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February, 2011

Start them young for lifetime habits

By Mark Mulcahy

Over and over we hear that if you start something early in life, you generally stick with it; snowboarding, baseball, watering skiing, soccer, and lots of other things
.
Organic Pears
Eating fruits and veggies are no exception. Studies have shown that starting good eating habits when kids are young can have lasting effects. The first place to build these habits comes from the parents. Yes, that’s right, the example parents set makes a big difference in how your kids view and eat vegetables. Remember not to let your own bias affect what your children choose. Sometimes we even do it unconsciously. Next time you are in the produce section buying some Melissa’s fruits or vegetables, listen to what you tell them. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard a parent say, “You won’t like that”, or, “We don’t like those”.

Just because your kids didn’t like broccoli steamed doesn’t mean they wouldn’t like it raw or mixed with some cheesy mashed potatoes. Or because they didn’t like a fresh Bosc pear doesn’t mean they wouldn’t like a D’Anjou or Abate Fetel; or even that same Bosc baked. It’s easy for any of us to get stuck in our ways, but with a lot of commitment and a little perseverance we can make a difference. Are you ready to get started? Good!

Here are a few tips to get you moving in the right direction:
• Keep Melissa’s organic fruits and vegetables visible by having fresh fruit on the table or countertop and cut carrots or celery in the fridge.
• Set time aside to have meals together.
• Make produce a part of every mealtime.
Organic Strawberries
For breakfast:
• Add Melissa’s organic bell peppers, broccoli, spinach, mushrooms or tomatoes to your eggs and omelets
• Add fresh bananas or strawberries to cereal, yogurt, and oatmeal
• Add fried apple slices and roasted nuts to Saturday morning pancakes

For lunch:
• Add Melissa’s organic lettuce, tomato, onion, sprouts and cucumber to sandwiches
• Pick up ready-made salads from the produce section for a quick salad anytime
• Have them try several types of vegetable soup from tomato to minestrone to find out which ones they will like with their grilled cheese sandwich
• Always include a couple of Melissa’s organic carrots, cherry tomatoes, or celery sticks to their noontime plate
• If you are packing a lunch, consider using a Bento box, which has different compartments for each healthy item and is easy for kids to get open

For snacktime:
• Have pre-cut veggies and fruit available for easy and frequent snacking
• Keep hummus or healthy dips around to encourage better choices (For a great tasting hummus, try Cheryl Forberg’s recipe below)
• Cut up cheese slices are a perfect pairing with afternoon apples or pears
• A handful of almonds or pecans provide essential protein and complements Melissa’s organic oranges, apples, bananas, or berries
• You can’t go wrong with a smoothie loaded with lots of healthy fruit or a vegetable juice made in the juicer that can be served hot or cold organic bell pepper

For dinner:Organic Red Bell Peppers
Vary the ways you prepare foods:
• Pick up ready-made salads from the produce shelf for a quick salad anytime
• Add Melissa’s organic spinach leaves, tomatoes, peppers and onions on pizza
• Make veggie lasagna.
• Add fresh organic broccoli, green beans, corn or peas to a casserole or pasta
• Make Thai food and serve the veggies with peanut sauce
• Add shredded organic lettuce, sliced tomato or onion, sprouts and cucumber to burgers, wraps, hot dogs and tacos
• Make a meal of raw organic veggies like baby carrots, pepper strips, broccoli and celery with a centerpiece of topped bell peppers filled with hummus, salsa, cocktail sauce, and blue cheese dip, almond butter, etc and let everyone eat their fill

For dessert:
• Baked pears with ice cream
• Apples with chocolate dip
• Fresh berries and cream
• Homemade carrot cake
• Carrot and raisin salad
• Melon slices
• Raisins or dried cranberries with bananas and yogurt.

Remember, they may not like everything they try, but what they do like will serve them for a long, long time.

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus
Yield: About 4 cups; 16 (¼-cup) servings

For hummus:
11-ounce tub Melissa’s Garbanzo beans (equals 3 cups cooked garbanzos)
1/2 jar Melissa’s Fire Roasted Sweet Red Bell Peppers, drained (7 ½ ounces or 1 cup)
1/2 cup Melissa’s Lime, juiced
1 tablespoon lime peel, grated
1/2 cup tahini
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 tablespoon Melissa’s Peeled Garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoon cilantro, chopped

For crudité:
8 ounces fresh Melissa’s Sno Peas, blanched and chilled
8 ounces jicama, cut in julienne sticks
8 ounces baby carrots
1 English cucumber, cut in 1/2-inch slices
16 radishes
2 yellow bell peppers, trimmed and cut into 1” slices

Instructions for hummus:
Cook garbanzo beans according to package instructions. Drain; cool. There will be about 3 cups of cooked garbanzo beans. Place all ingredients for the hummus, except cilantro, in the bowl of a food processor or jar of a blender. Process or blend until very smooth, about 4 minutes. Transfer to serving bowl. Garnish with cilantro.

May be chilled or served room temperature as a tasty dip for the crudité vegetables.