“FROM THE FARM TO THE PLATE” by Polaris Bites
This week, our long-time friends at Polaris Bites, a Brooklyn-based catering husband-and-wife duo, were kind enough to share a guest post with us. These OMGchefs are renowned for their healthy, organic, and delicious meals! They do craft services, catering, as well as private cooking for people in their homes. Check out the article below they wrote for OMGmother on how to make shopping for food and cooking a fun experience for OMGparents and their OMGkids.
Every OMGparent wishes that their kid would naturally choose to eat healthy foods, or choose fruit over candy, or veggies over cookies, but for most kids this is nearly impossible. Going to the market with your OMGkids is a great way to put them on the right track to a lifetime of healthy food choices by helping them to learn what real food is, where it comes from and why it tastes better than artificial stuff.
We also know that kids love to get their hands dirty! So why not use this as way to get them more involved in understanding, choosing and preparing the foods they eat? The best way to help get your OMGkids interested in eating both good and healthy food is to help them understand how food gets from the farm to their plate. Not to mention, giving them an opportunity to create their own fun and healthy meals from seasonal ingredients they get to pick on their own.
Recently, POLARIS BITES did just this and helped some OMGkids learn to have fun with their food by helping them organize and prepare a locally grown and fun dinner fresh from the market.
Here is how you can do this with your OMG kid:
PLAN YOUR TRIP & MEAL
Consider it cheating a little, but plan out your healthy & fun meal before taking your trip to the market. It is important to plan a meal that will not only be made of seasonal ingredients, but will also be fun and attractive to kids. Think of meals that are colorful, in-season and that you can cook in ways that will be fun for kids.
Don’t hide veggies – embrace them! It’s all about how you cook and present them! For example, kids love fries, so why not make some baked sweet potato fries? Or instead of sugary ice cream milk shakes, make natural fruit shakes with yogurt or soy based products. Give your foods fun names, or let children name the dish for you. Whatever your meal choice, be sure to base the meal on local products that are readily available at the market.
Why is this important? Take note, this is important because you will soon be explaining this to your OMG kids when you are shopping with them… By buying local in-season foods, you eliminate the environmental damage caused by shipping foods thousands of miles, your money goes directly to the farmer and not some big corporation, and your family will be able to enjoy the health benefits of eating fresh, unprocessed fruits and vegetables. Buying seasonal produce also provides an exciting opportunity to try new foods and to experiment with seasonal recipes. And it simply tastes better!
So, before you head out, look up your local market’s website and see what vendors are set up and what produce you may find. For a heads up on what is in season and what you can be sure to find weekly at your local market you can also check out this helpful link.
Seasonal markets usually offer a variety of fruits, veggies, dairy and meat foods, baked goods and breads, artisanal ingredients such as preserves, oils and vinegars, and sometimes even beer and wine (for OMGparents only, of course).
PREPARE A SCAVENGER HUNT
Another helpful way to get kids involved in the shopping process is to prepare a Scavenger Hunt not only for the ingredients you will need for your meal, but different foods or sights that you know you will find at your local market. As you shop, your kids can keep busy searching for the foods, objects, and farmers on their lists. Look on the farmers market website and pull together scavenger hunt info for in-season produce, print out maps, look for coupons. Here are some scavenger hunt examples:
Find a yellow fruit. What is it?
Find a yellow vegetable. What is it?
What is the different between a fruit and a vegetable? Ask 3 people if a tomato is a fruit or a vegetable (it’s a fruit!).
Find a purple food with an interesting shape. What is it?
Find a red food that is bigger than your fist. What is it?
Find a green food that you have not tasted before. What is it?
Taste an organic strawberry and one that conventionally grown (not organic). Compare the flavor. Which one tastes better?
Find something that grows on a vine/underground/on a tree.
Ask 3 farmers what time they woke up this morning. How far did they have to drive to get to the market?
Find two stands that sell peaches. How do their prices compare? Why might one be more expensive than the other?
Thanks to Pol and Sari for a great article! Tomorrow we’ll reveal the super fun, kid-friendly, seasonal dish they’ve prepared for us. One hint: it’s pink, and your OMGkids will love it.