Celebrating June

yogurt-387454_1280Every month there is lots to celebrate – official holiday or not, they provide great inspiration for creative activities you can do with your family. The great thing about “month” celebrations is they are not tied to a specific day and allow for activities that can spread out throughout the month and celebrated whenever you like. It gives you the chance to celebrate and make every day special. June is Candy Month, Dairy Month, National Fruit and Vegetables month, and Rose Month.

Candy Month – I’m not sure who designated June to be candy month but it offers a great opportunity to create some sweet treats with your kids. This also gives you a chance to get creative and explore the term “candy” in your house. Most commercial candy these days is made with artificial everything. Colorants, high fructose corn syrup, artificial flavorings, chemical preservatives, waxes – this is the stuff of commercial candy.

In the olden days, getting together to make candy such as pulling taffy or cranking ice cream was a social activity. You had to work hard for your candy. This would be a great time to start some new social traditions in your family. Find an old-fashioned candy recipe you are keen on trying and get everyone involved!

Look at candy around the world. In many counties sweet treats are a part of daily life, Instead of being empty, artificial calories in a large portion size, the serving sizes are small and meant to be savored and they usually have some nutritional value and substance to them. High fructose corn syrup is not common in other countries and most sweets are sweetened with honey, unrefined sugars or with fruit.

One of my favorite candies I discovered in Turkey are crunchy chickpeas that are coated with a light, crispy sugar shell. Also, I always try keep a few Medjool Dates in my purse, because they are the perfect portable snack, being nutritious, sweet, and satisfying as candy. If you have the opportunity to visit an ethnic store in your area, be sure to check out their candy/dried fruit supply and look for different and more nutritious options. The Internet is a treasure trove of international candy recipes as well. Bring a little foreign flare into your family’s kitchen this month!

Dairy Month – Many cultures have a rich history of dairy products. Since man first started keeping dairy animals there has been the problem of keeping and storing dairy, especially in warm climates before refrigeration. This lead to the discovery of fermented dairy products such as Yogurt, Cheese and Kefir.

One of my favorite soups is made out of Tarhana, a powder used in Turkey made out of  a paste of yogurt, tomato, herbs and spices which is dried in the sun and ground into a fine powder. This is a natural thickener that is used to add nutrients and flavor to soups during the winter.

Many Middle Eastern and Balkan countries rely heavily on the use of Yogurt or Kefir (Kefir is a Turkish word that translates to “Feel Good”). This is not the processed, artificially sweetened yogurt of this continent – it’s a tangy refreshing plain yogurt full of healthy probiotics. You can use yogurt in savory applications– as a base for dips, sauces or marinades (chicken marinates particularly well in a blend of yogurt and indian spices), or to cut down on the fat while adding moisture to baked goods.You can even make your own yogurt at home! Some varieties do not even need warming equipment. Kefir is a thin, drinkable type of yogurt, is particularly popular in Turkey, and, like yogurt, can also be made at home. If you are take care of your cultures they should last for years, supplying you with fresh, nutrient packed cultured dairy products.

Culturing your own dairy or making your own cheese is a great family activity that is full of science and yields tasty results. Kids are more likely to try these healthy foods if they have had a hand in creating them.

I have been purchasing my Kefir and Yogurt cultures from Cultures for Health. They offer a wealth of information in all areas of cultured foods and include tons of resources and recipes. Best of all, they ship to Canada! I have been so impressed with their products and customer service. I’ve just got a new batch of kefir grains growing right now and hopefully I’ll be able to include them in a post soon! Please note that I am an affiliate – Links in this section are affiliate links which means if you choose to buy, you will also be supporting Growing Creative Kids.

National Fruit and Vegetables Month – Here is a great chance to try some new fruits and veggies. You can cut down on the “gimmies” and empower your children if you allow them to choose new fruit or vegetables when you go shopping. If they pick it out they are more likely to eat it. It also encourages learning and creativity, especially when your child picks produce that you are not familiar with.

Buy too many bananas? I have a post full of creative things to do with them, including my mom’s recipe for Banana chocolate chip muffins!

Rose Month – Do know anyone with a rose garden? Or perhaps there is a nursery or community garden close by? With the flowers blooming and the weather improving it is the perfect time to “get out and smell the roses”

You can also incorporate roses into your home and even your cooking. Many Middle Eastern desserts use Rose Water to add unique flavor, so if you can find some, give it a try! You can also make your own potpourri or even tea out of dried rose petals (but make sure they have not been sprayed!).

There are plenty of ways you can celebrate and make memories with your family in June. How will you be celebrating this month? Please share!

Posted in Holidays, Kitchen/Food Activites.

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