(File photo of First Lady Michelle Obama with Sesame Street characters stressing the importance of healthy food. Photo/AP Images )

First Lady announces free Sesame Street marketing of fresh fruits, vegetables to kids

We’ve always known that Elmo and Rosita approved of healthy choices for kids, but the faces of these beloved Sesame Street characters – and plenty others – will now be spotted in produce sections nationwide thanks to a new partnership between the Sesame Workshop and the Produce Marketing Association (PMA).

First Lady Michelle Obama announced Wednesday a two-year agreement that would allow PMA’s suppliers and retailers to make use of the Sesame Street brand without licensing fees – a move that would permit use of Elmo, Big Bird and other familiar characters for use in marketing fresh fruits and vegetables for children.

“These new efforts are so incredibly important,” Mrs. Obama said during the White House press conference. “Because now, when it comes to marketing food to our kids, the deck is stacked up against healthy foods like fruit and vegetables.”

Citing the fact that the average American child watches thousands of hours of commercials a year for items loaded with sugar and fat, Mrs. Obama added “just imagine what will happen when we take our kids to the grocery store, and they see Elmo and Rosita and the other Sesame Street Muppets they love up and down the produce aisle.”

“Imagine what it will be like to have our kids begging us to buy them fruits and vegetables instead of cookies, candy and chips. That’s what this new collaboration between Sesame Workshop and the Produce Marketing Association is all about – showing our kids that healthy food can be fun and that fruits and vegetables don’t just make us feel good, they taste good too.”

The partnership – borne out of Mrs. Obama’s “Let’s Move” campaign – will begin to take effect as early as mid-2014.  Here at NBC Latino, we’ve always emphasized the consumption of fresh produce and healthy food preparation each week on our “A Healthy Idea” series; now, in honor of the First Lady’s announcement, we’re sharing some of our favorite recipes using fruits and veggies below.

(Photo/Betty Cortina)

(Photo/Betty Cortina)

Traditional pizza gets a healthy makeover with the addition of sweet corn, tomato and calabacita for a veggie-packed option that’s perfect for dinner. Click here to get the recipe.

Potato, swiss chard and mushroom tacos. (Photo/Courtesy of Penny de los Santos)

Potato, swiss chard and mushroom tacos. (Photo/Courtesy of Penny de los Santos)

Tacos are popular in households across the country, but this lighter version – made with potato, swiss chard and meaty mushrooms – is a low calorie, healthy treat. Click here to get the recipe.

Garbanzo & kale stew (Photo/Betty Cortina)

Garbanzo & kale stew (Photo/Betty Cortina)

Hearty soups are perfect for the winter season ahead and this garbanzo stew made with plenty of green kale is a healthy option the entire family will love. Click here to get the recipe.

Yes, there is such a thing as healthy Latino salads, like this one made with chayotes by Chef Iliana de la Vega. (Photo/Courtesy Iliana de la Vega.)

Yes, there is such a thing as healthy Latino salads, like this one made with chayotes by Chef Iliana de la Vega. (Photo/Courtesy Iliana de la Vega.)

There’s more to salad than just iceberg lettuce and tomato – really! Take a look at some creative and delicious salad ideas, using quintessentially Latin veggies like chayotes and corn. Click here to get the recipes.

Healthy stuffed poblano peppers

Healthy stuffed poblano peppers (Photo/Nina Terrero)

Chile rellenos are deliciously cheesy and gooey – and unfortunately, not so good for you, making this poblano dish, stuffed with all manner of yummy veggies and beans, a healthy and delicious option. Click here to get the recipe.

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