School officials, Winn-Dixie promote healthy eating

Published 2:53 pm Friday, December 7, 2012

The Weathersby children, Kaitlyn, 6, and Lexie, 2, show how good the cookies are.|Carolyn Iamon

Winn-Dixie shoppers had a chance Thursday afternoon to sample some tasty, healthy holiday snacks when Debbie Purcell, director of the Decatur County Nutrition Program and Dr. Cheryl Guy, School Parent Involvement Program director, teamed up with Winn-Dixie store director Claire Craddock to set up a display in the produce department.

This is the second time the team has conducted its healthy foods offerings at Winn-Dixie, after a successful introductory event last March.

Purcell said she thought it would be a good idea to repeat it now during the holiday season to let people know they can incorporate festive fruits and veggies into their holiday treats and still have a good time with it.

Email newsletter signup

The table was resplendent with such tasty and colorful offerings as Christmas rice — cooked rice with chopped red and green peppers for color. The peppers have lots of antioxidants, Purcell said.

Also on tap was a crescent veggie appetizer formed like a Christmas tree, topped with a mixture of low fat cream cheese, low fat sour cream and topped with finely chopped assorted vegetables.
A big favorite of the children and adults alike, were the sugar cookies, topped with a mixture of cinnamon, brown sugar and chopped pecans. Purcell said she liked the idea of using a prepared cookie dough as everyone is so busy this time of year. She chose cinnamon for the topping as it is good for lowering cholesterol, while the pecans have heart-healthy fats.

The idea for doing the food workshops originated with Guy as one way to help reduce childhood obesity. She ran the idea past Purcell and together they decided a grocery store would be a good place to hold the workshops. They made contact with Craddock at Winn-Dixie, who enthusiastically endorsed the project and agreed to supply the ingredients. The food is prepared by Purcell, who said she uses many of the recipes she had from the days she worked as a home economist teaching nutrition and cooking.

Craddock said Winn-Dixie has been proud to endorse the workshops, and even has little signs posted in the produce department that coordinate with the monthly menus at the schools.
Guy said the project is funded through a grant received by the schools to promote healthy eating and lifestyles in families.

Try making some of these quick and easy, tasty recipes for your holiday entertaining this season.

Crescent Veggie Appetizer

2 (8 oz.) cans Pillsbury refrigerated crescent dinner rolls
1/2 cup low fat sour cream
1 (8 oz.) pkg. lowfat cream cheese, softened
1 tsp. dried dill weed
3/8 tsp. garlic powder
3 cups finely chopped assorted vegetables (bell peppers, broccoli, carrots, cucumbers, and/or green onions.)

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Remove dough from cans in rolled sections. Do not unroll. Cut each section into eight slices (16 slices from each can). Place slices, cut side down, on ungreased cookie sheet to form trees. To form each tree, start by placing one slice for the top, arrange two slices just below, with sides touching. Continue arranging rows increasing the numbers each time and ending with a row of five slices. Use the remaining slice for the trunk. Refrigerate one tree.

Bake one tree at 375 degrees for 11 to 13 minutes, or until golden brown. Cool one minute; carefully loosen with spatula and slide onto rack to cool. Bake and cool second tree.
In a small bowl, combine cream cheese, sour cream, dill and garlic powder; blend until smooth. Spread mixture over both trees. Decorate the trees with assorted vegetable pieces.
Refrigerate until serving time. To serve, just pull apart the slices of the tree. Makes 32 appetizers.

Christmas Rice

1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1/2 medium sweet red pepper, chopped,
1 tablespoon butter or margarine
2 cups uncooked instant rice
1/4 tsp. pepper
3 celery ribs, finely chopped
1/2 medium green pepper, chopped
2 cups chicken broth
1/2 tsp. salt, (optional)

In a skillet, sauté onion, celery, and peppers in butter over medium heat for two minutes, or until crisply tender. Remove from the heat; set aside. In a saucepan, bring broth to a full boil. Remove from the heat. Quickly stir in rice, celery mixture, salt if desired, and pepper. Cover and let stand for six to seven minutes. Stir before serving. Yields six servings.

Cinnamon Streusel Crisps

1 (15.5 oz.) package of refrigerated sugar cookie dough
1/4 cup finely chopped pecans
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place rack in center of oven. Freeze sugar cookie dough for one hour. Remove from freezer and place on cutting board. Cut dough into 1/4-inch slices (about 28-32 slices); arrange two inches apart on two parchment paper lined baking sheets. Combine brown sugar, chopped pecans, cinnamon and nutmeg in a small mixing bowl. Top each cookie with 3/4 tsp. streusel. Bake 12 minutes, or until edges are crisp and browned. Remove from oven and let stand on baking sheet for three minutes. Remove to wire rack to cool completely.