Root Veggie Scavenger Hunt

Getting kids to try new vegetables isn’t always the easiest thing – but someone has to do it!  The Everyday Kids pilot went into local schools last week to bring some veggie-love into the classroom.  After some hands-on exploration with soil types, we presented a crazy idea to kindergarteners and third grade – that many of the foods we eat are actually the roots of plants! To prepare for some taste testing, the first lesson also consisted of introducing these delicious root vegetables; beets, daikon, carrots, radishes, black radishes, ginger, and parsnip.  In order to get both classes really excited for trying them, we set up a root vegetable scavenger hunt on the playground. The kids loved this activity and highly anticipated trying out the veggies for the next class.  This veggie hunt is also adaptable for fun at home.

For the root vegetable hunt:

1. Make sure to hide a variety of root vegetables (we had about 15 kids in each class so we made sure to have at least 15 vegetables in total, but ended up with much more) in a contained area like the playground or in a fenced backyard.  Save one of each of the types of vegetables for the next step. 2. When you’re with the children, introduce them to the root vegetables you hid.  Make sure they remember the names of each one. **It is up to you whether you want to introduce the activity by presenting the parts of a plant and explaining that roots are also our food. 3.  Next, let them know that they will be going on a hunt for these vegetables. If there are a number of kids, separate them into teams.  The team who finds the most vegetables wins.  If these are older children, tell them that in order to receive a point for a find, they must be able to name the vegetable. 4. After about five minutes (or more depending on how many vegetables you hid), have the groups come back so that they can compare their findings. 5. Have a reward available for everyone, even the losing teams. After a taste test of the raw roots, Everyday Kids gave both classes chocolate beet root cake with ginger.  It was a hit ! – and had plenty of healthy hidden beets in it, too.

Maple Roasted Sweet Potatoes

All of this talk about maple syrup is getting me hungry.  This recipe serves 12 and only takes about 10 minutes of active cooking. Ingredients: 2.5 lbs sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1.5 in pieces (8 cups) 1/3 cup Vermont maple syrup 2 tbs butter or margarine, melted 1 tbs lemon juice 1/2 tsp. salt Pepper to taste

1. Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees. 2. Place sweet potatoes in an even layer in a glass baking dish.  Combine the rest of the ingredients in a small bowl and pour the mixture over the sweet potatoes. (This is the perfect time to get a child helping with dinner!) 3. Cover and bake the potatoes for 15 minutes.  Uncover, stir, and bake again while stirring every 15 minutes until the potatoes are tender and beginning to brown.  This will take 45 minutes to an hour.

Using a non-dairy butter instead of dairy will bring this recipe down to no cholesterol!  Get more information on this dish’s nutritional content here .

What Do You Know About Maple Syrup?

In 2010, Vermont produced 1,140,000 gallons of delicious maple syrup – more than any other state!  Although maple syrup is available locally anytime, the sugaring season has just begun and fresh, sugary sap is now being made into the mouth-watering and rich syrup most of us delight in.  But do you know how this great product is made? Maple syrup was discovered by the Eastern Woodland Indians when they realized that sap cooking over a hot fire turned into a sugary substance.   Since then, people could not get enough of this wonderful syrup.  European settlers who were offered to share in the Indians’ new discovery,  began to develop technologies to make the process faster and easier.

Nowadays, maple syrup is made from placing taps on trees and allowing sap to travel down into buckets.  The sap is then collected through tubing, trucking, or other means to get to the sugar house.  Sap is then boiled when it is fresh to make the highest quality syrup.  Water then evaporates from the sap, leaving a thick sugary syrup behind.  This point usually occurs at 219 degrees and has a density of over 60% sugar.  Next, a valve is opened by the sugarmaker and the syrup is drawn off.  The maple syrup is then checked for the proper density of sugar with a tool called a hydrometer.  It is then filtered to remove sugar sand and other minerals found naturally within the tree.  Finally, the syrup is taste tested and color-graded!


Interested in teaching your class about maple syrup?  offers a simple activity to do with children.

1. Hold up a bottle of maple syrup and ask the students if they know how syrup is produced.

2. Tell the students that syrup comes from trees, but do not tell them how it is extracted.

3. Using existing knowledge and their own imagination, have the students predict the sequence of how they think syrup is made from trees. They should list their “steps of production” from beginning to end. Their assignment should include pictures to accompany the steps for greater clarification.

4. Ask the students to share their assignments with the class.

5. Have the students recall what they know about trees and list their responses on the board.

6. Read the story, Sugarbush Spring to the students. Share some photographs of sap collection with the students.

7. Were any of the students’ sequence predictions similar to how the sap was collected in the story? How does this new information relate to what they already know about trees?

8. Have the students discuss the importance of scientific prediction. What is a hypothesis? How can it assist in discovering new information and ideas?


– Have students map the Top 10 Maple Producing States. Examine their climate and geography, what do all of these states have in common? What can be learned about the needs of the maple tree by this determination?


*If you cannot use the specified book, play a short movie or documentaryor simply read from another source to describe the maple sugaring process.

If possible, bring your kids to a local sugarhouse or tapped tree for a real, live experience! Sugarmakers are usually very welcoming to schools and will offer some yummy maple snacks before you leave.  If the resources are available, this may also be a great time to incorporate cooking and tasting of a local product into the classroom, as well.  Get creative!

Microgreen Gardening

There are only two weeks left of March until Spring !  Besides being a spring-baby, this time of year is one of my favorites because of the rainy, fresh smell in the air, watching the flowers and trees bloom, and most of all I love the increase in availability of fresh local fruits and veggies.  If you are getting a bit impatient with the wait and are craving something “springy” and new for your salad, why not try to grow a bit indoors? Growing microgreens are a fun, healthy, fairly cheap, and super easy gardening (and eating) activity.  All you have to do is decide which greens you want to grow – maybe mesclun, cilantro, kale, mustard, arugula – the list goes on! You really can pick almost anything because you are going to be harvesting your vegetables at a young age, when all of the nutrients are packed into those little sprouts. Try something you’ve never had before and let the taste be a surprise.  After you pick your seeds the next steps are quite easy.

You can start growing in a plastic recycled container.  These can be restaurant take-away containers or feel free to go and buy one at your local hardware or garden store- just make sure whatever you pick fits well on or by your windowsill so that your plants get a good amount of sunlight.  A bit of drainage in whatever you choose is beneficial.  You can easily punch a few holes on the bottom of your container and make sure there is something underneath to catch excess water (maybe the lid!).

Then fill up your container with some good-quality soil and mix in compost if you have it, about an inch or so away from the top.  Sprinkle your seeds over the surface of the container.  Try giving seeds an 1/8th or so of room in between each one if you can.  Sprinkle a bit of soil on top of your seeds (another 1/8th or so inches deep).  Water your seeds well to help them start germinating.  As your plants grow, keep the soil moist but not dripping wet.  In 10-15 days you can cut your plants for eating.  When you cut is essentially up to you but the earliest should be when the plant’s first true leaves start to pop out.

Unfortunately, after you harvest your microgreens they will not grow again from the same seeds since they are only sprouts.  However, after harvesting you can reuse your soil and start with new seeds.

Happy growing!

Vermont Blueberry And Maple Syrup Sorbet

Did you know that you can get locally grown and flash-frozen blueberries in Vermont this time of year?  Check your local co-op or health-food store and look out for Vermont-made labels.  Also, try buying local berries this summer and freezing them for winter use. Homemade sorbet is great way to make a scrumptious and healthy dessert that is also low-fat.  Sorbets can be made with all different types of fruits – so don’t be afraid to try different forms of this recipe!  This recipe does not require the use of an ice-cream or sorbet maker and only takes about 5-7 minutes to prepare.  – And it was a hit tonight with all of my friends!

Ingredients: 1.5-2 cups blueberries 1/4 cup maple syrup 1/2 lemon, juiced ~tsp lemon zest dash of vanilla extract

1. Combine all of the ingredients into a mixing bowl and mash (or have a helper do so) with a potato masher just until the mixture is combined and the blueberries are smashed up a bit. 2. Place mixture into a blender or food processor.  Blend, pulsating when necessary.  My blender has a space at the top to insert a mixing device.  If your blender doesn’t have this ability, simply blend the mixture, stop it, and then mix it with a spoon.  Blend again and repeat until the entire mixture is fairly smooth.  Some bumps are perfectly fine.  Hand-held electric mixers would probably work fairly well for this purpose, too. 3. Dig in and bask in blueberry deliciousness:)

Red Beet Pancakes

Right, Valentine’s day is over – but I still can’t get enough of beets!  Taste is very important to any recipe, but for kids, appearance and interaction with food is at least equally critical to getting them to eat something  This beet pancake recipe is a great way to get kids involved with cooking something healthy and different…and they will love the color.  I got this amazing recipe from Weelicious, an awesome blog filled with fun and kid-friendly recipes and cooking videos.Red Beet Pancakes (Serves 6)

1 Cup All Purpose Flour 3/4 Cup Whole Wheat Flour 3 Tbsp Light Brown Sugar 1 Tbsp Baking Powder 1/2 Tsp Kosher Salt 2 medium beets roasted and pureed* 1 1/4 Cup Milk 1/3 Cup Plain Greek Yogurt 1 Large Egg 3 Tbsp Unsalted Butter, melted 1 Tsp Vanilla extract

Puree* 1. To puree, pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees. 2. Take a piece of aluminum foil and and cover the beets on both sides.  Bake for 45 minutes. 3. Let the beets cool and then skin the beets (use gloves or a plastic bag if you don’t want to stain your hands).  The skin should just slide off. 4. Cut beets and then puree in a food processor or blender.

Pancakes 1. Place the first 5 ingredients into a mixing bowl. 2. Put the rest of the wet ingredients into a separate bowl and mix well. 3. Add the dry ingredients into the wet and stir until just combined (you don’t want to overstir the batter — some lumps are good). 4. Drop about 2 tbsp of the pancake mixture onto a greased griddle or pan over medium heat and cook for 3 minutes on each side. 5. Serve with desired toppings!

There are no more excuses for unhealthy breakfasts due to busy schedules.  You can freeze these pancakes for up to 3 months in a plastic ziplock!

National Cook A Sweet Potato Day!

Just when you’ve forgotten about sweet potatoes . . . National Cook a Sweet Potato Day is a great reminder of these tasty, nutrient-packed tubers!Thanks to, Everyday Chef is excited to share some interesting sweet potato stats that you can sprinkle into conversations today to impress your friends.  Then, check out one Everday Chef’s recipes, Baked Mac and Sweet Potato or Maple Roasted Sweet Potato , for the perfect celebratory meal!


1. Sweet potatoes are the 6th most important food crop in the world.

2. Asia accounts for 90% of the world consumption of sweet potatoes.

3. George Washington Carver helped to develop the primary adhesive used for postage stamps from the mucilage(sticky film) of  sweet potatoes.

4. Sweet potatoes are actually tuberous roots which are considered one of the worlds most nutritious foods in the vegetable kingdom.

5. Despite the physical similarities of yams and sweet potatoes, they actually are not even closely related. Yams are actually closely related to grasses and lilies.

Read more from Foodimentary here.

Roots! At Home Or In The Classroom.

You have probably noticed the weird weather we’ve been having in the north east.  It’s certainly quite warm out for mid-February.  And although your ski season may be cut short this year, it is best to try to think of things on a more positive note.  You can get your home garden started a little earlier this season! Let’s talk roots.  Roots are great to grow in cooler weather and can be started when the outside temperature is about 50-65 degrees.  Radishes are ready to be picked as little as three weeks from when they are planted and although beets and turnips may take up to two months, they are deliciously worth the wait.  Gardening with children can be a great way to get the family together, or maybe the classroom.  When your veggies are ready to cultivate set up a fun taste test for the kids.  Roots are an interesting item to eat raw, especially beets and turnips that are usually eaten cooked.

If you don’t have time to grow vegetables and then taste them, try finding local carrots, beets, or other roots that have been stored through winter.  These can be found at your local health food store, co-op, or farmer’s market.

After you’ve picked or retrieved your local veggies for taste testing, think about including traditional, store-bought vegetables to mix things up so that the kids can try to figure out which ones are garden-grown.  Start by asking the children what they would expect garden produce will taste like.  See if they have any preconceptions about taste and quality from either source and note it on a chart on the board or on paper.

If you are going to taste test in a classroom, split children into pairs and blindfold one of each twosome.  The one who is not blindfolded will hand the other child the food and listen to them guess what they are eating.  After a few minutes, the two can switch places.  When both children in the pairs have gone, ask them which vegetables they thought were from the garden and (if they guessed correctly) ask them why they can taste the difference.  Finally, ask the group what their favorites were and have them describe the experience in a journal (why they liked their favorite or other thoughts about the experience).  * You can also get a little creative and have the children engage in an art activity, where they can create and color their favorite root vegetable out of paper and other art supplies.  Their journal response can be written on the front of back of this!

Happy tasting !

This garden activity was adapted by the SLUG website.

Pink Cauliflower and Potato Soup

I happened to come across another delicious Valentine’s Day dish from the “Healthy.Happy.Life.” Blog and thought I’d share.  All of the recipe and photo credits goes to this wonderful site! This beautiful dish is Pink Cauliflower and Potato Soup.  It’s OK if you can’t find purple cauliflower – you can blend in 1-2 small beets for the same color effect.

Ingredients: 1 head purple cauliflower, remove tough stem/leaves, break into pieces 1 medium russet potato, peeled and chopped 1 cup water from boiling veggies 1 cup plain soy creamer 1-2 tsp maple syrup (optional) 1 medium shallot, sliced 2 tsp olive oil for sauté 2-3 Tbsp apple cider vinegar

Spices: 3 dashes cayenne (If you’re making this for someone who is sensitive to spice, feel free to leave this one out and add a dash to your own later!) pinch paprika 1/4 tsp lemon pepper spice 1/2 tsp pink salt (to taste)


1. Saute the sliced shallots in the olive oil for 2-3 minutes until caramelized. Set aside. 2. Boil a pot of salted water. Add the cauliflower in pieces – and add the peeled/chopped potato. Cook until tender. Do not over cook! Drain water – reserve at least 1 cup. (Yes, the water will be blue) 3. Add the cauliflower, potato, shallots (and oil from shallots), soy creamer, spices, maple and salt. Do not add the vinegar yet. Blend on medium in a Vitamix or food processor until smooth. 4. Add in the vinegar. You will watch the color intensify to a pinkish tone. Blend on low. Do a taste test and add in more pink salt if needed. 5. Your soup will be warm enough to serve right away. Or store in fridge and reheat.

It is so important to eat a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables in order to get all of the vitamins, anti-oxidents, fiber and other nutrients your body needs.  Try to regularly add in different colored foods into your recipes to get the healthiest and nutritious meals.  Don’t be afraid to try something new – You may be surprised to find out that potatoes come in blue and carrots in white and purple!  There is way more variety out there than you might think.  A Farmer’s Market is a great place to start your journey for intriguing new color-veggie combinations.  Have fun with it!

Beet and Berry Smoothie

There are only a few more days left until Valentines Day!  Valentines Day is a wonderful “excuse” to really take some time away from working and hectic schedules to sit down as a family and spend time together.  But wait – isn’t Valentines Day famous for its emphasis on sugary sweets and chocolate, chocolate, and um… more chocolate ?  How about straying away from those high-calorie and nutrition-deficient temptations and trying something just as yummy but a lot better for you? Fruit smoothies are a great addition to anyone’s day.  No, it’s not easy to get local fruit this time of year in the Northeast – but nothing satisfies the urge for sweets more than some fresh berries, local beets, and local maple syrup.  For a delicious “Red” Valentines Day Smoothie just add these ingredients into a blender and enjoy (perfect for any time of the day, too!).

Ingredients: 1 cup vanilla soy milk 1 raw beet peeled and grated 1/2 cup strawberry soy yogurt 1 ripe banana 1 1/4 cups of frozen mixed berries 3-4 fresh strawberries 2 tbsp maple syrup

Blend all of the ingredients together until smooth.  Make sure you’re using a heavy-duty blender like Vitamix, Magic Bullet, or even a food processor (beets are hard!).  Add in the fresh strawberries last and pulse the blender.  Feel free to add more milk if you like a thinner smoothie.  If you prefer dairy products you can go that route, too!  But don’t be afraid to try something  The non-dairy versions are delicious!

Fun strawberry Facts~ Strawberries are packed with Vitamin C and are low in calories. There are over 600 varieties of strawberries, varying in shape, size and color! Strawberries are the only fruits with seeds on the outside.

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