2012 CSA Week 6 — Backyard Salad

My husband had a coworker who would call salad like this “backyard salad.” We thought that was an appropriate term even though it was meant in a semi-derogatory way. These days I couldn’t agree more: This is indeed backyard salad. But now I’m jealous I wasn’t able to grow it in my own backyard.


More purple stuff (wishing it was real kale though)

I love the taste of these leaves.

Bok Choy-like

Rainbow chard

Could you get through all of these greens in a week? Honestly, we can’t. It’s 5/9ths of a bushel and it overwhelms us.

Our CSA is through Tomato Mountain. Here’s what we got in week 6: Spicy greens mix (Mesclun mix), Lettuce, Red Russian Kale, Red Rain, Bok Choi, Rainbow Chard

“Happy Summer” Mini-Giveaway!

Man, I love spending the summer with my son. I haven’t always felt this way though. I’m having more fun with him this summer than I’ve ever had before. Age 3.75 is basically the best. I blogged in May about how his day care situation was not right for him. I think part of my enjoyment of him comes from a sense of relief that he’s no longer at that school. He was unhappy and it showed in his behavior there and at home.

Now he’s very happy. I’m getting a lot of love from requests to snuggle (so rare from a kid who is constantly moving) and endearments (he called me “sweetie pirate” — high praise indeed). But it’s not just the two of us this summer though — I’ve put him in half-day day camp. He is loving his first taste of camp. How can I tell? He gets ready around 7 am and camp starts at 9. We used to have to drag him to day care and now he’s so excited about camp that he’s ready early. I believe he is having a different experience because of two things: curriculum and instruction. All of the activities are interactive and hands-on. I really believe that learning at this age is all tactile or at least multi-modal. Also the teachers are young and have a ton of energy.  Then there’s “water day” where I take him to camp in his swimsuit. So it’s basically heaven.

Parenting has made me a better teacher/therapist. Now I know what it feels like to get a bad report on a student virtually every single day. And now I get to see how changing the environment, the curriculum, and the instruction turns a child around. I should point out that the comparison isn’t entirely fair: he’s at camp just over two hours compared to eight hours before. But man, I’m loving my boy.

Today I’m giving away a couple cool things in honor of a happy summer for all:

LunchBots Duo Steel Snack Container

What I love about this container is that you can have one dry item and one not-really-dry item in one container — no need to pack two separate containers. So crackers and sliced apples can go together. You know, I’m a devoted Laptop Lunches person, but LunchBots are seriously useful products in a different way.

Laptop Lunch User’s Guide

I have two of these user guides, which you get when you purchase a laptop lunch system. It’s only $2.99 on their website, but it’s chock full of lunch recipes and snack ideas in list form. Additionally there are diagrams of what to put in each box, discussions about making lunch healthier (including comparing ingredient lists). They had a nutritionist go through this book and it shows.

To win them both in the giveaway, leave a comment on this post! I will be choosing one name at random on July 4th. Happy summer!

Guest blog: Recipe for Success is Redefining the Happy Meal

Recipe for Success Foundation is dedicated to combating childhood obesity by changing the way children understand, appreciate, and eat their food. For more information on the Foundation’s Seed-to-Plate Nutrition Education™ in elementary schools and other initiatives, visit www.recipe4success.org.

In response to a 2010 proposed class-action lawsuit (that was recently dismissed), McDonald’s spokeswoman Danya Proud stated “We stand on our 30-year track record of providing a fun experience for kids and families at McDonald’s.” The word “fun,” in this case, refers to the familiar toy that comes in every Happy Meal, a big draw for children when they are choosing where and what they want to eat.

But what if the word “fun,” when referring to children’s meals, took on a different connotation? What if children played with their food instead of the toy that came with their meal? No, I don’t mean throwing overcooked and unwanted vegetables across the table at their younger siblings. I’m talking about an altogether different approach; I’m talking about turning the tables and actually encouraging children to participate in the cooking process, making fresh and healthy food an interactive experience, from assisting with preparation, experimenting with recipes and of course partaking in the end result, designating a positive association to a phrase that was once deemed a reprimand: “playing with your food.”

Recipe for Success Foundation (RFS), leading the way in hands-on nutrition education aimed at preventing childhood obesity and encouraging long-term health, promotes interaction at every level of the learning/food process. RFS’s nationally recognized Seed-to-Plate Nutrition Education program teaches children how to grow, harvest and cook their own healthy food; the children co-pilot the food progression from the school gardens to the classroom kitchens, instilling a connection to and an enthusiasm for fresh and nutritious fare.

But who helps to positively influence children’s dietary decisions once they leave the S2P classroom?

It is up to family and friends to intercede and induce an interactive and healthy approach to eating. Instead of spending 20 minutes in a car to sit in a drive thru line or waiting 30 minutes for the pizza to show up at the front door, spend a few minutes rolling meatballs for a spaghetti dish or prepping fresh vegetables for a homemade pizza. Easy, affordable and a bonding experience to boot, these activities inspire children to become more independent and self-assured about healthy eating habits, especially if they see role models such as parents or older siblings and friends helping out in the kitchen. Once a child has had fun “playing with their food” in the kitchen, they will be more apt to try new and different dishes, dishes with more vegetables and fruits, dishes that wouldn’t be sold on a fast food menu.

So take charge of your very own competitive healthy food marketing campaign. Make your own Happy Meal.

What do you think about letting children “play with their food?”

Adrienne Ryherd is always hungry for food knowledge. To sate her inquisitive appetite, she consumes every food policy book and documentary she can get her hands on and volunteers her writing skills with local food growers. As the Communications Coordinator at Recipe for Success – Houston, TX nonprofit dedicated to reversing the childhood obesity epidemic by changing the way children understand, appreciate, and eat their food- Adrienne advocates, through writing and public relations, for a brighter, healthier and happier future for our children’s generation.

2012 CSA Week 5 — Spicy radishes


Before my son tried the radishes, he asked if they were spicy. He remembered from last year. I also find them to be spicy. I tried to eat them raw and sliced over a salad, but Charlie is right — they are spicy.

 Pretty, pretty

Because I’m most familiar with lettuce, I’m less intimidated when it comes to preparation. I chop it up, spin it in the salad spinner, and then put it in a large pyrex container in the fridge. Then it’s ready for a salad at dinner time.


I just haven’t been able to get excited about the purple green.

On the other hand, I found the cabbage to be so beautiful.

Note: This school year, in particular the past few weeks, wore me out. At night I have tried to blog, but due to total exhaustion I have just wanted to go to bed or work on household tasks. Sorry!

Tomato Mountain CSA: Shunkyo radishes, Vitamin green, lettuce, spinach, Red Russian kale, Chinese cabbage

The YOURS Project

Something unbelievable is happening at one of my schools. It’s called the YOURS project and it’s an orchestra. It’s happening at Hibbard Elementary, a school where I’m stationed just 1.5 days a week (I speak Spanish and I’m shared between two school this year).

The YOURS project is modeled after “El Sistema,” which is a program that teaches low-income students in Venezuela to play classical music. I remember watching the 60 minutes special about the program and being so inspired.

Well, the a similar program has been happening at one of my assigned schools this year and it has been touching to see and hear the music before and after school when the kids practice. They are enthusiastic musicians.

Chicago Tonight covered the final concert of the year and you can watch the video HERE. I highly suggest watching because it will touch you and you will get an idea of what it’s like inside one of my schools. Oh and you gotta see Jonathan (an eight-year-old) conduct!

(PS My son is sick and it’s the last week of school. I’m completely unable to find time for anything!)

“The Asparagus Incident”

Getting his face painted at the very first Farmer’s Market

Last weekend the town next to ours held their first Farmer’s Market of the summer. I was giddy with excitement. I planned an outing with some friends and off we went. I purchased strawberries and raspberries first. Charlie was insistent that he eat some right away. Then I went to one vendor and bought green onions and peas that needed to be shelled. They also had asparagus, which I gazed at longingly. I love asparagus, but my husband does not. Finally, as Charlie was trying to run away from me, I decided to buy some. I figured that I could cook the asparagus and my husband could choose not to eat it.

That night I steamed it for dinner and set it out on the table. I had low expectations for its consumption. Of course my son went wild for it. In fact, he probably ate ten spears. But keep in mind that they were thin and not the thick kind you  see at the grocery store. We had to bait him to eat his other food with the reward of asparagus. Then he handed the bowl to my husband and said, “Daddy, eat some asparagus.” My husband ate some without complaint. I’m finding that having Charlie around is pushing both Mike and me into eating foods we don’t normally like (tomatoes for me and now asparagus for Mike).

Fast forward to the next morning when I was preparing lunch. I asked Charlie, “Can I put asparagus in your lunch?” Immediately he said, “No, the other kids laugh, ha, ha ha.” My heart fell. He continued, “They say, ‘that green corn?'”

Oh, no. He’s three and he’s already getting teased about his lunches. He’s smart enough to even infer their criticism.

I have been partially aware of this over the past couple months by a couple comments Charlie makes at home. It’s hard to get information from him because he confabulates. For example, “Joe was bad and the teacher took him outside and made him climb a tree.” But this time it was clear. The kids laugh at his food and say mean things about it because they don’t understand what’s in there. I’ve realized that packing “kid friendly” lunches is not the answer either. Against my own best judgment I even sent him with gluten free chicken nuggets a couple times. At first he was into it, but then they ended up coming home uneaten. Chicken nuggets are not his thing even if they are popular with his peers. I don’t even know what to send anymore.

Butterfly boy

So I wrote a note to the teachers that I needed them to watch out for comments from the other kids about Charlie’s food. But I know they miss comments all the time. Once when I was picking Charlie up a little early the kids were coming back from the bathroom and one child said to another child wearing a Mickey Mouse shirt, “Mickey Mouse is for babies.” The other kid didn’t know what to say so I stepped in because the classroom teacher and aide completely missed the interaction. “Mickey Mouse is for children, not for babies.” The kid immediately backed down. But I’ve heard comments along those same lines coming from Charlie’s mouth. I know where he’s getting it.

Thankfully the school year ends June 15th. That will also be Charlie’s last day at his school. I literally cannot wait to pick him up that last day and enjoy the summer together. We will be moving so he’ll attend another school in the fall. There will be a lot of transitions this summer, but at least he will get some well-deserved “Mom time.” I’ve got some fun outings planned for us including more Farmer’s Market trips. I think he really needs the extra time with me. I know I do.