I have a love-hate relationship with my kitchen.
I love the kitchen because that is where we make delicious and healthy meals. The kitchen is where I work to keep my family and pets healthy, that is where we bake yummy treats as a family, that is where I get to play kitchen witch when the urge arises.
I hate the kitchen because it is the one room I have to clean on a daily basis, multiple times a day.
The kitchen is the busiest room in the house most days. The room where most of the work gets done. Yet the past few weeks I’ve found myself dreading stepping foot in it. I’ve been apprehensive with my menu planning and making meals. I’ve been just kind of been avoiding it at all costs. I’ve needed a break from it, so I took one.
Last night, I decided I needed to get over my off again relationship with the kitchen and get back on track, so I went all out and made a large meal and it felt good. Really good. The cleaning not so much, but I guess it’s all a compromise and I can live with that.
Good Eating Habits
I am always slightly appalled when I see people feeding small children McDonalds. We really should do better for our children. I have a child that has survived more than two years now, never having tasted a McDonald’s anything. I won’t lie and say my child has never eaten any sort of fast food. There have been several occasions where he has eaten chicken strips or tenders from ChickFila or Sonic, but these events are few and far between. I want my child to grow up liking to eat healthy foods and so I try my hardest to provide him with healthy food and to show him that I eat healthy in hopes that he will follow suit.
One thing about being a parent is that we try to model behaviors that we want our children to have. When you want your children to eat healthy that means you end up eating healthier too! Our children learn about food mostly from us, so we need to take advantage of this and TEACH them about food. Show them that you eat healthy food and they will follow suit!
To aid in teaching our children to eat healthier, we need to teach our children where their food comes from. Food doesn’t just magically appear in stores or in restaurants and children should be aware of this. We need to teach them about where the plants and animals they eat come from. If you have a green thumb or if you’ve always wanted to try. . . planting an edible garden, an herb garden or just a few tomato plants in a pot is an excellent way to teach them about where their food comes from. If you children pick out and grow their own vegetables they are usually more willing to try new ones as they helped in the creation of them. (Also, buying a bag full of ladybugs and releasing them into your garden is incredible fun.) If you’re not so great at keeping plants alive or you can’t imagine adding one more daily activity to your already hectic schedule try driving your kids to the local farmers market, or to the actual farm once a month. There are lots of farms where you can pick certain fruits and vegetables straight from the source during certain seasons.
After your kids know where their food comes from they need to learn how to prepare their food to eat. We should teach our children to cook and eat whole foods and explain to them the difference between fresh meals and processed ones! If you don’t think you’re a good cook, it’s never too late to learn! I learned how to really cook a few years shy of turning 30 and now I actually enjoy cooking (it’s the cleaning part I figured out I don’t like). Start with simple recipes. I have found that the best meals are always made from simple ingredients and a short list of ingredients at that. There are so many great recipes out there. Just pick a few and get started! Baking is another great way to get kids involved. Baking with kids is always fun. My little’s favorite thing to do in the kitchen is “mix, mix, mix, mix” and it is a great way to get really young kids involved in the kitchen!
If we teach our children about food from a young age and involve them in preparing and cooking their own food we are setting them up for a healthier way of life for the long haul. We all want what’s best for our children, so help set them up for success and give them the food education they deserve. You never know, you may just learn something in the process.
Everyone loves an easy meal. One of my favorite’s is 3 ingredient chicken taco’s in the crock pot. It’s easy, doesn’t require much in the amount of prep time, delicious and you can have enough for 2 simple dinners.
3 Ingredient Chicken Taco’s
4 chicken breasts
1/2 a jar of your favorite salsa (at least a cup)
1 package of taco seasoning (or 1 batch of homemade taco seasoning)
Cook on low for 8 hours (or all day while you’re gone at work). By the time it’s done cooking, the chicken is so tender it shreds as you mix it up. Heat up some rice and beans, and add your favorite toppings for yummy chicken taco’s.
Night Two, I made quesadilla’s with the leftover chicken and black beans. I food processed the leftover black beans to make refried black beans, shredded cheese and added leftover chicken to tortilla’s, heated them in a skillet and had a second simple, delicious and easy meal in just a few minutes.
I’ve been itching to try another summer salad. My grocery budget money quickly thinned with the many trips I took to the store over the past week and I didn’t want to stop yet again for one or two ingredients, so I do what I do best and I looked at a few 3 Bean Salad recipes and I improvised with what I had on hand!
This is what I came up with:
1 Can of Garbanzo Beans (aka Chickpeas)
1 Can Kidney Beans
1 Can of Green Beans
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1/2 Cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup of olive oil
4-5 TBSP Sugar
1 Tsp salt
1/4 Tsp Pepper
1/4 Tsp garlic powder (although if I had a garlic clove you bet your butt I would have used it instead.)
(Really if I make this again though I would 1/2 the dressing recipe as I seemed to have quite a bit in access)
Rinse the heck out of all your canned beans.
Mix the beans and onion in a bowl.
Mix the dressing ingredients, whisk until blended.
Pour dressing on beans and chill in the fridge.
Have I mentioned HOW EASY all these salads are?
This week I tried to incorporate one of the babe’s favorite veggies into my summer of salads and decided upon a Broccoli salad. As always I found a salad that looked interesting on Pinterest and then modified it using what I had on hand. (This is what I call the fly by the seat of your pants method to cooking). You can find the original recipe I modified here courtesy of Julia’s Album
In my version I used
Broccoli (I used about half a head)
Cauliflower (I tried to match the amount of the Broccoli)
Red Bell Pepper, (About a 1/3 of a bell pepper chopped fine)
Olives (about 8-10 sliced up)
Mild Cheddar Cheese (About 4 slices off a block chopped into tiny squares)
and Raisins. (I raided the babes stash and used 2 little boxes)
I then mixed up the dressing using
1/4 and 1/8 cup of Mayo
1 TSP of vinegar
not quite an 1/8 cup of sugar
I’d like to find a different dressing for my next try that doesn’t include sugar. . .
The babe helped “Mix, Mix, Mix Mix” (which is his favorite thing to do when we cook) and then munched on it while we waited for the rest of dinner to cook. The hubby must have also liked the salad as when I went back for seconds there was none left. . . When we talked about salads during dinner the hubby did request another round of the fruit/spinach salad I made last week, so hopefully Summer Salad’s will become a year round tradition, but. . . for now I’ll take it one week at a time. . .
Who doesn’t love popsicles during summer time? In my quest for healthier eating habits I decided for the summer (along with my salads) I am going to make sure we have access to healthy, yummy popsicles.
After perusing pinterest and googling a half dozen recipes on how to make strawberry popsicles I flew by the seat of my pants and made my own using what I had on hand.
A dozen strawberries
One Frozen banana
One Cup of Almond Milk
1-2 TBSP’s of Honey (Okay, so when it comes to stuff like this I don’t actually measure, I just squeeze, so this is just an approximation.)
Blend all the ingredients in a blender and then pour into your popsicle molds. This made 8 popsicles (and as that was all the molds I had, the rest was a yummy nighttime snack for me and the hubby). It would probable make 16 smaller popsicles though, if I had another set of molds, (which is now on my shopping list.)
Tips: Sometimes the popsicles don’t want to come out of the molds, just run them under warm water for 15-30 seconds and they easily free out of the molds.
When I retrieved my salad out of the fridge at work I got a “So that’s your salad? Everyone has been asking who’s salad that is, it looks good!” It made me a little nervous, and it somewhat amazed me how closely people investigate the food that you bring to work. I guess I just don’t ever pay any mind to what is in the fridge I just try to find a little spot for what I’ve brought.
After thinking about Salads ALL DAY yesterday I picked up a few things to start my tour of summer salads. Spinach, Strawberries, Mushrooms, Almonds. I already had the Romaine Lettuce, Cheese and Blueberries on hand. I mixed it all together and this is what it looked like:
I thought I had a vinegerette dressing in the pantry, but after a desperate search I turned up nothing and googled a recipe. I actually had all the staples on hand: Olive Oil, Balsamic Vinegar, Garlic Clove, Honey, Dijon Mustard, Salt and Pepper and I even found a salad dressing jar hidden at the back of the cupboard that had been a wedding present that was perfect for mixing it in.
When I brought what was left of the salad in for lunch today I added the leftover peas and kidney beans from dinner on Monday. I meant to add the hard boiled eggs I had made last night too, but sadly I forgot. To everyone at work I say YES, it was as good as it looked. . . but please bring your own and quit staring so intently at my food, it makes me uncomfortable.