Main Nutritious Intent Website

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Beyond Burgers: Grill On!

Grilling is growing in popularity.  75% of adults own a grill or smoker.  37% of adults in the US plan to purchase a new grill or smoker in 2016 and 30% of grill owners plan to grill more in 2016.  And it’s not just a summer pastime – 61% use their grill year round.   This is healthy news since delicious home-grilled fare often keeps you from eating out – which not only saves money, but saves us extra sugar, salt, fat and calories.  And while we most often think of burgers or steaks on the grill, there are a myriad of ways to enjoy a nutritious meal on the grill if you look beyond burgers.
Expanding your grilling repertoire to include more fresh produce is a great way to work more fruits and veggies into your diet and crowd out less healthful, processed foods.  That might mean grilling portabella mushroom caps in place of a burger (35 calories vs 175 calories) or grilling some salmon.  

Fresher, grilled fruit and vegetable dishes are great alternatives to the standard sides such as creamy potato or pasta salads or fluffy gelatin or fruit-type salads that masquerade as a salad when we all know, they are really a dessert. 
Grilled Coleslaw: grill wedges of cabbage on a hot grill just until lightly charred, then top with a canola-based-mayo creamy dressing and some smoked paprika, or try an 
Orange Vinaigrette
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp. orange juice
  • 1 tsp. dijon mustard
  • 1/2 tsp. sugar
  • salt and pepper to taste

And when it comes to dessert – forget those packaged cookies – grill your dessert! 
Tropical Grilled Angel Food:
  • Sliced Angel Food Cake grilled
  • Grilled pineapple chunks
  • Toasted coconut
  • Coconut Sauce: Combine 1 can light coconut milk, 1/4 cup sugar and cook over low heat until reduced and thickened.

Shaking up your grilling routine just might make your dinner table the place to be this season.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Cooking With Kiddos

Nothing is more important than your example of cooking regularly. 

As I was preparing for this topic, I asked my kids what they remembered about learning how to cook when they were younger.  They both replied that at first, it was really fun and exciting, but as time went on and they got busier, it became less fun and more chore-like.  The take-home message?  Start young if possible, but if not, start now regardless of age.  My teenage son even recognizes that it is an essential life-skill that he is glad to have.  And it’s really nice to come home to a delicious, hot meal made by your teen! So, here are a few ideas to help you in the kitchen with your kiddos:

Start early.  You’ll need to be committed to teaching your kids to cook, long before it seems convenient.  It requires some extra effort and patience early on, but it pays off when your teenager pulls together a homemade chicken noodle soup or stir-fry when you are running late.
Help them take ownership of cooking. Consider purchasing or making a cookbook or apron for each child - encourage them to collect their own recipes.  

Make it a regular part of their responsibilities like any other household chore.  Consider assigning a child to make one meal per week.  Allow them to choose menu items and involve them in making the shopping list.

Shop together.  Let your kids explore the produce section and encourage them to pick out a vegetable they are willing to try that week.  This might be a good time for kids to explore and try out food from different cultures.

Teach them to work around personal preferences.  Maybe they hate cooked peas, but love them frozen or snap peas.  Kids with loose or sore teeth might be wary of crunchy veggies so try steaming them slightly. (cooked vs raw mushrooms, cherry tomatoes vs. tomato sauce) Taking into account the family’s needs is part of meal preparation.

Encourage creativity.   Allow and encourage them to be creative in how they plan and present their meals.  Anything from sandwiches cut into shapes to fun garnishes and napkin folding will help engage and hold their interest in one of life’s most necessary, yet creative tasks - cooking!

Start simple.  Fruit salad - a young child can help put together a fruit salad as part of a meal or snack.  French toast vs. pancakes.  This simple recipe can be physically challenging, but flipping a slice of French toast is easier (and less messy) than flipping a pancake.  Spaghetti, tacos and sloppy joes are also very kid-friendly and fairly simple recipes to start with.

Remember – nothing is more important than your example of cooking regularly. 

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Cook Up Some Fun At Your Next Family Reunion

Last year, my amazing sister Kris surprised us all with a fun activity at our annual family reunion.  We were staying at some condos and had access to two small kitchens and with some prep and effort on her part, we all enjoyed a cooking competition.  We called it Chopped, even though it was more of an Iron Chef type experience.  It was a fun way to involve the cousins in a meaningful, creative and adventurous activity.  We ended up with 4 teams and 3 judges.  We had someone in charge of keeping track of and announcing the time, and when all was said and done, we had lots of delicious food for lunch.  Here's a brief look at the fun we had that will help show how this came together.

Here's the "pantry" table.  At a family reunion, you can just bring a little extra of the items you will be using to prepare planned meals and use that as part of the competition for teams to access.

The teams were divided up so that older cousins were paired with younger cousins.  Each team was given a bag of "mystery" or "essential" ingredients that they had to incorporate into their dish. The timer was set for 45 minutes and they were off.

 Both kitchens became quite the hives of activity.  Two teams shared each kitchen, so they were practically all over each other.  It turned out to be lots of fun, happy chaos.  
 With very limited resources, all the teams came up with some amazing creations.  Most teams ended up preparing a main dish, side dish and a dessert.  

As the judges, we got to sit around and try to think up really pithy descriptive terms relating to food so that we'd sound the part when it came time to judge.  Picking a winner was tough.

Each team had to plate 4 servings so that there were enough for the judges.  It really was all very delicious and it made the decision that much harder.  Now, keep in mind that pretty much all of these cousins were taught to cook at a young age, so remember that results may vary.  ;)

Here stand the winners.  They made a side salad with homemade dressing, a wrap with a chicken, avocado salad filling, and for dessert, toasted flatbread topped with fresh mozzarella and drizzled with honey. Since my 15 year old son was part of the winning team, I was pleasantly surprised!

The winners received bragging rights and a "chopped champ" apron that was signed by all participants.  Below is a recreation look at the experience as I shared it on Studio 5.

Suffice it to say, it was the highlight of the reunion, and considering that we have very fun-filled, action-packed reunions, that says a lot.  The water fight, ring tournament, board-game-marathon, beach and pool time, and even the murder mystery party all took a back-seat to this fun, new tradition.  Can't wait to see what they cook up this year!