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Feature Articles: Food, Fitness and Children


The 8th Birthday Menu

Karma Metzgar, C.F.C.S. Former Northwest Regional Nutrition Specialist, Nodaway County Extension Center, University of Missouri Extension


The Nodaway County fair week is always a busy extension week, then we squeeze in freezing corn, picking green beans, and celebrating our daughter’s birthday. We usually celebrate with the immediate family with a dinner and the birthday person is in charge of the menu.

I kept asking the soon-to-be eight-year-old what was on the menu and she said she was still thinking. Finally, I handed her a piece of paper and told her to write or draw me her menu as I was heading for the grocery store. This is the list I received (her spelling): corn, strawberries, hambrg and hot dog, machst ptos and gavey, picls, olives, crirrits and dip, crustros and wartmn. Of course, I also got her present list on the same piece of paper!

While some of the spellings of her items were challenging…sound it out with the letters and you’ll get them. One that needed some interpretation was “crustros” and that was crescent rolls, which she dipped into the hamburger gravy we made and she said, “I even have my favorite - biscuits and gravy!”

Involving kids in planning “what’s for dinner” is healthy to encourage everyday. Kids are eager to choose the place to eat out, but we need to encourage them to contribute ideas to our dinner tables at home. Depending on their age, you might say, what do you want with your corn on the cob? Or, we’re having macaroni and cheese, what else do you want? Or, designate a meal a week that someone is in charge of planning - it adds variety and mixes traditional menus with some more creative.

Our daughter's menu was fairly traditional, yet out of the ordinary for some adults. She had no problem meeting the five a day fruit and vegetable challenge - we did have a challenge in fitting it all on a plate! Gravy and mashed potatoes combined with hamburgers and hot dogs was a bit non-traditional but were favorites of most of the guests. I mixed up a bowl of traditional potato salad to fill in.

Was there a birthday cake? Later, after lunch had settled. The request was an ice cream cake. Since we're 25 plus miles from town and with the 100 degree heat, it was challenging. However, dry ice was an asset in getting it home still frozen. I had a small cooler and I put a small piece on the bottom and to the side of the cake and it would have kept for hours if need be.

Dry ice is often an overlooked item when transporting foods that need to be kept cold. It doesn’t take up the space like ice blocks or ice and it keeps colder longer. It’s available at many grocery stores near the check out stations. Some ice cream vendors also sell it. If you don’t see a sign for it, ask.

So, if you’re headed to the lake for the weekend, camping, or transporting food to a family celebration, dry ice is another resource you can use to keep your food safe. When it’s hot outside (and hotter in trunks) it doesn’t take long for food to enter the danger zone temperature-wise - between 40 degrees and 140 degrees. Just remember when you have dry ice, handle with gloves or a layer of protection between the ice and your fingers to avoid a burn from the extreme cold.







Last update: Tuesday, May 05, 2009




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