Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Dinner With My Neighbors

Tonight my family will be eating dinner with a family that lives next door. We used to eat together more often, but as our children have gotten older it's become more difficult. Tonight I will be bringing a meal I was planning to make in my Crockpot anyway, and my neighbor will be making a separate entree and the rest of the meal. It's really very nice to share food and eat together. We have the chance to connect and relax with one another when we spend time together during a meal.

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

Easy - and Flavorful- Baked Fish Recipe

Since it is Lent and I do follow the practice of no-meat Fridays. Some people don't feel comfortable cooking fish, perhaps because they don't have good recipes. Here is an easy recipe that also has a lot of flavor and health benefits. If you're not a "fish person", you might want to give this one a try. My kids will eat this one, but will pick off the tasty toppings to varying degrees. They tend to prefer salmon or breaded fillets, but I can't always cook just what they like!


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
Cooking spray

· 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.

Serves 4.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Cooking personality quiz

Home cooks can have great influence on the diet and eating habits of their entire family. The person who does the food shopping and cooking in the family, sometimes referred to as the "nutritional gatekeeper", has been estimated to control over 70% of what their children eat. The choices that influential person may make will in turn be influenced by their own history and background with food and cooking as well as their "cooking personality." To get an idea of your own "cooking personality" click on the link below to take a quiz.


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!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Michelle Obama's Healthy Eating Message

I was happy to read the article below about how Michelle Obama is promoting healthful eating. Click on the link below for the full story. I was especially pleased that she seemed to be promoting moderation and was able to enjoy foods that are so often labeled as "bad" or "unhealthy" in addition to fresh fruits and vegetables. I am also inspired to learn more about soup kitchens mentioned which provide access to fresh produce. Fresh foods should not just be a luxury for those who can afford it.

My only little personal cringe with this article was when Malia was referred to as "getting a little chubby." I think it's important to look at what we are feeding are children and for parents to make smart choices in what they offer their kids to eat, but we shouldn't be communicating messages that could lead to trouble with body image. Granted I know nothing about Malia's weight or growth history, but it is often a normal part of growth for children to be "a little chubby" at points. I also know nothing about how the concern about her weight was communicated or how the change in diet was made, but I'm hoping it wasn't done with a big emphasis on her shape and size.


Monday, March 9, 2009

A Meal That Make Me Think of Spring

This past weekend, it finally felt a little like spring will soon be here. I wanted to share a recipe that is very spring-y to me.

Broiled Chicken With Artichokes

8 skinless boneless chicken thighs
12 ounce bottle of marinated, quartered artichoke hearts
3 T olive oil
1 t salt
1/2 t pepper
2 T chopped parsley
2-3 T grated Parmesan or Romano cheese

  • Preheat broiler.
  • Drain artichokes and save 1-2T marinade.
  • Mix chicken, artichokes, 2T oil, salt, and pepper in a bowl.
  • Place on a broiler pan.
  • Place in the broiler about 3 inches from the heat.
  • Cooking time may vary depending on your broiler/oven. In my electric oven, it takes about 10 minutes per side for the chicken to be done, but I suspect a gas oven might be faster. In any case, turn the chicken once, but do not turn the artichokes, during cooking time. Chicken is done when it looks lightly browned and is cooked through to an internal temperature of 180 degrees.
  • Transfer chicken and artichokes to a platter. Pour reserved marinade over chicken and sprinkle with parsley and grated cheese (you might want to skip this step for chicken pieces for the kids if they don't like the pickled marinade taste or green things on their chicken!).

Serves 4.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Dinner Together Newsletter Launch

I will be sending out the first Dinner Together newsletter next week. Please visit www.dinnertogether.com to sign up for this FREE e-newsletter...and tell your friends!

Monday, March 2, 2009

Gratitude at the Dinner Table

For several months now, my family has gotten into the practice of sharing something from our days for which we feel grateful. We try to do this several times a week and we take turns going around the table, giving each person a chance to speak and be heard. Recently I had the opportunity to explore some new materials on gratitude by LaSara Firefox (http://www.gratitudegames.com). What was different about this approach was that instead of simply sharing something from our day, we shared what we were grateful in categories. The two that we chose were "A Person You Admire" and "A Fairy Tale." I enjoyed this different approach because it got us sharing about things that we normally wouldn't talk about in our everyday dinner conversation. I think we each learned a little something new about each other also. It was definitely worthwhile and something I'm sure that we'll work in sometimes in our future meals.