Monica Irwin, the creator of Veggie Buds Club, recently Skyped with Twin Cities Live to discuss 4 simple snacktivities (1-2 ingredients!) that are guaranteed to keep your kids entertained and well-nourished. A snacktivity is simply a snack and activity combination, they are all guaranteed to make veggies fun for your kids!
Carrot Tower: Slice 1-2 carrots into “coin” shapes. Place them on a plate with some of your child’s favorite dip (i.e. nut/seed butter, ranch, or hummus). Encourage your child to stack the carrot “coins” as high as they can to make a Carrot Tower while they snack on carrots and dip at the same time. They can also use the dip as “glue” to help hold the tower together!
Bean Tic Tac Toe: Create a “Tic Tac Toe” board with 4 green beans. Use any type of veggie, snack food, or dry beans for the “X’s” and “O’s” and play Bean Tic Tac Toe with your child! Place some extra green beans on the side and encourage your child to snack on these while you play.
Peas & Cheese Necklace: Twist 2 pipe cleaners together. Place a plate of sugar snap peas and cubed cheese in front of your child and have them poke them on the pipe cleaners to make a “Peas & Cheese Necklace”. Have fun with patterns and counting as you do this activity with your child. They can eat their necklace when complete!
Popcorn Garland: Pop some popcorn, preferably unsalted and unbuttered. Prepare a needle and thread for your child (you know your child best, only have them do this activity if you’re comfortable letting them use a real needle!). Have them poke popcorn on the needle and create a garland while snacking on popcorn at the same time.
Breakfast is an important meal that gives you energy to get your day started. But often a major food group is missing from your breakfast plate or bowl... veggies! Join us for our #veggiebudsbreakfastclub challenge for the month of February: include at least one veggie in your first meal of the day. To give you some inspiration we've compiled some of our favorite veggie-packed breakfasts! We've broken them down into 3 categories: Savory, Baked Goods, and Smoothies. Each recipe below includes veggies, is delicious, and is simple to make!
Savory Veggie-Packed Breakfast Ideas
Sweet Potato Quiche: This tasty quiche is packed with veggies and bacon (optional) and swaps the standard crust with shredded sweet potato instead for an extra veggie boost.
Savory Corn Pancakes: These savory pancakes from Happy Kids Kitchen are great with avocado or spread with a little cream cheese and made into sandwiches. Yum!
Sweet Potato Toasts: These sweet potato toasts from Eat Pretty Darling are so versatile because they are delicious both sweet and savory. That’s what makes them the perfect toast substitute!
Rainbow Fried Rice: This rainbow fried rice from Happy Kids Kitchen is colorful, easy, healthy, and delicious for breakfast!
Vegetable Frittata: Healthy Little Foodies has a great kid-approved and veggie-packed frittata recipe, make it ahead and reheat in the morning.
Cauliflower & Cheese Muffins: Be sure to let your kiddos know that their yummy egg muffins have some "hidden" cauliflower inside, recipe from My Kids Lick The Bowl.
5-Ingredient Bacon & Broccoli Egg Cups: These are a great grab-and-go breakfast option from The Natural Nurturer.
Carrot Banana Protein Oatmeal: This oatmeal from The Natural Nurturer is full of nothing but the good stuff and is super easy to make!
Veggie Oatmeal: Happy Healthy Casa has some great options for veggie-packed oatmeal including how to incorporate zucchini, carrots, cauliflower, squash, sweet potato, and spinach!
Veggie-Packed Breakfast Baked Goods
Carrot Cake Muffin Tops: The top of the muffin is the best part, right? These wholesome treats are a combination of a tender muffin and an oatmeal breakfast cookie. Recipe by Happy Kids Kitchen.
One-Bowl Sweet Potato Pancakes: These pancakes from Happy Kids Kitchen are a great way to add some extra nutrients into your morning!
No-Bake Pumpkin Energy Balls: These no-bake pumpkin energy balls from Stephanie Middleberg are tasty, and they freeze well so they're a perfect on-the-go breakfast or snack for your kiddos.
Green French Toast Sticks: Enjoy this delicious kid-friendly way to "sneak" in some spinach from Happy Kids Kitchen! Little chefs will know that greens are in this fun breakfast, but they sure won't be able to taste them.
Outrageous Orange Granola: This granola from Eat Pretty Darling is packed with pumpkin, sweet potato, and carrots- so much orange veggie goodness!
Sweet Spinach Muffins: These kid-favorite muffins from Super Healthy Kids are 100% whole wheat, refined-sugar-free, and packed with fresh spinach!
Banana Spinach Pancake Pizza: This pancake pizza from The Natural Nurturer is a perfectly delicious way to serve up veggies for breakfast! Sweetened entirely with fruit and loaded with spinach.
Veggie-Packed Breakfast Smoothies
Tropical Carrot Smoothie: Happy Kids Kitchen has developed a tropical vacation in a glass! Kids will love measuring and adding ingredients to the blender, helping to chop the carrot, and pressing the buttons on the blender.
Spinach Superhero Smoothie: This recipe from Motherhood and Meals is called "superhero smoothie" because just as superheroes in stories fight crime, the spinach in this smoothie helps fight off illness!
Ants on a Log Smoothie: Adding celery to a smoothie with the addition of peanut butter in a tasty protein-and-veggie packed breakfast! Recipe from Motherhood and Meals.
Vitamin C Immune Boosting Smoothie: This smoothie from The Natural Nurturer is made with strawberry, banana, red bell pepper and is the perfect way to start your day!
Cauliflower Strawberry Banana Smoothie: Just 4 ingredients! Enjoy this simple and delicious smoothie from Live Eat Learn.
August is Corn Month at Veggie Buds Club and we are excited to bring you this fun summer snack from Katie at Eat Pretty Darling! You can find more recipes and tons of fun corn activities in our "Crazy for Corn!" eBook, check it out here.
Katie Blauser is the mama of two boys, wife of a picky eater, and food lover at Eat Pretty Darling. She believes in making food fun, healthy, & pretty! Katie’s not only outnumbered by boys in her little family, but also by picky eaters. She loves trying to find new ways to get both kids and adults to eat healthy while making food pretty yummy, pretty healthy, and pretty fun! Find Katie on Instagram (@eatprettydarling), where she shares colorful and cute food ideas for both picky and adventurous eaters.
My kids love sweet corn but sometimes they have a hard time eating it. They want to have the whole cob but their small hands make it tricky to eat. Try slicing the cobs into smaller rounds and transforming them into sunflowers! The cobs are smaller and they become a special treat.
We hope you enjoy this simple and all-natural caramel popcorn! Popped in coconut oil and sweetened with maple syrup and a little bit of vanilla, it's the perfect afternoon snack or popcorn treat for your next movie night. If you're making this with kids, you can enjoy it as a sweet snack while reading the classic children's book, "The Popcorn Book" by Tomie dePaola.
For more delicious corn recipes and children's corn crafts, growing projects, activity sheets and more, be sure to check out Veggie Buds Club's "Crazy for Corn!" digital eBook.
Clean Caramel Corn
August is Corn Month at Veggie Buds Club and we are excited to bring you this summer-y seasonal recipe from Heather at Happy Kids Kitchen! You can find more recipes and hours of fun corn activities that are guaranteed to get your kids excited about eating corn in our "Crazy for Corn!" eBook, check it out here.
This recipe was developed by Heather Staller, a mom of two boys, ages 6 and 4, and cooking instructor specializing in bringing cooking into preschool classrooms. After college, Heather knew she wanted to be a teacher, but first followed her lifelong dream of going to culinary school. Teaching cooking combines both of her passions, and she truly enjoys introducing young children to the joys of cooking with fresh ingredients. Find Heather on Instagram (@heather.happykidskitchen), where she shares inventive kid-friendly recipes and ideas for cooking with kids at home
Sweet or Savory Corn Pancakes
Fresh corn is so versatile! It is delicious in cornbread, corn muffins, corn soups, and corn salads, so why not make a kid favorite, pancakes, and try them out in both sweet and savory ways. Take pancakes beyond breakfast and serve them as a snack or a side dish at lunch or dinner. You can mix up the base pancake batter and really add in anything you'd like. For the sweet pancakes, add in fruit, like blueberries or diced strawberries. For a savory pancake, keep the batter as written or add soft herbs like chives or chopped cilantro. You could even add in extra veggies like shredded zucchini or diced bell peppers. Serve sweet pancakes as is or with a drizzle of maple syrup or honey. The savory pancakes are great with avocado or spread with a little cream cheese and made into sandwiches. Try both recipes and come tell us whether you are on team sweet or on team savory!
We created this fun FREE printable for you to do at home with your kids! Memory is a classic game that's appropriate for a wide-range of ages. Use fewer matching cards for younger kids and increase the amount of matching cards for your older children. Why not make veggies the star by playing a "Veggie Memory Game"?!
Make this activity more robust by first reading a book featuring veggies, here are some of our suggestions:
"Eating the Alphabet" by Lois Ehlert
"Growing Vegetable Soup" by Lois Ehlert
"We're Going to the Farmers' Market" by Stefan Page
Veggie Memory Game Printable
Simply print both sheets out at home, cut out the cards (bonus if you can laminate them), and play!
We're happy to welcome Heather as a guest blogger this month!
Heather is a mom of two boys, ages 4 and 2, and cooking instructor specializing in bringing cooking into preschool classrooms. After college, Heather knew she wanted to be a teacher, but first followed her lifelong dream of going to culinary school. Teaching cooking combines both of her passions, and she truly enjoys introducing young children to the joys of cooking with fresh ingredients. Find Heather on Instagram (@heather_kidskitchen), where she shares inventive kid-friendly recipes and ideas for cooking with kids at home.
Have you ever roasted corn? Cooking the fresh kernels at a high temperature, intensifies the corn's sweetness and takes corn flavor to a whole new level. The sweet kernels get golden brown and crunchy around the edges, making them reminiscent of popcorn. Roasted corn is great as a side dish, on its own, or combined with other fresh, seasonal produce like in the salsa recipe I've included below. Get your kids in the kitchen to help prepare the corn for the oven. They can help transfer the cut corn to a bowl, drizzle the corn with oil, sprinkle the salt, and spread the corn on the baking sheet. Simple, delicious, and easy... what could be better?
Simple Roasted Corn
Roasted Corn and Watermelon Salsa
Scoop up this fresh salsa with your favorite chips, serve on top of simply cooked chicken or fish, or pile on top of a green salad. Feel free to add whatever produce you have on hand: fresh herbs like cilantro or basil would be delicious. Bell or spicy peppers would also be a great addition.
This sprouting activity is super fun because it is quick and the corn sprouts grow very tall, both of which will keep the attention of your little ones.
"Sprout a Corncob" was the growing activity included in August's "Kids Love Sweet Corn" Veggie Buds Club kit, read on to learn how to sprout your own at home!
You can often find dry corncobs at garden or hardware stores (it is used for feed for wild animals). You can also find decorative Indian or ornamental corn at farmers markets, grocery stores, etc. in the fall season.
Dry corncob kernels are corn seeds. Simply fill a dish with 1 inch of water and place the corncob in the water. Place this is a sunny spot and then admire your corn as it grows! Within a few days you will begin to see the shoots sprout upwards, you will also see the roots grow in the water. You may need to pour the water out and refill with fresh water if it gets a little stinky.
Corn is actually a type of grass that has been cultivated over the course of thousands of years to resemble today's modern corn. You will definitely notice that the sprouts look just like grass!
A Little History of Corn
Scientists believe that people living in central Mexico developed corn at least 7,000 years ago. It was started from a wild grass called teosinte. Teosinte looked very different from our corn today. The kernels were small and were not placed close together like kernels on the husked ear of modern corn. Also known as maize, Indians throughout North and South America, eventually depended upon this crop for much of their food.
You can read more here!
Veggie Buds Super Club members received the book, "Curious George Farm to Table" by H. A. Rey in their "Kids Love Sweet Corn" kit, this is a great book that features local food and most notably corn. In the book, Curious George and his friend Marco wish to make tortillas for his abuella's birthday dinner, they run out of masa and go on a search for more. In the process, they learn how masa is made and in the end create tortillas from scratch with dried corn from the Renkin's farm.
This got me thinking that it would be fun to create a featured post on how to make tortillas from scratch. We hope you and your kids will join in on the fun and create some tortillas too!
We're pretty lucky because I happen to know a tortilla-expert in our town, I gave him a call and was happy to hear that he was excited to teach me and my family how to make tortillas at him home. Reginaldo Haslett-Marroquin (Regi) is the Chief Strategy Officer at Main Street Project, a nonprofit that has been working to create pathways out of poverty for rural Latino immigrants through specialized agriculture training and skills. Their main focus in on free-range poultry as part of a sustainable regional food system, but they do so much more and I truly encourage you to check out their organization.
We met Regi at his farm and got right to work! First, he showed me and my kids the corn that is used to make masa. You can't make masa out of any dried corn, it is best to use a variety of dent corn that has a high percentage of starch. Here's a close up of the corn that Regi grows for masa, it's much wider and flatter than sweet corn.
In order to truly make masa from scratch you first soak the dry corn kernels all day, add lime to the soaked corn, bring this to a boil for a bit, remove from heat, add more water, allow to soak for another 8-16 hours, wash and remove all skins, and grind. For a full tutorial we found a great guide from Saveur Magazine here. To save a bit of time (well, a lot of time!) we made tortillas from Maseca, a corn flour masa mix you can find at more grocery stores.
Regi makes tortillas by feel, so he poured a heaping mound of Maseca into a big bowl, we then added a little water at a time and formed a nice dough. The consistency reminds me of Crayola Model Magic Foam, and I can tell you the kids liked to play with it! I've included a recipe from chef Rick Bayless at the end of this post that you can follow since you probably don't have Regi in your kitchen as a guide;)
After we formed a very large ball of dough it was time to make the tortillas! We made little dough balls and pressed them in a tortilla press (this was my daughter's favorite part). Regi then pan fried them on a cast iron griddle on extremely high heat, approximately 500 degrees Farenheit. The cast iron was not oiled, and we needed to work fast. Once one tortilla was off of the griddle it was time for the next! We made two tortillas at a time.
Finally it was time to feast! Regi kept it local by only including ingredients all grown on his property: baked chicken from Main Street Project, black beans, tomatoes, and (of course) tortillas. And let me tell you, these tortillas were incredible, it's going to be hard to go back to store-bought!
Corn Tortillas Recipe
This recipe is from chef, Rick Bayless, you can also find it here:
And just for fun here are some more photos from our great visit at Regi's farm!
Veggie Buds Club includes a fun game called "Counting Kernels" in their "Kids Love Sweet Corn" kit. This is such a wonderful and simple game for kids to practice their counting skills and number recognition. We recommend a popcorn snack while they play!
We modeled this game off of a great activity on the I Heart Crafty Things blog, they even have a free printable! You simply need the printed game board from I Heart Craft Things, yellow Avery 3/4-inch round stickers (or any other sticker will do!), and 2 dice.
Counting Kernels Game Rules
ONE PLAYER RULES