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From Plant to Plate, Veggies Are Great!
Get your kids to love their veggies in the garden, in the kitchen and at the dinner table.

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Confetti Soba Noodle Salad
Classic Shepherd's Pie With a Potato and Buttermilk Crust

(Family Features) - Getting kids to eat their vegetables isn't always an easy task. In fact, helping parents find a solution for this common dinner table dilemma is one of the reasons Chef Art Smith joined the Love Your Veggies campaign and the efforts to provide parents with tools to help their children develop a life-long love of vegetables. Like the makers of Hidden Valley Salad Dressings, who created the Love Your Veggies campaign, Chef Smith believes that getting kids to eat vegetables goes hand in hand with involving them in the garden, in the kitchen and at the dinner table.

With cooking trends turning toward more meals prepared at home, parents can take advantage of the opportunity to get kids in the kitchen. "Cooking with kids is a great way to get them excited about eating the meal," says Smith. "When they are involved in the entire process, perhaps even starting by picking fresh vegetables from the garden or choosing produce from the store, kids develop a sense of pride in the end product."

Chef Smith's comprehensive toolkit for parents - found at LoveYourVeggies.com - includes creative tips, kid-friendly recipes and games to engage children through activities at home, at school and in the community. Here are a few of Chef Smith's favorite tips:

My Space: Set aside an area in the kitchen children can claim as their own culinary space. Fill a lower cupboard with a variety of cooking tools, such as plastic measuring cups and bowls, wooden spoons and rubber spatulas. Whenever you cook together, have your kids use items from their space.

Keep It Simple: Start off easy by creating fun dips for raw vegetables. Kids love ranch dressing, so use it alone or as a base to create a new dip, such as mixing in mashed chickpeas, tahini and lemon juice. For older children, create a dunk-able cheese fondue.

Beyond the Kitchen: As kids become more experienced cooks, involve them in other aspects of the meal preparation process. Go through their favorite cookbook and pick out recipes for the week, then have them help create the grocery list. If you have a garden, involve them in planting and harvesting their own vegetables to eat at the dinner table.

Celebrate Cultures: A common thread that connects us all is food - a great way to learn about other cultures. Once a week, take your kids on a culinary vacation by cooking a recipe from a different region of America or a different country. Kids will learn about a new culture, expand their palates, and have fun.

For great kid-friendly recipes, activities, gardening and cooking tips, and to play Veggie Adventures, visit www.LoveYourVeggies.com.

To get your kids cooking tonight, try Chef Smith's easy-to-make Confetti Soba Noodle Salad or a comfort food standby, Shepherd's Pie with a Potato and Buttermilk Crust.

Virtual Veggies to the Rescue

Veggie Adventures is an interactive online game that offers parents and kids a full "plant to plate" experience with the progression of three different games:

At the Farm: Players prevent animals and insects from eating their vegetables by aiming a garden hose at the "critters" to move them away from the plants.

On the Road: Players control a tractor as it transports their healthy veggies to the general store while avoiding potholes, animals and other obstacles.

In the Kitchen: Players feed as many hungry kids as they can with their veggies.

To play Veggie Adventures, and learn great tips and vegetable facts, visit www.LoveYourVeggies.com/games.

Confetti Soba Noodle Salad

  • 1 pound soba noodles
  • 1/2 cup Hidden Valley Original Ranch Dressing
  • 3 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil (optional)
  • 1 large ripe mango, peeled and chopped into cubes
  • 1 carrot, peeled and chopped
  • 1 large red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 1 cup chopped fresh mint

    1. Cook noodles according to package instructions.
    2. Drain and then rinse well under cool water.
    3. Place dressing in a saucepan or skillet over medium heat for 1 to 2 minutes.
    4. Stir in garlic and allow to cool.
    5. Add lime juice and sesame oil and mix well.
    6. Transfer noodles to large bowl and toss with dressing.
    7. Add mango, carrots, bell pepper, basil and mint.
    8. Toss and serve.

Serves 12

Notes, Tips & Suggestions
Time Saver: Substitute whole wheat spaghetti for soba noodles, and buy jarred, pre-minced garlic and bottled lime juice. Look for ready-peeled and chopped mango at your local grocer.

Recipes created by Chef Art Smith and kitchen tested by students at Common Threads on behalf of Hidden Valley Salad Dressings.

Classic Shepherd's Pie With a Potato and Buttermilk Crust

  • 2 pounds potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 cup Hidden Valley Original Ranch Dressing
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion, peeled and chopped
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and chopped
  • 1 pound ground lamb (can substitute with ground turkey meat)
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • Salt to taste

    1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
    2. Bring potatoes to a boil in salted water.
    3. Cook until tender, about 20 minutes, drain.
    4. Mash potatoes with dressing and set aside.
    5. In large sauté pan over medium-high heat, heat oil and add onion, carrot and meat.
    6. Cook until browned, 8 to 10 minutes.
    7. Drain fat and add broth and tomato paste.
    8. Simmer until juices thicken, about 10 minutes; add peas.
    9. Pour mixture into a 1 1/2 quart baking dish.
    10. Spread potatoes over meat mixture.
    11. Bake until golden, 30 to 35 minutes.

Serves 6 to 8

Notes, Tips & Suggestions
Time Saver: Buy ready-to-eat mashed potatoes.

Recipes created by Chef Art Smith and kitchen tested by students at Common Threads on behalf of Hidden Valley Salad Dressings.

SOURCE: Hidden Valley

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