I recently started a new, full-time job. While this development is exciting, it’s so all-consuming that I’d have to say the home front has suffered a wee bit (see “Cupboards, bare”). Seriously, who is eating all our food?
Clearly, it’s time to find some balance. Time to feed my family some healthy, home-cooked meals.
I’m so glad I found Mom’s Kitchen Handbook, a superb blog authored by Katie Sullivan Morford! Even her sub-heading speaks to me: Raising Fresh-Food Kids in a French-Fried World. Step inside her clean, fresh online world, breathe deeply, and prepare to be inspired. (Here’s what I’m making tonight—one of Katie’s staples, Creamy Carrot Mac-n-Cheese!)
Katie, a San Francisco-based, married mom of three, a registered dietician, food writer and soon-to-be-published cookbook author, knows all about balancing acts. And while she’s well-versed on what’s healthy, I love that she allows some wiggle room in her family’s diet. (Once in a blue moon when she’s too tired to cook, Katie allows “anything night,” in which “the kids eat whatever they consider dinner while I avert my eyes.” Ha!)
As a working mom, I was drawn to her collection of Tips & Ideas, where I found a post that will soon become my next shopping list: Trader Joe’s Fab 15. Katie says that while “convenience food” usually means junk food, that’s not the case with Joe’s, where they do “a pretty darn good job of offering ‘quick and easy’ that is also rather healthy.” The items I’m most excited to try: whole wheat pizza dough, flash-fried pineapple chips, and the roasted SEAWEED snack Katie’s kids are “nuts” for!
What are the most common nutrition no-no’s made by moms, in your opinion?
“One common mistake is becoming a short order cook for your kids. I can understand, particularly when kids are picky. But making one family meal starting when your kids are toddlers is the best way to help them develop a taste for a variety of nourishing foods. It requires a little bit of grit. My kids at one time or another have all asked for something other than what was being served at dinner. But in the end, standing your ground does pay off.
“I also think moms tend to give up on new foods too quickly. It does get tiresome, hearing kids complain. But research shows it may take up to 10 or 12 tries for a child to adopt a new food. Hang in there, moms.
“Getting lulled into thinking foods are healthy when they really aren’t. Yogurt and granola bars are two examples. There are some great, low-sugar, wholesome options, and others that are pretty junky and just masquerading as healthy. It’s useful to read the labels.”
What are your go-to dinner menus when you’re short on time?
“I’ve done a series on the blog called ’15 Minute Fix’ which addresses how to pull together dinner in no time.
“I often have a pot of cooked black beans on hand and pull together tacos built on that: corn tortillas, shredded cheese, avocado, the beans, and a crunchy shredded cabbage/cilantro/lime salad for the veggie.
“Pasta can be made with virtually any vegetable so I’ll mine the fridge for what looks good. I’ll sauté garlic and/or onions and the vegetables and toss it with pasta, drizzled olive oil, lemon juice and Parmesan.
“Omelettes are also a super quick go-to for me. A simple cheese omelette with a green salad on the side makes a perfectly satisfying dinner. I did a post on how to make a proper omelette (http://www.momskitchenhandbook.com/15-minute-meal/15-minute-fix-recipe-swap/). Done right, they are delicious.”
What do you and your family like doing together?
“I have three girls and we do a lot of cooking, baking and art projects together. We all ski together in the winter, and spend time outdoors swimming and playing soccer in the summer. We are also big on games: cards, board games, scrabble. We also love to travel together. Last summer we went to Turkey and had quite an adventure.”
What are you passionate about?
“My family, of course. Not only my own little family, but my parents and siblings, aunties and cousins. I’m blessed with an abundance of wonderful family. I’m also pretty passionate about cooking and using fresh, local, wonderful ingredients to make simple, delicious food.”
What makes you crazy?
“My kids’ clutter. Once they are grown and out of the house I will probably miss it.
“Super-sizing. We have a health and obesity problem, big time, in this country. Food manufacturers incentivize us to overeat. It’s the extra large tub of popcorn that earns you free refills. Who needs two giant tubs of popcorn? Same goes for the giant sodas at fast food joints and “meal deals” at pizzerias. Do we really need chicken wings and breadsticks with our pizza? I wish food companies would be a little more responsible and balanced. There is room for movie popcorn and french fries in the context of a healthy diet. But moderation is key.”
Describe your perfect Saturday.
“It would probably start with me sneaking off to a yoga or dance class by myself to get the day started on a high note. Then, my husband and I would take our crew to San Francisco’s Ferry Plaza farmer’s market for breakfast. We’d pick up picnic provisions at the market and head to the beach for the day. We’d get home in the afternoon in time for me to pull together a simple dinner and have friends and their kids over for an early dinner. After getting the kids to bed, my hubby and I would stay up to watch one of the many movies we never got to catch while it was still in the theater.”