- Grow an organic fruit and veggie garden. Organic food is never treated with toxic pesticides or made from genetically modified organisms. Certain foods have been named “The Dirty Dozen” because of the high risk of toxins from pesticides. Kids can grow organic celery, spinach, bell peppers, potatoes, lettuce, and kale in their veggie garden and can’t wait to taste them. When kids eat a rainbow of veggies, they get all the nutrients they need to build strong minds and bodies.
- Choose fruit first and save sugar for special occasions. Kids can grow organic apples, strawberries, peaches, nectarines, grapes, and blueberries right where they live to avoid the toxic chemicals from the conventionally grown fruit. Eating organic fruit right off the tree makes the perfect snack or dessert that kids love. Fruits are filled with fiber, vitamins, and minerals, with none of the chemical additives, fat, sugar, or salt in processed snack foods.
- Go for Whole Grains. White bread has the bran and germ removed from the grains along with much of the nutrients. Kids can make sandwiches from organic whole wheat bread, rich in fiber and vitamins. Popcorn, a whole grain, is a healthy snack kids love. Organic old fashioned rolled oats take only minutes to cook from scratch to make a yummy oatmeal for breakfast.
- Choose healthy unsaturated fats from organic plant foods, such as avocados, nuts, and seeds, which are good for the heart, blood vessels, and kidneys. Unhealthy saturated fats come from animal products like meat, milk, and butter. Processed foods, fried foods, and margarine contain trans fats which are harmful to the heart’s health.
- Eat plenty of protein rich plants, like quinoa, beans, nuts, seeds, and many vegetables that also supply lots of fiber, vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats. When eating a variety of healthy foods, the amino acids combine to form protein chains in the body to provide plenty of protein.
- Drink filtered water and water infused with fruits instead of soda. Sodas, energy drinks, sports drinks, and fruit drinks cause weight gain and tooth decay. Eating a whole fruit is a better choice than drinking fruit juice because it is packed with fiber. Kids can cut pieces of fruit and add them to a large container of water in the refrigerator for a refreshing drink. Pure water is vital to good health. Kids can carry a thermos of fresh water with them to keep hydrated.
- Read the labels on processed foods to help make healthy choices and learn to cook. Real food is made from ingredients kids can find in nature, like whole grains, beans, nuts, fruits, herbs, and veggies. Avoid packaged, canned, and prepared food and choose fresh organic options as processed foods are filled with chemicals to make them look better and last longer. Kids gain a life long skill when they learn to cook whole, simple foods from scratch.
Everyone loves chocolate chip cookies, especially fresh baked organic chocolate chip cookies with apricots, walnuts, and oats. Perfect for parties, gifts, and afternoon snacks, these healthy treats give kids brain power and energy. Oats have the highest percentage of protein and fiber of any grain. Organic walnuts in addition to protein and fiber, are rich in omega-3, heart healthy fats. Apricots are filled with Vitamin A, fiber, and heart healthy lycopene. Studies at the University of California have shown that eating a 100 calories of dark chocolate a day results in lower levels of body fat, lower blood pressure, and a healthy heart. Dark chocolate is a super food with polyphenols that make it a treat for kids’ health and spirit.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Soak ¼ cup dried apricots in a cup. In a large bowl using a fork, cream 8 tbsp soft organic vegan butter and ½ cup organic cane sugar; add 2 tbsp of organic maple syrup and 1 tsp vanilla extract. Mix in ¾ cup whole wheat pastry flour, ¾ cup organic old fashioned rolled oats, 1 tsp arrowroot starch, ½ tsp baking soda, ¼ tsp baking powder, ¼ tsp sea salt, ½ tsp cinnamon and blend well. Stir in ¼ cup walnut pieces, ¼ cup chopped dried apricot, and ⅔ cup semi sweet chocolate chips. Spoon the dough onto parchment paper lined cookie sheets. Bake for 10 minutes and cool 15 minutes.
For thousands of years, people in South India have adhered to the vegetarian traditions of the Hindu priest class and yogic diet that is laid out in the ancient holy text, Bhagavad Gita, as a way to lead a harmonious, healthful, and peaceful life without inflicting harm on others. Many of the ancient recipes from this area are vegan and gluten free. Spices are at the heart of Indian cooking. Tempering them in hot ghee, clarified butter, the spices will pop and sizzle and their flavors will bloom and intensify. Roasting them in a hot cast iron skillet releases the oils in the spices and brings out their full favor and aroma. Kids can visit an Indian store to discover the many Indian spices and their wonderful aromas. Each region of India has their own favorite combination of spices, which is why the curry sauces vary from place to place. Mustard seeds, cardamon, cinnamon, black pepper, cumin, coriander seeds, turmeric, cloves, fenugreek seeds, and asafetida are spices often found in Indian cooking. Fresh cilantro, ginger, grated coconut, and tamarind paste are favorite flavoring in rice, lentil, and bean dishes. Nuts and seeds are used to give a nutty flavor and a crunchy texture to desserts and rice dishes. Indian cooking also celebrates the seasonal produce available in the gardens and bazaars which adds creativity to the distinct essence that permeates each Indian dish.
Eggplant is probably Turkey’s most popular vegetable, appearing in many recipes from baked, deep fried to pickled. Baba Ganouj is a creamy eggplant tahini dip and one of several small dishes served in a traditional meze, where diners share little dishes, which may include spicy walnut and red pepper dip, olive salad, yogurt, bulgar salad with pomegranate molasses, sliced tomatoes and cucumbers, pickles, cheese, and bread. Kids can create their own meze or share this dip at a party. Preheat oven to 400°. Wash 1 large organic eggplant and prick it all around with a fork. Place it on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper and bake for 30 -35 minutes until it is soft and the skin is blackened. While allowing the eggplant to cool, put an organic garlic clove on the cutting board and pour ½ tsp sea salt on top. Lay the side of a large knife over the garlic and salt and press down hard and smooch the salt into the garlic. Mince the garlic and smooch it into a paste with the salt, by continuing to chop and smooch the garlic. Peel the skin of the baked eggplant, give it a rough chop, and place it in a medium bowl. Stir the garlic paste into the eggplant. Add a dash of cumin and a dash of cayenne. Stir in 1 tbsp organic extra virgin olive oil, 1 tsp fresh lemon juice, 4 tsp organic tahini, and ¼ tsp sea salt. Mix well, cover the bowl, and set aside for 2 hours. Pour the mixture into the blender and mix until smooth. Garnish with fresh mint leaves. Baba Ganouj makes a great appetizer served with bread.
Kids can easily make yummy organic granola bars for a great breakfast, dessert, or snack. Homemade organic granola with dried fruit and nuts is packed with vitamins, minerals, and nutrients to give kids energy and brain power for a full day at school. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Toast 1 cup organic old fashioned rolled oats, ¼ cup shredded coconut, and ½ cup chopped almonds on a sheet pan for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Line a 6 x 6 baking dish with parchment paper. In a bowl, coat ¼ cup chopped dates and ¼ cup chopped dried apricots in 3 tbsp organic whole wheat pastry flour and add the oat mixture. In a saucepan, bring to a boil 2 tbsp organic virgin coconut oil, ¼ cup organic maple syrup, ¼ cup organic cane sugar, ½ tsp vanilla, and ⅛ tsp sea salt, stirring for a minute, and remove from heat. Pour into the prepared baking dish and bake for 15 minutes until light golden brown. Cool 3 hours and cut into squares.
Acorn squash is a Native American winter squash and each half is just the perfect size for an elegant party side dish. It looks like a large green acorn and is rich in bone and eye healthy nutrients. Stuffed with pistachios and cranberries, it is delightfully sweet with nice crunch. Preheat the oven to 350°. Mix 2 tbsp melted organic vegan butter with 2 tbsp organic cane sugar, ⅛ tsp organic molasses, and 1 tsp cinnamon. On a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, brush the mixture on 2 organic acorn squashes, halved through the stem and seeded, and sprinkle with sea salt. Stick a fork into the sides of the squash and brush any excess sauce on the tops and side to cover the squash. Roast the squashes for 45 minutes. While the squashes roast, bring 2¼ cups of water to boil, add 1 cup organic Whole Foods brown basmati and wild rice mixture, and simmer 30 minutes. Mix into the rice 2 tbsp organic extra virgin olive oil and 6 cups of baby spinach and simmer 5 more minutes. Remove from heat and let sit covered 10 minutes. Shell 1 cup organic pistachios, place them on a baking pan in the oven next to the squashes, roast 5 minutes, chop, and mix into the rice. Separate and pout 1 cup dried cranberries into the rice and stir in 2 tbsp fresh organic lemon juice, ¼ tsp sea salt, and ⅛ tsp cayenne pepper. Stuff the squash halves with the wild rice mixture and serve. Makes a beautiful party dish for the holidays.
Kids can make healthy holiday treats with organic whole wheat pastry flour and organic fruit that are fun for breakfast, snack, and dessert. Kids can soak 3 tbsp organic dried cranberries and 3 tbsp minced organic dried apricots in warm water and set aside. In a small bowl, mix 1 ½ cups pealed and chopped fine organic apples, ⅓ cup organic chopped walnuts, 1 tsp organic maple syrup, 1 tbsp cane sugar, 1 tsp organic orange zest, and ¼ tsp organic pumpkin spices. In a large bowl, add 1¾ cup organic whole wheat pastry flour, take 2 or 3 tbsp of the flour to stir with the apple mixture and set the small bowl aside. Combine the rest of the flour with ⅓ cup organic sugar, 1 tbsp baking powder, 1 tsp organic arrowroot starch, ¼ tsp sea salt. Cut into this mixture 6 tbsp cold organic vegan butter. Kids can mix with a fork or their fingers until mixture has a coarse crumb consistency. Drain the raisins, mix with the apples, and pour the fruit into the large bowl. Mix ½ cup organic unsweetened almond milk into the flour mixture and stir until well blended and put in the refrigerator for 15 minutes. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Turn dough onto a floured bread board and knead gently 8 to 10 times. Roll out the dough and cut into ½ inch thick stars with a cookie cutter. Place stars 1” apart on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Kids can refrigerate the dough between batches to get 26 – 30 stars. Bake 12 minutes, until lightly browned.