- Beat the egg white and water until foamy.
- Add the sugar, salt, and cinnamon.
- Stir in the pecan halves and spread the mixture out onto a cookie sheet lined with foil.
- Bake at 200 degrees for 45 minutes, stirring the pecans every 15 minutes to make sure all of the pecans are baked.
Thursday, December 10, 2009
Monday, November 30, 2009
This can be a stressful time of year. Our regular routines are often disrupted. We may feel as though we have to pull off the "perfect" holiday for our kids. Plus we're dealing with longer periods of darkness and cold. In an effort to help ease some of your stress, I would love to help you on your path to empowered parenting and successful family meals. What better gift can you give your children than the gift of a confident parent?
As my gift to you, I am offering the following specials for the month of December:
Free Teleclass Thursday 12/3/09 at 9pm with Courageous Loving with the opportunity for discussion of questions and concerns about parenting during the holiday season. To register, click here. Also, take this survey to submit questions and content suggestions for the teleclass.
Dr. Cuneo's Parenting Assessment, only $40 (regularly $50). The Parenting Assessment is ideal for anyone who desires a clear roadmap for building confidence in their parenting and strengthening their relationship with their children. See here for more information about the assessment.
Dinner Together Assessment, only $40 (regularly $50). The Dinner Together Assessment is ideal for anyone struggling with making enjoyable family meals a regular part of their routine. Aspects of cooking and meal planning as well as child eating behaviors will be reviewed in this assessment. Learn more about Dinner Together here.
These offers expire 12/31/09. Each assessment includes a phone consultation, which can be scheduled anytime up til 3/1/10. Gift certificates for these offers are also available. Why not give a loved one the gift of empowered parenting? E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org to make arrangements or for more information about any of these offers.
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Combine ricotta cheese, eggs, grated Parmesan cheese, and spinach.
- Spread a thin layer of marinara sauce at the bottom of two 13x9x2 pans (you can use a disposal foil pan if you're giving one lasagna away, or if you don't have two pans).
- Layer in the following order: lasagna noodle, ricotta cheese mixture, mozzarella cheese, sauce.
- Repeat. Each lasagna should have three layers and be topped with a lasagna noodle.
- Cover the entire lasagna with sauce. When using oven-ready noodles, it's important that all the noodles are moist and covered with sauce.
- Top with mozzarella.
- For the lasagna you are cooking, cover with foil.
- Bake for 30 minutes.
- Remove foil and cook another 10-15 minutes.
- For the lasagna you are freezing, cover first with plastic wrap, then with foil. When you're ready to cook it, remove the plastic wrap and replace the foil. Bake frozen lasagna covered for about 90 minutes. Remove the foil for the last 10 minutes of baking.
Thursday, November 5, 2009
Thursday, October 29, 2009
Sunday, October 25, 2009
Simply put, division of responsibility means parents are responsible for what, when and where and the child is responsible for how much and whether. Satter advises parents to trust their child’s natural instinct to eat when needed and stop eating when full. If done right and consistently, she confidently suggests that children will learn to eat the food their parents eat, they will grow predictably and they will learn to behave well at the table.
Sounds good, you say as you make a resolution to give it a try. We did the same but we had no idea how challenging it would turn out to be in real life! Especially if you have to deal with two little monkeys at the same age with very different personalities! We are not giving up though, but I should tell you that progress so far is slow.
In this post, I want to share with you some of our challenges in implementing this idea. I would love to hear about your experiences and tips for what has worked for you.
Can’t be sure if they are really full
A parent’s worst fear is to leave her child hungry after dinner. Since young toddler children are not very good at expressing their feelings, it is not easy to read their cues. One moment they can refuse to eat but the very next they may come back to the table asking for more! If they continue to refuse whatever you offer them, you can’t be sure if it is because they are full or because they don’t like their options.
We try to offer whatever we have prepared for ourselves at dinner. But we also keep some of their favorites handy to make sure they will at least eat something. We do not offer dessert as a reward to finish their meal and we do not force them to wipe their plate clean before they can leave the table.
They are not ready to eat at your dinner time
Maybe it is because you gave them a light snack on the way home from Daycare. Or maybe they are just not in the mood to eat and want to continue playing. As busy parents, we are constantly watching the clock. It’s time for dinner, it’s time to go up to get clean, it’s story time and then it’s time for bed. We want to establish a routine to make things predictable and simplify our life.
But guess what! Toddlers don’t operate by the clock. They don’t have a sense of space and time. They live in the moment and naturally resist your attempt to make them do the next thing on the schedule. It is a delicate balance between imposing a structure and waiting for them to make a choice to eat.
We set the table at our regular time and ask them if they want to join us. If they do, that’s fine but we try not to force them if they don’t appear to be hungry. We simply finish our dinner and let them come to the table later if that is what they want.
Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t!
They are distracted by TV
Before we had our twins, we never had the TV on during dinner. It was our time to catch up with each other since we were both gone the whole day. But now, the TV is constantly on when we bring them from Daycare because they like to watch their favorite shows like Dora, Diego, Little Einsteins, Wonder Pets, Barney and High 5. My son loves to watch his train DVD’s while my daughter prefers these On Demand shows or her Princess DVD’s.
On one hand it is nice to have them go to separate rooms to watch their shows and leave the two of us alone. But then, it is also a problem to have them come to the dinner table when we are ready to eat. Worse still, they try to bring the food in front of the TV so they can continue watching.
We have tried to make them turn the TV off before dinner. Again, sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t!
They are too tired at the end of the day
We try to get them to nibble on something, maybe their favorite snack before trying to bring them to the table. Or we offer the snack side by side with the regular dinner foods.
You can’t resist anymore and give in
You have had a long, stressful day. You are tired and just want to get it over with! You don’t have enough patience to go into a cat-and-mouse game with your child at dinner time. In those moments, it is easy to give in and let them nibble on anything they want. In our case, it is usually sweet stuff and chocolate for our son and cheesy snacks for our daughter. If they fill themselves with these snacks, there is no way they will sit with you at the dinner table.
It has happened to us many times and I am sure you too have found yourself in a similar situation. We try not to let it make us feel guilty. We are not trying to raise perfect children, if there is such a thing! We simply move on and try another day.
I think it is hard for parents to accept Satter’s division of responsibility as a simple black-and-white contract with their child. You do this as a parent, and they will do that as a child and magically they will turn into well-behaved children at the dinner table. It doesn’t happen overnight.
Feed with love and respect, have courage to face your emotions, and don’t feel guilty if it doesn’t work. Just keep trying and don’t give up. On good days, it is a lot of fun playing with them and enjoying our dinner as a family. Here are a couple of posts I have written on how to make dinner time a fun experience for them:
My favorite food is (blank)
Play is the secret ingredient of success at mealtime
What has worked for you? What has been your challenge? I would love to hear your comments!
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Monday, October 12, 2009
Monday, October 5, 2009
I am not so bold or naive as to make that claim. As was pointed out in the article, the research at this point is correlational and does not show that eating family dinners causes lower use of drugs and alcohol. I agree with Dr. Philip Cowan who was quoted in the article as saying that parents who can organize themselves to pull off the feat of frequent family meals are likely to produce children with good outcomes anyway. Further, I believe that parents can learn skills and strategies to better organize themselves so that they can improve on their abilities to "pull it off" more frequently.
Monday, September 21, 2009
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
GRILLED VEGETABLES WITH PASTA
1 lb penne (or other short pasta)
1 teaspoon salt, divided
2 medium zucchini
1 red bell pepper
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh oregano, chopped
1/2 cup grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
- Peel eggplant and cut into 1/2-inch thick slices.
- Place eggplant in a colander and sprinkle with 3/4 teaspoon of salt.
- Let stand for 30 minutes and then rinse with cold water.
- Cut zucchini into quarters, lengthwise.
- Seed and quarter red pepper.
- Cut tomato in half and quarter onion.
- Cook pasta according to package directions.
- Brush all vegetables with olive oil and save remaining oil.
- Place on hot grill. Grill vegetables for 5 - 10 minutes, turning as needed. Vegetables will be softer, and somewhat charred (but not burned) when done.
- Cut grilled vegetables into one-inch pieces.
- Mix 1/4 teaspoon salt, remaining olive oil, lemon zest, and herbs.
- Combine pasta, vegetables, oil mixture and cheese. Toss well and serve.
Thursday, July 16, 2009
LEFTOVER SPAGHETTI PIE
1 lb (or less) cooked spaghetti (previously buttered, frozen, and defrosted)
3 cups homemade marinara (or jarred)
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
3 ounces Canadian bacon, diced
1/2 cup pitted black olives, chopped
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup bread crumbs
3 tablespoons grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
- Heat oven to 350 degrees.
- Cut spaghetti into 3-inch pieces.
- In a large bowl, mix together spaghetti, marinara sauce, mozzarella, Canadian bacon and olives.
- Add the eggs.
- Coat a large pie pan with cooking spray.
- Sprinkle the pan with bread crumbs.
- Spoon spaghetti mixture into the pan.
- Bake for 30 minutes.
- Sprinkle on grated cheese and bake another 10 minutes.
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Thursday, June 25, 2009
- Have family meals and serve them family style.
- Always include one or two foods that your child usually likes.
- Maintain a positive social and emotional environment at the family table.
- Understand the division of responsibility in feeding. Familiarize yourself with Ellyn Satter's classic work, stating that parents are responsible for the what, when, and where of feeding, while children are responsible for whether and how much.
- Relax about the nutritional value of individual meals and look at your child's eating patterns over a broader time period (a week or so).
- And finally, have patience! Teaching children to eat a variety of healthful foods takes time.
Monday, June 22, 2009
Dinner Together Summer Gift Card Giveaway and No-Cook Recipe Contest
Summer is here and who couldn’t use a few extra bucks to pick up some things to help enjoy the season. Dinner Together is giving away a $50 giftcard to Target - one of my favorite stores. This contest is open to residents of the U.S. and Canada ages 18 and older. Contest begins on June 22, 2009 and ends on July 12, 2009 at midnight (EST). Void where prohibited. The winner will be selected on July 13, 2009 by a random number generated at www.random.org.
- Each subscriber to the Dinner Together newsletter receives one automatic entry. If you're not already a subscriber, sign up at www.dinnertogether.com.
- Receive an additional 1 entry if you blog or tweet about this contest. (Be sure to e-mail me at email@example.com to let me know how you spread the word.)
- Receive an additional 3 entries for completing the brief (6 item) Dinner Together 2009 Summer Survey at the following link: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s.aspx?sm=67ZpikKWDkomEJkYMJVwVA_3d_3d It only takes a minute!
- Receive an additional 5 entries for each new confirmed subscriber you refer to the Dinner Together newsletter (Again, be sure to e-mail me and let me know who you’ve referred so I can give you credit and check the updates to the confirmed subscriber list.)
- Receive an additional 5 entries for each recipe submission (limit of 3 submissions) to the recipe contest.*
- Receive an additional 15 entries for winning the recipe contest.*
It’s summer. It’s hot. I know I don’t like adding extra heat to the house by turning on the oven or the stove. I’m looking for your favorite no-cook recipes to share in my August kitchen newsletter issue. The winning recipe will be chosen by a panel of judges, including myself, Michelle Stern of What’s Cooking (www.whatscookingblog.com), and Janis Bowers of The Dinner Spin (www.thedinnerspin.com). Recipes will be judged on kid appeal, parent appeal, and ease of making. No ovens, stoves, or grills allowed. You can use microwaves, blenders, and food processors though. Veggies, fruits, dairy, canned fish, rotisserie chicken, and any other ingredients you can think of are fair game! E-mail your recipe submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org, subject "recipe contest."
Monday, June 15, 2009
The list below contains suggestions for cooking activities to be used as general guidelines. You know your children best and what their ability levels are. This list is not exhaustive, but it will give you a place to start and may spark some ideas of your own.
2 year olds
· Help set the table
· Help select fruits and vegetables when shopping
· Look at recipe books together and select things to make
· Rinse fruits and vegetables at the sink
· Tear lettuce
· Arrange frozen potatoes on a pan
· Stir and mix ingredients
· Brush vegetables with olive oil with a pastry brush before roasting
3 and 4 year olds
· All of the above plus…
· Squeeze and juice lemons and limes
· Knead and shape dough
· Count items (e.g., carrots, olives, grape tomatoes for a salad)
· Cut soft foods (e.g., bananas, strawberries, butter) with a plastic knife
· Use a salad spinner
· Push buttons on a blender or food processor (supervised)
· Pour or add measured ingredients to bowls
5 to 8 year olds
· All of the above plus…
· Measure ingredients
· Crack eggs (I recommend having them crack eggs into a separate bowl in case they leave
· Beat eggs
· Mix and form hamburgers, meatballs, meatloaf
· Scub potatoes and other vegetables with a vegetable scrubber
· Snap ends off green beans and asparagus
· Make a salad
9 to 12 year olds
· All of the above plus…
· Making scrambled eggs
· Baking (may require some supervision with using oven)
· Follow simple recipes on their own
· Cut using a regular knife – with training and supervision as needed
· Stir at the stove – with training and supervision as needed
Thursday, June 11, 2009
So if you're really concerned about what your children are eating, my strongest recommendations would be to do your best to prepare meals that taste good and then eat them together as a family. When you prepare meals at home, you have greater control over the ingredients and can make choices based on taste preferences and health concerns. When you eat together, your children have better odds of eating more fruits and vegetables and less fried food and soft drinks. When you are planning and preparing your children's meals, you're acting as their "nutritional gatekeeper" - deciding what they can and cannot have access to.
By making decisions about what foods are brought into my home, I make decisions about what foods my kids can or cannot have access to all the time - although they may not always realize it. Each weekly trip to the grocery store involves numerous decisions about what to bring into the house. Will I spend the extra money on organic produce? Sometimes. Will I buy sugared cereal? Rarely, but Santa and the Easter Bunny bring them as treats. Will I buy my daughter her favorite lunch meat - bologna? Once in a while. Will I buy chips? Sometimes. What milk will I buy? Either 1% or 2% depending on the expiration date and organic availability. Weekly menu planning also determines which meats and non-meat proteins they'll be having.
Take your "nutritional gatekeeper" role seriously! Researchers estimate that parents control about 72% of what their children eat*. As a developmental psychologist, I would predict that the percentage varies with age. Establishing good nutritional habits when kids are young increases your chances that they'll carry good habits with them as they grow. But also take yourself off the hook. Notice that the number is not 100%. Do not feel that you can control all of your children's nutritional health. You're more likely to feel frustrated and get into battles with your kids if you think you can control it all.
*Wansink, Brian (2006), “Nutritional Gatekeepers and the 72% Solution,” Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 106:9 (September), 1324-6.
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
Something about that quote rubbed me the wrong way. I have not read the full study myself, but from the description of it, it sounds like reports of food intake and subsequent analysis of the nutrients in those foods, were the measures used in the study. I'm wondering if there were any measures of parenting feeding practices. Did the researchers look at any measures of how the parents were eating and how they were feeding their children? Were these families eating together?
I consistently recommend that parents be good role models for their children, with regard to eating and many other variables. But being a good role model implies more than just the food that you eat. It also implies the when and how of eating. And being a good role model is not enough to raise a healthy eater. Children do learn by observation, but they also need direct intervention and guidance. So eating well yourself is a start, but you also need to learn effective parenting practices to raise successful eaters.
Thursday, June 4, 2009
So what are we to do? My best advice for parents who want their children to eat more fruits and vegetables is to: 1) eat fruits and vegetables yourself, 2) serve fruits and vegetables often and prepared in a variety of ways, 3) make recipes that taste good, 4) eat meals together as a family, 5) let children decide for themselves if and how much they will eat, and 6) trust and be patient.
For an idea for a veggie recipe that tastes good to my children, check out my latest newsletter. If you're not yet a subscriber, sign up (free!) at http://www.dinnertogether.com/.
Monday, June 1, 2009
I have written before about the importance of planning meals (The 4 P's of Successful Family Meals) and believe it to be hugely important. I plan my family's meals a week at a time. I review our schedule for the coming week and decide which nights I'll have time to cook, which nights I'll have to use my crockpot, which nights I'll simply heat up something from my freezer stash of meals, and which nights we'll go out or order take-out. I also involve my husband and children when creating my menu for the week by asking each one if there's anything in particular they're wanting to eat in the week ahead. This thought and effort usually takes me about 15-20 minutes per week to create a plan, and the stress it saves me from during the week about what we're going to eat definitely makes it worth it to me.
If the thought of creating a plan makes you feel overwhelmed or lost, The Dinner Spin will do it for you. Or if you're someone like me who loves to read, collect, try, and get inspired by new recipes, the free recipes you'll receive are worth the time it takes to sign up. Check it out at www.thedinnerspin.com. By the way, I do not receive any compensation for endorsing this service. I just think it's great and wanted to share!
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
But reading the article and some of the readers' comments on it has got me thinking. It can be really difficult to gather a family together to have a meal, but then once you're all there, other obstacles can get in the way of an enjoyable meal together. For my family, there are several - my children's sometimes picky eating, boisterous behavior, my husband's occasional emergency phone calls for work, and having to rush on to another activity after dinner are the obstacles that come quickly to mind.
What gets in the way of enjoying meal time together for your family? I'd love to hear about your challenges.
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
I worry sometimes though about the messages my kids are getting about things like "calories." There seems to be so much value judgment in the education that they receive around the topics of food and eating. Some of that may be very well intentioned, but some of it may be misguided. I recently read the Academy for Eating Disorders Guidelines for Childhood Obesity Prevention Programs (http://www.aedweb.org/media/Guidelines.cfm) and was really impressed with how thoughtful they are. In our best efforts to prevent the growing problem of childhood obesity, we should be careful not to harm children psychologically and perhaps unintentionally create other problems.
I don't want my children worrying that calories are "bad." It's like worrying that inches, grams, or any other unit of measurement are "bad." I also don't want every decision my children make about what to eat to be based on the calorie content of food. I hope for them to be successful eaters - eaters who eat a variety of foods, eat when they're hungry, stop eating when they're full, and enjoy their food. I hope messages that they receive about food and eating from school, media, friends and other adults support my goals for them, but I'm not always so sure...
Monday, May 18, 2009
I also had some fresh asparagus and prosciutto with some vague idea, but no real recipe, of preparing them together. To find a recipe I went to www.allrecipes.com, a site I would highly recommend. The site has a feature where you can search for a recipe based on ingredients you want to include. When I typed in asparagus and prosciutto, two recipes came up in the search results. Reading the recipes and others' comments on the recipes, I came up with the recipe below. I use this strategy often. I would recommend that you search for several similar recipes and adapt, combine, and modify them as suits your tastes and cooking style. There are a lot of great recipes out there just waiting for you to tinker with!
Asparagus with Prosciutto and Provolone
1 bunch of asparagus, washed and trimmed
8 slices of prosciutto
4 slices of provolone
canola cooking spray
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
- Wrap half a slice of provolone cheese, followed by a slice of prosciutto around a bundle of 3 pieces of asparagus. Place wrapped bundle in a baking dish.
- Repeat with remaining asparagus.
- Spray with canola cooking spray.
- Bake for about 15 minutes.
I have to say that we enjoyed this and it was so easy to make.
Friday, May 8, 2009
Ellyn asked me why I listed low-fat, and not just regular, cheese as an ingredient in my recipe. To be honest, I hadn't really noticed. I copied and pasted the recipe from my files in my somewhat distracted efforts to get the newsletter ready before I became consumed with entertaining and hosting activities for my daughter's 1st Communion. But when it was brought to my attention, I realized that I almost never use low-fat cheese. I sometimes buy the Cabot brand of 50% Reduced Fat Cheddar. I think it tastes pretty good, but other reduced fat cheese reminds me of rubber. For me, taste is hugely important in guiding my choices for what I eat and what ingredients I include in recipes that I cook. So unless you enjoy the taste of rubbery cheese, I'd suggest you change the low-fat cheese to regular cheese.
In addition, Ellyn also provided me with some references for research showing that when people perceive foods to be "healthier" (e.g., "low-fat"), they actually eat more of it. People have been shown to ignore their own internal regulators of fullness and to eat larger quantities of food with low-fat labels regardless of the actual fat content of the food!
So what do you think? Do you use low-fat dairy products? How do you think labels affect your food choices and consumption?
Thursday, April 30, 2009
What works for you? Any tips you'd like to share for how you pull meals together?
It’s 4:30p.m. You stand in front of the refrigerator scanning its contents to see what you can throw together for dinner. You look at the clock. You have half an hour before you have to run out to pick up your daughter from dance class. There’s not enough time to make a decent meal. “Besides”, you think, “the kids probably won’t eat what I make anyway.” So you decide to just pick up some take out. You daughter is famished after class and eats her meal in the car. When you get home, you make yourself a salad and eat it standing at the counter. Your husband heats something up for himself when he comes home later.
Sound familiar? It seems like the family meal has become a relic of the past. Many of today’s families struggle with the challenge of getting everyone together for a meal and with the challenge of finding the time to actually cook the meal.
Before you throw in the kitchen towel and head for the drive-thru, there are a few things you should know about family meals.
Importance of family meals
Research has shown, however, that it’s worth the effort. Studies have shown family meal times to be an important element in cohesive, well-functioning family life and in healthy child development. Children who frequently eat meals with their families have been found to have better eating habits, better academic success, better mental health, and less risk for both obesity and substance abuse.
How to do it
Making healthy family meals can be a challenge, but it can be done. Consider the 4 “P’s” in pulling it all together.
If you can look ahead at your schedule a week in advance, you can get a jump on planning meals. When you know ahead of time that you’ll be too busy in the pre-dinner hour to cook that night, you can plan for a slow-cooker meal. Another possibility is to have a supply of previously frozen meals that you can defrost on those days with no time to cook. If you get in the habit of doubling recipes and then freezing meals, you’ll have meals on hand for those nights when things get too crazy. Planning in advance also saves you unnecessary trips to the grocery store. When you plan your meals and shopping lists in advance, you can save time with just one or two grocery shopping trips per week.
Sometimes it can be difficult to take a step back and examine your schedule. Many activities that keep our families away from the table are necessary (like work) and many are important (like lessons and sports for our kids). Only you can decide the priorities for your family. If you feel like your family’s schedule is out of control and creating unnecessary stress, maybe it’s time to make changes. As a parent, you have the authority and responsibility to set limits and make priorities when considering the family schedule.
Putting together a support system
You don’t have to do this completely on your own. If your kids are older, enlist their help in meal preparation. If your kids are younger, you can find ways for them to help. Young children can’t really save you time, but today’s helper can be tomorrow’s cook. Outside your immediate family, you can seek assistance from local extended family members, friends, and neighbors. Some families have successfully coordinated meal sharing in a variety of ways. Consider arranging to double a recipe and cook for both your own and a friend’s family one night each week while your friend does the same for you on another night. Or, organize a group of mothers from your child’s preschool and assign each a meal to prepare for everyone. You can then gather together and exchange prepared meals to bring home to your own freezers. Be creative: think of people with whom you can form support systems.
You’ll be able to make more effective meal plans if you have a variety of preparation techniques at your fingertips. Many meals can be assembled quickly and some can be prepared in advance, at least partially. You might not have time to cook right before dinner time, but you might have time at other points in your day. Early morning, your child’s naptime, later in the evening, and weekends are all possible times to do some meal preparation, whether it’s chopping some vegetables or preparing a casserole. Slow-cooker crock-pots also provide many opportunities for home-cooked meals without actually cooking at dinner time.
What to do when the family is at the table
In the ideal world, you’ve done all your planning, prioritizing, and preparing, and the whole family is sitting down together for a family meal. Everything should go smoothly from there, right? Maybe not. Often, picky eaters, unruly behavior, and lack of conversation can seem to ruin all your good efforts in getting everyone there in the first place. Changing the behavior of picky eaters is a complex topic beyond the scope of this article, but in general, the quality of the time spent together at the table is something that can be improved with some creativity and planning. Games and activities that incorporate teaching manners and promoting positive conversations are available.
Taking charge of your family meals can be exciting and rewarding, but a few caveats are important. First, don’t expect perfection. Having everyone in the family present for every evening meal is not realistic for most families. If you currently eat together once a week, any increase should be considered a valuable improvement. Be flexible in considering which meals your family eats together. Maybe breakfast is a more realistic option than dinner for your family. There may not be any simple formula, but you have the power to make healthy, enjoyable meals for your family.
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
BLACK BEAN AND SWEET POTATO QUESADILLA
1 sweet potato, cooked (boiled or baked) and mashed
1 cup canned black beans, rinsed and drained
½ cup onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
2 Tbsp. olive or canola oil, divided
2 tsp. cumin
1 avocado, peeled and mashed
¼ cup sour cream
½ cup shredded cheddar or Monterey jack cheese
1 cup baby spinach leaves
4 flour tortillas, taco size
· In a medium-sized non-stick skillet, heat 1T oil and sauté onion and garlic until soft.
· Add black beans and heat through.
· Stir in avocado, sour cream, cumin, and cheddar cheese. Cook until cheese melts.
· Spread mashed sweet potato over one tortilla.
· Top with baby spinach, then black bean mixture. Smooth mixture over tortilla (should
only be about ½ inch or so thick).
· Top with a second tortilla.
· Heat ½ T oil on high heat in a skillet.
· Brown quesadilla about one minute on each side.
· Repeat for second quesadilla.
· Cut quesadillas into wedges and serve with salsa, if desired.
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Last night I assembled and today I put in the crockpot the recipe below. This is one of the meals that everyone in the family really likes - with no variations, no complaints, and usually no leftovers. So therefore, I make it every few weeks. So tonight even though we won't be eating together, we will be sharing this meal - at separate times.
SLOW COOKER TERIYAKI CHICKEN
1 garlic clove, minced
1/3 cup soy sauce
2 T sherry
1 ½ T cider vinegar
1 ½ T brown sugar
1 ½ T minced fresh ginger (or 1 t dried ginger powder)
8 chicken thighs
· Remove skin from chicken thighs if not already skinless. Pulling on the skin with a paper towel is an effective method.
· Mix ingredients other than chicken together in a bowl.
· Chicken and sauce can be mixed together in slow cooker or combined together in a Ziploc freezer bag.
· If cooking right away, cook on low for about 6-8 hours.
· If freezing, thaw overnight in refrigerator when ready to cook. Then put in slow cooker and cook for 6-8 hours in slow cooker.
Monday, April 20, 2009
I love fresh blueberries and I truly am happily anticipating the season of their peak freshness which is right around the corner. My 11 year old can eat a pint all at once if she's hungry enough when she comes home from school. I have no doubt that blueberries have many health benefits, as do most fruits and vegetables. But I always become wary when I see one particular food publicized as having medicinal-like qualities. My eating philosophy is that we need to eat variety, with a healthy dose of fruits and vegetables. So I'll sit back and wait with a skeptical eye towards new blueberry press and blueberry-added products, but I'll eagerly wait the fresh blueberry season.
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
I like the concept of "30 Minute Meals" and I used to watch the show fairly often a few years ago when it coincided with my daughter's nap. I would feel a little frustrated though that the meals I was watching being prepared would take me way more than 30 minutes to prepare and clean up. Although I enjoyed the show, I wanted some real 30 minute meals! Since then, I've found some good, quick recipes that I like to make (some even from Rachael Ray) but I have also found other strategies (e.g., crockpot, making ahead, freezing, etc.) that help me make it through weeknight meals for my family.
Today's NY Times Food columnist has a good column about TV cooking vs. Real Cooking. Click on the link below for the full column.
Monday, April 13, 2009
Saturday, April 11, 2009
P.S. Happy Easter!
Tuesday, April 7, 2009
1 bunch of kale
1 T olive oil
1 garlic clove, pressed
Salt and pepper, to taste
· Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
· Rinse kale and pat it dry.
· Break kale into pieces, removing spines and stems.
· In a large bowl mix all ingredients.
· Spread mixture on a baking sheet. It does not have to be in a single layer at this point.
· Bake for about 15-20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes.
· Serve immediately.
The kids actually liked it. My pickiest said, "This doesn't even taste like a vegetable!" High praise from a vegetable-avoider. Another said, "They're kind of like potato chips," referring to the crispy, airy texture. So if you're looking to try a new and different way to serve vegetables, I'd suggest giving this a try. By the way, I used almost a teaspoon of salt, which I personally thought was too much, but the kids liked it, so go figure...
Friday, April 3, 2009
So here's how to do it. Start with large sized eggs (extra-large or jumbo will need more time than what I'm describing and I'm not exactly sure what the proper timing is). Place the eggs in a sauce pan, large enough for the eggs to have some space between them. Cover the eggs with cold water. Bring to a rapid boil over high heat. As soon as the water is boiling, cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid and turn off the heat. Set your timer for 10 minutes. When the timer goes off, drain the hot water, cover the eggs with cold water, and then remove them from the pan to a container. Store in the refrigerator.
Wednesday, April 1, 2009
Perhaps this struck a chord with me today because I was reading an article in my monthly American Psychological Association magazine which described some work by psychologists to help "women gain health and self-esteem by losing their obsession with weight." If anyone wants to read more about this, check out www.bodypositive.com. The point is that many women go through life dieting, regaining weight, dieting, regaining weight, etc. And they often feel terrible about themselves throughout the process. Do we set our daughters up for this cycle from early on with messages about their appropriate weight/height ratios? As I said, my daughter does not appear to be overweight, but she does have a butt - a butt like her mother before her, her grandmother before her, and her great-grandmother before her. Although I may have some negative thoughts about my own body at times, I try very hard to avoid saying anything out loud in front of my daughters. I want them to stay physically active, to enjoy eating, and to feel good about themselves and their bodies.
How do you handle body image issues with your daughters (or sons)?
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
I chose to write about this particular neighbor today though because she and I used to share meals in a fairly unique way that was helpful to both of us. Several years ago, I would cook dinner for her family every Monday night. She would cook for mine every Wednesday. Whatever I was making on Mondays, I would just double to have enough to feed two families. We used a big flat box from Costco to transport the meals. Often my older daughters would run the box over to their house on Mondays. And after working on Wednesday evenings, it was nice for me to come home to a prepared meal that I could just sit down to eat with my family. This system saved time for both of us, allowed us to feed our families good home-cooked meals, and helped us stay connected and in touch with each other.
This exact system may not work for everyone, but maybe it can spark some ideas of your own. If not a neighbor, maybe you have a relative or coworker nearby who would be willing to participate in some sort of meal sharing arrangement with you. It's hard to get a good tasting, home-cooked meal on the table every night. We don't always have to do it alone. There are ways that we can support each other and build community while still providing our families with healthy meals. I'd love to hear any creative ideas that any of you have tried.
Thursday, March 19, 2009
BAKED TILAPIA WITH TOMATOES AND OLIVES
1 ½ lbs tilapia loins or other thick fish fillet (like cod)
½ t salt
½ t pepper
2 tomatoes, chopped
½ cup green olives with pimentos, coarsely chopped
½ cup red onion, finely chopped
¼ cup olive oil
1 T fresh lime juice
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 t dried thyme or 1 T fresh thyme leaves
· Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
· Coat a glass baking dish with cooking spray.
· Place fish in baking dish.
· Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
· Mix remaining ingredients in a bowl and spoon over fish.
· Bake until fish is cooked through (about 15-20 minutes). Fish will be white and flaky.
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Cooks who are more adventurous and willing to try new things are most likely to make healthy and flavorful choices. So don't be afraid to experiment - it's good for everyone!