Santa likes cookies — and red and green veggies

Updated: 2013-12-19T21:33:04Z


Special to The Star
After devouring umpteen toothsome treats and chasing them with countless glasses of milk, Santa Claus relishes his vegetables.

Santa recently agreed to cook up some magic in the Lenexa home of Tim Bonnette, who has been married to Mary for 36 years.

As we settle down for a long winter’s rap in the kitchen, it feels as warm and unassuming as the man with the twinkle in his eye.

Special cooking interests: Making meals using fresh, unprocessed ingredients
Why did you choose this salad recipe to share? This broccoli salad is Mrs. Claus’ favorite and is a good way to get folks, including children, to eat their vegetables. Once people taste it, they are hooked. Santa’s broccoli salad is also red and green, the colors of Christmas. It is also “elf-licious” and Rudolph’s favorite preflight snack.

After the holidays, it’s time for Santa to start eating better, and when all is said and done, Santa needs to set a healthy eating example for all the good girls and boys.

If you don’t mind me saying so, you don’t have much of a belly that shakes when you laugh, like a bowlful of jelly. That’s because I need to be nimble and quick, so you know in a moment I must be St. Nick! I am on a mission to be a little less jolly in the belly, because I want to be healthy to keep my energy up and continue to spread joy. Santa has a big heart and wants to keep it healthy by using less salt, butter and sugar in his diet. Instead, I use more fresh spices, herbs, olive oil and nuts to let the natural flavor of fresh ingredients stand out rather than smother foods with gravy, cheese or sauces.

Does this mean you don’t enjoy holiday sweet treats? Of course I enjoy them, but I try to eat them in moderation. Snickerdoodles are some of my favorite cookies, but you can also get your sugar fix through all the wonderful apples, oranges, bananas and grapes that are available right now. Christmas morning, Mrs. Claus will make me a breakfast with fruit, oatmeal, eggs and whole-grain toast. If I’m really good, she will make me some bacon.

Mrs. Claus’ typical Christmas meal is prime rib with au jus and Yorkshire pudding. She also makes all the trimmings such as sweet potato soufflé, broccoli casserole and pecan pie for dessert. Every other day, it’s usually me who makes the meals.

What is your day-to-day Claus cooking style? I cook a diverse array of dishes and generally plan my meals around what is fresh or available in the market. I go every day to pick up fresh ingredients, so sometimes my meal plan will change after I get to the store, based on what vegetables, fruits and meats look good. A typical week’s menu might include eggplant pomodoro with spaghetti squash, baked rib chops with baked sweet potatoes and green beans, or steak with baked asparagus and mashed garlic cauliflower.

The chef’s coat I’m wearing has the words “Santa Claus — Executive Taster” embroidered on it. And I really do enjoy tasting all kinds of food. I believe the kitchen is a wonderful place for children to be creative and to explore different fresh foods. Cooking is also a way to be with your family and to be present in the moment with those you love, which is really one of the best Christmas gifts ever.
Mary G. Pepitone is a freelance writer who lives in Leawood. She also writes a nationally syndicated home column. Email her at to nominate a cook.