decrease the risk of certain cancers.
  • Vitamin B9—can help with mental and emotional disorders like anxiety and depression.

Did You Know?

  • Parsnips were used as a sweetening agent before cane sugar became a major import.
  • Like potatoes, parsnips can be stored for long periods of time—making them a handy go-to pantry item.
  • They naturally increase your ability to produce serotonin—which is known as the “happy” hormone.
  • Parsnips have powerful anti-bacterial, anti-microbial, and antifungal qualities.
  • They are packed with different minerals and vitamins—perfect if you are looking for nutrient-rich foods to add to your diet.
  • In Britain and Ireland, parsnips are used to make beer and wine.

How to Harvest and Store Parsnips

Consider adding parsnips to your vegetable garden mix. Pick when firm and dry. If you wait to harvest after the parsnips have been in the cold (after the first frost) for 2-4 weeks, the flavor will be sweeter. Store in the refrigerator in an unsealed bag for 3+ weeks. 

If a raw parsnip becomes soft and squishy, this is a sign of rot and it should no longer be eaten. For better flavor, cook the parsnip with the skin on—after cooking, you have the option to eat the skin or not!

Tips to Get Children to Eat Parsnips

  • Cook and mash, then mix with potatoes for an extra flavorful mashed potato and parsnip blend
  • Cut into sticks, and fry or roast as french fries
  • Chop and blend in your preferred soup or stew

Ways to Eat Parsnips

  • Raw
  • Boiled
  • Sautéd 
  • Fried
  • Roasted

Let’s Get Cooking

Mashed Parsnips and Potatoes

Ingredients

  • 2 cups parsnips
  • 3 medium potatoes (1 pound)
  • ½ cup low-fat milk
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • 1 Tbsp butter

Directions

  1. Scrub parsnips and potatoes under running water and peel
  2. Cut into similar sized pieces
  3. In a medium saucepan, cover the vegetable pieces with cold water. Bring the water to a boil and simmer until the vegetables are soft, 15–20 minutes.
  4. Drain the vegetables and mash.
  5. Stir in milk, salt, garlic powder, and butter.
  6. Serve hot and refrigerate leftovers within 2 hours

Harvest Vegetable Salad

Ingredients

  • 2 cups romaine lettuce (washed)
  • 1 cup cilantro (washed)
  • 1 cup parsnips (peeled)
  • 1 cup carrot (peeled)
  • 1 cup turnips (peeled)

Dressing Ingredients

  • ¼ cup lime juice
  • ½ tsp lime zest (grated)
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • ¼ tsp chili powder
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil

Directions

  1. Combine romaine lettuce and cilantro, and divide on four plates
  2. Place parsnips, carrots, and turnips into 1 quart of boiling water. Return water to a simmer and cook for 2 minutes.
  3. Strain the water and vegetable mixture in a colander
  4. Mix the ingredients for the dressing right before serving
  5. Place hot vegetables on top of the greens and top with the dressing

 

For more creative parsnip-based recipes visit MyPlate Kitchen! With so many possibilities, like Parsnip Soup, Roasted Root Vegetable blend, and a Roasted Brussel Sprouts, Potato, and Chicken dish, you’re sure to find something that is tasty for the whole family!

Fact Check: SDSU Extension, Health Benefits Times, MyPlate Kitchen

 

Can’t get enough fruits and veggies? Be sure to check out Harvest of the Month, a downloadable educational program designed to make learning about fruits and veggies easy, tasty, and fun!Explore more Fruits & Veggies of the Month!

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January Vegetable of the Month: Spinach

The January Vegetable of the Month is Spinach!

Spinach is one of the few vegetables that are available year-round. It can be prepared and eaten in many different ways, but it has the most nutrients when eaten fresh! Spinach is a versatile vegetable that accounts for 100% of the daily value of vitamin A, which helps the health of your eyes, skin, and hair.

Spinach is a Great Source of:

  • Vitamin A—great for your eyes, skin, and hair
  • Vitamin K—builds strong bones by helping calcium adhere to your bones
  • Vitamin C—helps heal wounds and bruises and controls cholesterol levels
  • Vitamin E—helps keep your tissues healthy and supports immune system
  • Vitamin B1, B2, B3, B5, B6—helps reduce stress and depression, and promotes healthy brain cells

Did You Know?

  • Popeye was on to something! Ounce for ounce—there’s more iron in spinach than there is in ground beef.
  • Spinach is one of the few vegetables that is available year-round. It grows best in cool, not freezing, moist conditions, especially during spring and autumn. It grows well in sandy soils.
  • March 26th is National Spinach Day. Celebrate with your favorite spinach recipe!
  • For many years in the 1930s and 1940s, spinach was ranked as the third most popular children’s food after turkey and ice cream.
  • California is the number 1 U.S. grower/supplier of fresh and processed spinach, accounting for almost 75% of the national production. You can find processed spinach frozen, puréed, canned, and in baby food!

How to Prepare and Store Spinach

Tear off the stem and separate the leaves. Place in a large bowl of water; let any sand drift to the bottom of the bowl and remove the leaves from the water. Repeat until the leaves are clean. To keep it fresh, store the spinach in an open bag in the refrigerator vegetable tray/drawer.

Realistic Ways to Get Children to Eat Spinach

There’s a reason why children prefer sweet-tasting foods over vegetables. Until late adolescence our taste receptors are more sensitive to bitter tasting foods, meaning many vegetables can taste unpleasant to children. So how do we get children to eat nutritious spinach?

Two strategies to try are:

  • Introduce spinach in small amounts continuously. Repetition is key. The more your child sees spinach, the more likely they’ll get curious and adventurous with the vegetable. Example: use a small amount in a homemade soup or salsa!
  • Hide spinach in other foods that generously help eliminate the natural bitter flavor. Example: use it in a fun fruit-based smoothie!

Ways to Eat Spinach

  1. Raw
  2. Steamed
  3. Microwaved
  4. Sautéed
  5. Stir fried

Let’s Get Cooking

Orange Sunrise Smoothie

Ingredients

  • ½ ripe banana
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • ½ cup spinach leaves, rinsed
  • ½ cup strawberries (fresh or frozen)

Directions

  1. Blend all the ingredients until smooth
  2. Serve and enjoy!

 

Spinach Salsa

Ingredients

  • 1 large tomato, diced
  • 1 cup spinach leaves, chopped
  • 2 tsp lime juice
  • ½ sweet onion, diced
  • 1 tsp cilantro
  • 1 tsp tabasco (optional)

Directions

  1. Combine all the ingredients and serve with whole wheat tortilla chips

For more creative spinach-based recipes visit MyPlate Kitchen! With so many possibilities, like Lemon Spinach, Grapefruit Spinach Salad (double dose of vitamins), and Spinach Stuffed Potatoes, there’s sure to be a recipe or two that will make any family smile.

 

Fact Check: SDSU Extension, South Dakota Harvest of the Month, Science 2.0, Famlii

Can’t get enough fruits and veggies? Be sure to check out Harvest of the Month, a downloadable educational program designed to make learning about fruits and veggies easy, tasty, and fun!

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