We are in the midst of week two of summer vacation, and I’m still trying to figure out the summer. I’m sure I’m not alone in finding that it takes a bit of time to switch gears from the end-of-the-school year mayhem into summer mode. I’ve yet to crack the code on how to slow down while driving one kid to soccer camp and the other to golf practice—and then trying to do something useful with the free hour or two I end up with in between. One thing I do almost immediately, however, is punt the whole meal-planning routine and let our full-on sit-down family dinners take a hiatus for a couple months.
How to Spring-Clean Your Eating Habits
It’s a natural impulse to purge your closet this time of year. Who wants itchy, pilling sweaters when they could be wearing crisp tees and cute sundresses? I also get the urge to clean my windows so I can get a better view of the (sometimes) blue sky and flowers on my trees. And I can’t wait to finally put away the stack of hats, gloves, and snow boots that has overtaken my entryway (since it snowed this past weekend, I’m going to wait a week or two on that one).
When I got married, my sister gave me an herb garden planted in a giant galvanized metal tub. At that time in my life, the only plants I’d ever kept alive were a couple scrawny succulents on my dorm room windowsill, and while I already loved to cook, I had no idea what to do with nine varieties of fresh herbs. Needless to say, I was intimidated. The plants died a slow, neglected death, which I rationalized as okay because all the herbs I ever needed were available at the grocery store.
Sixteen years later, I’ve come full circle on the idea of growing my own herbs (although that tub is usually used for keeping beer cold at parties). Now I grow herbs in pots, and here are some good reasons why you should, too.
- Cooking with fresh herbs is fun; it feels very “chef-y” to do things like chiffonade.
If not, you totally should. Even if you’re not gluten-free, it’s still okay to eat more vegetables. And this is one wicked awesome way to do that.
Whether it’s trying a new food or attempting a new recipe, the rewards far outweigh the risks.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve urged my kids to try a new food—a food they claimed to “know its disgusting”—only to hear them say, “Wow mom, I didn’t know delicata squash (or kale, pomegranate, clams) was so not gross! Can I have some more?” Sure, sometimes (as with the pureed broccoli-and parsley salad I foisted on them last night), they confirm it to be disgusting. But they don’t gag, vomit, or die.
Learning to love—no, crave—the only non-controversial food group.
I was cooking up some turkey bacon for my kids’ breakfast when my husband read me the headline about the World Health Organization’s (WHO) decision to designate processed meat as a “Group 1 carcinogen” (that’s the same category as cigarettes). Up until that moment, I’d been pretty proud of the recent addition of bacon to our morning repertoire and was pleased to cut out carbs and replace them with “healthy” protein. Now I was throwing my hands up in frustration. Was I poisoning my children?
I hope my kids learn to cook. And love to it as much as I do.
I truly believe that one of the greatest gifts we can give our children is an appreciation for food. And by food, I mean real food — food that doesn’t come out of a can or microwaveable container. This hope is not just for my children; I hope more and more kids everywhere grow up with a renewed understanding of where food comes from and a respect for the plants and animals they eat.
Instead of citing studies about the rise of childhood obesity and rambling on about why teaching our kids to cook will make the world a better place, I’ve written a hopeful little story (with respectful credit due to Laura Joffe Numeroff and Felicia Bond, authors of many beloved children’s books, including, of course, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie). I hope you like it.
I’ve lost a pound in four days, and we’ve eaten healthy, organic meals the past three nights.
New diet? Nope. I just signed us up for organic produce home delivery.
I received my first delivery this week, and it’s already delivering much more than I had hoped for: a reason to try new recipes, eating fruits and vegetables I’ve never ventured to buy in the grocery store (hello, kale!), and losing weight in the process.
Also, I swear, the carrots just taste better.
Whatever did we do before the Internet? As a writer, it’s obviously the first place I turn to start working on an article. And as a consumer, I rarely make an important purchase decision without doing a little research on the company, what others think of the product, and where I can buy it for the best price.
I love harvest time. What more savory feast for the senses is there than a Saturday morning stroll through the local farmers market in September? Here in Boulder, Colo., I love gathering a basketful of Palisade peaches, pungent peppers, fresh-picked organic salad greens, and a big, sweet Rocky Ford cantaloupe (the melon equivalent of a vine-ripe heirloom tomato versus a pale January supermarket variety). And soon, I’ll add a jug of cloudy, fresh-pressed apple cider.