Lose the butter and swap non-dairy milk
like soy for regular and this seasonal treats become
vegan-friendly. But you'll never know by tasting them.
This is a fun recipe because it has a lot
of veggies in it, but it's very adaptive to different tastes and
preferences. This isn't the gloppy, bland dish many of us remember
eating as children. It's lively, bright and full of flavor but
still recognizable as chop suey. This makes a lot of leftovers.
Check out the Notebaert Nature Museum's
newest exhibit: Nature's Lunchbox. Four walls highlight different
stages that food goes through during its life cycle. From Field to
Town to Supermarket to Close-to-Home to Seasonal Foods, visitors
can interact with, and learn about, the journey food makes to get
to their table.
The museum is also introducing its "Fresh Start Mondays"
initiative. Take a stand against unhealthy lunches and pledge to
make a fresh, healthy and creative lunch for your kids each Monday.
Become a friend of the Notebaert Nature Museum on Facebook, and
you'll receive updates on healthy, kid- (and adult!) friendly lunch
Eat your veggies! is a common refrain in many
households, and even the recently updated U.S. Dietary Guidelines
chime in by urging everyone to eat a more plant-based diet.
Yet how many quality fruits and vegetables are our kids
really consuming? The answer: Not enough. A recent study by the
National Cancer Institute found that, on average, only 36 percent
of U.S. children are eating the recommended amount of vegetables
each day. Low intake of fruits and vegetables is associated with
low intake of vitamin A, vitamin C, and dietary fiber, as well as a
higher intake of fat.
So how can a family go about upping veggie and fruit
intake? Start simple and carve out two or three days each week
where a vegetarian casserole or pasta dish serves as the main
entrée. While grocery shopping, let your children pick out three
fruits or veggies for the week, and make a point to try out one
less common (and seasonal) variety each shopping trip.
Kim Kirchherr, registered dietician and nutrition advisor
for Jewel Osco, advises families to divide their plates: "Picture a
plate in your mind-fill half with fruits and veggies, a quarter
with a grain (preferably whole grain; a sweet potato would be good,
too) and the last quarter with protein. Be creative and use all
kinds of choices from every food group for variety of nutrients and
so the menu stays interesting," she says.
She also recommends eating a rainbow: "Remember that every
color of fruit and vegetable provide a different mix of nutrients
that support health goals throughout the life cycle."
Some families have chosen, for either health, ethical
reasons or both, to switch to a vegetarian or even vegan diet
"I really like the clean feeling of being veggie," says
Chicago mom Margaret Mass. Lisa Litberg, a Chicago-based teacher
and mom of Trevor, 11, concurs: "I feel better when I'm not eating
meat. More energetic."
Oak Park-based author and mom Marla Rose, who, along with
her husband, transitioned to a vegan diet in 1995, chooses to focus
on fresh, natural ingredients when it comes to preparing
plant-based family meals. "Today, it's easy to have the best of
both worlds: healthy, delicious vegan food and that which is a
little more, well, fun or what we call a 'once in a while' food,"
"Although I enjoy cooking, it's really not necessary:
There are lots of shortcuts and paths to vegan meals these days,
and we're also so fortunate to be living in an area with so many
The idea is to focus on the fun, flavor and nutrition of
fruits, vegetables and legumes.
For fall, Kirchherr recommends crunching on apples and
squash; for winter, try citrus and vegetable soups. "Have kids make
a salad face or top a sandwich with fruit slices that kids choose
Amy Bizzarri is a mom of two living in Logan Square. She also blogs at tiramisumom.com.
See more of Amy's stories here.
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