Demo at the Market

I just got home from doing a quick demo of healthy kid snacks at the farmer’s market. It was Kids’ Vending Day, so there were many young entrepreneurs joining the regulars with clever craft and art booths. And as you’d expect, the food activity was geared toward the younger set, too.

At first I thought it might be a no-show due to rain; it was quieter than normal when the market opening bell rang at 10 am. But a bit of wet weather can’t discourage devoted market patrons. By 11 am, the posted demo start, I was  suddenly surrounded by a crew of youngsters  and their parents. Before I remembered to have them step back a foot or two for a little introduction, kids were examining ingredients and gobbling samples faster than I could put out more.  Mostly I am delighted at their enthusiasm for fresh, healthy foods and knowing that everything came from Whatcom County. (I mean, ya gotta love hearing a seven- or eight-year old exclaim, “Smell the fresh basil!” as he holds it up to his pal’s nose.) Still, I’m a little in awe of elementary school teachers who instinctively know how to herd young kids. My first instinct is clearly to feed people. So it felt a little chaotic, but we all had a flurry of fun.

photo: Cynthia St. Clair

Oh, and we ran out of hand-outs — a good sign that those kids will make these snacks at home — so I’m sharing the same info below.

Fresh, Local and In Season: Healthy Snacks that Kids can Make Themselves

Easy Rhubarb and Honey Dips

Wash the rhubarb stalks, cutting away brown ends and other parts that look unappetizing.  Peel the fibrous outsides of the stalks with a vegetable peeler or paring knife.  Cut the stalks into sticks about 1/2” thick and four inches long.  Dip the sticks into a local honey like those from Backyard Bees. The sweetness of honey tempers the sour rhubarb.  You might also stir honey into vanilla yogurt to enjoy your rhubarb with a creamy dip.

Nut Butter Dip 

Blend equal parts Holmquist hazelnut butter (or peanut butter or other nut butter) and fruit juice (like Bellewood Acres apple cider.)

To dip with vegetables, add a pinch each of red pepper flakes and toasted sesame oil.

To dip with fruits, add a spoonful of  honey.

Yogurt Cheese Dip

Place a flour sack towel or other very fine weave, clean piece of fabric over a fine mesh strainer. (Don’t use cheese cloth, it is too wide a weave.) Then place the strainer over a container large enough to hold it, like a large Pyrex liquid measuring cup. Place one to four cups of fresh yogurt (depending on the size of your strainer) into the fabric-lined strainer. Leave the yogurt to drain — a couple of hours for a smooth, creamy dip (you’re making Greek-style yogurt) or overnight in the refrigerator for an even thicker spread (more like the consistency of fresh goat cheese).

To dip with vegetables — e.g. sugar snap peas, carrot sticks and cucumber circles — mix into the yogurt cheese some fresh minced or chopped herbs, minced garlic, lemon zest, spices of choice like a pinch of cayenne powder and toasted cumin seeds.  Or, try blending the yogurt cheese with fresh salsa and dip with whole-grain chips. Flavored yogurt cheese is also a good sandwich spread. Another fun presentation is to pipe the herb yogurt cheese dip onto snow peas, or open a sugar snap pea to pipe the cheese along the length inside, then top with individual shelled peas.

To dip with fruit, mix in honey or maple syrup. Try sweet and savory blends for more interest: stir some honey, a pinch of cinnamon and cayenne, and fresh minced thyme, lemon balm or mint leaves into your creamy, drained yogurt. It’s quite tasty drizzled over fresh strawberries.

And hey kids: here are some really good reasons to eat yogurt (besides the fact that it tastes great):

  • It’s easy to digest.
  • It’s good for colon and stomach health.
  • It boosts calcium for strong bones and is a great protein source.
  • It increases the bioavailability of other healthy foods, meaning it helps you get more nutrients from them and so helps you grow.
  • It helps boost your immunity so you resist illness.
  • It helps reduce yeast infections and cholesterol.

Stay away from snacks like “yogurt-covered” raisins; they’re mostly refined sugar anyway.


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