Chocolate bark

Kristin Bogdonas, Illinois Extension nutrition and wellness educator, shared recipes that kids can help create for the holidays.

ROCK ISLAND, Ill. — Sometimes it’s perfectly fine to play with your food. And it’s acceptable to admit that something good for you can taste good too, even on the holiday table.

Kristin Bogdonas, Illinois Extension nutrition and wellness educator for Henry, Mercer, Rock Island and Stark counties likes making “fun recipes” with kids, and a twist on snowman-shaped cookies “puts a healthy twist on holiday cookies.”

Instead of cutting the shape out of cookie dough and decorating with sugar, she uses crescent roll dough and crunchy, colorful veggies. The indoor snowman might even have a carrot nose.

This season, when people often have more time off work, is ideal for doing something fun in the kitchen, she said. People can get artistic in the kitchen making and decorating cookies and treats.

“Then you eat your creation,” she said.

She likes to talk about “mindful eating” — taking the time to consider the colors and textures of food as well as the taste. Especially during the holiday season, she encourages families to slow down, and be thankful for the people and the food around them.

She said being mindful about food can also include considering the ingredients. Substituting a few traditional ingredients for healthier ones can add more calcium to a recipe or reduce sugar. Replacing sour cream with Greek yogurt, for example, can reduce fat and increase protein, she said.

Healthy substitutions

Extension educator Kristin Bogdonas has chosen recipes that kids can help create, either by decorating the chocolate bark or by cutting holiday shapes into the crescent dough, as they would sugar cookies.

“These recipes also provide a boost of nutrients from the ‘superfood’ ingredients,” she said.

Phyllis Coulter is Northern Illinois field editor, writing for Illinois Farmer Today, Iowa Farmer Today and Missouri Farmer Today.