By Nancy L. Heinrich, M.P.H.
I teach a lot of healthy cooking classes for children and adults. The best part of my classes is when kids get involved by washing veggies, using new kitchen tools such like vegetable peelers, and tossing together the ingredients, they get a better attitude about trying new foods. I love making this meal when kids are around because if you have at least 2 adults you can work around 2 cutting boards and get the garden pitas made in a matter of minutes. Feel free to be creative – if you love yellow peppers and they are available at a good price at your local farmers market, then use them instead of green or red peppers.
The Garden Pitas recipe is a great way to teach kids that we all need to eat vegetables every day. The Fruit Shake recipe is a good way to get kids to try new fruits. I like to use at least 2 fruits in the shakes. Banana-cantaloupe shakes are very refreshing but my all-time kind to make is banana-blueberry (since blueberries are one of the “superfoods”).
Vegetables and fruits contain dietary fiber (only found in plant foods that grow from the Earth) which helps fill us up so we don’t overeat. Using recipes like these makes it easy for you and your family to get “eat rainbows” every day AND get the dietary fiber we need which can prevent obesity and diabetes.
3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 Tablespoon red wine vinegar (I like to use Pompeian Açai Pomegranate Infused Red Wine Vinegar)
Fresh ground black pepper
MIX into the dressing:
1-1/4 cups chopped tomatoes (plum or grape)
1 cup diced and peeled cucumbers
1 cup chopped green or red bell peppers
½ cup chopped radishes
2/3 cup chopped red onion
½ cup chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
1 cup crumbled feta cheese (about 4-1/2 ounces)
USE a slotted spoon to transfer salad into:
Four 8-inch-diameter whole oat or wheat pita breads, cut in half
PLACE INTO blender:
1 cup frozen fruit* (bananas, blueberries, peaches, and/or cantaloupe)
1 cup milk**
1/2 teaspoon ground flax seed
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon agave nectar (optional)
BLEND UNTIL the consistency you like.
*Fruit such as bananas, peaches, or cantaloupes that may slightly overripe works best for fruit shakes. Cut or break into 1 inch pieces, place in zip lock bags, and freeze until ready to use.
**For demonstration purposes, Almond Delight Almond Milk with 60 calories per 1 cup serving was used in the preparation of this recipe.
Nancy Heinrich is the founder of Growing Healthy Kids, a nonprofit organization which creates and delivers solutions to the childhood obesity crisis. She is an epidemiologist who works primarily with diabetes, prediabetes, and obesity. She is the author of Healthy Living with Diabetes: One Small Step at a Time and the creator of several diabetes education programs.
For more information, please go to: www.growinghealthykids.
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