Friday, January 03, 2014

January Get Real Resolution Questions


If you are joining us for the Get Real Resolution, great! If not, you can join the fun any time, even next December! But, you may not want to miss the activities and information during the resolution year. It's designed to be low-stress and family fun time. You can even pick and choose the activities you like and just do those. No judgments here.

January's activity is an easy one. It's answering a few questions for each family member and then saving those answers to return to at the end of the resolution year. I thought I would go ahead and post mine in case it gives anyone thought-starters.

Here goes:

1. What do you hope your family gains by taking this challenge?
It sounds crazy given the book and all I do around healthy food, but I forget sometimes to make things FUN. With this blog, book and writing work, a full time job, kid, housework, gardening, cooking, activities going … my "fun level" can dip and I get into a rut of going through the motions to get by. I need a spark to regain the my energy and the fun aspect of a healthy food and lifestyle for our family.

2. What worries you most about the foods your kids will or won't eat and why?
The growing influence of school foods, other kids, foods at events and activities, after-school programs are a tough competitor for my kid's food choices. It's like slaying a many-headed dragon. At times, I feel like we are losing ground that we worked so hard to gain with our kid's diet.

3. What's the biggest issue in our food system?
That's a tough question. The whole system is broken and there are politics in place that are bigger than anyone imagines. What I can tackle is building a better path for my family and doing my part to help my local food system. I can advocate for change at that bigger level, and do, but I have to remember my daily choices count. What's on my mind right now is my growing angst over "The Kid's Menu" that same set of 5 options kids get with crayons and a coloring page at every single restaurant nearly. Apparently chicken nuggets are an international cuisine since they show up on menus from Mexican to Mediterranean. I see that menu as a symbol of the food marketing and targeting of our kids that comprises root cause of our childhood obesity epidemic.

4. When you were a kid, did your parents ever make you eat a food you hated? What was the food and what happened? Do you eat that food now?
Yes! I was ten and was served a plate full of beef liver and onions. I was told to not leave the table until I ate it. I sat at the table for three hours. Long after the whole family was gone. I never ate it and chose to go to bed hungry. I eat a lot of "tip to tail" foods now, even beef heart tartare, braised tongue, pig ears and snout, etc. But I never have found a way I like beef liver. Chicken, duck and goose liver are good if they are cooked the right way.

5. What is your favorite food memory from when you were a kid?
I loved the weekends when we would go to the strawberry patch and pick quart after quart of fresh berries. Together as a family, we made jam and preserves. We would do this with apples and peaches as well. Because we were new to life in a rural community, having moved there when I was ten, the experience was remarkably different and memorable. My best food memories are the times when we were gardening or living the farm-to-table thing decades before it was cool. I can even recall crabbing with bacon on a string and fishing with my grandfather who lived on the Gulf of Mexico. It's always been about sourcing food directly for me, I guess. Other than that? My grandmother's homemade mashed potatoes she made with everything, of course!

I'd love to hear your answers and your kids' answers to the January challenge! Please share here, or at The Cleaner Plate Club blog, our Facebook page, or on Edible Kansas City.

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

Get Real Resolution



Happy New Year, everyone!

This year, today in fact, marks a 12-month project I am working on with Edible Kansas City and all of you. It's called the "Get Real Resolution." I hope you'll join us in this no-fight, no-diet New Year journey to understand the why behind healthy food.

Face it, we nag and our kids shut down. I had to implement a whole point and job card system to establish rules for chores and behaviors around here just to get past the day-to-day nagging! Kids just seem to need to figure things out hands-on for themselves. From this "learning" moment, the plan for the Get Real Resolution was born.

I'll still post recipes as usual, often ones that support the activities in the resolution. But, the resolution is less about preparing a meal than it is about preparing our kids to make good food choices for the rest of their lives. Each month will offer a family fun project that explores a facet of healthy eating in a hands-on way. The projects cover some great topics:
  • understanding food labels
  • exploring the contradiction of food waste and hunger in our food system
  • learning about nutrition
  • discovering the wide variety of edible plants 
  • tasting foods from other cultures
  • taking "field trips" and food adventures
I hope you'll join us for the fun!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Healthy Sides for Thanksgiving

I know, it's like sacrilege. But something has to temper my love affair with butter fat for this holiday. The kid will pick and choose her healthy bites, however. Brussels sprouts more loaded with bacon and aged Gouda, YES. Brussels sprouts with quinoa and just enough bacon to taste good? Hmmm, more for me at least. It is a tough sell after a couple weeks of Halloween sugar binge have ignited her inner hummingbird (SUGAR! SUGAR!). So, I will eat my vegetable test recipes and be happy I can eat fibrous vegetables again now that pesky gallbladder was forcibly evicted.

As for the kid? I am calmly reminding myself, two steps forward, one step back. She is also coming into the age of wanting control in her food choices. This is the point where I hope that we've laid some groundwork and she knows good choices. I have to let go and step back a bit. I have to use approaches like "Build Your Own Salad" night and let her choose recipes and start cooking more.

And eat my Brussels sprouts while I do. 

It is kind of amazing that one of the most loathed vegetables ever is now quite sexy along with its Brassica cousin, kale. This is one of the things I remind myself on the "one step back" days with my own kid. She eats more veggies — and a much wider variety of them —than I ever did at her age.



Brussels Sprouts, Light on the Bacon, with Quinoa

1 lb. Brussels sprouts, ends trimmed (or removed from the massive stalk) and halved
2 Tbs. Olive Oil
2 slices bacon, diced
1 onion, halved and thinly sliced
1/4 cup dried cranberries (craisins)
1-1/2 cups quinoa, prepared (I like the red and white quinoa blend with buckwheat and millet)
1 Tbs. honey
1 Tbs. white wine vinegar, or apple cider vinegar
Salt and Pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Toss the olive oil and Brussels sprouts and roast for about 10-12 minutes, or until golden brown on edges. While the sprouts are roasting, render the bacon in a skillet. When just done and not too crisp, add the onion and sauté until caramelized. Add the vinegar to deglaze the pan, then add the honey and craisins, stir as it thickens for about two minutes. (If you are concerned about using the bacon drippings, drain the fat and replace it with a tablespoon of olive oil.)

Toss the sprouts with the quinoa and the bacon-onion sauce. Salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy for your holiday meal while I wonder how my annual pie/dessert recipe has become a Brussels sprout one instead!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Hail Ceasar: Avocado Ceasar Salad

I have a longer-winded post to put here. It has to do with why I've suddenly begun focusing on ingredients that are natural powerhouses of anti-inflammatory goodness. I'll work my way back to that story. I'll get it together, right after I plan a few sides and a dessert for Thanksgiving!

Alrighty. This is lighter without the egg, and uses all healthy fats from avocado.



Avocado Ceasar Salad

For the dressing:
1 ripe avocado, peeled
2 lemons, juiced
1/2 cup avocado oil
4-6 anchovy filets
2-4 garlic cloves (depends on your threshold for garlicky)
1/2 tsp. Worcestershire
1 Tbs. white wine vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

Blend this in the blender until creamy smooth and chill. The lemon juice and vinegar will hold the fresh, light green color.

4 hearts of Romaine lettuce, cleaned and chopped
2 oz. grated Parmesean
Tomatoes, if you like

Toss the salad greens with the dressing, garnish with the cheese and optional tomatoes. If you have leftover dressing, it will keep without turning brown, for a few days in the refrigerator.