This publication includes simple recipes that childcare center cooks and educators can use to engage children in snacking and cooking with fresh warm-season fruits and vegetables from on-site production gardens and elsewhere. This is the fifth of eight publications about childcare center production gardens.
The first publication in this series, Growing and Cooking Fruits and Vegetables at Childcare Centers, provides age-appropriate suggestions for engaging young children in food preparation.
The third publication in this series, Growing Warm-Season Fruits and Vegetables in Childcare Production Gardens, shares easy-to-grow, child-friendly, summer season fruits and vegetables suitable for a childcare production garden.
This publication provides a set of simple recipes for snacks and prepared dishes incorporating production garden produce for children to enjoy.
Cut any combination of melons into cubes or balls. Combine fruit in a large serving bowl. In a small dish, combine honey and lemon juice. Stir well. Pour over melons and toss to mix. Garnish with mint leaves. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
Cucumber, Tomato, and Basil Salad
Gently toss all ingredients together in a bowl, add salt and pepper to taste, and serve.
Dip and Salsa Recipes
Combine yogurt, sour cream, cucumber, dill, garlic, salt, and pepper. Serve with crackers, tortilla chips, carrot sticks, or cucumbers that are sliced into sticks or rounds.
Fresh Tomato Salsa
Combine chopped vegetables and cumin in a bowl. Cut lime in half and squeeze juice over top of the mixture. Cover and refrigerate 30 minutes to 24 hours to allow flavors to blend.
Serves 20 to 24
Mix all ingredients in a medium-large mixing bowl until well combined. Allow to chill in the refrigerator for 30 to 60 minutes. Serve with cinnamon chips or graham crackers.
Tip: To create your own tortilla chips, cut whole wheat tortillas into wedges, lay on a baking sheet, and bake at 350°F for approximately 12 minutes.
Cooked Vegetable Recipes
Roasted Green Beans
Preheat oven to 400°F. Toss green beans with olive oil; add salt and pepper to taste. Arrange in an even layer on a foil lined baking sheet and roast in the oven for about 10 minutes.
Preheat oven to 425°F. Place okra in a bowl and mix lightly with oil, salt, and pepper. Arrange okra slices in one layer on a foil lined cookie sheet. Bake about 10 minutes or until lightly browned.
Preheat oven to 400°F. Spread the pizza sauce over the eggplant slices, and season with herbs and salt and pepper to taste. Top the eggplant with cheese and pepperoni. Roast the eggplant pizzas until they just start to turn tender, about 15 to 20 minutes.
Zucchini Mini Muffins
Preheat oven to 400°F. Combine dry ingredients (first six ingredients) in a large bowl. Combine wet ingredients (zucchini and remaining ingredients) in a small bowl. Add the zucchini mixture to the flour mixture and stir lightly—do not over mix. Divide batter into small muffin cups lined with muffin papers. Bake at 400°F for 10 minutes. Confirm doneness when an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
Cook potatoes in boiling water until soft (about 10 minutes); let them cool, then cut them in half. This can be done ahead of time and the potatoes stored in the refrigerator until ready to use. Melt butter in pan, add onion, and cook until soft. Add zucchinis and cook 5 minutes. Stir in the potatoes and cook another 5 minutes until zucchinis are soft. Crack eggs into the bowl and add cheese, mint, and pepper. Whisk together with a fork. Pour the eggs over the mixture in the pan and turn the heat down as low as possible. Cook about 5 minutes or until eggs are set. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Fresh Tomato Sauce
Warm the oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic, cover, and cook for about 4 minutes until the mixture is soft but not browned. Add the tomatoes, reduce the heat, cover, and cook for about 15 minutes or until the tomatoes have collapsed. Remove from the heat. Use on pizzas or reheat before serving.
Stewed Summer Squash or Zucchini
Slice squash thinly. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions, squash, and seasonings to taste and cover with water. Cook, stirring occasionally, until water evaporates and squash is tender.
Local Foods Publication Series Editor
Joanna Massey Lelekacs, Coordinator
Local Foods Program
NC Cooperative Extension
Center for Environmental Farming Systems
Childcare Center Production Gardens Factsheet Editor
Robin C. Moore, Director
Natural Learning Initiative (NLI)
NC State College of Design
with the NLI Early Childhood Gardening Team:
Karli Stephenson, Graphic Designer
This publication was funded in part by the John Rex Endowment.
The authors wish to express appreciation to J. Dara Bloom, Pam Outen, Lynn Policastro, and Debra Ireland for their assistance in preparing this publication.
About the Local Foods series: Childcare Center Production Gardens
This publication in the Local Foods series is the fifth of eight publications about childcare center production gardens:
- Growing and Cooking Fruits and Vegetables at Childcare Centers (LF-007-01)
- Creating Childcare Center Production Gardens (LF-007-02)
- Growing Warm-Season Fruits and Vegetables in Childcare Production Gardens (LF-007-03)
- Growing Cool-Season Vegetables in Childcare Production Gardens (LF-007-04)
- Snacking and Cooking with Warm-Season Produce from Childcare Production Gardens (LF-007-05)
- Snacking and Cooking with Cool-Season Produce from Childcare Production Gardens (LF-007-06)
- Composting in Childcare Center Production Gardens (LF-007-07)
- Vermicomposting in the Childcare Center Production Gardens (LF-007-08)
Publication date: Sept. 16, 2015
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