It’s time to eat outside! Picnics and Barbecues are a great way to get together with family and friends, play outside, and eat a lot of fun summer foods. Keeping those foods safe to eat is easy as long as everyone works together to follow these simple tips. How can kids help? Read on!
Melons grow in many gardens around the world and in the United States, farmers all over the place are growing all sorts of melons. The Top 3 Melons in the USA are Watermelon, Honeydew, and Cantaloupe. Ask a farmer next time you visit a farmers market about the melons they grow on their farm, and if they have a type you haven’t tried before, I challenge your family to try something new!
Melons are good for you!
A one-cup serving of cantaloupe has only 53 calories, but it contains 106 percent of the vitamin A daily value and 95 percent of vitamin C. It’s also a good source of potassium and folate.
A cup of honeydew has 60 calories, 51 percent vitamin C daily value and 11 percent of potassium. Honeydew also contains some fiber, folate and vitamin B6.
Watermelon is very low in calories, coming in at 46 calories per one-cup serving. However, it’s loaded with the antioxidant lycopene, which is linked to decreased risk of cancer, heart disease and age-related eye disorders, and contains a good amount of vitamin A, vitamin C and potassium.
Where are melons from?
Cantaloupe and honeydew melons belong to the muskmelon family. These melons first grew in the Middle East, and there are many different varieties. Watermelons originated in Africa and there are over 1,200 different kinds of watermelon!
You can store whole melons at room temperature, but once you cut them, you should store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to five days. Before you cut open any melons, wash them under water, and gently scrub the rind with a brush. Melons grow on the ground, and can get dirty!
What can you do with a melon? Lots of things!
- Make melon popsicles! Recipe is here: https://kidscreateutah.org/?s=popsicles
- Infuse melon slices in water. Try Watermelon + Mint or Canaloupe, Cucumber, and Lime!
- Add melon cubes to fruit kabobs! Try grapes, Honeydew melon and mozzarella cheese cubes for a great summer snack. Keep them cool until they’re ready for eating.
- Create a melon smoothie. Freeze watermelon cubes overnight, then whirl in a blender with vanilla yogurt and top with whipped cream!
We all know and love salsa, which is one of the most famous Mexican foods around the world. There are more salsa recipes than ever before, and it is easy to make a recipe your very own. Different states in Mexico have different salsa recipes because their land, food, and weather is different too. This is just like how the weather in Utah is very different from the weather in Florida.
The use of salsas dates back to Aztec times when they ground tomatoes, chiles, and salt using a stone mortar and pestle called a molcajete (mole- ca- het-ay).
This yummy bowl of “smashed up stuff” was served in a clay bowl for easy dipping of tortillas or tamales. After the Spanish arrived in the Americas and started to take over, the salsa recipes began to change too as the different cultures came together and new combinations are still being created today! Want to create your own salsa? Here are a few recipes to get you started.
Salsa Roja translates to Red Salsa in English, and is usually made with roasted tomatoes, red chiles, garlic and salt. In the Northern parts of Mexico, they often cook everything together and add other spices to build big flavors because the usually serve it with roasted goat. In the South, they carefully toast dried red chiles to add to their salsa for a more delicate flavor. It is almost always SPICY!
Salsa Verde simply means green salsa, and is made with one of Mexico’s favorite ingredients: Tomatillos. They are really yummy and easy to find in Latin markets and sometimes at farmers markets. They grow in a papery husk, which needs to be taken off, then rinse the tomatillos because they might be sticky. Most people in the northern Mexico will boil the tomatillo and peppers before they puree it but most people in the south will puree everything raw.
The most recognizable salsa in the United States is well known all throughout Mexico and its usually pretty similar no matter what part of Mexico you visit. It goes well with nearly everything, but is especially good on any type of taco!
This last recipe is very different depending on the part of Mexico you visit, based on the fruit and chiles they have available to them. The Yucatan Peninsula combines limes, oranges, and habanero chiles to top their famous cochinita pibil tacos (slow roasted pork tacos). Try out this recipe for Mango Salsa, or create your own fruit salsa recipe!
1- Chappell G. Interview: Mexican Salsa by State. June 2021.
2- Chef Dax, Mauricio. Mexican Salsas. Asenzya. https://www.asenzya.com/trending-flavors/mexican-salsas/. Published December 4, 2019. Accessed June 2, 2021.
Have you gotten stuck in a summer lunch rut already? It’s easy to do when your schedule changes and you don’t want to eat the same ham and cheese sandwich every day for lunch.
Captain Create’s time saving tip that can help you spend more time enjoying the summer weather and less time cooking is to make tomorrow’s lunch while you’re making tonights dinner!
Its easy! If you’re having grilled chicken for dinner, make an extra piece for everyone to add to a chicken salad for lunch!
If you’re having spaghetti and meatballs for dinner, cook a few extra noodles to add to a spaghetti noodle pasta salad!
What other meals does your family make that you can eat for lunch the next day? Get together as a family to start a summer meal plan each week to make more time to play outside or spend time together as a family!
Need a quick and easy dinner any kid can help put together!? How about a build-it-yourself pizza?
If you have a pizza crust, then great! Use that! If that is not something you’ve got already, you could build mini pizzas on a flatbread or english muffin or even a bagel.
Smaller humans love to help put stuff together, and this usually means they will eat it, even when there are new foods they haven’t tried before as an option. This tiny girl used a pita bread to make a pizza that just fit her plate and small hands. Orange bell peppers were the new food, and all of them were crunched up as she ate her “fancy” pizza.
How many rainbow veggies can you put on your pizza?! (Yes, tomatoes count as a fruit if you want them to, although they taste like a vegetable.)
Simply rummage through the fridge, freezer, or garden for as many veggies as you can find in the rainbow, a few herbs, a handful of cheese and you are good to go! Let the kids (and adults) decorate their pizzas in any design they like to make a hands-on, and delicious dinner.
Not into making recipes up as you go? Try this Garden Veggie Pizza out instead.
Peas are a spring fruit (yes! a fruit!) that add a bright green flavor and lots of nutrients to any dish they are in. They’re easy to grow and you can pick a whole lot in a hurry. How much is in a peck though?! A peck of peas is 31 cups!
Many children (and grandpas) are known to enjoy picking peas and eating them right in the garden instead of taking them in the house! They are easy to grow, and taste great young when the pods are sweet and crunchy, and when they are fully grown when you can open the pods and pick out all the peas to eat or cook.
Peas are like tomatoes: they are fruits that are eaten as vegetables because of their flowers. They are classified in the plant world as fruits because the seeds grow from a flower. There are many varieties of peas, and they grow worldwide, which means they are added to lots of different foods.
Have you grown peas before? Now is the perfect time to plant them in Utah, and you’ll be eating peas in now time.
Try them in this quick and easy recipe:
We’d better make a cobbler to celebrate! Do you know what cobbler is?
Cobbler is a fruit and dough dish that was created by the immigrants that moved to the American Colonies in the late 18th century.1 They were used to making suet puddings in England, but once they moved all the way across the ocean, they didn’t always have the ingredients they used to have in England. They made what they could with what they had, and a cobbler was born!
Cobblers usually have a biscuit or dumpling-style topping over any fruit filling, and can be called a lot of different names: cobbler, pandowdy, grunt, slump, buckle, crisp, or even bird’s nest pudding!2 They might have been called “cobbler” because the top is rough and bumpy like a cobblestone road, but nobody knows for sure.2 These yummy dishes are usually made with whatever fruit is in season, but savory ones exist too; tomato cobbler with cornbread topping has been seen in the American South, and Lamb Cobbler with herb and cheese topping is common in Great Britain still today.1
Small fruit, big nutrition!
Sweet cherries are loaded with carbohydrates for energy, a smidge of protein, and fruity fiber to feed those good bacteria that live in your guts.3 Cherries are also full of a long list of vitamins including: potassium, calcium, vitamin C, choline, beta-carotene, and magnesium.3 What does that mean? It means your immune system gets a bunch of help, your body gets energy to move, and your tongue is happy because cherries taste great!
When is Cherry Season?
Cherries are in season across the United States from May through August, depending on where you live. Utah cherries are grown in orchards all across the state. Some famous places you can go to pick your own cherries include the “Utah’s Fruit Way” orchards along Highway 89 near Brigham City, where you can pick both sweet and tart cherries; orchards along the mountains in Utah County; and the pioneer-planted orchards in Fruita, inside Capitol Reef National Park. Cherry picking is a fun family activity that combines a yummy snack with a little exercise!
Produce sections of most grocery stores will also stock cherries when they are in season, and if they are grown locally, the store will usually highlight the farmers that grew them for you!
Let’s get cooking!
Rhubarb is a tart, sweet, and crunchy spring vegetable that tastes like nothing else. It is full of vitamins like C and A, as well as potassium, calcium and fiber. It grows in a lot of different states and countries all around the world, so almost anyone can try it out.
Have you seen rhubarb growing before? It grows back every year, so it is known as a perennial vegetable (like asparagus). The roots live all year, but it only produces the yummy stalks when the temperature is just right. It also shows up in stores in the spring as cut red stalks. (We can’t eat the leaves, so they don’t make it as far as the store or farmers market.)
If you have a plant, the easiest way to harvest it is to pull it up one stalk at a time, then wash it off and go inside to cook. Some folks like to eat it raw, and the sour might make your eyes scrunch up! Because it is so tart, most people bake with it or make it into jam with sweet spring fruit like strawberries, or make salsa with mango and pineapple.
Try out this easy muffin recipe, or check out createbetterhealth.org for more rhubarb recipes.
No matter whose side you’re on, these easy and yummy fruit lightsabers are a great way to use the force on this silly, but very important, pop culture holiday. You can make the lightsaber of your favorite character, or join a side based on how tasty their color is, and don’t forget the dip!
This fun and easy snack only needs a few things to make: fruit of your choice, long skewers, duct tape, and a sharpie. Roll a bit of tape around one end of the skewer, add the buttons and machinery with a sharpie, and slide your fruit on. For an extra boost of flavor, try a yummy fruit dip!
Its getting warmer and the days are getting longer, which means spring fruits and veggies are here! An easy way to get all the nutrition and flavor of your favorite foods at a lower cost is to find fruits and veggies that are in IN SEASON. In season means that they are growing at their natural time of the year, rather than being grown in a greenhouse, or shipped around the world, so you get fresh food grown nearby.
Strawberries are a bright, nutrient-packed spring fruit that are yummy on their own and can be added to all sorts of foods. Captain Create’s friend Candi, over at Create Better Health, has lots of ideas for strawberries, or you can try this easy smoothie recipe below.