Author Archives: Super Market Fairy

About Super Market Fairy

Sally Graves, aka the Super Market Fairy, is a holistic health coach, YouTube vlogger, and motivational speaker. Recently she appeared on the Whole Foods stage at Summer Streets. She visits schools to teach and inspire kids to eat healthy foods, especially fruits and veggies. The Super Market Fairy is also available for children's parties, cooking demos, one-on-one coaching and health talks.

An Educational (and Delicious) Family Outing: The Farmers Market!

October is a wonderful month to visit the farmers market. Just when you think things are slowing down and harvests are coming to an end, Mother Nature starts showing off. With an array of apples, winter squashes, and pumpkins, it’s an excellent weekend activity with the family. Here are a few ways to make the farmers market both fun and educational for the entire family.

Photo: Jane Feldman

Photo: Jane Feldman

Sample and taste. The farmers market is a great place for kids to familiarize themselves with different kinds of fruits and vegetables—and even sample them! Most farmers are willing to share a taste if you ask. Encourage kids to pick things up and see how they feel. The farmers market is much more relaxed than the grocery store and touching the produce is not frowned upon. Vegetables become more interesting when you can pick them up and hold them. Is it heavy? Is the surface rough or smooth? Can you eat the whole thing or do you have to peel it? The learning opportunities are endless!

Variety is the spice of life. Use the farmers market to your advantage by getting one of everything! Can’t decide what kind of apples to buy? Get four or five different kinds and then have a taste testing party later on. Explore the difference between sweet and tart. Which one is the juiciest? Make up a ballot and have your kids vote for their favorite in each category. This can be done with a variety of items such as pears, peaches, potatoes, onions, mushrooms, and peppers. When kids get to choose which one they like best, the yellow peach or the white peach for instance, it’s easier to get them to try new foods.

Try something new. Pick a new fruit or vegetable to try. Ask the farmer what it tastes like. How does it grow? Does it come from a tree or a plant, or the ground? How is it prepared? What other fruits or veggies go well with it? The farmer may even have recipe recommendations. Make it a game, an adventure, or an exploration! Only get one or just enough so that the whole family can have a sample. Then, back in the kitchen, you can cut and prepare it together. Kids are much more willing to try new things if they have helped to pick it out and prepare it. Discovering new food is fun!

Play with your food.  The farmers market is the perfect place to teach kids how produce is sold and practice math skills too. Give each child an age appropriate amount, for example $2 for little ones for one or two pieces of fruit and perhaps $5 to $10 for older kids to get enough for the whole family. Let them read signs and figure out how much each item costs. Have them watch as the item is weighed and help them figure out if they can get more or need to put some back. These real life skills will take them far and help them understand the cost of food.

Everyone’s doing it.  On Friday, October 24, you can help set a world record at The Big Apple Crunch, a citywide event promoting healthier eating. The main event takes place at noon at the Union Square Farmer’s Market, but you can participate at any of GrowNYC’s Greenmarkets or Youthmarkets, or even host your own event! Find out more at bigapplecrunch.org.

Bonus Tip! Go as early as possible. There will be less crowds and the farmers are fresh and ready to talk. Plus, even though there’s lots of food, going to the market at lunch time is not the best idea. The crowds are more dense and everyone is way too hungry before lunch to make it fun. By going early in the morning, everyone has just had breakfast, so you can nibble and enjoy samples, but not feel too rushed.

Packing (and Picking) Healthy Back to School Snacks

Photo: Jane Feldman

Photo: Jane Feldman

Packing snacks is often a last minute to-do during a hectic morning routine. Most people dash to the pantry, grab something quickly, and throw it in their child’s book bag just before heading out the door. But snack time is an important part of the day that deserves a few more moments of your time. The right snack will do exactly what it’s supposed to do—nourish and satisfy kids and give them the fuel and focus they need to make it until lunch.

Avoid putting your child on an energy roller coaster while at school with processed snacks—full of sugar and refined carbohydrates, which turn immediately to sugar in the body. These snacks may provide a temporary energy boost, but they also cause a major sugar crash, leaving kids lethargic, unfocused, and moody. Fresh fruits and vegetables, on the other hand, maintain blood sugar and provide the necessary energy to ensure kids’ success.

So save the granola bars and crackers for weekends when the mental demands aren’t as high and physical activity is increased. This goes for big kids too (a.k.a. adults!). Instead, here are a few great ideas to add to your basic repertoire of baby carrots and celery sticks. They’re all great to have on hand for after school snacks too!

Fruit Kabobs. Kids love fruit right? Choose a few of their favorites (melon, grapes, strawberries, etc.) and mix in a few veggies to make a kabob! Vegetables such as tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, and peppers are all great options. Especially baby bell peppers—they’re particularly sweet, in season, and at their colorful best in the fall. And a great tip—instead of bamboo skewers, use popsicle sticks to make a safer fruit kabob.

Photo: Jane Feldman

Photo: Jane Feldman

Dipped veggies. Fill a small container (a 2 oz. baby food jar is a good size) with your child’s favorite dip—hummus, guacamole, pesto, salsa, or a creamy dressing. Then, cut veggies into short bite-sized pieces and pack them tightly in the container so that the ends of the veggies are in the dip. This makes the snack easy to eat and also saves you from keeping track of two containers.

Funny fruits. Have a little fun and play with your fruit! Instead of using post-its, write notes or jokes, draw pictures or smiley faces, or just say “I love you, now eat me” on bananas, oranges, nectarines, and clementines. Jokingly draw an arrow pointing to the nub end of a banana and write “Open this end.”  Draw black lines on an orange for your young sports fan with the phrase, “Slam dunk your day.” Anything fun will do!

Cinnamon sticks. Toss thin slices of apple or pear into a plastic baggie or container and sprinkle generously with cinnamon. The extra touch of spice goes a long way! It’s simple and easy and can be prepared and kept in the fridge for a couple of days.

Nature’s candy bar. Open a medjool date—keeping it together on one side like a clam shell—and remove the pit. Fill the date with nut butter (if allowed at school), sunflower seed butter, pumpkin butter, soy butter, or coconut butter (also called coconut manna or coconut creme). Other great filling ingredients include raw almonds or dried coconut. For a special treat, add a few chocolate chips or a square of dark chocolate. Squish together and enjoy.

Don’t forget the water! Give your child a special BPA free water cup or thermos with his or her name on it. Find one with a squiggly straw or a fun shape—there are options with footballs, dinosaurs, cartoon characters, and more! Kids are much more apt to drink water if they have special cups that are fun and personal.

Healthy families snack together. If you want your child to eat more fruits and vegetables, you have to eat more too! When preparing back to school snacks, pack them for the entire family—if your child is getting fruit kabobs, pack them for mom and dad too. When your kids see that you’re excited and looking forward to the snack, they will be too. You can even make a fun game out of it, and have your child pick each day’s family snack. This goes for stay-at-home parents as well—if your snack is made ahead of time, you’re more apt to eat it rather than grabbing a chocolate bar or bag of chips on the go.