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April 20th, 2012

Fifteen Beans in a Hole

paigepluckett60x60by Paige Puckett—
My natural tendency is to be bossy. I’m a first born, and I’m used to getting my way. However, when it comes to teaching my kids to garden, I have to balance my desire to do things the right way with letting them explore and experiment on their own. For instance, I did insist that my four-year-old plant pole beans next to a pole, but when he chose to put fifteen beans in one hole and was very excited about doing so, I let it ride.

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We spent the entire day visiting a nursery, perusing the farmer’s market and then planting our garden. My oldest was a huge help, and the youngest tried his best to keep up. One potted tomato plant was dropped, several flowers were pinched off the marigolds, the bed of lettuce had the hose dragged across it, corn seeds were tossed on top of mulch by the almost two-year-old, and my spade was stolen on more than one occasion. There was also a nice layer of dirt in the bathtub once the water drained and happy exhausted boys to tuck in that night.

Garden Activities for Kids:

Seeding corn and beans is a great way to introduce kids to gardening. These seeds are easy for little fingers to grab. Beans make for easy picking down at their height, and corn makes for dramatic growth and excellent hiding places.  If you are planting the two in the same bed (which can be beneficial), give each kid a handful of mixed seeds and a stick and show them how to poke a hole in the ground and stick a seed inside. Don’t be picky about the spacing of their holes. Simply let them overplant and you can thin things out later once they sprout.

Another good activity is having kids help dig holes for the tomatoes and peppers, and then fill the dirt around the plants. Show them how deep they need to go with the shovel, and then brace the plants with your hand as they push the dirt back around them. My four year old would dig out the dirt and put in into an empty pot so it didn’t get mixed in with the mulch. He was nervous about hurting the plants, so he had me take them out of the pots and put them into the holes.


Paige Puckett and her husband Joe, both in Land and Water Engineering fields, grew up with hands-on experience helping parents and grandparents in vegetable gardens and creating wild adventures in their expansive backyards and nearby creeks at their respective country homes in Tennessee and North Carolina. Now that they have two boys of their own, they try to engage them in the outdoors despite the obvious confines of downtown living in Raleigh, NC. Paige shares their lessons learned, garden projects and photos at her Love Sown blog.

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January 27th, 2012

Warm up from the big chill

mgtaylor60by Marygrace Taylor—

I always say that once the holidays end, I’d be more than happy to fast forward through the rest of winter and move straight on to spring. Cold weather and short days aside, for local-minded eaters, January through March offers little culinary variety. Even down here in Austin, the farmers markets are still open, but all that’s really available are leafy greens and root vegetables. Oh, and cauliflower. If there’s one good thing about the dead of winter, roasted cauliflower is probably it. It has a mild, slightly sweet flavor that’s often more appealing to kids (and many adults) than the raw stuff. And when seasoned with a zesty, curry-based dressing, the white winter veggie will warm your family up without weighing them down.

kiwi-Curried-Cauliflower

Warm Curried Cauliflower with Chickpeas and Cashews
This recipe only calls for a tablespoon of curry powder, which will help introduce kids to the flavor without overwhelming them. If you regularly cook with the spice mixture, feel free to add up to 2 tablespoons.

Active time: 10 minutes
Total time: 30 minutes

1 medium head cauliflower, chopped into florets
½ medium red onion, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons safflower oil
¼ cup coconut oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon curry powder (or more, if desired)
2 teaspoons brown sugar
¼ teaspoon turmeric
1 cup cooked chickpeas (canned are fine)
1/3 cup cashews, toasted and coarsely chopped
Salt and pepper, to taste

1. Preheat the oven to 400°.
2. On a baking sheet, toss the cauliflower and onion with the safflower oil and a big pinch of salt. Roast for 15 to 20 minutes, tossing once or twice, until the edges of the cauliflower are golden brown.
3. In a small skillet, warm the coconut oil over medium heat. Add the garlic, curry powder, sugar, turmeric, and a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring frequently, until the mixture is fragrant and the garlic begins to brown, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat and set aside.
4. Place the roasted cauliflower and onion in a large bowl and add the chickpeas and cashews. Drizzle the spiced coconut oil over top and toss until well mixed. Taste for seasoning and serve warm.

Serves 4
Per serving: calories 326, fat 22 g, protein 8 g, carbohydrates 30 g, dietary fiber 7 g


Marygrace Taylor is the staff writer and recipe developer for KIWI Magazine. She lives and cooks in Austin, Texas, with her husband and dog, Charlie.

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May 26th, 2011

5 Healthy, last-minute dinners your kids will actually eat

by Marygrace Tayor

Though they’re often a source of stress, those super-busy, super-structured weekdays that tend to define most of the school year do come with one advantage: Forcing parents to stay organized. Who’s picking up Jackson from trumpet lessons, who’s shuttling Hazel to the basketball game—and of course, what’s for dinner.

School might not be over just yet, but it’s already starting to feel that way.  As summer creeps in, the chaotic schedules start to wind down. Instead of playing chauffer after school, you’re just playing. The only problem is, sometimes you end up having so much fun, you lose track of time completely. Everyone’s having a blast chasing the dog, throwing the softball, and playing tag…Next thing you know, it’s six o’clock, and you’ve got a gaggle of hungry, tired kids who’ll turn anxious and irritable if they don’t get a meal pronto.

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These are the nights when you fry up a platter of grilled cheeses or order in a pizza—at least, they used to be. Just because you need dinner ready in no time flat doesn’t mean fast food-type food is the only option. Whipping up a speedy, nutritionally-balanced meal (that’s one with complex carbohydrates, lean protein, healthy fat, and a hearty serving of veggies or fruit) is easier than you think. In fact, it’s downright simple! Here, five of my favorite well-rounded, quick-cooking, kid-approved dinners ready in twenty minutes or less.

Hummus plate

In a food processor, add one 15-ounce can of chickpeas (drained and rinsed), ¼ cup tahini, the juice of half a lemon, one garlic clove, and salt. Puree while drizzling in a few tablespoons of olive oil until a smooth dip forms. Serve with cherry tomatoes, sliced , and whole wheat pita.

Total time: 10 minutes

Quick veggie tacos

In a wide skillet, saute one large, diced onion and 2 to 3 diced bell peppers, adding garlic and cumin to taste. Add a 15-ounce can of black beans (drained and rinsed), and continue cooking until heated through. Serve in whole wheat or corn tortillas with shredded cheddar cheese.

Total time: 15 minutes

Chicken avocado wraps

Cook frozen, all-natural chicken tenders according to package directions, then slice into strips. Meanwhile, mash one large avocado and spread on whole wheat tortillas. Top with the sliced chicken tenders, shredded lettuce, sliced tomato, and grated carrot; then wrap and eat.

Total time: 15 minutes

Breakfast for dinner

Add ½ cup canned pumpkin or mashed sweet potato to your favorite whole wheat pancake recipe. Drop a handful of blueberries or banana slices on the uncooked pancake side before flipping. Top cooked pancakes with chopped pecans, a dollop of plain yogurt, and a drizzle of pure maple syrup.

Total time: 20 minutes

Spicy peanut noodles

Cook one pound of whole wheat spaghetti according to package directions, then drain (reserving ½ cup of the pasta water) and rinse under cold water until cool. In a bowl, combine ¾ cup salted peanut butter, ¼ cup soy sauce, 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar, and 1 teaspoon sriracha sauce (or to taste). Add the ½ cup reserved pasta water and mix to combine. To the noodles, add the peanut sauce, half a head of shredded red cabbage, and one sliced cucumber. Toss well before serving.

Total time: 20 minutes

You can find even more of our favorite quick, kid-friendly dinner ideas—plus some KIWI readers have shared—on our blog, KiwiLog. What’s your healthy, go-to meal?

Marygrace Taylor is the staff writer and recipe developer for KIWI Magazine. She lives and cooks in Austin, Texas, with her husband and dog, Charlie.

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April 27th, 2011

Eat Your Veggies

by Marygrace Taylor

Hooray! Spring is here, and fresh, vibrant produce is finally cropping up in the garden and at the farmer’s market. If you’re like me, you’ve spent months waiting for a taste of peas, asparagus, or anything other than dreary winter root vegetables.  And while I’m willing to bet your kids don’t feel the same way (for now!), changing their minds about fresh produce isn’t an impossible feat. Here, my four favorite—and foolproof—ways to get kids excited about their fruits and vegetables.

Get them involved
Your kid’ll be way more enthusiastic about that bunch of broccoli if he gets to pick it out and cook it himself. Whether you’re harvesting from the garden or shopping the farmer’s market, you can make gathering produce more fun by turning it into a scavenger hunt. Have your child seek out fruits and veggies in certain colors or sizes, like long green sticks (asparagus) or little blue spheres (blueberries). Afterwards, leaf through a kid-friendly cookbook with your little one to find a yummy-looking recipe that he can help you make.

Point out the benefits—but make them exciting!
Tell a little kid that carrots are good for her because they contain eye health-promoting beta carotene, and her eyes will likely glaze over. Tell her carrots are good for her because they can help her have Super Vision, and there’s a nice chance she’ll start choosing the orange veggie over other, less healthful snacks that don’t have any magic powers.

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Carrots for Super Vision

Make it look fun
It’s no surprise that a platter of steamed kale probably won’t get your child excited, but kid food doesn’t have to be all macaroni and cheese and chicken fingers. Cut veggie sandwiches into interesting shapes, arrange salad vegetables in rainbow order on the plate instead of tossing everything together, or arrange your pizza toppings in the shape of a smiley face. You could even turn a pile of grapes and cheese into a campfire, veggie spring rolls into a caterpillar, or a chocolate-covered pear into a cute little penguin!

Serve healthy food when they’re hungry
Sounds like a no-brainer, right? A small plate of whole grain crackers and a cheese stick is a healthy snack choice—but if eaten an hour before dinner, it’ll wipe out your kid’s appetite for veggies (or anything else!) at dinner. When your child asks for a snack, offer fresh fruit or vegetables like sliced apple with almond butter or celery sticks with hummus. If she’s not interested, she probably isn’t all that hungry, and can wait until her next meal to eat. By then, she will be hungry—and more willing to gobble up the side of sautéed zucchini on her plate.

Marygrace Taylor is the staff writer and recipe developer for KIWI Magazine. She lives and cooks in Austin, Texas, with her husband and dog, Charlie.

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