Thursday, January 6, 2011

Celebrate 2011 with a "party platter"!

Okay, so how many new resolutions have you broken so far? It is only the 7th day of January and I've broken all of mine already :-)

Oh, so what if a resolution gets broken here and there. We're only human, after all. I think we all need to make a resolution to not to be so hard on ourselves in 2011!

I do still make resolutions; I write them and keep them handy so I can review frequently. Never underestimate the power of the written word.

Maybe you have set a goal for your family to eat more healthfully this year. We Americans are really bad at eating our veggies and fruits, so this is a good place to begin the clean-up.

To say that most kids are not attracted to vegetables is an understatement. Last night, I thought I was sneaking a bit of finely shredded carrot into some meatloaf. Can you believe they spotted it?

So, often I take the direct approach. One thing we know is that it is easy to eat the foods that are right in front of us. So during the winter months especially, my kids often open our fridge to find a vegetable platter (I call it a "party platter"--it's all in the marketing). A veggie platter can be very simple, like the one pictured below, or more artsy like the one pictured above. The important thing is that it is eye-catching (remember: we eat with our eyes first) and ready to eat.

Start with a rainbow of colorful vegetables. Not only are they beautiful to look at, but a variety will give you loads of different antioxidants and vitamins. These can include carrots, celery, cauliflower, radishes, grape tomatoes, English cucumber, zucchini and green, yellow, orange or red peppers.

Broccoli, asparagus spears and green beans are other beautiful standards. I like to steam these veggies first to make them more palatable; let them cool before you proceed (Usually, I steam broccoli 2-3 minutes and asparagus 3-4 minutes. For green beans I use more water and steam about 10-12 minutes. You can adjust these times depending on your family's preferences). Chop veggies however you like, keeping in mind this is finger food. I arrange these on a plain white round platter with a small white bowl in the center for dip.

There are many options for dip. Bottled dressings are okay (find the organic ones with the fewest ingredients), but it is easy to make your own. My kids like a buttermilk-ranch dip, a simple hummus (really simple: into a food processor blend a can of white or garbanzo beans, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil and some roughly chopped parsley) or a vinaigrette.

The platter is covered with plastic and placed front and center in the fridge. (a bowl of clementines or grapes next to it might be overkill--but you never know unless you try)

I keep the platter replenished through the week, adding a few new vegetables or a different dip to keep it interesting.

Sometimes I even put the "party platter" on the dinner table to increase our vegetable intake. When we were visiting family over New Year's weekend, my sister-in-law, Deb, made a beautiful tray of veggies and placed it next to a bowl of greens. Alongside this, she served a homemade lemon vinaigrette and everyone could build his or her own salad. Wish I'd taken a picture to show you--it was a mouthwatering display!

Give it a try--you might find your family enjoying more veggies in 2011.

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