Tag Archives: kitchen

True Story…

5 Dec

It is turning REALLY chilly.  I have soup on the brain…again!  But I also have yummy fresh fall produce on the brain too.  Gosh…can those two be related?  Oh yeah!

So true story.  This morning leaving for work I catch a glimpse of a big butternut squash sitting on the kitchen table (I always have a platter of fresh fruits and veggies on the kitchen table ready to go).  I hung on to that thought.  Once I got to work the thought of that big flavorful squash was pushed from the front to the back of my mind while I concentrated on work, but it was still there.

I really had food on the brain, and that was going to make its way out to a yummy dinner for my family.  I kept thinking…what could I do with that squash?  Then it struck me.  I had some beautiful lump crabmeat in the fridge to use up too, and I was determined to get those two things together.

Denis has been talking about making soup lately, and any soup he ever makes is fabulous.  Hey, how about soup with butternut squash and crab? Yes!  that was it.  I thought my head would explode because it sounded so good (plus I’d had a tiny breakfast and was hungry!!).  I texted Denis.  I knew one text would hook him on the idea too.  And it did.

I walked into the house after work.  Even thought my dog was happy to see me and jumping around my ankles in joy at my return, I stopped dead in my tracks.  I did not bend down and talk to her as I usually do.  My head went back.  My eyes closed.  I breathed in deep.  I knew instantly that Denis was there and cooking.  It smelled amazing.  I had to take it all in.  The house smelled incredible.

After a minute of taking the scents and aromas in, I gave my sweet dog some attention.  Then off I went in the direction of the kitchen.  Dinner was fantastic.  Soup was perfect for that chilly night!  What do you have on hand to  make soup with tonight?

 

The butternut squash crab soup and a glass of wine made the perfect cold night dinner!  See the beautiful plate of veggies on the table?  It is great to be veg ready!

The butternut squash crab soup and a glass of wine made the perfect cold night dinner! See the beautiful plate of veggies on the table? It is great to be veg ready!

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Healthy Choices

9 Jun

I love cooking at home.  In my opinion, home food preparation with the freshest ingredients that the budget will allow is key to good health.  But for me, it is also a way to express my creativity as well as my commitment to wellness.  Most days, I find pleasure in going to my kitchen and creating a lovely healthy meal for my family, even after a long day at work.  But lets face it.  As a single mother of 3 kids, it just isn’t always feasible.  So what do I do then?

Sometimes when I don’t have time to cook or grab leftovers,  I go out and make some poor choices with food.  Lack of time means fast food wins at times.  And that’s okay.  Occasionally.  That’s the life of a busy american family nowadays.  We often get the kids off to school, zip to work, run from work to a school meeting, a sport practice, or to run errands.  Time, for most of us, is our most precious commodity.

Recently though, I made a decision to eat healthy even when I ate out.  Actually, I wanted to see if it was possible, especially on my tight family budget.  I am happy to report that it was challenging, but doable.   Not only that, it was enjoyable, flavorful, and satisfying.  What in the world do I mean?  Let me explain.

Have a breakfast meeting?  No time to make a lunch to take to work?  Is the family schedule and soccer practice making cooking at home impossible today?  Well I have good news.  A family can eat healthily at a restaurant.  Last Friday night I met friends out for dinner.  I ordered a hamburger and opted for sautéed veggies instead of french fries.  And this was at a “sports bar” type of restaurant.  I ate my hamburger without the bun with the veggies and it was delicious.  True confessions…Yes, I had a beer too.  But that is a good natural beverage, right?  I mean, hops are all natural flowering plants after all.  I am just saying…..

Back to the food!  A few days ago I went to out breakfast with my daughter.  I was able to have a fresh fruit cup with an egg white sandwich on whole grain bread.  It was a well rounded breakfast that held my tummy till lunch.  (Nothing bothers me more than my stomach “growling in the late morning!”).  Upon seeing my order and how delicious it looked, she also ordered a low cal fresh fruit cup and a nutrient dense sandwich to go with her fruit.  It is entirely possible to have healthy meals out and continue with a commitment to wellness!  When you can’t make a good home made meal, what change can you make today to eat a little better when you go to a restaurant?  Let me know!

A fresh fruit cup from a restaurant.  Eating out in a healthy manner!

A fresh fruit cup from a restaurant. Eating out in a healthy manner!

Sprint or Marathon

29 May

I get it.  As a busy single mom working outside the home, I am the head of my household.  I am stretched pretty thin.  Time is probably my most crucial asset right now.  And like other single parents, that asset is precious, elusive, and running low.  My desire to live a healthy lifestyle is in constant battle with time.  The effort to sit down for a family dinner every night, while a worthwhile goal, may be fleeting.  Given these constraints, how am I supposed to put a healthy home made meal on the dinner table every night?  This question, my conundrum, is deeply tied to time.  Or rather, lack of it.

Ronald Reagan, a prominent figure in American history, said “All great change in America begins at the dinner table”.  This quote is on the title page of my book “The Toddlers Kitchen”, and I use it here as well because it speaks volumes.  Family dinners are proven to have a positive impact on the family unit, whatever that family unit encompasses.  Consider the following statistics.

Your child may be 35% less likely to engage in disordered eating, 24% more likely to eat healthier foods and 12% less likely to be overweight (Hammons & Fiese, 2011).  All three of these statistics are attached to one family ritual-shared mealtimes. Wow!  That is  a big thing.  Huge in fact.  Shared mealtimes have a measurable positive impact on a family.  Given that, why not have daily family meals?  Time, of course.  But the positive impact of family meals is simply too monumental to let slide.  It is too important to the well being of our family to disregard.

Being a runner, I began to think about it like this: Is the ability to have a family dinner most nights a sprint or a marathon? It depends on how you look at it, but I think it is both.  Let me explain.  This may take a minute.  Sit back and let’s chat.   Oh yes, that’s right. You can’t. No time.  So we will quickly discuss.

I pondered this point tonight as I came dashing thru the door from work after 6 p.m.  I was up a t 5:15 this morning, went to the gym, made lunches, got the kids out the door and was at work before 8:15 a.m..  And I stopped for gas on the way to work.  The last thing I wanted to do after work was go to the kitchen and figure out what to make for dinner.  But I did it anyway because I wanted my family around me and a forum in which to discuss our day. I, like my children, was craving togetherness, fellowship, and personal interaction with my family.

Heading into the kitchen, I started water for cooking pasta, grabbed shrimp and frozen vegetables out of the freezer, began making a pasta sauce, and chatted with my family.  And therein lies the benefit of warm interaction and growing the family relationship.  Sharing the commonality and experiences of the day is a way to be expressive, experience acceptance, and understand the safety of unconditional love.  Those above cited statistics pertained to the children, but the benefit of a family dinner to a parent is joyful.  Affirming and positive energy flows in these casual moments in which to exchange happenings of the day, share simple school gossip, review homework, and discuss the challenges of the current or following day.

Family meals are a sprint like tonight.  I came in from work and it was a race to get a family meal on the table to share.  Family meals are a marathon because the benefits of family meals are crucial to longterm family health, and wonderfully dynamic.  There is a pleasure in both he sprint and the marathon, benefits of both, and appreciation of mastering both the sprint and the marathon.

So turn that TV off, put all phones away (there is a “phone bowl” in my kitchen.  We eat in the dining room.  All people present for meals must put their phone in the bowl during meals so that all  may interact with those at the meal), turn some music on, and enjoy one another.  Talk about your day, practice good manners, and most of all, laugh.  Interact.  Grow relationships.  Because after all, the entire body benefits from sprinting and a marathon.  Even busy single moms and their kids.

 

 

Fun Food!

12 Apr

Food is center stage in my home quite often.  The kitchen is truly the heart of our family home, and I love hanging out there.  When I say that food is important to my family, I don’t mean constantly eating junk laden food.  Taking the time to prepare food with family is enormously rewarding.  It is a family value and time well spent together in a warm comfortable accepting environment.

My children have always felt welcome inviting their friends over for meals.  My youngest son recently said “mom, my friends asked me what my mom would do if you told her 30 friends were coming over.  I told them that you would say…Are they staying for dinner?”.  He said it in a matter of fact way.  He meant it.  And he was right!  That is the true heart, the essence of my home for which I am truly grateful.  My children’s friends are welcome, and they know it.  My friends too.  I love a home filled with friends, family, food and fun!

We have great meals and nutritious food, but we have loads of fun too.  I enjoy cooking, but am not much of a baker.  I can sure improvise though.  And have a blast.  My kids do too!  I love to cook, but the teeny tiny side of me that bakes rears its ugly head every now and again.  Not really one for cookies, I turn to making cakes with the children.  We put a spin on it though.  We will make fun cakes for most any occasion!

My daughter Delaney and her friends Lorena making the traditional "Bunny Cake" for Easter!  So Fun!

My daughter Delaney and her friends Lorena making the traditional “Bunny Cake” for Easter! So Fun!

When we make cakes, we use a high quality cake mix.  Those work just fine for non bakers like myself.  But I always make the frosting from scratch.  I learned how to make out of this world frosting from my mom.  She very wisely advised me to “always make a little too much frosting by accident”.  Was she ever right!  I was never voted Prom Queen, but when I make frosting I am Prom Queen for a moment..the most popular girl ever!  What do I mean by popular?  Let me tell you!

When I bust out my frosting, a line forms in the kitchen.  Kids.  Denis.  His mom.  Everyone lines up to grab a spoonful of frosting before it makes its way to the cake.  Everyone but my youngest son that is.  The baby of the family (I am one too!) is a scrappy bunch.  We learn survival of the fittest at a very young age!  Anywhooo, my son doesn’t grab a spoon and stand in line. Nope, not him.  The moment he notices a naked cake cooling on the counter and a stick of butter nearby softening, he loudly “calls the beater”.  Now that is the holy grail when making frosting, let me tell you!  He is a smart kid.  No line, no waiting, and a solid guarantee of a good dose of moms incredible buttercream frosting.  Yup, that’s my boy!

But I digress!  Back to the cakes.  I do not have lots of room in my kitchen for a bunch of specialty cake pans.  So I improvise.  I make 2 round cakes, or a round cake and a square one,  and cut it to fit the occasion.  I have also made a rectangle cake for my sons, and with colored frosting made everything from a football field cake with action figures to a construction site cake with matchbox bulldozers.  So much fun, and the creativity flows.  Food should be fun, so go have a blast!

Our fun bunny cake!

Our fun bunny cake!

Our heart cake for Valentines Day.

Our heart cake for Valentines Day.