Winning the battle of the veggies

by Chrishonda Brown

Vibrant, delicious produce is plentiful at the beginning of summer. As temperatures rise outside, cool, crisp vegetables highlight our menus. But how do you get your children to eat their veggies? It may be easier than you think.
Make your kids “produce pickers.” Encourage questions and conversation, giving them a sense of responsibility and value.
Cook with your kids. They will be proud of their work and more likely to eat the vegetables they prepare.
Name dishes after your children. Karen’s Zucchini Surprise may be the new dinner table favorite.
Be fun and creative. For instance, make a tic-tac-toe board from eggplant or cucumber cut lengthwise. Use broccoli and grape tomatoes for the pieces. Everybody wins!
Above all, model the behavior. Practice what you preach in your own diet. Your children’s healthy habits are caught more than taught and summer is a great place to start.
Chrishonda Brown, M.S. in kinesiology, is a guest columnist for Kansas State Research and Extension, Wyandotte County. For more recipes visit Like the Facebook page at and follow on Twitter @WyCoSnapEd.

Summer Fiesta Veggie Wraps
Makes: 8 servings
1 ripe avocado, peeled, pitted and diced
1 tablespoon low-fat sour cream
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon onion powder
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
8 (8-inch) whole wheat tortillas
2 tomatoes, diced
1 cucumber, sliced
1 bell pepper, cut into strips
1 head romaine lettuce, chopped
1 cup low-fat mozzarella cheese, shredded
Mash avocado, sour cream, salt, garlic powder, onion powder and cayenne pepper in a bowl with a fork until well blended.
Spread tortillas with a layer of avocado spread. Place tomatoes, cucumber, pepper, lettuce and cheese on each wrap, leaving about 2 inches of space at the bottom. Fold the bottoms up. Roll tortillas over vegetable firmly to close wraps.
Variation: Slice wrap into pinwheels for smaller hands.
Nutritional information for each serving: 244 calories, 11g total fat, 4g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 16mg cholesterol, 29g carbohydrates, 6g fiber, 3g sugars, 374mg sodium, 9g protein, 23% Vitamin A, 47% Vitamin C, 16% calcium, 16% iron.

How to avoid poison ivy when enjoying the outdoors

You may have heard the phrase “leaves of three, let it be” when it comes to detecting poison ivy. Kansas State University horticulturists say it is a bit more complicated than that.

“The leaves of poison ivy can have a smooth edge or a coarsely toothed edge, or even a lobed edge,” said Ward Upham, university extension agent in horticulture. “There are many different forms the leaves can take, so you need to look at other aspects of the plant.”

Poison ivy also grows in many different forms. You can find it covering the ground, in a shrub or climbing up a tree.

Charlie Barden, Kansas State University forestry extension specialist, says poison ivy is often confused with other plants like Virginia creeper, fragrant sumac and box elder. He says there are three key identifiers to look for if you want to avoid taking home an unwanted souvenir this summer.

• The middle leaf of the poison ivy plant is on a longer stem than the other two leaves.

• The two outside leaves are attached directly to the main stem.

• The branch holding the poison ivy is brown, not green.

More than 90 percent of people are allergic to poison ivy, and it often takes 10 to 12 hours before the symptoms show.

“A poison ivy rash is different from a bug bite because it will start out just being red and irritated and then blisters will actually raise up,” Barden said. “People say those blisters will spread and believe they are spreading the oil, but the spreading is just because it takes awhile for the reaction to occur.”

Remedies are available for this pesky plant. One lotion on the market that contains clay particles can be applied before you go into the woods and will prevent the poison ivy rash from occurring.

Getting rid of the plant on your property also is a preventative step. Upham says to consider grubbing, where you remove the plant from the ground after it has rained. He recommends using an herbicide containing Triclopyr, which will be labeled as a brush killer. If the poison ivy is climbing up a tree, cut down the tree, then apply the herbicide to the stump.

If you can’t get rid of the plant, it is best to avoid it altogether.

Mental Health First Aid Day planned

Kansas City’s first Mental Health First Aid Day is planned for Thursday, July 10.

Six sites throughout metropolitan Kansas City, including one in Kansas City, Kan., are participating in the event. It is sponsored by the Metropolitan Council of Community Mental Health Centers.

The goal of the event is to teach mental health first aid and youth mental health first aid courses at no cost to more than 250 people. It would be the largest number of people to train at one time in the metropolitan area.

In Kansas City, Kan., a class will be held from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. July 10 at the Kansas City, Kan., Public School Central Office, 2010 N. 59th St., Kansas City, Kan.

Participants will learn what to do if an adult or child is experiencing a mental health crisis. The course teaches about the signs and symptoms of mental illness, gives confidence to reach out to people in need, and skills to respond to a mental health crisis.

Participants will receive a manual and certificate upon successful completion of the course, and information about accessing local services. A continental breakfast and lunch will be provided.

Those who are interested in attending the course may contact Beth Yoder Stein at or Mark Wiebe at