By Tina Dirmann

BCBSLA Foundation staff writer

Apple-Carrot Salad! Evelyn Watts, 3, added pineapples for extra sweetness.
Apple-Carrot Salad! Evelyn Watts, 3, added pineapples for extra sweetness.

No one’s saying it’s easy to get a group of teenagers to pass up burgers and fries in favor of homemade carrot salad and lentil soup. But some of us from the BCBSLAF family had a chance to witness first-hand as a group of Shreveport’s youngest, from toddlers to teens, scooped up bowls of the healthy fare during the kick-off event launching Highland’s first Garden Learning Center (made possible by our Challenge for a Healthier Louisiana grant program, Healthy, Green & into the Outdoors). Teenage chefs (part of the area’s ShreveCorps program) mixed store bought and garden grown veggies to cook a hearty lentil soup — stirring up a large, outdoor pot wafting well-spiced foodie fragrances into the air. While area families gathered round to shred carrots and apples for a slightly sweet side salad.

“It’s so cool,” admitted 10-year-old Kyra Reeves (daughter of Foundation Executive Director Christy Reeves), “how you can just throw in a bunch of stuff from your garden into a big pot and it turns out delicious… Plus, it feeds the whole neighborhood!”

Dare your own family to dig in to these healthy delights! We scored the recipe from HGIO’s Grace Peterson (who is also an extension agent with LSU’s AgCenter). Try them out and let us know if they love them as much as we did!

Lentil soup is mm-mmm good!
Lentil soup is mm-mmm good!

Winter Garden Lentil Soup

12 c water

2 c lentils

12 carrots, cut into pieces about 1/2 inch thick

6 stalks celery, cut into pieces about 1/2 inch thick

2 c greens (ex: spinach, collards, mustard, Swiss chard), torn into bite-size pieces

Optional add — seasonal mixed garden vegetables (ex: green onions, garlic, turnips)

1 t cumin

1 t ground coriander

1 bay leaf

1 c uncooked pasta, whole grain

2 T butter

1 t seasoned salt (Tony’s, etc)

Put water into a large pot and bring to a boil over high head. Sort lentils into a colander and rinse under water. Add all ingredients (except butter and pasta) to pot of boiling water. Lower heat and cover pot. Let simmer for 35 minutes. Add pasta, simmer 10 more minutes. Add butter. Stir and serve! Serves 12-14 people.


Apple Carrot Salad

4 apples, grated

4 carrots, grated

2 teaspoon lemon juice

1/2 c raisins

1 c plain yogurt

2 T honey

optional: 1/2 c other fruits/nuts (example: pineapple, mandarine oranges, pecans)

Put all ingredient in medium bowl and mix together. Serve chilled or room temp. Serves 8 people.