NEWS for North Dakotans
Agriculture Communication, North Dakota State University
7 Morrill Hall, Fargo, ND 58105-5665
April 13, 2000
The lesson that work can produce pleasurable rewards is one children can learn young. In my case, the "textbook" for that lesson was a box of corn meal. I remember it well.
Dad and I were fending for ourselves at dinner this one summer day because Mom was attending a flower show in another town. Dad had decided to make a pot of boiled beans, which called for a batch of cornbread as an accompaniment. Dad asked me to make the cornbread, and then he left the house to do some chores before we ate. I was on my own.
I read the directions on the box, which called for some melted shortening. Not knowing exactly what I was doing, I melted the required amount of shortening on top of the stove in the black cast-iron skillet that would also serve as the baking dish. The shortening sizzled a bit when I poured it into the cornbread batter as the last ingredient. And the batter sizzled when I poured it into the hot skillet.
But the outcome was near perfection. My "method" of pouring the batter into a hot skillet produced a golden crust about an eighth of an inch thick on the entire bottom and sides of the cornbread. Dad said it was the best cornbread he'd ever eaten.
Compliments can build confidence. I know this to be a fact. The recipe that follows would be a good one for enlisting the help of young, eager assistants. But be forewarned, the recipe serves eight, yet it calls--specifically--for some indivisible numbers of fruit pieces. If you want to inflate the fruit numbers--to 56 blueberries, for instance, instead of 53--I'd suggest consulting your little helper first.
This slightly adapted recipe comes from the Idaho Wheat Commission.
Yield: 8 servings
1½ cups cake flour
1 cup sugar, divided
6 tablespoons low-fat margarine
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cream of tarter
8 ounces fat-free cream cheese, softened
2 teaspoons pineapple juice
1 cup (14 large) strawberries
34 pineapple pieces
14 mandarin orange sections
Mix together the flour, ½ cup sugar, margarine, egg, baking soda and salt. On a lightly floured surface, press mixture into a 12-inch round and then place on a greased pizza pan. Bake 10 minutes at 350 F. Cool. Meanwhile, mix cream cheese, remaining sugar and pineapple juice. Slice strawberries into thirds lengthwise and kiwi into eighths. Spread cream cheese mixture over cooled crust. Arrange the fruit in a decorative pattern over the filling. Cool thoroughly in the refrigerator. To serve, cut into eight wedges.
What's Your Take on This, Julie?
This treat will tempt the palates of young and old alike. A serving of Fruity Pizza (one-eighth of the recipe) contains about 320 calories, 10 grams of fat and 2 grams of fiber. Use your judgment on the amounts of fruit for toppings; you don't have to be as exacting as the recipe indicates. If you fall short (or long) a blueberry, or ten, use what you have or swap other in-season fruit to personalize the recipe to your tastes.
Children will enjoy helping prepare this dessert. In fact, kids are helping out in the kitchen in great numbers these days. A 1999 survey of children found that 88 percent of boys and girls ages 6 to 17 fix themselves meals and snacks regularly. The children said cooking is fun, and they like being able to choose the type and quantity of foods they eat, along with when they eat. Parents, grandparents and caregivers can promote this interest in food preparation by providing kitchen-safety instructions (including food preparation that's off-limits without adult supervision) and by providing nutritious ingredients for these young chefs.
Children can also learn skills beyond food preparation in the kitchen. For example, they can increase their vocabularies by reading recipes (or having recipes read to them), they can learn math skills though the measurement that's involved (such as counting blueberries) and they can even learn about science by observing the transformations as ingredients are mixed and heated. Since food preparation is also an art, the experience can be a creative outlet as well.
While children usually are concerned only with the immediate satisfaction they receive from food, most adults at some point begin to think how nutrition affects their long-term health. Not only is fruit a colorful topping for dessert pizza, research is showing that the pigments responsible for the lovely colors may also be lovely for your health. Numerous studies have shown that eating fruits and vegetables may help reduce your risk for cancer and heart disease because of the fiber and other phytochemicals (plant chemicals) they contain.
Blueberries, in particular, have been a topic of interest for nutrition scientists. A study using elderly rats as subjects showed that eating the human equivalent of a cup of blueberries daily improved their balance coordination and short-term memory. These fruits contain antioxidants--phytochemicals that may protect the body from oxidative stress linked with aging. So if your lips turn blue as you indulge in a bowl of these beauties, you'll remember why.
Likewise, topping your pizza with strawberries and oranges adds vitamin C, which has antioxidant effects, too. And if you decide to top your fruit pizza with cherries, there's more good news: Anthocyanin pigments, those responsible for the natural red color of cherries, have been shown to fight the inflammation of arthritis better than aspirin, without irritating the stomach. Just remember, though, that maraschino cherries have been bleached and dyed with artificial colorants, so their ruby hue is not due to those healthful pigments.
Enjoy the variety of colors and flavors that nature provides us in the form of fruits and vegetables. Aim for 5-a-day--that's three servings of vegetables and two fruits. A half cup of canned, fresh or frozen fruit or vegetables or three-fourths cup of juice count toward the goal.
Sources: Dean Hulse, (701) 231-6136
Julie Garden-Robinson, (701) 231-7187
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