Take advantage of fresh produce at local farmer's markets for these fruit and veggie-based dishes.
This is one of the best times of year from a foodie’s perspective. As the end of summer approaches and farmers prepare for the fall crops, we are right in the middle harvests, which means a variety of flavors at our tables. Just imagine the experience for your palate — sweet, crunchy, succulent and savory.
I can’t think of a better time to benefit from the fruits of farmers’ labors and get in the kitchen with those kids as they approach going back to school.
Our family likes to visit local produce stands on the way home from the shore. We get two weeks of fresh produce for under $20. Another bonus is that we are reducing our carbon footprint because this stuff was picked locally. No trucking or packaging. Fresh, fresh, fresh! (For example, I notice my cucumbers last longer then those I buy in the city grocery stores.)
Living in the Philly metro area I’m willing to bet you all are within 20 miles of a local farmers’ market, so start your research. It’s a great family fun activity!
Roasted Tomato and Red Pepper Soup
(Pareve or Dairy)
This can substitute for a salad or higher caloric appetizer. It’s a great way to teach kids about the variety of options with everyday foods. Transforming the textures of these veggies is always mesmerizing. The kids have a blast with my stick blender, but you can use a regular blender, too.
1⁄2 cup extra virgin olive oil
10 medium tomatoes, sliced into halves
1 large cucumber, seedless preferred but not necessary
1 lemon, zested and juiced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1⁄2 small onion, diced
1⁄2 tsp. sea salt
1⁄4 tsp. pepper
1⁄4 cup apple cider vinegar
1⁄4 tsp. soy sauce
dollop of sour cream for garnish, if making dairy
In a large stockpot pour ¼ cup of olive oil on the bottom and set to medium heat.
Add all the veggies first, then the salt and pepper, and add the vinegar, soy sauce and remaining olive oil on top. Toss lightly in the pot.
Place the lid and leave on the stove at medium for ½ hour.
Take off the burner and let cool for a few minutes. Peel the skins off the tomatoes. They’ve steamed so it’s extremely easy.
Place the mixture in the blender or, if using a stick blender, cover your bowl with a dish towel to avoid red sauce all over the kitchen, your kids or even the dog. This method prevents splashing!
Chill in the fridge for 1 hour or up to a week. This can also be frozen for a few months or eaten warm. The choice is yours.
Serve chilled with a garnish of sour cream and basil, if desired.
Pancake Pop Tarts
(Dairy or Parve)
These are so delicious you won’t even need syrup. Kids will love the explosion of flavors in their mouths, and they’re great to take with you on-the-go. Keep in mind this batter is slightly thinner than regular fluffy pancake batter.
1 cup flour
1⁄2 tsp. baking powder
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. butter (margarine for pareve) plus a few teaspoons for the skillet
1 cup and 2 Tbsps milk (vanilla almond milk for pareve recipe)
1 tsp. water
1⁄4 tsp. vanilla extract (omit if using vanilla almond milk)
1 pinch of cinnamon
1 banana or 1 cup strawberries or 1 cup blueberries
1 Tbsp. brown sugar per cup of berries or 1 banana
Mix flour and baking powder in a bowl and set aside.
Cream together egg, sugar and butter, then add milk, water, vanilla and cinnamon.
Combine the wet and dry ingredients and mix well.
Put a griddle or skillet on medium heat and add a tsp. of butter to melt at the bottom of pan.
Place small spoonfuls in the pan and wait 1 to 2 minutes until you see bubbles form at the top.
Add a smaller amount of the fruit mixture to the center of the pancake and cover with a bit more batter until you can’t see the fruit any more.
Let it cook for 1 to 2 more minutes before flipping.
Flip and let it cook for an additional 1 to 2 minutes.
These can be served warm, with some powdered sugar, or frozen and re-heated in the microwave.
Homemade Fruit Roll-Ups
If you’ve read my articles, you know I’m no fan of processed foods with artificial flavors and preservatives — especially for children, whose digestive tracts are still developing. If the ingredient list on the box has things you can’t pronounce or wouldn’t have in your cabinet, chances are it isn’t great for your stomach either. However, it’s hard to imagine a lunchbox or the end of a meal without some sort of dessert or sugar craving. That said, this is an easy recipe for making fruit roll-ups the natural way. Trust me, your children will gobble them up!
1 cup or pint of strawberries, peaches, pears, raspberries or plums (any fruit or fruit combination you can think of) 3-4 Tbsps. of honey or agave nectar
2 tsps. of white or light brown sugar
1-2 tsps. of lemon juice (to prevent the fruit from browning)
Line a jellyroll pan with parchment paper and spritz a little bit of cooking spray on the bottom. You can use coconut oil if it’s in your cabinet, but not too much.
Preheat the oven to 175˚ (200˚ if your oven tends to heat slowly).
Dump all the ingredients in the blender or food processor and puree on medium to high until you have a liquid consistency. You can add a drop of water to get the blade going if need be.
Spread the mixture with a cake or butter knife into the pan.
This is the hard part, the waiting. It will take 6 to 8 hours to cook.
Check every couple of hours. If the sides brown or crisp a bit, you can re-wet with a bit of water or cut them off later on.
When you place your fingers in the middle and they don’t stick to the fruit, your “candy” is complete.
Cut into strips, roll up right in the parchment paper and store in an airtight container for up to two months.
Makes 10 to 12 roll-ups.
Corn on the cob
Jersey corn is one of the sweetest and best on the east coast, and it’s right in our backyard. Here’s an easy, foolproof way to make fresh corn for dinner without even boiling a pot of water. No mess, either!
Shuck the corn (a great outdoor activity for the kids) and wrap the ear with one to two wet paper towels. Place in the microwave (3 minutes per ear.)
Taylor Orlin, who works as an account executive for the Jewish Exponent, is a lifelong foodie. She has spent years developing and modifying recipes to adapt for specific dietary needs, including her own Crohn’s Disease. She also believes in instilling healthy eating habits at a young age.