• Anita Schuckert

“Summertime, Summertime, Watermelon on the Vine"

“Summertime, summertime, watermelon on the vine.

Cantaloupe, peaches, we can have them anytime.

Strawberries, cherries, blueberry, too

I like fruit! How about you?

It’s Summertime!”

This is a little song we sing at Little Steps and Beyond Daycare this time of year. It also fits perfectly with the Local Foods Calendar this month. It’s WATERMELON!! I take the produce of the month featured in the calendar and serve it to the kids once a week. I like to find different ways to prepare the produce--baked, sweet, raw, savory, roasted, grilled and even pickled—and prepare it differently each week.

This month, the kids will have watermelon fixed 4 different ways.

Week 1: The traditional way. Ice cold!

Week 2: Watermelon salsa served with whole wheat cinnamon tortilla chips (that we will bake)

Week 3: Watermelon fruit leather, plus watermelon kabobs

Week 4: Grilled watermelon with feta cheese, basil, and balsamic vinaigrette dressing

Kids are unique individuals, and their tastes are just as unique as they are. By preparing the produce differently, they might find they actually like it one way but not the other.

For instance…

  • Fresh spinach in a salad, not cooked from a can (Personally, I will eat it any way except burnt!)

  • Roasted smashed brussel sprouts, not steamed

  • Roasted cheesy cauliflower, not raw

  • Baked sweet potato fries, not candied with marshmallows

I also like to find a recipe that the kids can help me prepare with the featured produce, such as:

  • Eggplant, onions, fresh mozzarella cheese, and zucchini in Ratatouille

  • Cabbage made into cabbage rolls.

In my experience, I have found that if kids help prepare the dish, they are more likely to taste it and even eat it! Who knows, they may even ask for it again! After all, isn’t this our ultimate goal?

A note about the author: Hi, I'm Anita Schuckert, the owner of Little Steps and Beyond Daycare and After School Program in Iowa City, IA. My program focuses on gardening, cooking, nutrition, outdoor activity, and family involvement . The children and parents LOVE it!! The older children help plan the logistics of the garden, and everyone has a voice in what we plant. All the children help plant the seeds and plants (even the one year olds). Each child has their own “garden” to plant their favorite veggie to take home. We do almost all of our gardening in containers and some are quite creative! We have strawberries in a plastic pool, peas in an over the door shoe holder and potatoes in laundry baskets. Every year, our garden gets bigger and bigger! This year, we are growing up! Literally! We are experimenting with a potato tower and have built risers for more space for our deck boxes. A couple of school age girls are learning how to clone plants and have been very successful. One of the girls wanted to try some hydroponic gardening. We made a very simple one that is on the kitchen table, and it works! Growing garden goodness, preparing new and yummy food, singing silly songs, and enjoying the great outdoors are what we are all about. My favorite questions…”Do you think we can…?” or “What would happen if we…?” If we don’t allow them to try, they may never find out why.

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