Healthy Living: Eating green for St. Patrick's Day

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Celebrate National Nutrition Month while capitalizing on St. Patrick's Day's themes to serve up a fun and nutritious spread. St. Patrick's Day can be a festive opportunity to focus on eating more green fruits and vegetables and make healthy eating fun for kids. Make positive food memories this St. Patrick's Day by teaching your kids that eating healthy is fun.

Go with Green

Green-themed St. Patrick's Day is the perfect opportunity to focus on green produce which is packed with nutrients.

Go green with greens Next to potatoes, lettuce is the most popular veggie in the United States. Which leafy greens go into your salads?

Dark-green leafy greens offer plenty of the antioxidant beta carotene (forms vitamin A) -- which may help protect you from cancer and may slow aging -- and the antioxidant vitamin C. The darker the leaves, the more nutrient-rich the lettuce. (Romaine has seven times more vitamin A and C than iceberg lettuce.) Some greens deliver folate, potassium and fiber, too. Greens supply lutein, which contributes to good vision and may help protect your eyes from cataracts and macular degeneration. And, leafy greens fill a plate with few calories and essentially no fat (except what's added with dressing).

Perk up your salad making with more flavor, color and texture by mixing in different greens.

· For a peppery flavor : arugula or watercress

· For leaves that aren't green : red-and-white radicchio

· For flavor with a "bite" : chicory or escarole

· For a mild flavor and delicate green color : mache, Boston or Bibb lettuce

· For a deep-green color : spinach

· For a crisp texture : Romaine

Display / Recipe: I will have a display of the different leafy greens mentioned above. I will also do a demo of a breakfast option: Shamrock Smoothie featuring fruit, greek yogurt, and leafy greens.

Go green without the artificial food coloring · Use green colored vegetables and herbs to add green color to you recipes instead of adding artificial food coloring.

· Herbs such as basil and pesto are great options. You can also use leafy greens, avocado, and broccoli.

Display / Recipe: I will have a display of various green vegetables. I will show broccoli pesto pasta.

Go green and festive · Cut green bell peppers crosswise near the pointed end to make Shamrock-shaped slices. Make mini clover pizzas by spreading pizza sauce and cheese over split English muffins. Place one bell pepper slice on each mini pizza, and bake until the cheese melts.

· Try a Rainbow Theme : Serve a variety of fruits and vegetables of all colors for a dose of vitamins and minerals.

- Rainbow fruit salad parfaits for dessert

Display / Recipe: I will show a display of the mini clover pizzas and the rainbow fruit parfaits for dessert (both pre-made).

Broccoli Pesto Pasta

Yield: about 8 servings


1 lb. broccoli

1 lb. whole wheat pasta

2 tbsp. unsalted butter

2 tbsp. olive oil

1 small onion, finely chopped

3-4 cloves garlic, minced or pressed

½ tsp. red pepper flakes

1 tsp. salt

½ cup Greek yogurt

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Grated Parmesan, for serving


Chop the broccoli crowns into florets. Use a vegetable peeler to remove the tough outer skins of the broccoli stems, and chop the stems into ½-inch discs. Steam the broccoli in a steamer basket above boiling water until fork-tender. Remove to a bowl. Cook pasta according to package directions. Reserve 1½ cups of the pasta water and then drain the pasta well. Set aside. Return the pot to the heat. Add the butter and olive oil to the pot over medium-high heat, heating until the butter is melted. Add the onion to the pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic, red pepper flakes and salt and cook 1-2 minutes more. Return the cooked broccoli to the pan and cook 1-2 minutes more to heat through. Season with pepper to taste. Transfer the broccoli mixture to a food processor or blender. Pulse in short bursts, scraping down the sides as needed, until the mixture is finely chopped. Add in the Greek yogurt and process until smooth. If needed, add the reserved pasta water a little bit at a time just until the sauce is smooth and creamy. Season with freshly ground pepper to taste. In a large bowl, toss the pasta with the sauce. Serve with freshly grated Parmesan.