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Counter Intelligence: Veggie skeleton is the life of the party

By April Hamilton
April Hamilton
Turn a basket of fresh vegetables into the life of the party that kids will gobble up.
April Hamilton Let kids help chop up veggies for the creepy creature.
April Hamilton Let your imagination run wild in constructing a scary veggie skeleton. If kids are helping, there are just two rules: clean hands and no sharp knives.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- When my eldest daughter was in kindergarten, the classroom Halloween party was a full-blown sugar rush.

She is in college now, but I still vividly remember the scene of the elementary school celebration: 25 costumed 5-year-olds ripping into bulging sacks of sticky candy, their shrieks elevating over the din of "Monster Mash." Festive, but also rather frightening.

Fast-forward, and thank goodness the climate of the sugar-fueled celebration has changed. There are so many fabulous alternatives that cupcakes and candy aren't even missed.

Look no further than the produce department (or school garden!), and you can turn a basket full of fresh vegetables into the life of the party. The kids eat it up! Trust me! I have witnessed a carefully constructed veggie skeleton disappear faster than you can say "abracadabra."

Build the creepy creature yourself, or take it one step further and let the kids chop along. Have all the kids do a surgical hand scrub and "glove up" for good measure. Set out cutting mats, potato peelers, plastic knives, washed produce and scrap bowls.

In moments, the whole lot will be disassembled into cauliflower craniums and carrot curl smiles. Don't forget a radish heart for the crowning glory of your colorful creation. Add a dollop of dip and you're the hero of Halloween!

Your crowd will be well on their way to Five-a-Day -- that's not energy drink, but rather a fabulous reminder to be sure you're getting at least five servings of fruits and vegetables a day. Start a healthy habit this Halloween!

Cucumber Yogurt Dip

1 cucumber, peeled, halved lengthwise and chopped

1 cup plain Greek yogurt

2 tablespoons milk

2 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs (basil and chives are nice, or dill and mint)

1/2 teaspoon salt

COMBINE all ingredients in a small mixing bowl and chill until ready to serve.

REFRIGERATE in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

April Hamilton has always said, "Cooking is fun!" She shares her easy, practical recipes for delicious food through her cooking classes for kids and families. April's husband and three daughters help with testing and tasting in their Charleston kitchen. April would love to hear from you: Email aprilskitchencounter@gmail.com.


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