It’s activity season in Minnesota, and it’s probably the same where you live. If you have a school aged child, chances are you are spending a good amount of time shuttling them from one activity to another. My teenage daughter is in drama club, rugby, and she takes tennis lessons. The maneuvering required to keep one kid’s schedule straight is a feat in and of itself. I don’t know how people with multiple kids even do it!
Because my daughter goes to school 25 minutes away, it doesn’t make sense to come home and then go back to school for rugby practice at 6 p.m. So, she either goes to drama club or stays and does homework, and I bring her dinner for her break before practice. I’m not the best at coming up with travel friendly healthy dinners, so I am going to start compiling a list. If I get enough suggestions, I will share the file!
I recently wrote a piece for Your Teen Magazine making the case for why every teen should know how to cook. If you have been following me for any length of time you will probably know that I enjoy cooking immensely, and I feel very comfortable in the kitchen.
This wasn’t always the case. As I write in the article, I grew up not knowing how to cook, and I went away to college having not even the most basic of skills. I think knowing how to perform the most common “adult” tasks such as cooking, cleaning, and laundry are essential for every teenager. I went to college not knowing how to do any of those things, which looking back seems unbelievable.
I believe that one of the main goals in raising a child is to help them become productive adults who can get along well in the world. This means having good social skills, being able to have a conversation with an adult, and knowing how to shake hands. In my opinion it also means knowing things like how to make an entire meal from scratch, how to chop and dice using the appropriate chef’s knives, and how to make cooking calculations in your head (ie: four tablespoons = 1/4 cup).
Teaching your kids how to cook can be messy and frustrating. My daughter has been in the kitchen with me since she was a baby. There has been a lot of spilling and mistakes over the years, and moments when I would just rather do it myself. But just this past weekend she made a healthy banana blueberry bread from scratch that turned out beautifully. It made me realize it was all worthwhile.
These “soft skills” are just as essential in building a capable adult as all the other skills we want our kids to have. It gives them confidence, allowing them to begin their young adult lives with a head start.
I’m curious: what was your experience growing up. Did you leave for college or other post-high school adventure knowing essential “adult” skills? If so, how did it help you in other aspects of your life? Is there anything you wished you had done differently with your own kids? Comment below!
School is back in session and that means we could all use some tips on how to make things easier and more streamlined. Even if you don’t have kids in school, these tips are sure to be useful!
Why buy taco seasoning at the store which contains fillers and other weird ingredients when it’s cheaper and almost just as easy to make your own? Yesterday was Taco Tuesday at our house and I whipped together this easy recipe, with some left over for next time. Make a huge batch and seal it up and use it for several months! TACO SEASONING.
Does your twee/teen have a cell phone? Are you struggling with setting limits and enforcing them? If so, here’s one option: a cell phone contract. I like this particular one, and plan on having my almost 13 year old read and sign it today. Many parents (myself included) might even benefit from some of the points in the contract, such as etiquette and mandated times to turn off the phone.
If back to school or the changing season is causing some stress, here are 13 simple yoga poses everyone in the family can try. I’m going to break these out when my tween gets overwhelmed by homework and responsibilities.
When I saw these chocolatey energy bites I knew I would need to make them for her. They will also be perfect for my golf bag, when I sometimes need just a bump of energy without too much fuss. They are gluten free and made with only whole food ingredients. Maybe try them this weekend and let me know what you think! Recipe here.
The weather took a sharp turn here this week, with temps dropping into the 30’s overnight and 50’s in the day. It’s gorgeous, this crisp fall weather. It’s also that perfect time of the season where the last of the delicious garden tomatoes are at their peak and you just want to use them in everything before the frost comes and it’s too late.
Late summer/early fall tomatoes are perfect on pasta, I think. We love pasta in our house. We eat it about once a week, always with different variations of sauces. Over the years I’ve migrated from making white flour pasta to whole wheat to quinoa/brown rice blend. Recently I’ve started experimenting with legume pasta. I love that it is made with *only one ingredient*. In addition, legume pasta is high in protein and fiber. It’s also gluten-free, vegan, and in the case of Pasta Lensi, also Non-GMO Project Verified.
Pasta Lensi, an authentic Italian pasta company, has been around since 1920. And just this September they launched their line of legume pastas. They sent me three flavors to try, which is fun because I really enjoy trying new things (ask any of my friends, they are constantly hearing me talk about something new I’ve discovered).
This week I made the Chickpea Casarecce.It’s made with flour ground solely from chickpeas. I was told it pairs nicely with chunky sauces so I decided to make Pasta Caprese. Chunky tomatoes, shallots, lemon juice and fresh buffalo mozzarella –what could be better? (Of note: the chickpea pasta is a good source of potassium and iron. Iron is important when you eat mostly vegetarian, and so when you get it from non-meat sources it’s important to pair it with vitamin C. The tomatoes would be perfect for that.)
Sadly, while preparing dinner I realized my mozzarella had gone bad in the fridge. What I didn’t know is that the Chickpea Casarecce would impart a creaminess to the dish, which compensated for the lack of cheese quite nicely. I love that it has 22 grams of protein per 3.5 oz serving. The high protein content easily made up for the lack of cheese or meat in the dish. It also has 12 grams of fiber, which is just about 1/2 of an adult’s fiber needs for the day.
Dinner was favorably received by my family, and for that I am always grateful. My 11 year old gladly ate her whole bowlful. Here’s the recipe so you can try it at home.
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 small clove garlic, finely chopped
Salt and pepper to taste (I love flake sea salt)
1.5-2 lbs chopped in-season tomatoes
1 pound Pasta Lensi Chickpea Casarecce (or any pasta of your choice)
8 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, cubed into 1/2 inch pieces
1/2 cup torn fresh basil
Whisk the olive oil, lemon juice, shallot and garlic in a medium bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Gently stir in the tomatoes. Let sit for at least 15 minutes so that the flavors combine. In the meantime, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook as the label directs. (This pasta, like all the legume pastas I’ve tried, creates a foamy layer on the top of the water. Make sure to use a pot bigger than you need and watch so it doesn’t boil over.) Pour the pasta into a large bowl and spoon the tomatoes mixture on top, then stir to combine. Add the mozzarella and basil, and season with salt and pepper if needed. Garnish with whole sprigs of basil. Serve hot or room temperature.
Please let me know what you think of this recipe! Don’t hesitate to share with with your friends!
*I was provided product and compensated for my post by Pasta Lensi. All opinions are authentically mine.
Happy Wednesday. It’s a short week! For that let’s celebrate. Surely all the kids are back in school and this week is probably hectic for many. Here’s some good information and a quick recipe to get you through to Friday.
I’ve always believed that if more people got in the kitchen and cooked meals for themselves and their families, they would be healthier overall. An acquaintance once lamented that she felt like there were so many nutrition rules that it felt impossible to feed herself and her daughter “the right way”, so she gives up and resorts to takeout. I say that the nutrition and wellness community has failed her if that’s what she (and likely so many others) feel. The truth is, a jar of decent quality pasta sauce and a box of whole wheat noodles with a bagged salad on the side is vastly healthier than a drive-thru burger and fries. So, if that’s where you are starting, that’s ok. Trust me, you will progressively become more confident in your cooking and before you know it you will have a repertoire of healthy and delicious meals that don’t feel overwhelming to make on a weeknight. I loved Dara Moskowitz Grumdahl’s take on this in her article “The Cure Is in the Kitchen” in Experience Life’s recent issue. Take a look.
Speaking of making things easier in the kitchen, one approach that I’ve always practiced is to make extra for the freezer or fridge. When making soup, I often double the recipe and fill up Ziploc gallon bags with the excess. Lay them flat in the freezer for easy stacking. On busy nights just pull out a bag and reheat. Sides like roasted veggies are delicious warmed up or cold from the fridge all week long. In fact, I just bought another rimmed roasting sheet on Monday so I can easily make even more. After this hectic week of back-to-school and houseguest coming on Friday, I will also start using my weekends or Mondays to make a big batch of quinoa or other healthy salad that I can eat throughout the week for lunch.
And finally, here’s a simple and delicious looking recipe for your next Meatless Monday or whenever you want to load up on veggies. These Vegan Thai Curry Vegetables look fantastic for a cool fall day, and the gentle spice should be well tolerated by all in your house. I would serve them over brown rice and fruit on the side and call it a day. In fact, it’s what’s for dinner tonight.
That’s it for this week. I hope you enjoyed reading. As always, please pass it along, post it to your pages, and subscribe if you did! And I would love to hear what you think in the comments.
Today is day 10 of my daughter’s modified elimination diet. Tomorrow is the first day that we start adding foods back in. She gets to eat 5-6 servings of one of the food groups that we’ve been avoiding, followed by two days of “watch and wait”. She has chosen nightshades because she really misses tomatoes, peppers and potatoes.
I’ll be honest: neither one of us has seen or noticed any changes since starting the elimination protocol. Maybe when we introduce things back into her diet she’ll notice something. Hopefully there won’t be a big reaction which would indicate a sensitivity and a need to avoid.
The last 10 days have been trying for her. I get it. When you’re told you can’t have something it only makes you want it more, right? But she is still being a trooper and I commend her for it. There has been no whining, no tantrums, no pushback. She’s stoic (like her dad) and while she really has disliked this experience intensely, she’s persevered.
We just took a three day girls’ trip and I packed much of our food. Eating out was a challenge but we found some places willing to work with us. Two of the restaurants specialized in vegan and gluten-free which usually means that they are more open to special requests. And both happened to be featured on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, so that was cool. Shout outs go to At Sara’s Table Chester Creek Cafe and Duluth Grill!
Now on to the new recipe I promised. These Easy Peanut Butter Balls are full of protein, healthy fats, and healthy whole grains. They really couldn’t be easier to make and they are guaranteed to please just about anyone. Make a double batch and keep them in your fridge for an easy grab-and-go breakfast for busy mornings and after school snacks.
EASY PEANUT BUTTER BALLS
1 cup natural peanut butter (I really like the no-stir Whole Foods creamy)
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup vanilla protein powder (I couldn’t get by without Orgain, which happens to be vegan)
1/2 cup honey (use local if you have seasonal allergies, as it’s thought to help with symptoms)
Optional: chocolate chips
Stir all the ingredients together, then form into balls the size of a golf ball. If they are too sticky, add a bit more protein powder or oats. Likewise, if they are too dry, add a bit of honey or peanut butter. Keep in a sealed container in the refrigerator.
Will you try these? Do you have a variation you like? Tell me in the comments!
If you’ve read my blog recently, you know my daughter is currently doing a modified elimination diet. Even though not one person has made a disparaging comment, I feel a little defensive about this decision. I don’t take drastic dietary changes lightly, even as a holistic nutrition student. Making big diet adjustments can be really hard on anyone, and for kids even more so. But, here we are, and on day 5 no less. It has not been fun for her, but I’m doing my best to make foods for her that are similar to what she already loves. Yesterday I made a quesadilla using brown rice tortillas and goat’s milk cheddar. Let’s just say that wasn’t a home run.
But on Saturday morning, I made chocolate pancakes using the spelt flour that was recommended by our nutritionist. They were delicious and she asked for them again yesterday. SUCCESS! Sadly I forgot to snap a photo for the blog, but rest assured they looked fantastic.
They aren’t gluten-free, but rather wheat-free which is part of our protocol. They were fluffy (but also dense, if that makes any sense?!). And the taste was on par with traditional pancakes. Here’s how I made them:
2 cups spelt flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/3 cups milk (we used Ripple milk, a new milk made from green peas)
A generous sprinkling of dark chocolate chips or blueberries
This past week my 11 year old daughter was put on a modified elimination diet by a nutritionist. She has some GI stuff going on, plus eczema and keratosis pilaris (“chicken skin” on the backs of her arms). As a nutrition student, I understand that there are people who have food sensitivities and that sometimes those sensitivities lead to inflammation in the body, which can present itself in lots of different ways. Skin issues, headaches, GI distress, mood imbalances are just a few ways in which food sensitivities can show themselves.
So, off to the nutritionist we went. After a thorough intake she suggested a modified elimination diet (she has 30 years of experience and has a master’s degree in nutrition, so I feel quite comfortable in her expertise). Doing an elimination diet with an 11 year old growing girl who is an adventurous eater is a major bummer. But, it’s only for a few weeks so we will give it a try.
The foods she has to avoid completely for 10 days are:
1. Corn. This includes corn starch and high fructose corn syrup. I am realizing corn is in A LOT of packaged foods.
2. Nightshades (peppers, tomatoes, potatoes and eggplant). This is a bummer because she eats peppers and tomatoes in large quantities. And, you know, french fries.
3. Cow’s dairy. Again, in so many different foods. Sheep and goat dairy is ok.
4. Wheat. This doesn’t mean gluten-free. She can have spelt and rye and barley, etc. I realize after looking at oodles of gluten-free packaged goods that most have corn starch or potato starch in place of wheat.
Last night we went out to dinner at the Yard House, a restaurant that has an extensive menu. After much back and forth with the waitress, who was really accommodating, we finally settled on grilled shrimp, jasmine rice, and steamed broccoli. All of their sauces contain corn starch or soy sauce (wheat). The orange chicken, the chicken rice bowl, the street tacos, the chicken teriyaki — all were off limits. If it were me at age 11 I would have cried and thrown a fit, but my daughter rolled with it. That’s not to say she’s happy, for last night she announced that “I’m ok but I *hate* it”. I get it, it stinks. But it’s a short period of time and hopefully we will be able to identify any foods that are causing issues, cut them out for a period of time, and then reintroduce them slowly back. The end game is hopefully a healthier kid.
I dabbled with the idea of doing the elimination with her in solidarity but I quickly realized that I needed my energy and focus to help her through these next few weeks. When she’s done it’s quite possible I will give it a try. Don’t expect me to give up coffee or wine, though.
I’ll keep you updated on our progress! This is day 3, and I’m sure there will be lots to share in upcoming days.
Happy Thursday! I hope you are having a fantastic week. And, if you aren’t, I hope you find a little bit of happiness here at Cultivate Wellness.
I plan on writing a longer, more thorough blog post about my recent experience being interviewed on our local NPR station, but in the meantime I wanted to post the link so you can listen for yourself. Remember that post I wrote about the horrible swimsuit spread in Discovery Girls magazine? It created quite a bit of discussion, including with the host of our morning news show on Minnesota Public Radio. She decided to dedicate an entire show to the topic of body shaming in young girls, and asked to interview me. You can listen to the entire show here. I would absolutely love to hear your thoughts on it and keep the discussion going, so please share and comment!
Speaking of people struggling with body image issues, I read this piece, entitled Fat Dad: The Coffee and Cigarette Diet recently in Well section of The New York Times and it touched my heart. I thought it was lovingly written. So often we talk about women and body image, but it’s a good reminder that men struggle with this issue too.