Category Archives: Vegetables

TAMATO

Tomato: Fruit or Vegetable?

TAMATO

This month are fea­tur­ing an abun­dant super food that is well known by any­one who’s ever eaten a slice of pizza. No…it’s not anchovies!  We’re talk­ing about the hum­ble yet ver­sa­tile tomato! But the tomato, as we know, is as con­tro­ver­sial as it is deli­cious. After all, it lies at the heart of an ongo­ing debate that has con­founded crit­ics for centuries:

 

Is the tomato a fruit or a vegetable?

 

Botan­i­cally, some argue, a tomato is con­sid­ered a fruit. But, as oth­ers point out, it is com­monly pre­pared as a veg­etable. This puz­zling ques­tion was even brought to trial in 1893 when the Supreme Court of the United States ruled it to be a veg­etable. This debate may very well go on for­ever, but the one thing we can all agree on is that the tomato is a deli­cious addi­tion to sal­ads, sauces, and snacks alike.

 

Sadly, Sep­tem­ber is the time of year when toma­toes are slowly going out of sea­son in the north­ern­most states, while still grow­ing big and juicy in the rest of the coun­try. So get them before they’re all gone! They’re chock full of antiox­i­dants (lycopene) that help build up a strong immune sys­tem. And did you know that eat­ing fresh toma­toes can help lower bad cho­les­terol mak­ing it good for your over­all heart health? But per­haps the most impor­tant nutri­tional ben­e­fit of a tomato is its excep­tion­ally high vit­a­min C con­tent!  Kind of like, what are those things called? Oh yeah, fruits!

 

Toma­toes come in all shapes, sizes, and col­ors includ­ing deep orange, pur­ple, and maroon. When select­ing them, don’t neglect the “uglys.” Instead, base your selec­tion on the sweet aroma that a ripe tomato will release and it’s impor­tant to make sure they have a rich color. Store them at room tem­per­a­ture as they are sen­si­tive to cold and pair them with, well, just about anything!

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New Menu Highlights

blog-smoothie

We have been hard at work all sum­mer long prepar­ing for our excit­ing Fall 2013 menu! We even added a full-time team mem­ber to our grow­ing com­pany in order to focus our ener­gies on the very impor­tant topic of recipe test­ing. Wel­come, Marysol!

Some new items we are pleased to announce include:

Sun­but­ter Brown­ies
Our creamy sun­but­ter (nut-free and made from yummy sun­flow­ers) com­bines with rich vel­vety cocoa to cre­ate a choco­lately match made in heaven!

Inside Out Cup­cakes
Our newest line of WT Cre­ations, these del­i­ca­cies con­sist of a health­ier cup­cake for­mula that is then injected with a yummy, icing-like filling!

Smoothie Day Fundraiser
What do the names Choko Loko, Very Berry, and Banana Blue have in com­mon? They are all final­ists in our Cre­ate a Smoothie con­test. We are test­ing a vari­ety of smooth­ies to see which ones YOU like best! Get on to the Whole­some Tum­mies Face­book page and place your vote today!

Side Items
More fresh sides to choose from – we are increas­ing our num­ber of fresh side items so your child has a hard time say­ing no!

Entree items cur­rently being tested include:

  • Taquitos
  • Ravi­oli
  • Cal­zones
  • Crispy Chicken Sandwich
  • Buf­falo Chicken Sandwich

Here’s to keep­ing our menu fresh, nutri­tious, and exciting!!!

Broccoli

Summer-time Recipe: Grilled Broccoli Salad

Broccoli

Broc­coli is a truly amaz­ing veg­etable from the Cru­cif­er­ous fam­ily known for its high antiox­i­dant lev­els and Vit­a­min C. Although kids frown at the over­cooked, brown, mushy steamed ver­sion they’re often forced to eat, we have seen them devour it when pre­pared cor­rectly.  In fact, it can be one of the more pop­u­lar veg­eta­bles amongst chil­dren.  Broc­coli is inher­ently delicious!

 

When Broc­coli is at its peak dur­ing the sum­mer time months, its abun­dance in the mar­kets ensures that con­sumers get the fresh­est, dark green flo­rets. You should buy broc­coli only when the dark green flo­rets sit on a firm bright green stalk. Avoid limp yel­low­ish stalks or flo­rets with yel­low spot­ting. The per­fect broc­coli will be scrump­tious eaten raw and with a creamy dip, how­ever, it can also stand up to many bold fla­vors and fla­vor infus­ing tech­niques such as grilling.  Because the grill is prob­a­bly already set up dur­ing the sum­mer, this grilled broc­coli salad is the per­fect side dish for a sum­mer Sun­day BBQ.

 

Ingre­di­ents

 

  • 2 pounds of broc­coli cut into large flo­rets. The stalks can be saved to make stock for a broc­coli soup (or other veg­e­tar­ian soup)
  • 1 cup chopped wal­nuts (optional)
  • 2 Tbs lemon zest
  • 2 gar­lic cloves, finely minced
  • 1/4 cup extra vir­gin olive oil
  • 2 oz parme­san cheese, shaved

 

  1. Blanch the broc­coli by bring­ing a large pot of salted water to a boil. Drop the flo­rets in for about a minute then drain. Dunk them into a bowl filled with ice water and allow them to cool for 2 min­utes. Drain and pat dry. Set aside
  2. Toast the wal­nuts in a pan oven high heat mak­ing sure they get tossed often. When they start to emit their dis­tin­guish­able wal­nut aroma remove them from the heat source and leave them to rest on the pan. Once they’ve cooled, rough chop them.
  3. In a large bowl, com­bine wal­nuts with lemon zest and 3 Tbs of olive oil and a pinch of kosher salt
  4. Toss the dry broc­coli flo­rets with the remain­ing olive oil.  Arrange the broc­coli flo­rets over a medium fire on the grill. Medium heat means that you can place your hand 5 inches above the fire for 2 sec­onds before the heat becomes unbear­able.  Let the flo­rets sit over the fire for 5 min­utes, then flip and let the other side grill for another 5 min­utes. The broc­coli will have dark grill marks that will give it a smoky and com­plex taste.  Toss the grilled broc­coli with the wal­nut mix­ture and shave sliv­ers of parme­san cheese before serv­ing. Yum!

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Excite your Palate and Stay Healthy

Hip­pocrates, the ven­er­a­ble Greek physi­cian who lived dur­ing the Clas­si­cal Greek era once famously said “Let food be thy med­i­cine, thy med­i­cine shall be thy food”.  Fol­low­ing in the foot­steps of the founder of West­ern med­i­cine, we’ve pro­vided a list of many fruits and veg­eta­bles along with a leek recipe that can make its grand debut in your kitchen this Spring so that you too can spring into a healthy and whole­some life this season.

Spring Pro­duce Showcase

Apri­cots

Arti­chokes

Aspara­gus

Bar­ba­dos Cherries

Bel­gian Endive

Bit­ter Melon

Broc­coli

But­ter Lettuce

Cac­tus

Chay­ote Squash

Che­r­i­moya

Chives

Col­lard Greens

Corn

Fava Beans

Fen­nel

Fid­dle­head Ferns

Green Beans

Hon­ey­dew

Leeks

Limes

Lychee

Peas

Pineap­ple

Pur­ple Asparagus

Radic­chio

Ramps

Red Leaf Lettuce

Rhubarb

Snow Peas

Sor­rel

Spinach

Spring Baby Lettuce

Straw­ber­ries

Swiss Chard

Vidalia Onions

Water­cress

White Aspara­gus

StartwithSalad

Start With Salad

At wit’s end try­ing to cajole your picky eater into eat­ing healthy, good-for-them foods?   Do we have a pre-dinner trick for you!

First, you must answer this ques­tion.  When is the best time to get your kids to eat their veg­eta­bles?  Answer:  Any­time they are hun­gry!   You can use this insight in your mis­sion to improve your picky eater’s habits.  A hun­gry child (or adult for that mat­ter!) is more open to try­ing new foods, so take advan­tage of those hunger pains and put some­thing healthy on their plate before the main course is served.

Before sit­ting down for the fam­ily din­ner, try start­ing with salad as an appe­tizer.  As the kids are mulling around ask­ing over and over again if dinner’s ready yet (I can hear them now!), you can put a crisp salad in front of them and actu­ally have them eat it.  You may want to call it an “appe­tizer” instead of just “salad”, as that term holds spe­cial allure to kids!

Now that you’ve gone to your local farmer’s mar­ket (see Healthy Habit #8:  Eat Local and In Sea­son) and are well stocked with fresh, in-season good­ies, you are ready to begin.

First, start with romaine let­tuce.  Cut it into man­age­able bite-sized pieces for small mouths.  Do not bother buy­ing ice­berg let­tuce, as it has ques­tion­able nutri­tional value com­pared to its greener coun­ter­parts.  Do not use spring mix either, as most kids tend to not appre­ci­ate the vari­ety of tastes and tex­tures.  You can and should mix in a lit­tle spinach, as once it’s finally chopped and mixed in with the romaine your kids will look at it as let­tuce, which for many kids is less offen­sive a veg­etable than spinach!

Second, dice up some kid-favorite top­pings to mix-in.  Fea­ture as many ingre­di­ents in your salad as you have in inven­tory.  Switch it up every time so it’s never quite the same…that will keep the kids guess­ing as to all the dif­fer­ent fla­vors they taste in every bite.  It’s always nice to include some crunchy foods, some soft, and some chewy foods so every bite is a sur­prise.  It’s also a great way to expose them to new veg­gies and fruits they may not have had before…you may want to wait to share the exact ingre­di­ents until AFTER they’ve finished!

Some of our favorite salad add-ins include:

  • Toma­toes
  • Car­rots — shredded
  • Cucum­bers
  • Broc­coli – chopped fine
  • Cran­ber­ries or raisins — dried fruit is nutri­tion­ally sim­i­lar to fresh
  • Avo­cado
  • Fruit – apples, grapes, straw­ber­ries are pop­u­lar choices
  • Corn
  • Edamame – shelled of course, great for protein!
  • Whole wheat crou­tons – a peren­nial kid favorite

The ideal din­ner starts with salad.  It’s a great way to put some­thing healthy on the table before the main meal is ready (gives you time to keep the kids occu­pied while you fin­ish up the main course and sides!).  Eat­ing a salad first means you’re more likely to eat less of the main course.  It’s also a sneaky way you can increase your child’s daily fruit and veg­etable con­sump­tion. If your kids aren’t salad eaters yet, you can start with veg­gies or fruits and dip.  That will get them used to the idea of eat­ing a healthy appe­tizer before their main meal.

To pre­vent your every­day salad “appe­tizer” from get­ting stale, here are some ideas to keep it fresh and exciting:

(1) MAKE A CHOPPED SALAD

Make a “Chopped Salad” by chop­ping all the ingre­di­ents together in a large bowl with the dress­ing.  This is per­fect for kids because it ensures every bite includes bite-sized por­tions.   It’s also quite a pro­duc­tion in the kitchen because the sound of actu­ally chop­ping up the salad makes quite a com­mo­tion and stirs their curiosity!

(2)  MAKE A GARBAGE SALAD

To make your salad more like a meal, you can always include pro­teins such as diced meats (great idea for chicken, fish or steak left­overs!), edamame, hard boiled eggs, or tuna.  In fact, you could make it a real “Garbage Salad” and include all sorts of left­overs.  The ingre­di­ents are then all mixed together so it is almost impos­si­ble to pick out any offend­ers (we want to avoid this kind of picky eater behav­ior anyway!).

(3)  MIX UP YOUR DRESSINGS

Although dress­ings add fats and calo­ries, they also add fla­vor to sal­ads which is key to mak­ing sure your kids love it.  Of course you can buy all-natural dress­ing from the store and in some cases, it is eas­ier to do that.  There are also tons of easy recipes for deli­cious, full-flavored dress­ings that your kids might enjoy even more than the bot­tled ver­sions.  We also enjoy mix­ing dif­fer­ent recipes to keep it dif­fer­ent.  Some of our favorite 5-ingredients-or-less dress­ing recipes include:

  • Basic vinai­grette — lemon, olive oil, sea salt
  • Egg-less Cae­sar – lemon, gar­lic, Dijon mus­tard, anchovy paste
  • Yogurt ranch – but­ter­milk, yogurt, dill, gar­lic, sea salt
  • Sweet vinai­grette – Dijon mus­tard, honey, bal­samic vine­gar, dill, extra vir­gin olive oil

Salad, any­one?

Summer Picnic Salads

By keep­ing your refrig­er­a­tor stocked with a vari­ety of fresh, savory, sweet, crunchy, salty and tangy ingre­di­ents, you’ll be ready for impromptu sum­mer pic­nics any day of the week.

When pack­ing sal­ads for on-the-go munch­ing, store ingre­di­ents in an air­tight con­tainer with a damp paper towel placed over the fresh veg­eta­bles to keep them hydrated; dis­card the paper towel before enjoy­ing your salad. Pack oil-based dress­ings in a sep­a­rate con­tainer and pour over your salad just before eat­ing. Avoid may­on­naise or dairy-based dress­ings, as they tend to spoil quickly in the sum­mer heat.


Ingre­di­ents for the per­fect sum­mer pic­nic salad:

  • Some­thing fresh: Color is key; choose a vari­ety of col­or­ful veg­eta­bles, along with nutri­tion­ally super-charged greens such as spinach or arugula.
  • Some­thing savory: Healthy, lean pro­teins such as tuna, poached chicken breast, beans or tofu, sea­soned with spices will sat­isfy your umami craving.
  • Some­thing sweet: Fresh or dried fruit will add a bit of sweet­ness and bal­ance to your salad.
  • Some­thing crunchy: Sun­flower seeds, sesame seeds or even crushed whole-grain cere­als will add crunch and nutri­tion to your salad.
  • Some­thing salty: A sprin­kle of Parme­san or shred­ded Ched­dar will add that salty bite, with­out a lot of sodium.
  • Some­thing tangy: A bright lemony dress­ing or tangy apple cider vinai­grette will add the zing every salad needs.

In Season: Rhubarb

Rhubarb, once used only for med­i­c­i­nal pur­poses, has become a favorite spring ingre­di­ent in the U.S. Although it’s typ­i­cally con­sid­ered a fruit, rhubarb is a veg­etable, sim­i­lar in tex­ture to cel­ery, but with a refresh­ing tart fla­vor and ruby red, pink and grassy green streaks in the stalks.

You’ll find organic rhubarb in farm­ers mar­kets and stores car­ry­ing organic pro­duce through­out the month of May. Our favorite Whole­some Tum­mies way to enjoy this veg­etable is in a com­pote with straw­ber­ries, driz­zled over freshly baked shortcakes:

Rhubarb Straw­berry Shortcake

Yields: 6 short­cakes
Allergy Info: soy-free; con­tains wheat, gluten, dairy

For the short­cakes:
2 cups all-purpose flour
3 table­spoons sugar, plus extra for sprin­kling
1 table­spoon bak­ing pow­der
1 tea­spoon kosher salt
12 table­spoons unsalted but­ter, cold, diced
2 eggs
2 tea­spoons fresh rose­mary leaves, finely chopped
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 egg beaten plus 1 table­spoons milk, for egg wash
6 small sprigs of rose­mary, from the top of each branch

For the com­pote:
3 cups rhubarb, leaves removed, washed and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 cup sugar, or to taste
1/4 cup orange juice
Pinch of salt
1 pint straw­ber­ries, hulled and quartered

For the cream:
1 cup heavy whip­ping cream
2 table­spoons pow­dered sugar
1 tea­spoon pure vanilla extract

Make the Bis­cuits:
Pre­heat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Sift the flour, sugar, bak­ing pow­der, and salt into a large bowl. Using a pas­try blender, cut in the but­ter until the mix­ture resem­bles a course meal with pea-sized pieces of fat. In a sep­a­rate bowl, lightly whisk the eggs, rose­mary and heavy cream. Add to the flour and mix until just blended. The dough should be sticky, but not wet.

Place the dough out onto a well-floured sur­face and form the dough into a rough cir­cle, one inch high. Cut 6 bis­cuits with a fluted or straight cookie or bis­cuit cut­ter and place on a bak­ing sheet lined with parch­ment. Brush the top of each bis­cuit with the egg wash and sprin­kle with sugar.

Bake for 20 min­utes or until the out­side is slightly golden around the edges. Do not open the oven door dur­ing the first 15 min­utes, to allow the bis­cuits to rise prop­erly. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack.

Make the Com­pote:

Add the rhubarb, sugar, orange juice and pinch of salt to a sauce pan. Bring to a boil and reduce to a sim­mer. Sim­mer for 10 min­utes and add half of the straw­ber­ries. Sim­mer for another 15 min­utes, or until the rhubarb is just ten­der but still toothy. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Add the rest of the straw­ber­ries to the cooled mix­ture and stir to incor­po­rate.

Make the Chan­tilly Cream:

Beat the cold cream with a wire whisk or hand mixer until soft peaks begin to form. Add the pow­dered sugar and vanilla and con­tinue to beat until stiff peaks just barely begin to form.

Assem­ble the short­cakes:
Split short­cake in the mid­dle, like a ham­burger bun. Place the bot­tom of the bis­cuit into a shal­low bowl and spoon some of the com­pote over the bis­cuit. Add a gen­er­ous spoon­ful of Chan­tilly cream. Place the top part of the bis­cuit on the cream and top with a small amount of com­pote and another dol­lop of cream. Place a small sprig of rose­mary on the cream. Repeat for each short­cake.

Chef’s Notes:

Com­bine the dough scraps to cre­ate addi­tional bis­cuits if desired. The sec­ond batch of bis­cuits will be slightly tougher and will not rise as high as the first, but will have the same flavor.

10 Ways To Make Vegetables More Exciting

If your kids aren’t a fan, it may take a few tries and some exper­i­ment­ing for them to fall in love with veg­eta­bles, but don’t give up. With all of the col­or­ful vari­eties avail­able at your local mar­ket this spring, your fam­ily will be inspired to try them all. And when you get them home, here are 10 ways to put some excite­ment into those veggies:
1.    Roast. Cut veg­eta­bles into 1-inch pieces and toss with 1 table­spoon of olive oil, salt and pep­per. Roast at 425°F until caramelized, about 40 min­utes depend­ing on the veg­etable. Serve warm or cold.
2.    Grill. Whether out­doors or inside using a grill pan, veg­eta­bles cooked on the grill add a smoky, caramelized fla­vor to any meal.
3.    Fla­vor. Sprin­kle grated Parme­san, toasted sesame seeds, over warm vegetables.
4.    Dip. Infuse low-fat yogurt or puréed beans with fresh gin­ger, gar­lic, cit­rus and fresh herbs to cre­ate zippy dips for raw or cooked veg­eta­bles. 
5.    Purée. Puréed soups make a quick and healthy meal, and can be served hot or cold. Chop veg­eta­bles, cook in broth until ten­der (about 20 min­utes), purée with a hand blender, thin with addi­tional broth and sea­son to taste with herbs, salt and pepper.
6.    Stuff. Mush­rooms, pep­pers, zuc­chini, toma­toes and egg­plant, to name a few, make great ves­sels for stuff­ing. Add a med­ley of lean meats and veg­eta­bles inside the hollowed-out veg­etable, or slice into thin planks, stuff, roll and bake.
7.    Sauce. Coulis is a sauce made from a puréed raw or cooked veg­etable (or fruit). A roasted red pep­per coulis, for exam­ple, can be tossed with spaghetti squash or used as the base for salad dressings.
8.    Mash. Mix­ing your mashes can lead to excit­ing things. Try mashed cau­li­flower with mashed spring peas, or mashed car­rots with mashed parsnips for new fla­vor profiles.
9.    Salad.  Slice and dice what­ever raw veg­eta­bles you have in the house and make a “garbage salad” out of them.  Serve up with crisp romaine before din­ner (salad appe­tizer!) and your hun­gry fam­ily will devour them.
10. Embrace. Move out of your com­fort zone and try a new veg­etable once a month. Pos­i­tive affir­ma­tion, when it comes to healthy eat­ing and mak­ing veg­eta­bles a part of every meal or snack, will make the jour­ney to good health fun and easy.

How important is peer pressure with picky eaters?

Tomor­row, the WT team will be out at The Geneva School where we spon­sor “Tasty Fri­days”. This is pro­gram, in part­ner­ship with the Win­ter Park Health Foun­da­tion, that will help expose stu­dents to new foods in an effort to expand their palates.

Last year when we launched the pro­gram, we brought out a vari­ety of fresh, exotic fruits and veg­gies and watched (and mar­veled) and the dif­fer­ences between the old­est kids and youngest kids. The older kids watched to see who else would grab a plate, before they would take the plunge them­selves. The younger chil­dren, all grabbed a plate with­out a word– for they assumed it was expected.

We know that peer pres­sure mat­ters in just about every area, but food too? A fan­tas­tic arti­cle, pub­lished this month on BBC, says that “school lunches can help fussy eaters try new foods”.

Researchers found that four out of five chil­dren in Eng­land who ate school lunches had tried food at school that they had not tried at home. The pro­gram com­mis­sioned the sur­vey because too many par­ents packed lunch from home fear­ing their child wouldn’t eat lunch at school.

.…it seems that once at school there’s a desire to fit in with every­one else and even some pos­i­tive peer pres­sure to boast about the vari­ety of what foods you can eat.

Our work with the Be Healthy Pro­gram fur­ther val­i­dates this research. Last year, when we served lunch to an entire Kinder­garten class at St. Andrew Catholic School, we found that the kids over­whelm­ingly ate their lunches because they were eat­ing Whole­some Tum­mies as a group.

So maybe the secret is more expo­sure as a group– let kids come together and try new foods in a group set­ting (like we are doing at The Geneva School tomor­row with Tasty Fri­days) or even as part of a class cur­ricu­lum. What bet­ter way to learn about your fruits and veg­gies than to TRY those fruits and veggies!

Inspire Healthier Choices by Exposing Kids to Fruits & Veggies!

One of the many rea­sons Whole­some Tum­mies packs our kids menu with tons of good-for-you foods!

As reported in the Cap­i­tal Times…
Study: Stu­dents’ expo­sure to pro­duce inspires health­ier choices
Doug Shore — 8/18/2008 6:34 pm

As child obe­sity con­tin­ues to be a major health con­cern nation­wide, results from a new study indi­cate chil­dren may be influ­enced to eat bet­ter sim­ply through expo­sure to health­ier foods.

The study, which was pub­lished in the most recent Wis­con­sin Med­ical Jour­nal, involved data from two groups of Wis­con­sin fourth-, sev­enth– and ninth-grade stu­dents. One group, con­sist­ing of 784 stu­dents, received fruit and veg­etable snacks in school as part of a USDA pro­gram. The other 343 stu­dents in the study were not being given fruit or veg­etable snacks at school.

After the first three months of the USDA pro­gram, stu­dents in both groups were asked about their will­ing­ness to try new fruits or veg­eta­bles at school. Researchers found the 784 stu­dents receiv­ing snacks as part of the USDA pro­gram were twice as likely to try a new fruit at school com­pared to the chil­dren not tak­ing part in the program.

The basic con­clu­sion is that after only three months, the stu­dents in the USDA pro­gram were more will­ing to try fruit and veg­eta­bles at school,” said Eric Jamelske, asso­ciate pro­fes­sor of eco­nom­ics at the Uni­ver­sity of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and one of the lead authors of the study.
After look­ing at the data, Jamelske also hypoth­e­sized that the USDA snack pro­gram had more of a pos­i­tive effect on the fourth-graders.

The data seems to indi­cate that the sooner kids are intro­duced to fruit and veg­eta­bles, the more likely they are to choose them as snacks instead of candy and soda,” Jamelske said.
Jamelske and Lori Bica, an asso­ciate pro­fes­sor of psy­chol­ogy at UW-Eau Claire, will con­tinue to con­duct research on the pro­gram and the eat­ing habits of chil­dren. They hope to pro­duce more spe­cific data regard­ing exactly which fruits and veg­eta­bles kids are will­ing to eat.

We’re a lit­tle too depen­dent on the schools for data,” said Jamelske.

Sher­man Mid­dle School in Madi­son took part in Fresh Fruit and Veg­etable Pro­gram (FFVP) last year. Prin­ci­pal Michael Her­nan­dez said the pro­gram was an unqual­i­fied suc­cess, and almost all of the kids were excited to get the fruit or veg­etable snacks.

About 95 per­cent of the stu­dents looked for­ward to the snacks,” said Her­nan­dez. “Kids, teach­ers and par­ents all thought it was a great idea.”

Blue­ber­ries and kiwis were two of the most pop­u­lar items at Sher­man. He said the pro­gram did well in expos­ing kids to healthy foods they nor­mally do not eat.

Most stu­dents had not tried kiwis before, but they were a big hit,” Her­nan­dez said. “And I am always see­ing kids eat­ing blueberry-flavored candy, so it was nice to be able to offer kids real blue­ber­ries, which they loved.”

The U.S. Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture (USDA) cre­ated the FFVP in 2002 to help improve nutri­tion and help chil­dren avoid becom­ing over­weight or obese. The pro­gram pro­vides fund­ing for stu­dents from selected schools to receive free fresh fruit or veg­etable snacks for an aca­d­e­mic year.

Accord­ing to Jamelske, Wis­con­sin was one of 14 states to receive fund­ing for the snack pro­gram last year, but thanks to changes in the most recent farm bill all 50 states will now par­tic­i­pate in the FFVP. How­ever, leg­is­la­tion will limit the pro­gram to 25 ele­men­tary schools in each state.
Although Sher­man Mid­dle School will not receive the FFVP grant for the upcom­ing school year, Her­nan­dez believes the pro­gram should be expanded.

This pro­gram is what schools should be doing,” said Her­nan­dez. “It’s much bet­ter than hav­ing candy and soda machines in the lunchroom.”