Wednesday, September 20, 2017

The Couple That Eats Together, Stays Together

I want to mention a few thoughts that I have had with you about Family Mealtime - the Couple's edition.  Perhaps you feel like you don't need to just sit down and have dinner with your partner, because you are young and busy, or your kids' have left home and now you are really really busy. 

But having meals together as a couple is just as important as eating together as a family.  

Eating together helps you connect with each other.

It can be hard to focus on each other if you are busy raising a family. Lots of time we work non-traditional work shifts, or split the running around and childcare at home. It can be difficult finding time to just be able to focus on each other. Planning on having a meal together can mean you are devoting time to do just that, connecting with each other without distractions. 

Eating together can give you time to be grateful.

Perhaps this looks like saying grace, or a mealtime prayer, it can be as simple as beginning with something that you are feeling positive or happy about, or that you realize how lucky you are feeling. Lots of times, for Joseph and I, we just start with... " I am SO grateful to have some time to be with you". 

Eating together helps you relax.

After a long day, we can all benefit from the simple pleasures that can come from preparing and enjoying a meal. I like the time after to spend cleaning up dinner, preparing for the next day and making sure my house and especially kitchen are clean. This makes me whole day go well the next day, and it is always better to do together. 

Eating together encourages mindful eating.

I noticed the other night when Joseph and I were having lunch together, that it took us almost 45 minutes to eat lunch. It just so happened that we were all alone as it was the first week of school and we lingered over our salads and laughed and had an impromptu date right there. It was wonderful to talk about how much we enjoyed the beets on our salads and question when we began mixing our salad dresssings in such a way.  Every thing is better when enjoyed with someone that you love. 

Eating together improves nutrition

I know when I’m cooking and eating by myself, I put far less effort into my meals. When I’m cooking for two, (or three, or more..... )  I’m far more likely to plan something nutritious and go to the effort of making a side salad or some extra vegetables.

Eating together is fun!

One of life’s greatest pleasures is sharing good food with the one you love. Life is too short to miss out on this simple joy and all the good things it can bring to our relationships.

Monday, September 18, 2017

The Easiest Step By Step Instructions for Roasting Butternut Squash

Wash your squash.  Get out a knife, and a vegetable peeler, as well as a sturdy metal spoon for scooping seeds. 

Peel your squash, using the vegetable peeler, chop it into pieces using your knife. Use the spoon to scoop out of the seeds from the bottom portion and chop those as well. 

 Toss your squash cubes in a bit of olive oil. 

Roast in a 400 degree oven for 30 minutes, depending on desired crispness and cube size. 

Eat UP! 

Friday, September 15, 2017

10 Tips for Better Family Meals

Eating meals as a family takes a little work in today’s hectic world.  But it’s worth it! 
Families that eat together tend to eat better, like eating more fruits and vegetables.  Plus family meals get everyone sharing and talking - something kids need. Follow these tips to get your family making meals and memories together.  It’s a lesson they’ll use for life.

1. Set a realistic goal.  
You may not be able to eat together every day. And that’s OK! Set a goal to add just one more family meal to the week. As that becomes a habit, add another family meal.

2. Plan when you’ll eat together.
Mark those dates on your calendar. You’ll be more likely to stick to it if you’ve got a clear plan in place.

3. Be flexible with the time and place. 
Eating together may mean preparing something ahead of time and having a picnic before or after your child’s soccer game. It’s OK to get creative!

4. Cook it fast on busy nights. 
Do some tasks the night before if you can. Wash and cut fruits, veggies, and herbs. Store them in the fridge until ready to use.  Try some of our 30-minute meals like Asian Noodles with Peanut Butter Sauce, Peanut Butter and Banana Pockets, or Tuna Boats.

5. Get everyone involved. 
Give all family members a job to do before, during, and after the meal. Kids will enjoy being a part of it, especially if you give them a “special” role they enjoy.

6. Focus on each other. 
Turn off the TV, video games, and cell phones. It may seem weird at first, but it will help set the tone that mealtime is family time.

7. Talk about things that everyone can enjoy. 
Try to make meals a stress-free time. Ask fun questions like: What made you laugh today? What is something nice you did for someone else today? What are you looking forward to about tomorrow?  

8. Set some ground rules. 
Choose rules that promote respect. For instance, “let others finish talking before you talk.” Or, “don’t make negative comments about food.” Help kids understand it’s ok if they don’t like a food but they should let others feel free to enjoy it!

9. Make mealtime a learning time. 
With younger kids, talk about the colors or shapes of the foods. With older kids, ask what animals or plants your foods come from. Discuss eating traditions in other cultures. If nobody knows, look it up as a family.  

10. Share the adventure. 
Make a point to try new foods together at family meals. Talk about the look, feel, and taste of the new food. Look up other ways you could prepare it for a future meal. Do this once a week, once a month, or whenever you can fit it in.

Thanks to Cooking Matters for sharing this with us!

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Simple Step by Step Instructions on How to Prepare Spaghetti Squash

Although it is called spaghetti squash, it is purely because the inside meat of the squash becomes "noodle" shaped when you cook it.  It in no way, under any circumstances, tastes like pasta. 
I think it is important to say that. 

It still is super delicious and lots of my family claim spaghetti squash as their favorite, but no matter what you put on top of it, this is not going to end up tasting like a spaghetti noodle. 

The first thing you are going to want to do it wash your squash. 

I think this step gets skipped a lot because people assume they aren't going to be eating the outsides, but your knife cuts through the outside and touches all the inside meat. 

Then, I cut the ends off, to make it easier to slice down the center. I like to have it sit on a flat surface for stability. 

Go ahead and scoop out those seeds. You know you can roast any squash seeds, not just pumpkin ones. 

Rub all the sides with olive oil. Inside and out and focus on all the ends / edges. 

 Roast them in a 375 oven until the edges start to turn dark and you can poke a fork into the back and it will softly go in.  

Let cool a bit, and then shred with a fork.  (or you can serve right out of the side of squash.)

Monday, September 11, 2017

How to Have a (Mostly) Pleasant Meal with Your Family

It was not too long ago in my life, where I dreaded family meals like none other. 
I would actually prepare the food and then leave and go into another room and let Joseph feed them in shifts or attempt to have a meal with them. It was at times, very unpleasant. 

I'm not suggesting by any means that it is always sunshine and smiles now, but I have learned a few trips that help me not to shoot myself in the foot while I am trying to implement this important family necessity. 

* Make sure no one is starving - low blood sugar, blind hunger rage, and kids (and adults) that can't remember the last time they ate are not pleasant people.  If dinner is going to be a while, have a snack. You aren't going to ruin your dinner, you might actually just save it. 

* Be a family.  - tell them why you are trying so hard to do this, tell them how much it means to you. Look each person in the eye across the table and say, I am so glad we are here together. 

* Try to make a very special meal. Make up a reason if you have to, but do something new, something fresh every so often.  And I don't mean steak and lobster. Have a picnic, use fancy napkins. Make the tuna noodle casserole you surviced on through college and swore you'd never make again.  Make connections with food. 

* Everyone Helps. Cook & Clean Up. Nobody is too little, to busy or too tired. Many hands make like work, and the more everyone in the family makes the experience happen, the more they each want it to be a success. 
* Keep the energy positive! Focus on having a wonderful family experience rather than worrying about correcting everyone’s behavior. Enjoy the time – make it pleasant to be together!