Apr 08

The Incredible Edible Yard

by Hannah Holt »

Comments Off on The Incredible Edible Yard

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was one of my favorite books growing up. I loved cheering for Charlie as he came out ahead of the obnoxious Varuca Salt (et al). But most of all, I wanted to float down that chocolate river.


Unfortunately, I grew up and realized a chocolate river would lead to all kinds of trouble: ants, carpet cleaning nightmares, a happy but untimely death…

In lieu of the chocolate river, I’ve opted for the highly snackible yard. Wherever possible, I plant edible bushes and flowers. It’s more healthful than my childhood dream but still delicious. Here’s how it came about.

Last year we moved to a house with almost zero landscaping:

astro turf yard

That green you see is astro-turf. Pretty sweet. Right?

Okay. No.

I live in a temperate rain forest for crying out loud. I knew we could do better.


I started with flowers because they are relatively easy and beautiful. I chose…

cone flower

  • cone flowers
  • lavender
  • sage
  • parsley
  • day lilies (Warning: many types of lilies are poisonous. Always research plants thoroughly before eating. FYI, day lilies taste like cucumbers and make a colorful addition to salads.)


  • apple
  • fig

(Note: many fruiting trees and bushes require more than one variety to produce fruit. However, some are self-fertile.)


  • blueberry
  • rosemary
  • honeyberry

Honeyberry is a new bush for us. They are ripening now and should be ready by June. Fingers crossed that we don’t hate them.


  • raspberries
  • kiwi

We haven’t planted the kiwis yet because it involves building a rather large trellis system. Last year our huge project was this rock wall:

Wall beginnings

Building it made us very tired. One big thing at a time–kiwis are my wish list for next year.

Ground Cover

creeping thyme

  • creeping thyme
  • strawberries

We also have a wood chip and grass play areas for the kids, and a vegetable garden plot. Not every section of our yard was completely guided by the plant-to-eat philosophy. However, it’s possible to make landscaping choices that are decorative and delectable.

All this on one-tenth of an acre.



(This picture is from last summer before most of the perennials had grown in. I’ll try to update later this year with the second year’s growth.)

Aug 22

Food, Shape, and Color

by Hannah Holt »


The next two weeks will be crazy for me. School is starting; I’m running in a 200 mile relay race; And I’m working on two (or three or four) exciting longer term projects.

So I’m taking a break from the blog front.

In the mean time, here’s a little food for thought.

Click here for a printable pdf of the image.


  1. Show kids the food chart. Ask them to think of other red colored foods. (Repeat with orange, yellow, green…)
  2. Use foods as a way to introduce 3-D shapes (an orange could be a sphere, carrot for cone, chocolate bar for rectangular prism…). It’s a lesson and a snack!
  3. Have children fill out the USDA food pyramid coloring page for kids.
  4. Read Spicy Alphabet, and name all the different colors.

More resources about food, shape, and color.

  1. Hubbard’s Cupboard has a free printable booklet about shapes and colors.
  2. Edupics.com has a wide assortment of fruits and veggies coloring pages.
  3. This blog posts pictures of school lunches from around the world.

I’ll be back in a couple of weeks. Enjoy the rest of summer.

May 24

Toddler Finger Foods

by Hannah Holt »


A couple of recipes and a meal plan for stubborn independent eaters.

Recipe #1) Sweet Potato Bites

What you’ll need:

  • sweet potatoes (1-3 medium potatoes)
  • non-stick spray
  • two cups of water
  • a cookie sheet with a one inch lip (a casserole pan works too)

Step 1) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Step 2) Spray the pan with non-stick and poor the water into the pan.

Step 3) Slice the sweet potatoes in half (the long way) and pierce the skin with a knife 3-4 times. Place them face down on the cookie sheet, and bake for 50 minutes. The potatoes should be tender but not mushy.

Step 4) Let the potatoes cool. Remove the skin and cut into 1/4 inch cubes.

Store leftovers in the fridge for up to five days. These are quite delicious. I snack on them myself sometimes.

Recipe #2) Frozen Yogurt Dots (I first saw this idea here.)

What you’ll need:

  • yogurt (any kind will work as long as it’s not too chunky)
  • a sandwich bag
  • scissors
  • wax paper (I use the linings from inside cereal boxes)
  • a cookie sheet

Step 1) Line the cookie sheet with the wax paper.

Step 2) Fill the sandwich bag with yogurt and snip a 1/4 inch corner off.

Step 3) Squeeze the yogurt onto the wax paper in little rows of dots and freeze.

A tasty snack from Mom and Baby.

Finger Food Meal Plan:

Since I’m feeding two toddlers, I mass produce finger foods. At meal time I follow this formula:

Cereals (pick one)

  • 1/2 a piece of whole wheat bread torn into little pieces
  • 1/2 cup of dry cereal like Cheerios
  • 1/2 cup of bite size cooked pasta
  • 1/2 cup brown rice

Fruits and Veggies (2 Tbl worth, pick one)

  • banana slices
  • grapes (I used to quarter them, but my girls eat them whole now)
  • berries: strawberries, blue, black, rasp…
  • canned fruit is nice and soft (but it’s not as nutrient rich as fresh)
  • peas
  • sweet potato bites
  • cooked carrot circles
  • sugar snap peas
  • lettuce pieces (they still mostly move these around their tray)
  • cooked broccoli

Dairy or Protein (2 oz, pick one)

  • grated cheese or one cheese slice
  • frozen yogurt dots
  • cottage cheese
  • browned hamburger (no chunks)
  • shredded chicken (small pieces)

Of course, I give them other options, too. And they usually have a little of whatever the family is having for dinner. I try to lead with the vegetables. Otherwise they fill up on bread and fruit.

Happy feeding!

Note: I give my sixteen-month-old twins three meals and two snacks every day. This is just a guide. Talk to your pediatrician if you have concerns about your child’s food readiness/nutrition needs.


Nov 28

Bejeweled Stars and Moons Snack

by Hannah Holt »


Instead of the traditional orange in your stocking, ask Santa to bring you these tropical treats this year.

What you’ll need:

  • Star Fruit (also called Carambola)
  • Persimmon
  • Pomegranate

(These fruits are usually found next to the Pineapples and other fresh tropical fruits in the produce section.)

Step 1) Gently wash all the fruits.

Step 2) To prepare the star fruit remove ends, thinly slice off the star’s points, and cut crosswise.

Step 3) To prepare the persimmon slice crosswise and remove the skin. (The skin is edible, but it’s a little chewy.)

Step 4) To prepare the pomegranate remove the ends (note: pomegranates will stain wooden cutting boards, so place a paper towel down first).

Score the pomegranate four times along the outer edges.

Place the pomegranate in a bowl of water and break into four pieces, using the score marks as guides.

Separate the pomegranate pulp from the juicy seeds under the water. (This helps eliminate staining from juice squirts and aids separation. The seeds will sink and the pulp will float.)

Drain the seeds and discard pulp.

Step 5) Decorate a plate with stars (star fruit), moons (persimmons), and jewels (pomegranate seeds).

I hope you enjoy this celestial snack!

Oct 12

Baby Carrot Monster Hands…

by Hannah Holt »


…with grape tomato eyeballs! A spooky snack for monstrous little appetites!

What you need:

  • 1 piece lettuce
  • 5 baby carrots
  • 1 grape tomato
  • 1 raisin
  • 1/2 tsp cream cheese

Step 1: Cut the ends off the baby carrots. Each carrot should be a slightly different length. Like this…

Step 2: Make the grape tomato eyeball by topping the grape tomato with the cream cheese and raisin. Like so…

Step 3: Place the piece of lettuce on a plate, and arrange the carrots (flat end down) on top of the leaf into fingers of the hand.

Step 4: Place the eyeball in the center of the monster hand. Eat it before it gets you!