Eating Wisely and Spending Time Together: Fun Foods Featuring Fruits and Vegetables

Mother cooking with her daughterAmy Nelson, Yankton, South Dakota

In the midst of all the news and changes in response to coronavirus health concerns, Spring officially arrived, and with the change in season comes the promise that fresh fruits and vegetables will soon be more readily available.

Many of us are finding ourselves home all day with our families, even during times when we may have been separated due to school or work.  Cooking new recipes together in the kitchen might be one way to help reduce the stress that the change in schedule has created, or maybe you might want to tuck these recipes away until you all are able to get out again to replenish your food supplies.

What is your family’s favorite way to enjoy produce? Some of my children want their fruits and vegetables presented simply – apple slices, carrot sticks, or a bowl of grapes. One is content to sample almost anything as long as she’s the one who prepares it. Yet another child is especially fond of dips and sauces.

Fresh fruits or vegetables might not be available where you live, or you may be unable to use fresh fruits and vegetables as often as you’d like with your meals and snacks. Don’t overlook frozen, canned, and dried options, if available. They provide important nutrients and can be stored in the freezer or on the shelf, and they often can be used in place of fresh produce with possibly a little adjustment for the extra liquid, when fresh ingredients are not available.  

On that note, let’s dive into La Leche League resources for a little inspiration.

My middle daughter – my sous chef – would jump at the chance to try out this recipe for Peach Pops from La Leche League International’s Feed Yourself, Feed Your Family.

Peach Pops – Makes 8 pops

  • ½ pint raspberries
  • ½ cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar, preferably superfine
  • 1 pound ripe peaches, pitted and chopped
  • 1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

1. Combine the raspberries and 1 tablespoon sugar in a small bowl. Let stand.

2. Combine the peaches, yogurt, lemon juice, and remaining ½ cup sugar in a blender. Puree until very smooth. Add the raspberries and gently fold in with a rubber spatula until just swirled in.

3. Divide the mixture among 8 pop molds. Freeze and insert pop sticks according to the package’s directions.

My son loves nothing more than tending to our backyard garden. Last year he was on a mission to dry and save beans so we could have colorful jars of legumes sitting on our shelves waiting to be used throughout the year. This recipe for Black Bean Salsa (also found in Feed Yourself, Feed Your Family) features his beloved beans mixed together with produce he’s probably keen to grow in this year’s garden.

Black Bean Salsa – Serves 4

  • 1 15-ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 15-ounce can white corn, rinsed and drained
  • 1 10-ounce can diced tomatoes with chiles
  • 4 green onions, chopped
  • ½ cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Combine the black beans, corn, tomatoes, green onions, cilantro, lemon juice, oil, and a pinch each of salt and pepper.

2. Cover and refrigerate until cold, up to overnight.

My children love when I suggest we make our own pizzas for a meal or a snack. I’m not sure if it’s because it’s pizza or if it’s the fun of choosing from a variety of ingredients to create a personalized pizza, but it works! This recipe for Zucchini Pizza from Whole Foods For The Whole Family eliminates the pizza dough and replaces it with zucchini slices.

Zucchini Pizza – Serves 8

  • 8 4-inch zucchini
  • 2 large ripe tomatoes, sliced
  • 8 slices Cheddar cheese
  • ½ C. finely chopped onion
  • ½ C. finely chopped green bell pepper
  • 1 to 2 t. oregano
  • 2 T. grated Parmesan cheese

Cut zucchini into ½-inch slices. Simmer in 1 inch water in saucepan for 3 minutes, turning once; drain and pat dry. Place on rack in broiler pan. Top each slice with tomato slice, cheese slice, a sprinkle of onion and green pepper and a shake of oregano and Parmesan cheese. Broil for 5 minutes or until cheese bubbles. This is a great lunchtime treat with the children. May substitute eggplant for zucchini or use other sliced cheese.

Here’s a sweet treat recipe from Whole Foods for the Whole Family that consists almost entirely of shelf stable ingredients. This Polynesian Bars recipe also appeared in Issue 3, 2011, of New Beginnings.

Polynesian Bars
– 2 cups chopped dates
– 1 tsp. vanilla
– 1 1/2 cups unsweetened crushed pineapple with juice
– 1 cup whole wheat flour
– 1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
– 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
– 3 cups rolled oats
– 1 cup orange juice
– 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
– 1/4 cup oil
Cook dates, vanilla and undrained pineapple in saucepan until thickened, stirring occasionally. Combine base ingredients in bowl; mix well. Press half the base mixture into greased  9×12-inch baking pan. Spread with pineapple filling; top with remaining base mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes. Cool on wire rack; cut into bars.

Editor’s Note: We hope these recipes inspire and delight your family’s taste buds. Our diverse audience likely ensures we’ll never present meal/snack ideas that work for everyone. As with all information presented by La Leche League, please use what works for you and leave the rest.

What recipes are your family’s favorites? We’d love to hear about them and possibly share in a future blog post. Please send your recipes to Amy at [email protected].

Please send your story ideas to Amy at [email protected].

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