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By Nicole Spain, Registered Dietitian
Valentine’s Day is thought to have originated from an ancient Roman festival. The Romans called it “Lupercalia” and it took place in the middle of February, which was the start of their springtime.
In honor of the many blooms that we see around springtime, have your kids make Popsicle Stick Flowers with Heart Leaves to decorate your table for Valentine’s Day! Only 4 craft items are needed:
For younger children, cut out hearts in various colors; older kids can cut out the hearts themselves. (You may need to trace them depending on their age.) Have children arrange the heart petals on the top of the popsicle stick with the pointed part in the middle. Glue in place, and then glue a small pom pom to the middle. You could also cut smaller hearts out of green construction paper to add leaves!
Romans were renowned for holding banquets. Consider hosting a mini-banquet in honor of Valentine’s Day for your family. Bear in mind that presentation was a very important aspect of a successful banquet. You may want to decorate your table in Roman fashion:
Enjoy some of our Grow-Fit, Roman-inspired ideas for a 4 course banquet:
Traditional Cheese Platter with Fresh Fruit
Cheese is the star of the first course. Some traditional cheeses including Ricotta drizzled with honey and Smoked Fresh Mozzarella. Pair these with fresh berries, grapes and focaccia bread or a whole grain cracker.
Cacio e Pape (Recipe below)
Cacio e Pape literally translates to cheese and pepper in several Italian dialects. The ingredients are black pepper, grated Pecorino Romano and spaghetti or traditionally tonnarelli. It is a Romans mac ‘n cheese!
Pollo alla Romana (Recipe below)
Polla alla Romana is a traditional dish long associated with Rome. It features slow braised chicken flavored with sweet bell peppers and tomatoes. This dish bears similarities to the well-known Chicken Cacciatore.
End your evening with a small scoop of Gelato which is ice cream’s healthier Italian cousin. It typically offers fewer calories, less sugar, and less fat content than ice cream. Some of our family favorite flavors include Sea Salt Caramel, Limoncello, and Amaretto Cherry.
Cacio e Pape
1 lb whole grain spaghetti
½ lb Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese, grated
Heaping Tbsp of black peppercorns
Recipe adapted from: https://www.italianbellavita.com/2020/04/cacio-e-pepe-a-classic-traditional-roman-pasta-dish/
Pollo alla Romana
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 whole chicken cut into 8 pieces
2 yellow onions, cut into 1/4 “ slices
3 bell peppers (red and yellow), seeded and cut into 1” slices
2 cloves garlic, smashed
½ C dry white wine
1 Tbsp fresh marjoram
1 (14 oz) can crushed tomatoes
Recipe adapted from: https://goop.com/recipes/pollo-alla-romana/