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What's For Dinner?

People who love to eat are always the best people.- Julia Child

Ever feel like a short order cook at the ready with your pad and pen, “what’ll ya have?” Pleasing all the picky eaters is no easy feat. Never has been, never will be. This battle has been going on for eons it seems. At least in some households.

My mom wasn’t the sort to cater to the whims of her kids when it came to dinner. As one of seven kids she came from the school of “this is what’s for dinner- like it or not.” And whether you liked it or not, you ate it. Which wasn’t so much a problem for me. I never had to sit at the table til 11 pm staring at mushy peas. Nope. I ate pretty much anything (including the peas that my dad picked out of the tuna noodle casserole.)

My mom did all the cooking in our house. Since she grew up in the Midwest we ate the typical American diet of meat and potatoes, usually with a couple of varieties of canned vegetables, along with a tall glass of milk to wash it all down. By the time I was around ten my mom went to work full time, but I already knew how to cook, so dinner was ready when she got home. As my brothers and I got older and went to work after school my mom fell into the trap of the convenience foods of the 80’s, which were plentiful! Our house was filled with Stouffer’s, Hungry-Man dinners, Chef Boyardee, Pepsi and Lay’s potato chips on a regular basis. And believe me- we loved it!!

Looking back I can remember many times through the years my mom would say, “I’m in a food rut. What should we have for dinner?” I understood what she meant, but never more than when I became a mom and was in charge of putting meals on the table.

Motherhood caused me to take pause and learn more about nutrition because I wanted to instill healthy eating habits in my kids. I found that I enjoyed learning about the science of food and the connection between food and wellness made sense to me immediately.

Growing up things were a little different for my kids. There was no soda stockpiled in my house like the days of my youth (we had a whole spare refrigerator just for Pepsi!) The sugary cereals of my childhood were also not served up on the regular. Instead, as I was a stay-at-home mom or part-time working mom, I regularly made home-cooked meals consisting of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains and lean meats, or meat-free meals. This is not to say that we didn’t have the occasional Chick-fil-A or pizza, but that I had a lot more time to cook, and there weren’t as many activities to run to when the kids were younger.

It was also during this time that I learned what a food co-op was and that they weren’t just for hippies! I joined a co-op and spent some truly wonderful days sorting, weighing and bagging fruits and vegetables. My share of the weekly co-op bag included fruits and vegetables that I had never heard of before, much less knew what to do with them! Celery root, golden beets and blood oranges were newly discovered treasures that I was only too happy to dig into.

Studying nutrition I learned that we can prevent many of today’s chronic diseases by eating well. I became a Dr. Sears Lean Certified Coach so that I could share the connection between food and wellness with others.

None of this is to say that I’ve got this whole food thing down perfectly! There are the days that I have worked long hours and am short on energy and ideas and hit the drive-thru or pick up Chinese and call it a night!

Over the years what I’ve come to realize is that the more I prepare real food and involve my kids in the process of growing, planning and cooking food, the more likely they are to try something new. And that means I’m less likely to give into one of my kids when they say, “ewwwww”, or “there’s nothing to eat!” It also helps to know that it can take 7-15 times of trying a food to acquire a taste for it. Which means that I must continue to offer and eat a variety of foods myself, in order for my kids to eventually come around and enjoy these foods!

Nutrition is part of The Four Seeds of Self-Care because when we fuel our bodies with real food we are supporting our health and wellness and creating healthy habits that help us live an optimal life! But this doesn’t mean that we must spend HOURS in the kitchen to prepare healthy, delicious meals! Nor does it mean that we must abandon eating the foods that give us joy!

Over the years I have learned that preparing simple meals highlighting fresh fruits and veggies that are in season by roasting or sauteing and serving over whole wheat pasta, potatoes, grains or with fish or lean meats are the best.

Thankfully, with today’s technology food blogs abound! And I’m no Julia Child, but I can get creative in the kitchen after being inspired with some of the recipes that I find on those blogs. If you are looking for some inspiration there are some food blogs on our resource page that are worth checking out!

The shared meal elevates eating from a mechanical process of fueling the body to a ritual of family and community from the mere animal biology to an act of culture.- Michael Pollan

The simple pleasures of food go far beyond nutrition though. In fact, science has shown that there is a connection between certain foods, social ties, and happy memories. How many times have you smelled a particular food and it takes you right back to your childhood? So, though I try to avoid processed foods and fast food as much as possible, that doesn’t mean that I want to deprive myself or my kids from the occasional S’mores, ice cream or fried chicken! Making a food “bad” may lead to unhealthy eating habits. It’s more about being aware and making healthy choices regularly so that when you want to indulge you do so without guilt!

As with each of The Four Seeds of Self-Care we encourage you to start where you are. The best way to better health, whether it’s improving your nutrition, exercise, meditation or getting good sleep is to become aware. Awareness leads to clarity about how and what the next step should be. So forget about the short order menu and remember, you can please some of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time!

With Love & Gratitude,

Kinda and Rachel

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