At harvest time, when there are abundant organic grapes on the vine, kids can freeze a large bunch in the freezer for a month or so in a plastic air tight bag. On a hot day in September, an icy grape pop is a delightful treat. Each frozen grape is a flavorful pop of juicy fruit goodness that is perfect for a picnic or trip to the beach. Frozen grapes retain their flavor, but the texture is best semi frozen. Growing an organic grape vine in a large container on the patio offers kids a snack bowl of nutritious goodness picked fresh from the vine and a yummy frozen treat.
Once a Japanese culinary hobby, the Bento lunch box has caught imaginations around the world. Kids and parents can create food art with healthy edible ingredients in lunch boxes. These yummy balanced meals are visually appealing with their cute character ideas and bright colors. Bento boxes are a fun way to pack to-go meals, banish boring lunches, and please even the pickiest eaters. The designs can be simple or elaborate, with the objective of showing kids what a balanced healthy meal looks like. Kids can decorate sandwiches with eyes and mouths to look like cows, bunnies, frogs, flowers, and many more cute characters. With the sandwich as the main attractions, kids can surround it with small amounts of several different foods. Using leftovers or making organic slaw, pasta, quinoa, lentils, or rice ahead saves preparation time. The ecofriendly lunch boxes come in different materials: wood, metal, and plastic. The traditional cedar boxes have a wonderful aroma; the metal boxes are sturdy; the insulated box set keeps food warm with smaller side dish containers; and the plastic box with a domed lid protects the bento designs. Special tools are available, such as cutters, punches, and sandwich presses to make the designs; bright colored silicone cups to hold small portions of fruit or salad; sauce bottles and cups to pack salad dressings or soy sauce; and antibacterial sheets that come in a wide variety of cute designs for food dividers.
Kids can make a healthy lunch by filling half a bento box with rice and half with salad greens. Kids can use a flower cutter to punch flowers out of slices of cooked vegetables, such as carrot, butternut squash, and potato with string beans cut on a diagonal to create leaves and piece of cooked broccoli for a bush and place them on the bed of rice. Kids can add raison eyes to cherry tomatoes by making a small slit in the top for the raison and cut a small wedge from each tomato to create mouths with sesame seeds as noses. Place the tomato characters on top of the salad greens mixed with a few cooked garbanzo beans. Kids and parents can choose something from each food group and from each color group to make a pretty meal with healthy ingredients and lots of love.
Kids can make great sandwiches and serve them hot, cold, grilled, wrapped, rolled and open-faced. When kids use ingredients fresh from their organic container veggie garden, they can create the best tasting, healthiest creations. Kids can make seasonal sandwiches with the fresh produce, like herbs, avocados, salad greens, asparagus, or tomatoes as they become ripe in their garden. Organic whole grain bread makes great sandwiches. Kids can try organic sourdough, Italian, rye, pumpernickel, ciabatta, or pita bread to discover their favorites. Organic nut butters without added sugar and fresh organic fruit, dried fruit, or homemade preserves on organic whole wheat bread are perennial favorites with kids. Organic whole grain wheat, rice, or corn tortillas make the perfect wraps. Kids can stuff wraps with organic veggies and organic rice, quinoa, lentils, or beans. Roasting veggies like bell peppers, onions, zucchini, and tomatoes add texture, color, and terrific flavor to the sandwich. Kids can try different condiments, like pickles, pesto, salsas, olives, hummus, chili, or chutney to add zing to any sandwich. The secret to a great sandwich is balancing the bread with the crispy, sour, salty, sweet, spicy ingredients.
Kids often think that food comes in packages and the source of food is the grocery store. The food industry is a massive collection of farmers, ranchers, and manufacturers who often choose profit over food quality. Crops are sprayed with pesticides and herbicides and foods are enhanced with additives, fillers, and dyes. The chemicals used in the process of getting the food to the store make their way into the land, water, and air as well as the people who eat the food. Kids that grow an organic patio veggie garden know that the source of food is the seed from which the plants grow. Organic crops are not grown with synthetic pesticides, synthetic or sewage sludge-based fertilizers, genetically engineered seeds, nor irradiated to kill bacteria. Farmers markets are a great source of local organic foods. Overly processed foods are not the healthiest choice even if they are organic. A fresh organic apple is healthier than organic junk food that has been processed, stored and transported. More and more doctors are practicing preventive medicine and encouraging their patients to eat whole organic food to prevent and cure many diseases. By purchasing organic products, parents can use their purchasing power to vote in favor of the organic approach to farming. Kids can find the source of food by growing their own organic garden almost anywhere, in a school garden, a community garden, or on the patio or roof.
When parents and kids discover the shocking ingredients in the meals at their favorite Fast Food place, they understand why there is a rise in diabetes, obesity, allergies, and other diseases. Sugar, artificial chemicals and colorings, preservatives, high fructose corn syrup, and saturated fat are not ingredients to grow a healthy kid. With organic fruit and veggies growing in containers on their patio, kids can get food fast by picking an organic fig from the tree or tomato from the bush. Buying organic at the store is expensive. Large industrial organic farms continue to grow large monocultures of organic greens all over the world, bag them in plastic, and ship them 8,000 miles to big box stores, such as Walmart and Costco, leaving giant carbon footprints. Kids can grow a container of salad greens near the kitchen that bring the most nutrients possible from the foods, since plants deliver their full nutritional value when eaten fresh, and pick the outside leaves for dinner. Kids can get fresh organic in season produce at their local Farmers Market, where its fun to talk to the farmers that grow the food. Families can also join CSA programs and pay the farmers upfront each season for a weekly delivery of fresh produce. Kids get great satisfaction growing their own food in a patio, school, or community garden and develop a feeling of connection to the land and their neighborhood.
When kids plant their own organic container food garden on the patio, they will eat what they grow. Kids can grow a pizza garden in a raised bed or fruit trees in large pots. Urban gardens are springing up between strip malls and fast food places inspiring kids around the country to grow their own food. Community gardens are making a healthy difference as an inexpensive plot can produce food for the whole family. Healthy lunch boxes start with the organic ingredients from those gardens. Some schools, like Santa Paula High School, have local farms deliver fresh organic produce and local chefs working with students to create a healthy menu. But many schools still have processed, low nutrient meals provided by large food processing corporations. For a healthier lunch, kids can pack salads, sandwiches, and leftovers in insulated lunch boxes with reusable food containers that are BPA, PVC, and phthalate free, and dishwasher safe. Kids can find insulated stainless steel thermos, stainless steel utensils, and ice packs to create healthy meals they enjoy. Stainless steel and plastic systems are available with lots of sizes and shapes for dips, soups, sauces, puddings, and delicate foods. Kids can keep food warm by pouring boiling water into their thermos before filling it with soup or putting it in the freezer to keep their pudding cold. When kids grow an organic veggie garden, they can pack fresh, healthy lunches in reusable containers.
In the summer, kids can make an inviting organic melon ball salad for a snack, outdoor meal, or party treat. Thousands of years ago kids in Africa were enjoying watermelons. Watermelons are rich in antioxidants, vitamin C, and lycopene for a healthy cardiovascular system. Cantaloupe contains a broad spectrum of nutrients and is rich in beta-carotene. Kids can grow melons in their organic raised bed garden or get in season organic melons at their local Farmers Market. Honeydew melon is also rich in nutrients and is a pretty green color to make a rainbow melon ball salad with the red watermelon and orange cantaloupe. Small kids can ask an adult to cut the melons in half. Using a 2 inch cookie scoop, kids find it fun to make balls of melon. Kids can refill the scooped out watermelon skin with the melon balls for a colorful display.