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Getting Your Kids to Eat More Greens

Most parents aren't used to hearing their 5-year-olds shout, "More vegetables, please!" But we want to change that! 

In an ideal world, our kids would look a little less like this...

...and a little more like this:

Since we don't live in an ideal world, we've combed the blogosphere to find a few seemingly successful strategies to help climb the uphill battle that is getting our kids to eat more veggies.

As parents, what have you found that works with your kids? 

Add to it!

Photo and recipe by Snixy Kitchen. 

Photo and recipe by Snixy Kitchen

The Huffington Post

"Although some nutritionists and parents don't love the idea of "sneaking" veggies into kids' food, it can be a great way to add text and flavor to meals, not to mention nutrients -- especially with vegetables like cauliflower and zucchini around." Test the theory out with these delicious-sounding recipes:

Bake Zucchini into Muffins. Cinnamon-y goodness. 

Cauliflower Macaroni & Chesse? Please. 

Cauliflower chocolate cake. Okay, okay, twist our arm. We'll take a piece.

Smoothies

Photo and recipe by Rabbit Food for my Bunny Teeth. 

Photo and recipe by Rabbit Food for my Bunny Teeth

They may be turned off by the green color in the smoothie, so why not make it into something they love? Maybe it will make them big and strong like a superhero like the Hulk or the Green lantern? Perhaps, it will make them super smart or like the veggie tales characters? Feel free to insert whatever your child will relate to in order to get them excited about going green! Test these out:

Snickerdoodle Smoothie or Strawberry Banana

Get Them Involved

Speaking of, the ladies at Simple Green Smoothies are so much more than smoothies! They've suggested many ways you can get your kids to learn more and be more familiar with vegetables, rather than just sticking their noses up at the word "vegetable."

Their recommendations? Easily accessible veggies and fruits, and letting them pick out fruits and vegetables at the farmer's market and grocery store, among others. Read more here.

These are only a few ways out there to get those vegetables onto kids' plates and into their mouths. As parents, what have you found that works with your kids? Comment below!

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Preserving Fresh Asparagus

It is a sad time of year...fresh, Michigan Asparagus season is coming to a close. 

Let's pause for a moment of silence...

Fortunately, asparagus can be enjoyed long-after the season ends! There are various other ways to enjoy asparagus year round.

Freezing and canning are the two most popular ways to consume the health benefits of this good-for-you green vegetable at any time of year. But you can also pickle Michigan Asparagus or dry it for later consumption. 

Learning how to freeze, can, pickle, and dry Michigan Asparagus isn't as daunting - or time-consuming - as it sounds. Many cookbooks and online sites offer step-by-step guides on how to manage each one. Read this article in The Examiner.

The right preservation method is determined by asking yourself how you'd like to enjoy the asparagus in the future. For instance, if you'd like to enjoy almost-fresh Michigan Asparagus, freezing is the best option for you. Canned, pickled, and dried Michigan Asparagus may change the texture and taste of the product to a degree, but it's still good in soups, frittatas, eggs, combination dishes like relish and asparagus risotto, as well as dishes that typically require heat. Though canning has its limitations, it certainly does help that cans may be left in the pantry without any refrigeration or freezing. 

If you're ready to give canning, pickling, or freezing at try, stop by a local grocer or farm stand for the last bit of Michigan Asparagus and give it a go! Stock up while supplies last! And if you're a seasoned vet at preserving asparagus, tell us your favorite way to enjoy Michigan Asparagus in the comments below!

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Father's Day Recipes - Let's Get Grilling!

As we celebrate all things that encompass father's this weekend, many of us will be headed outdoors and to the grill. 

Michigan asparagus only has a week or two (if that!) left in its season, so make sure it is a staple in your Father's Day meal plans! 

We're excited to feature these recipes from Michigan bloggers to make sure you and your family get the last of this nutrient-dense vegetable this season.

Feel free to mix it up the way your family likes, and be sure to grill the asparagus even if it doesn't call for it for an amazing smoky taste!

Grilled Veggies with Lemon Herb Viniagrette 

Recipe and Photo: The Lemon Bowl, a Grand Rapids blogger.

Recipe and Photo: The Lemon Bowl, a Grand Rapids blogger.

Recipe and Photo: The Awesome Mitten

Recipe and Photo: The Awesome Mitten

Recipe and Photo: 86 Lemon's writer, Livvy, a Michigan-born blogger.

Recipe and Photo: 86 Lemon's writer, Livvy, a Michigan-born blogger.

Recipe and Photo: Michigan author of Tracy's Living Cookbook.

Recipe and Photo: Michigan author of Tracy's Living Cookbook.

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National Asparagus Festival - This Weekend!

The 42nd annual National Asparagus Festival is THIS weekend! The event is held in Oceana County, Michigan, and has a plethora of asparagus-themed activities

  • Arts & Crafts Fair
  • Kids Entertainment
  • Spear-It 5k Run
  • Farm Tours
  • Asparagus Dinner
  • Live Music

The 2015 Asparagus Queen, Courtney Kokx, and runner-up, Konnie Vandervelde, were crowned last weekend. They will be representing royalty at this weekend's festival and promoting Michigan Asparagus. Want to know more about what an Asparagus Queen does? Click here.

Don't miss this amazing event that supports local farmers, Michigan agriculture and Michigan asparagus! For all of the event details, visit www.nationalasparagusfestival.org.

 

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Asparagus: A Health Haven

Asparagus is one of the most nutritionally-balanced vegetables in existence, leading the pack by offering a wide array of nutrients. 

One of the most important health benefits? Folic acid. A 5.3 ounce serving of asparagus provides 60 percent of the recommended daily allowance for folacin, which is necessary for blood cell formation, growth, and prevention of liver disease. Folacin has also been shown to play a significant role in the prevention of neural tube defects, such as spina bifida, that cause paralysis and death in 2,500 babies each year. 

The wealth of nutrients, fiber, and very low sodium and calorie content make asparagus a nutritionally-wise choice for today's health-conscious consumer.

ASPARAGUS IS:

  • Low in calories, only 20 per 5.3 oz. serving, less than 4 calories per spear.
  • Contains no fat or cholesterol.
  • Very low in sodium.
  • A good source of potassium. (1)
  • A source of fiber (3 grams per 5.3 oz. serving). (2)
  • An excellent source of folacin. (3)
  • A significant source of thiamin. (4) 
  • A significant source of vitamin B6. (4) 
  • One of the richest sources of rutin, a compound which strengthens capillary walls.
  • Contains glutathione (GSH). (5) 

In one of our recent blog posts, asparagus is said to be the latest superfood. Findings have shown these little stalks aid in digestion and can help control diabetes.

And the list goes on and on. It's easy to find article after article on the powerhouse of nutrients asparagus is and why you and your family should eat asparagus often, like this article on eatingwell.com. 

We've only got a couple weeks left to reap the benefits of the green vegetable, so "stalk" up while you can! ;)

List sources:

(1) A good source provides 25% or more of the U.S. Recommended Daily Allowance (USRDA).
(2) A source of fiber provides 2 grams or more per serving. A good source contains 5 grams or more, an excellent source contains 8 grams or more.
(3) An excellent source means 40% or more of the USRDA (asparagus contains 60% of the USRDA for folacin). Folacin is a B vitamin which helps in the duplication of cells for growth and repair of the body, and in blood cell reproduction in the bone marrow. Adequate folacin intake can prevent miscarriage and neural tube defects (NTDs). Folacin helps in the formation of hemoglobin, as well. The United States Public Health Service recommends that: All women of childbearing age in the United States who are capable of becoming pregnant should consume 0.4 mg of folacin per day for the purpose of reducing their risk of having a pregnancy affected with spina bifida or other NTDs.
(4) A significant source means 10% or more of the USRDA.
(5) Glutathione (GSH) is one of the most potent anticarcinogens and antioxidants found within the body. GSH is used to detoxify carcinogenic electrophiles and protect cells from oxidative damage, thereby preventing damage to DNA and other macromolecules. Thus, GSH acts as an initial and primary defense against chemicals that can cause cell transformation and/or cell death. Asparagus had the highest GSH content of the several foods tested.

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Who will be the 2015 Asparagus Queen?

We are less than two weeks away from the National Asparagus Festival, held on June 12-14th in Oceana County. But before that, we must name a queen!

Saturday, June 6th, will mark the fate of one lucky girl, as she is crowned the 2015 Asparagus Queen. Candidates, Konnie Vandervelde and Courtney Kokx, are vying for the 2015 crown. Both are no strangers to asparagus royalty.

Danielle Kokx, the 2014 Asparagus Queen (and candidate Courtney Kokx's sister), and Gina Ferweda (left), a resort owner and food blogger, on Fox 17 Morning Mix.

Danielle Kokx, the 2014 Asparagus Queen (and candidate Courtney Kokx's sister), and Gina Ferweda (left), a resort owner and food blogger, on Fox 17 Morning Mix.

Vandevelde's great-aunt, Lorena, was the 1993 Asparagus Queen and Kokx's sister, Danielle, was reining queen in 2014, making it a close race with royal bloodlines throughout! 

Candidates, Courtney Kokx and Konnie Vandervelde, compete for the 2015 Asparagus Queen crown. 

Candidates, Courtney Kokx and Konnie Vandervelde, compete for the 2015 Asparagus Queen crown. 

The pageant crowned its first queen in 1975 and has made dreams come true for asparagus-loving ladies ever since. Each year, the National Asparagus Festival (NAF) hosts a pageant and formal dinner where the Asparagus Queen of the country is crowned. 

Once named, the newly appointed asparagus queen will travel the state of Michigan promoting the asparagus industry in Oceana County and encouraging Michiganders to support our local agriculture industry.

"All of the exposure and support goes straight back to the farmers that produce this wonderful vegetable that we're known for," says the NAF.

The National Asparagus Festival's Banquet and Pageant is held this Saturday, June 6, at 6 p.m. at Shelby High School. Tickets are $12 and sold online or at the door.

The formal event will include dinner (with plenty of options for non-asparagus lovers), music, and entertainment. 

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Is Asparagus the Latest Superfood?

We've always known that asparagus has amazing health benefits, like being a great source for folic acid, vitamin B6, and fiber, and is low in calories and fat. But do these health-packed spears possess enough super qualities to be the next-named superfood?

According to an article by Expand Your Consciousness, they do! 

In their article, Studies Show Asparagus Is A Powerful Anti-Inflammatory And Protects Against Diabetes, they name asparagus' best qualities:

  • Helps control type-2 diabetes
  • Top anti-inflammatory food
  • Helps aid in digestion
  • Rich source of B vitamins
Photo by Expand-Your-Consciousness.com

Photo by Expand-Your-Consciousness.com

These powerful attributes, among others, pack a big punch with this green vegetable. And it's in season NOW in Michigan until mid-June. So do we really need to give you any more reason to go out and BUY NOW?

To read the full article, click here: Studies Show Asparagus Is A Powerful Anti-Inflammatory And Protects Against Diabetes

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5 Tips for Picking the Best Asparagus

1.     Firmness.

Asparagus stalks should be firm. If you were to bend it, it should feel like it’s going to snap in half.

2.     Compact Tips.

Look for tips that are closed tightly together.

3.     Stalks.

Bright green, smooth, straight stalks with dark green or purple tips. Along with tight closed tips, the best pick should have a shade of dark green or purple.

4.     Similar Diameter.

This is more for convenience, rather than an indicator of flavor. Thicker stalks simply mean they’re more mature. No matter small or large, a consistent diameter will help the asparagus cook evenly.

5.     It should squeak.

When you squeeze the bunch together, it should squeak. This indicates the firmness and freshness of the bunch.

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The "Clean 15"

Have you ever heard of “Clean 15” foods?

A friend of mine has two young children and worries a lot about the food she’s preparing for her kids.

Is it safe?
Is it nutritious?
Is it made well and does it taste good?

This friend of mine recently introduced me to “Clean 15” foods.

Guess what? Asparagus is one of them!

Michigan Asparagus is a “Clean 15” vegetable because it has a low pesticide load and is one of the safest conventionally grown crops to consume. According to Dr. Andrew Weil, it is a food that does not need to be purchased organic.

Many of us try to buy organic, but when you aren’t able to find it? Or you can’t afford it? Michigan Asparagus! Because it is grown so early in the season, Michigan Asparagus does not require as many pesticides as other fruits and vegetables.

What non-organic foods should you avoid?

The “Dirty Dozen.”

These foods contain the highest amount of pesticides according to the Environmental Working Group (EWG).

Check out EWG’s Shopper’s Guide to Pesticide in Produce.

Each of these foods tested positive for a number of different pesticide residues and showed higher concentrations of pesticides than other produce items.

But remember: don’t let this news deter you from buying fruits and vegetables regularly, whether they’re organic or not. The EWG says, “The health benefits of a diet rich in fruits and vegetables outweigh the risks of pesticide exposure. Eating conventionally grown produce is better than not eating fruits and vegetables at all.”

What can we learn from all of this?

Buy organic when possible.

Eat fruits and vegetables always.

Get Michigan Asparagus while it lasts!


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Michigan Asparagus Memorial Day Recipes

As we head into Memorial Day weekend, we are in the middle of peak harvest season for Michigan Asparagus. With such a short harvest season, we have to fit asparagus into our meals as much as possible! To make this easy for you, we’ve compiled some asparagus-filled recipes from some of the most talented bloggers and chefs on the web. These light, delicious recipes are easy-to-transport and easy-to-keep as you head off to your weekend BBQ.

While you’re noshing on these delicious recipes with family and friends, be sure to remember what this weekend is all about.  Thank you to all the men and women – and their families – for giving us the freedom to be able to relax and enjoy this weekend! Enjoy!

1. Asparagus Bacon and Goat Cheese Tart

This make-ahead appetizer is great if you're in a time crunch or for a grab-and-go type of gathering. (Camille Styles/A Beautiful Mess) 

This make-ahead appetizer is great if you're in a time crunch or for a grab-and-go type of gathering. (Camille Styles/A Beautiful Mess

Remove the egg and you can make this the night before, serve cold or room temperature, and it's easy to transport. Can we say perfect pasta salad? (Damn Delicious)

Remove the egg and you can make this the night before, serve cold or room temperature, and it's easy to transport. Can we say perfect pasta salad? (Damn Delicious)

Put them on a skewer and make them bite size!? Genius. (Lil' Luna)

Put them on a skewer and make them bite size!? Genius. (Lil' Luna)

Try this variation of potato salad to impress guests this weekend. (Oh She Glows) 

Try this variation of potato salad to impress guests this weekend. (Oh She Glows

Quick, easy, and delicious. Make this salad if you're pressed for time... or simply because it looks amazing. (Lil' Luna) 

Quick, easy, and delicious. Make this salad if you're pressed for time... or simply because it looks amazing. (Lil' Luna

Bring out the kid in everyone - or simply get the kids to eat some greens - this Memorial Day with these delicious little bite-size snacks. (Over the Big Moon) 

Bring out the kid in everyone - or simply get the kids to eat some greens - this Memorial Day with these delicious little bite-size snacks. (Over the Big Moon

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RECENT NEWS

Another 20 Million Pounds of Asparagus Expected to be Harvested in Michigan this Year (MLIVE)

OCEANA COUNTY, MI – The good news for all of Michigan is that asparagus isn't going to be affected much by this unusually cool spring weather. In fact, we're likely going to have another banner year as Oceana and Mason counties are predicted to churn out most of the 20 million pounds of the tasty green stalks Michigan residents enjoy all summer.

Click to read the full story.

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RECENT NEWS

20 Million Pounds of Asparagus to be Harvested in Michigan (CRAIN'S DETROIT BUSINESS) 

OCEANA COUNTY - The good news for all of Michigan is that asparagus isn't going to be affected much by this unusually cool spring weather. In fact, it's likely going to be another  banner year as Oceana and Mason counties are predicted to harvest most of the 20 million pounds of the tasty green stalks.

Click to read the full story

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RECENT NEWS

Farmers Need Pickers to Bring in Asparagus Crop (WZZM 13)

HART, Mich. (WZZM) -- The first green vegetable out of the ground in Michigan is ready to be harvested. And according to John Bakker, the executive director for the Michigan Asparagus Advisory Board, the crop is looking good. "Asparagus season started out with a bang."

Click to read the full story

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