Tag Archives: raising healthy eaters

Weekly Menus: Week of 10/6/2013, Travel Prep Edition

Gentle Readers, this week I must start with a mea culpa. I was traveling last week, and forgot what day it was until I was back, and thus missed the Wednesday publishing cycle. From the amount of mail I received on the topic (none), I can tell there was a public outcry. So I will publish said Smoothie article this week. Meanwhile, look what I got to eat last week:

Biscotti and Cookie Platter at Babbo in NYC. OMG good.

Biscotti and Cookie Platter at Babbo in NYC. OMG good.

Yes, it was that delicious. A tip for anyone who is in NYC and hasn’t been to Babbo. If you go when it opens, right at 5 pm, you can snag a seat at the bar and eat. Highly recommend the pasta tasting menu or just eating around the menu at your leisure. Don’t skip the Brussels sprouts and the biscotti.

The Beer Festival Tasting Glass. Durham, NC

The Beer Festival Tasting Glass. Durham, NC

But I digress. My real life is quite a bit less glamorous but equally delicious. This week I went to my first beer tasting. I learned that there are many horrific beers in the world that taste like fruits and lawn clippings. I also found quite a few local brews that were delightful, and an interesting Pecan number that I’ll need to investigate. Shockingly, my favorite part was the food, especially the pairings, such as provided by my friend Carrie from G2B Gastropub. The andouille sausage with a little mustard was ideal beer food.

The inimitable Chef Carrie from G2B Gastropub in Durham, NC!

The inimitable Chef Carrie from G2B Gastropub in Durham, NC!

Okay, enough, I actually do cook sometimes too. The tasting of all the pumpkin things continues. A full report is coming soon.

Pumpkin Cake Doughnut with Latte Glaze from Rise. Hellooooo nurse.

Pumpkin Cake Doughnut with Latte Glaze from Rise. Hellooooo nurse.

Fried Green Tomato with Pimento Cheese Biscuit from Rise in Durham, NC. Just because.

Fried Green Tomato with Pimento Cheese Biscuit from Rise in Durham, NC. Just because.

 

Here’s what’s happening on this week’s menus:

Weekly Menus: 10/6/2013

Weekly Menus: 10/6/2013

And the Four-Square Grocery list (a little lean as I use up what’s here and plan to shop more heavily next week before  I travel):

The Four-Square Grocery Shopping List: 10/6/2013

The Four-Square Grocery Shopping List: 10/6/2013

Which all translates to:

Sunday: Steak and potatoes
I’m feeling red meat today, and the weather is a little autumnal. Perhaps the potatoes will be sweet or an acorn squash instead. If you’re not tossing winter squash in your cart regularly, you’re missing out!

Monday: Veggie Chili
This keeps getting delayed in lieu of other fast meals that don’t generate leftovers, but I’m making it this time, even if I have to freeze it for later!

Tuesday: Omelets
These were such a huge hit the other night, complete with quick sauteed spinach and portobello mushrooms that we’re doing it again. TPCs Jr are huge mushroom fan, and we’re committed to trying all of the types. That’s our schtick.

Wednesday: Pizza!
We’ve got a social to attend, and well, we all love pizza. Honestly, I could eat it 3 times a day. In fact, I’ve had to add it to my things not to leave unattended in the house list, as I will eat cold pizza until I founder. It’s a different food group that hot pizza, and I actually prefer it.

Thursday: Salmon and Couscous
We have to get more healthy fat in our diets. Plus I need to try to stay smarter than my offspring. I plan to tell them this and serve myself the largest portion. I’ll keep you posted on the results.

Friday: Mexican!
Probably burritos or quesadillas to accommodate the braced on, but we may be able to pull off nachos. Yum!

Saturday: Dine out!
So many possibilities, we often lament we only have 3 stomachs between us.

What do you do to prepare for a trip? Buy easy prep food, eat down the supplies? Share your tips in the comments area  below!

Send your make-ahead food ideas, chocolate covered peanuts, and pumpkin-themed whatnot to practical cook at gmail dot com. Connect on Facebook: The Practical Cook Blog. (Thanks in advance for spreading The Practical Cook Blog word. Press “like” on Facebook today! Also, follow the food pictures on Instagram @amylewi.)

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Coming up Wednesday, Smoothie Recipes and Tips (I Promise This Time)

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Gentle Reader Questions Answered: Picky Eaters Unite!

Gentle Readers, there are few things more irksome than the way one’s gentle offspring can try one’s nerves at the dining table. This week’s mailbag features two such challenges. For everyone who has sworn they wouldn’t say things about the starving children in Africa, this post is for you.

The Hippie Answer to Lucky Charms: Marshmallow Oaties

The Hippie Answer to Lucky Charms: Marshmallow Oaties

Question 1: What would be the best sugary, decadent cereal, which is actually healthier than regular cereals like Special K or regular Cheerios? I need something that will fool the kids into thinking they’re getting something traditionally off limits in our household. –Virtual Cook

The Practical Cook Answers: Great question, and it depends on what you consider healthy. Sometimes you want a cereal the kids will actually eat, sometimes you want low salt and sugar, high fiber, etc. I believe in letting some sweet cereals in the house on occasion (like the small boxes Santa delivers into the stocking, or the experimental one above), because it demystifies them. They are not always delicious every morning.

Relying on my team of experts, The Practical Cooks Junior, here are three faves that will hopefully suit the bill:

Frosted Mini-Wheats, Grape-Nuts, Autumn Wheat

Frosted Mini-Wheats, Grape-Nuts, Autumn Wheat

Frosted wheat cereals are not the worst, and they look like forbidden fruit. The shredded wheat underneath is pretty darn healthy. Grape-Nuts is not overly sweet, but The Youngest eats it by the metric ton. It has a great crunch and a lot of umami for a cereal. It’s more salty/malty and pairs incredibly well with fruit. If your offspring are fruit fans and anti-soggy, it’s a great choice.

And of course, you know I love Autumn Wheat. It’s actually very sweet, but extremely simple. You’ll note a trend here, whole wheat cereals are naturally sweet tasting. Opt for those first.

One last thought, I am also a fan of the Barbara’s line of cereals, especially the Puffins, but only eaten dry. Oftentimes cereals are less appealing (texture and flavor) in milk. The Eldest used to eat dry cereal exclusively with a milk chaser. Give that a try for something different. The slightly sweet cereals taste that much sweeter.

Beautifully varied snack saves the day.

Beautifully varied snack saves the day.

Question 2: My 3-year-old is currently asserting her independence and says she doesn’t want to eat her food. This  would be fine, but then she wants a treat (either something she really likes, such as grapes, or a dessert), which takes me to the “you don’t get that if you don’t eat your dinner” conversation, which seems to negate the whole what/when/if/how much thing because it puts  me right where I don’t want to be–negotiating over food. –Blended Familia

The Practical Cook Answers: I would suggest putting a reasonable amount of a favorite item, like grapes, on the table with dinner. Dessert isn’t even discussed as a regular option, and that way you’re always able to choose to serve it at the end of a successful meal or not.

Hungry people eat, and I feel sure your child will. Perhaps she gets to pick a favorite dinner once a week as part of the meal plan?

So there you have it, problems solved. I am coming to see the difference between picky eaters and discerning. I was a picky eater for a long time, and I became a discerning ones. I’m discerning that I won’t eat eels in Barcelona, for instance. 🙂

But that is a blog for a different day. What food challenges do you have with your kids? Any other helpful advice for our Gentle Readers? Post a comment below!

Send your dilemmas, freshly baked pies, and tapas to practical cook at gmail dot com. Connect on Facebook: The Practical Cook Blog. (Thanks in advance for spreading The Practical Cook Blog word. Press “like” on Facebook today!)

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Coming up Sunday: Weekly Menus from Barcelona.

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A Little Vegetarian

Gentle Readers, the most important part of developing a functional weekly meal plan is acknowledging that things may go completely off the rails. Sometimes, for instance, one’s amazingly thoughtful seven-year-old will quietly decide to become a vegetarian before dinner.

The Eldest Practical Cook Junior reads labels to the Youngest.

The Eldest Practical Cook Junior reads labels to the Youngest.

That’s right, The Eldest Practical Cook Junior, after consideration, told me she simply preferred animals walking around. There is no agenda she’s promoting, no gotcha, just an expression of a pure heart unencumbered by years of food marketing or cultural training. So how does a mom respond to this, much less one who is on record as a bacon fan?

Nutritious snacks, no problem. Nuts are your friend.

Nutritious snacks, no problem. Nuts are your friend.

Simple really. I thanked her for letting me know, I assured her that I would help her eat a balanced diet. And I promised her that I would wait for her to tell me if she changed her mind instead of constantly offering meat, and would respect her decision either way. This was Sunday, and the resolution has held.

Vegetarian Enchiladas at a local Mexican Restaurant (fresh spinach and potatoes, nice!)

Vegetarian Enchiladas at a local Mexican Restaurant (fresh spinach and potatoes, nice!)

But do lean in close Gentle Readers, I have a confession. You see, I was a vegetarian for 7 years. I returned to omnivorous eating for a number of reasons, not all of them good ones, and we still eat a lot of beans, rice, tofu, and cheese in this household. We are probably meatless over 50% of the time.

Free form Mexican Meal made with The Jrs. Squash, guacomole, beans and rice, chips.

Free form Mexican Meal made with The Jrs. Squash, guacomole, beans and rice, chips.

I feel very confident in my ability to feed her nutritious meals, and as a family we’re having ongoing conversations about food, culture, animals, and the environment. Additionally, both the Juniors are adventurous eaters, so we’ll be trying all sorts of international delights.

Stone pot bibimbap is available with or without beef!

Stone pot bibimbap is available with or without beef!

The Eldest is not doing this for attention or publicity, she is simply living by her convictions. What a beautiful thing. Here’s to the little vegetarian. I’m honored to have the privilege of knowing you, much less raising you.

How many of you are or have been vegetarians? Share you story in the comments below.

Send your tofu and veggies to practical cook at gmail dot com. Connect on Facebook: The Practical Cook Blog. (Thanks in advance for spreading The Practical Cook Blog word. Press “like” on Facebook today!)

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Coming up Sunday: Weekly Menus, Vegetarian/Travel Edition!

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Slow Down, You Chew Too Fast (You’ve Got to Make the Good Food Last)

Gentle Readers, let those amongst us who have not engaged in the less than gentle activity of wolfing down food like a wild dog cast the first fork. I don’t see any cutlery flying people. I will openly confess, there are times, in fact today, where my eating gets delayed, and I attack the first thing I see. My poor colleagues witnessed an assault on some stray trail mix I found in my purse. It was not pretty.

Trail Mix for Travel

Trail Mix for Travel

But let us all make this the exception, not the rule. As I’ve carried on before about the joy of salad chewing, and chewing in general, clearly my tastes run to the bovine. The endless research done on why French people can eat croissants daily and not gain an ounce pretty much all says, exercise, and enjoy your food.

Bovines at Rest: The Original Slow Chewers

Bovines at Rest: The Original Slow Chewers

I saw one study that indicated we eat more of food we don’t like. Yes, that sounds nuts, but I believe it. It’s as if you can consume it until it improves. So tonight, though I was unbelievably hungry (do not snicker Gentle Readers who know me, yes, that is my near-constant state), I made myself sit down, and really chew and taste. I ate less, and I enjoyed more.

Composed salad from work with berries, nuts, and goat cheese.

Composed salad from work with berries, nuts, and goat cheese.

The whole short schedule for school lunches as always made me a bit nuts, but I continue to be impressed at how The Practical Cooks Junior adapt. They ask me to pack smaller lunches. They take what they can consume and still enjoy the social experience with their friends. Would that we all be that clever and retain that good sense into adulthood.

Sandwiches, fruit, and brownies on a fancy tiered platter.

Sandwiches, fruit, and brownies on a fancy tiered platter.

So that’s my challenge to you, the next time you find yourself inhaling instead of chewing your food. What does it taste like? What did it taste like? What do you like or dislike about it? Would you eat it again?

Be you food turtle or hare, post a comment below and share!

Send your kudos, complaints, and queries to practical cook at gmail dot com. Connect on Facebook: The Practical Cook Blog. (Thanks in advance for spreading The Practical Cook Blog word. Press “like” on Facebook today!)

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Coming up, on the road again, a restaurant review: Beaufort Grocery (in NC).

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