Enjoy Winterís Fruits and Veggies

During the holidays, there are a lot of tempting treats for children, including egg nog and sugar cookies.

It's OK to let kids have some cake and candy, but remember to limit portions of high calorie foods. Try to fill children's diets with servings of fruits and vegetables instead. Keeping their daily diet full of fiber-rich produce makes a tremendous difference to their health. The vitamins and minerals will keep them strong, and help them to fight off illnesses.

"Try to fill half of children's plates with fruits and vegetables to ensure they have a well-balanced meal," said Fidelis Care Chief Medical Officer Sanjiv Shah, MD, MPH. "Fruits and veggies also make great snacks throughout the day. They'll be eating healthy and getting a boost of energy."

Here are five fruits and vegetables to look forward to in the winter:

1. Clementines

This sweet, tasty fruit is an excellent source of vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant, and a perfect snack to throw in a bag or a purse.

2. Cranberries

High in vitamin C, fiber, and manganese, eat cranberries with a salad or as a snack. The tart, tasty treat can be more than just a part of a holiday dinner. 3) Kale: This dark, leafy green might not be on everyone's vegetable list, but it should be. One cup of raw kale has almost 3 grams of protein, 2.5 grams of fiber, and numerous vitamins and minerals, including folate, which aids brain development. In addition to eating kale in a salad, you can add it to sauces and smoothies. Spinach is an excellent alternative to kale.

4. Butternut squash

Winter squashes are sweet, hearty, and delicious. Butternut squash, a good source of potassium, can be used in breads, muffins, or soups (the perfect meal to warm you up on a chilly winter's night).

5. Chestnuts

This holiday perennial is high in protein and low in fat. It's also a great source of vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C. Though many people think they need to be roasted, chestnuts also can be boiled or eaten raw.

A fun way for children to get their fruits and vegetables is by letting them help out with a new meal. Try this recipe for Crispy Black Bean Tacos from the A Cut Above the Rest team at Champlain Valley Educational Services, one of the winners of the Fidelis Care-sponsored 2015 North Country Jr. Iron Chef competition.

Crispy Black Bean Tacos w/ Vegetable Slaw & Cilantro Sour Cream

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 onion
  • 2 poblano peppers
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 15.5-ounce cans black beans
  • 3½ Tbsp. ground cumin
  • 2 Tbsp. chili powder
  • 1 cup low-fat sour cream
  • 4 Tbsp. cilantro
  • 8 8-inch whole wheat flour tortillas
  • 12 ounces cheddar cheese
  • ½ head green cabbage
  • 1 red pepper
  • 2 carrots
  • 1½ cups apple cider vinegar
  • ¾ cup honey
  • 2 limes
  • 1 red onion
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 cups water

Directions

Black beans

  1. Small dice poblano pepper and onion, mince garlic, and set items aside until ready to cook.
  2. Heat vegetable oil in saucepan over medium-low heat; cook onion and poblano pepper until tender, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook another 2 minutes.
  3. Stir in black beans, 1½ Tbsp. ground cumin and 1 Tbsp. chili powder with the onions and peppers, reduce heat and simmer until it thickens, about 5 to 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. If the beans thicken too much, add water to thin out.

Cilantro Sour Cream

  1. Mince 2 Tbsp. cilantro and mix with sour cream, season with salt and pepper to taste.

Vegetable slaw

  1. On a mandolin, slice green cabbage and place in stainless steel bowl.
  2. Shred carrots with box shredder and add to cabbage mixture.
  3. Finely julienne the red pepper, red onion, and poblano pepper and add to carrots and cabbage.
  4. In a separate stainless steel bowl, whisk together apple cider vinegar, honey, the juice, and zest of 2 limes, 2 Tbsp. minced cilantro, 2 Tbsp. ground cumin, and 1 Tbsp. chili powder.
  5. Combine the vinegar mixture with the vegetables. Season with salt and pepper to taste, let rest for at least 30 minutes before serving.

Constructing the tacos

  1. Heat non-stick skillet on low, add flour tortillas and top with 1.5 ounces of shredded cheddar cheese.
  2. When cheese is melted, pull tortilla shells out and top with 3-4 ounces of black bean mixture, top with slaw and 1 ounce of cilantro sour cream and serve.
  3. Garnish with any remaining cilantro.
  4. Mix all ingredients well.