Friday, June 18, 2010

Fruit Madness...and some Spinach Dip

I read of a woman who, in an effort to get her family to eat more healthy, placed a large bowl of fruit on her countertop. She said magically, they didn't want sweets and other junk foods - they were transformed into health nuts that began to be contagious to friends who came over as well.

I thought the woman mad. In my mind I was imagining children being given the choice between a piece of cantaloupe and a gummy worm and them begging and pleading for the cantaloupe. Surely she must have a crazed family that has mixed up taste buds. I didn't believe her...but rather than knock it, I tried it. I bought a bunch of bananas and sat back to watch the magic begin.

Four days passed. Four. Nothing - not one taker on the bananas, which were rapidly approaching bread making rotteness - you know, the black splotchy peel and mushy extra sweet insides. Suddenly, in a fit of necessity and my infant not agreeing to eat anything else, we cut into a banana and placed it on the high chair tray. He loved it. Shoving them in by the handful, sweet almost banana bread chunks disappeared. Wanting more, we scrambled into the frig where I'd bought some blueberries for cereal. The same amazing disappearing act took place before my very eyes. My 3 year old wanted in on the action and asked for some too.

I added to my list for the next grocery run and bought peaches and strawberries. Amazingly, the kids are beside themselves with delight over these sweet treats! It was music to my ears when my son asked "Mommy, may I please have a peach!?" Gracious. That woman - whoever she was, is right. Now, here's the catch: Just giving the option of the fruit is key - don't offer up the junky stuff in addition and you'll be amazed at what they forget. The bag of last year's Halloween candy continues to grow stale (though we did have a few starbust last night).

My family is the furthest thing from a poster family of healthy eating - but we're on the right track with buying delicious fruit and getting the kids onboard with them. Grapes and strawberries are an easy first try if you're considering adopting my madness. Will I be forever eradicating ice cream, desserts and sweets from our lives? Not a snowball's chance in the heat of a North Carolina Summer day, but a healthy balance is important.

Now, let me share with you this delicious hot spinach dip I recently had. It's fixed in a bread bowl and I could hug my friend Becky for sharing it with me. I hope you enjoy it and have a delicious weekend!

Baked Spinach Dip Loaf

A 10 ounce box of frozen spinach; thawed and drained and squeezed until it's almost dry
2 packages (8 ounces each), softened cream cheese
1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese
1 can (8 ounces) water chestnuts, drained and chopped.
5 bacon strips, cooked and crumbled
1 green onion, chopped
2 teaspoons dill weed
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 unsliced round loaf (1 lb.)

1) In a large mixing bowl, beat cream cheese and mayonnaise. Stir in the spinach, cheese, water chestnuts, bacon, onion and seasonings.
2) Cut a “lid” out of the top of the bread loaf. Hollow out the remaining loaf, leaving a 1/2 inch shell.
3) Fill the shell with spinach dip; replace “lid”. Wrap in heavy duty foil; place on a baking sheet. Back at 375 degrees for 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours, or until dip is heated through. Open foil carefully. Remove foil and lid. Serve warm with chips or vegetables

Spend time honoring your father - they rock! I know mine sure does - and my husband is the absolute best father in the world to our two sons. Treat them to something delicious (We're fixing brownies and ice cream cake!)

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