Monday, April 19, 2010

Orange you glad you eat well?!

Ever since starting the CSA, I've had a new interest in making dinner. My mom worked full-time and still had the energy to put a four-course meal on the table every night. I loved eating her pasta sugu, her porkchops, stuffed artichokes and especially Breakfast-for-Dinner! I hated that she wouldn't let me drink my glass of milk until I was all finished with it, but I loved the majority of what she made. Except beef stroganoff. Yuck.

When I moved into an apartment with roommates in college, we set up a system where we each cooked for the 4 of us one week-night and didn't have to worry about anything but eating the other 3 nights of the week. Sweet!

Sour. Well, sheepishly sweet for me, but probably still sour for them. Their moms all stayed home with them while they were young and, for the most part, cooked from scratch. So did mine, but she still had a realistic relationship with Hamburger Helper.

(Our "Orange" meal from last week. We hit all the food groups - even had an orange jelly bean to show how little sweets we "need."

So one of my first presentations for my dinner debut was just that. Cheeseburger Macaroni. To this day, they tease me about how, um, healthy, and happy that meal was. I think 2 of them had never heard of Hamburger Helper. Or Pop Tarts.

For my birthday that year, they presented me with a hand-made cookbook with all their recipes written out on cards along with memorable quotes of our year together. I treasure that book. For the memories it brings, but also for the dinner ideas and simple ways to make something special for your family. Recipes calling for 5-7 ingredients and not a little time. I've added my favorites from my mom as well as a few from my mother-in-law and some close friends.

When I started cooking for Mr. P, I was so excited to use some of these recipes. He ate them. He also started insisting on cooking more and serving less. I didn't get his new obsessions with portion controls. And who doesn't want applesauce and a starch with their meal? My mom was an expert at providing a healthy-balanced dinner so I assumed I had to do the same. How dare Mr. P risk his health and my ego but refusing his carbs?

When I got pregnant with our first son, he started eating less of what I made, I started throwing up more of what I made and my cooking days were numbered. Mr. P gladly took over (for various reasons) and I let him. Happily. I'm embarrassingly admitting that up until last year, I probably cooked once or twice a month for almost 3 years...toddlers don't require "cooking" and most of my vegetables were frozen from Trader Joe's. Not unhealthy.

Enter the preschooler, the husband who isn't available to cook and time. Well, I don't have more time, just more motivation. I have two real eaters in the house now, besides myself and $15 a week going towards the most deliciously fresh picked vegetables in Orange County.

Even I am blown away by all that I've conquered in the past 3 months - kale, bok choy, swiss chard. The list goes on and on. So does my receipt from Trader Joe's where I do 99% of our shopping now. I cook with fresh ingredients, often using a "starter" from TJ's (whole grain mix, turkey meatballs, etc.) Lunch is rarely PB and J and can even be handfuls of samplings from each food group.

We've been talking every day about the 5 food groups and "eating a rainbow" each day. Something that I have taught first graders for over a decade but didn't take to heart until I was teaching it to and feeding it to my own precious boys. When the CSA box comes each week, I let them sit on the kitchen counter and help me sort, wash and chop up the "vegetibles" as Curly calls them. We've been to the farm twice, most recently for a strawberry tour. This past week, Curly asked me if we were adding "green onions" to our lunch as he pulled them out of the fridge! Green onions! My kid knows what a green onion is! Jamie Oliver would be proud! (Love that show, by the way. SO inspiring).

I also put handouts in a clear, plastic sleeve and we cross them off with a dry-erase marker each night. This one from will personalize it based upon your child's weight, height and age. Brilliant. Here's another one.

The boys are benefitting and so am I. Healthier eating and a healthier relationship with food for a healthier LONG life.

Won't their roommates LOVE me? =)

1 comment:

  1. i love this post... informative AND witty!

    thanks for the links. i will print those out (eventually) to use with the kids. :)


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