Indulge me for a moment, will you? Today’s column is more about food for the soul, then for the tummy.
Years ago, I was watching TV and I saw a commercial for diapers. I don’t remember the entire context of it, but they showed a little baby in the crib, then later, he’s a toddler learning to use his pull up diapers and go potty like a big boy.
I almost got teary over that commercial! I don’t know what it was about that ad that landed so hard in my heart. After sleeping on it all night, I realized exactly what it was.
I spent a good portion of my children’s childhoods wishing it away. Instead of cherishing the moments, I would say to myself, “This is so hard. It will be so much easier when they’re older.”
My children are there now at 24 and 26 years old. They’re close in age, 21 months apart. When they were little, I had double everything: stroller, car seats, diapers, you name it. Their babyhoods were a blur–I was nursing one and trying to keep another happy. I was tired, stressed out and wanted motherhood to be easy and perfect—like it is in magazines. The reality was quite the opposite–I was overwhelmed and spent an inordinate amount of time looking ahead instead of loving their sweet heads. “When they are older, THEN I will (fill in the blank).”
Why am I telling you this? Because I have guilt and regret and can’t move forward? No, because I finally realized that even if I did wish away too much time when they were babies, now that they have gone away to school, I thoroughly cherish each moment that I have with them. Oh sure, there are times that they’re rotten and need straightening out, but I am not trying to tell you that life becomes perfect when you’re looking wistfully back on their childhoods. The root of all discontent however, is expecting perfect out of anyone (child or adult) or any situation; I am thankful I learned that while they were still home.
Here’s a way to put this important lesson into practice; instead of constantly trying to correct and PERFECT your children’s table manners, consciously try to have a dinner table that welcomes the stories about your son’s day, your daughter’s dreams and laugh together! My heart’s memory book is filled with memories from those kind of interactions and (thankfully) not the guilt of nagging at them constantly.
My children grew quickly and were gone before I knew it. One thing that really helped me enjoy them and love them each day was breaking bread each night together at the table. Having dinner together not only blesses those at the table, but it blesses the hands that make it.
Wherever you are in your journey as a mother, you can begin to cherish your babies now—no matter what age, even if they have children of their own! You are still a mother and you still have moments (God willing) left to cherish. The past is one thing we can do nothing about, but we have today!
Take a moment today and look at your children’s faces and understand that they are there in your care by Divine appointment. It is no accident that God gave you that child or those children. They were hand selected to belong to your family—no one else’s. What a gift!
So tonight, when you are gathered ‘round your family dinner table, thank God for giving you each child even if you can see their tonsils with mouths full of spaghetti. Treasure your sweet children and love them like there is no tomorrow. They are gifts to be cherished at each meal, with each moment.
By: Leanne Ely
It’s not easy being greens. So packed with goodness and fiber, yet so many people just push them around the plate without any respect for the nutrition in their pretty green leaves.
If you want to get the nutrients you need in your system, you have to get good and comfortable with eating greens. And since today’s produce is so deficient in many vitamins and nutrients, you have to eat as many greens as you can manage.
From late March through early May, there’s a wide variety of spring greens to enjoy, including:
• baby lettuces
• dandelion greens
Salad greens are chock full of phytonutrients, anti-inflammatory properties and antioxidants.
Eating spring greens provides you with many nutrients and minerals including:
• vitamins A, C, E and K
Greens can protect the body against diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular disease and hypertension. Greens can help your cells repair themselves and they can help detoxify the body. Eat a wide range of greens and eat them often, but always choose organic. Lettuce and kale are both on the Dirty Dozen list because of the high amounts of pesticide residue that have been found on them. If you can’t find organic greens, choose a different green veggie.
When it comes to choosing which types of greens to use in your salads, you really can’t go wrong. Experiment with different varieties until you find one you like best. I love putting fresh dill in with my blend of spring greens. Gives them a nice fresh flavor.
And when it comes to dressings, don’t toss your money away on the store bought stuff. Simply top your greens with a splash of extra virgin olive oil and some balsamic vinegar. Perfect.
Dinner Answer gives you great opportunity to use greens deliciously! Click here for details!
By: Leanne Ely
There is a topic that keeps coming across my radar, both on Facebook, my email inbox, and even at the market when my fellow shoppers wonder what I’m doing with all of that kale (when my own crop has been harvested for the season, of course!): kale chips.
And, today, we’re going to talk kale chips with a trick, a tip, and a new kale chip recipe to try.
Kale, as you know, is a super food, and many people are jumping on the kale bandwagon (yay!). Kale chips are an easy-to-make snack food that is delicious and super good for you.
Be sure to buy organic curly kale. Kale is on the Dirty Dozen list and is one of those vegetables that should only be eaten when you can find it organic. (Curly is my preferred variety for kale chips—feel free to buy other varieties for other kale recipes!)
Now, it’s time for your Trick!
The secret to the best, crunchiest kale chips is to get them as dry as possible. So, after you soak your kale in a big bowl of water to remove the dirt and any bugs that might be lurking in there, spin the heck out of it. Any moisture on those kale leaves is going to lead to soggy chips. (And you don’t want that.)
Cook a batch of kale chips before you start your dinner prep and offer them to the kids as a snack. This is a great way to get the veggies into them in a manner that might appeal to them! You don’t even have to tell them that the kale chips were part of their dinner 😉
And your Recipe:
Garlic Chili Kale Chips
1/2 tablespoon coconut oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon chili powder
6 cups chopped kale
Preheat oven to 250 degrees.
In a large bowl toss all the ingredients well. Pour kale mixture onto a large baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes, until kale is crispy. Serve warm.
Most of us aren’t getting enough veggies into us in the run of a day, and while kale chips are a great start, you can probably be doing more. We developed our Just Juiced Veggies to help you get in all a great dose of green veggies in one easy shot. Check it out here!
By: Leanne Ely
You can tell by the bright yellow or orange flesh of winter squash (well, depending on the variety), that this fall harvest fruit is good for you. (Yes, squash is a fruit!) Winter squash, like acorn and butternut, are the more substantial varieties. And I’m sure you already knew it, but zucchini is considered a summer squash.
If you’re looking for some ideas about how to get more of this delicious fruit that’s easy to find, easy to cook and easy on the budget, I happen to have some fab suggestions for you. 😉
The following are five ways you can prepare squash to enjoy with your dinner this evening:
Roasted with root vegetables. If you’re roasting beets, parsnips or carrots, toss in some squash. You can also make it even easier and simply slice your squash in half, remove the seeds (save them to roast later), and roast in its skin at 375 for about 30–40 minutes, depending on the squash and its size. When dinner’s ready, scoop out the flesh of the squash and enjoy with some butter.
Mashed or puréed. You can steam your squash and mash it, just like you would with potatoes. I personally don’t care for this method as it’s not nearly as flavorful as roasting, but it’s a good way to bulk up a serving of mashed vegetables. Puréed squash also looks very pretty on a plate.
Souped up. Make a simple soup from your squash, and serve it as an appetizer. Or, bulk it up with more veggies and serve it as a main course.
Stuffed. You can stuff and roast just about any squash you would like. Imagine a beautiful spaghetti squash, sliced in half and stuffed with tomato sauce and meatballs. Or an acorn squash sliced and stuffed with sausage and apples. Use your imagination (and Google—you can find endless ideas for roasting squash.)
As noodles. You may already know that you can roast a spaghetti squash and scoop out its noodly flesh to eat as you would any traditional noodle. But if you have a vegetable spiralizer, you can also make noodles out of other types of squash like acorn or butternut, and gently steam them to serve for dinner. (You can find veggie spiralizers on Amazon.) The accord squash “noodles” are wonderful!
I hope I’ve inspired you to add squash to your menu this evening. 🙂
By: Leanne Ely
I’m expecting another bumper crop of tomatoes this year, and I know exactly what I’m going to do with my harvest. How about you? Do you know what to do with all of those excess tomatoes? If not, here are some ideas for what you can do when you find yourself with an abundance of tomatoes. By the way, I have not included canning as an option here because I think there are less time-intensive ways to preserve tomatoes.
Make a giant batch of tomato sauce and freeze it in portions (you can obviously can it if you want, but freezer bags, doubled up, work just fine). While you’re at it, you can even divide the sauce and turn some right into pizza sauce (I like to add a bit of balsamic vinegar and tomato paste to my pizza sauce).
Toss those whole tomatoes in a freezer bag, and pop them in the freezer. Take them out as you need them to make pizza sauce, pasta sauce, or chili.
Tomatoes plus peppers plus onions plus lime juice plus salt plus cilantro equals delicious salsa. You may have to chop until you drop, but the fresh flavor will be worth it, I promise! Taste test until you get it just right. Once you have the basic formula down, have fun with it! Separate your salsa into separate little batches where you can add all kinds of things. Add in some avocado, mango, strawberries, pineapple, black beans . . . you’re limited only by your imagination!
All tomato paste is, really, is tomatoes that have been reduced down and down and down some more. To make tomato paste, peel and seed your tomatoes, and then dice them into little pieces. Put tomatoes in a single layer in a medium-large sauce pan. Toss some salt over the tomatoes and cook at medium heat, uncovered, stirring once in a while, until you have tomato paste! Be patient because it can take a couple of hours for this to happen. Keep the heat low enough that the tomatoes aren’t boiling, but high enough that there’s steam coming from them. If you have too many tomatoes to stick to a single layer in a sauce pan, put your oven to work. Cook the toma-toes, with a good couple of shakes of salt, at 300 degrees. Cook uncovered in a roasting pan or dutch oven, stirring every 30 minutes until you’re left with tomato paste.
If you still have more tomatoes than you can possibly eat, your local food bank might wish to take the extras off your hands. Or perhaps your local day care or high school would love to practice making sauce?
Look for a produce exchange in your neighborhood. In many areas, you can find things like this, where excess produce is swapped. If you have too many tomatoes, maybe someone with too many zucchini would love to trade.
Hopefully, you now have no shortage of ideas for those extra tomatoes. Really, we’re lucky to have such first world problems, aren’t we? 🙂
PS–Time is running out to join me for the 10-Day Paleo Blitz! The Blitz features 20 delicious smoothie recipes, and 10 new dinner recipes, including Orange Mahi with Tomato Cucumber Salad! You get the entire plan and access to the private Facebook group 100% FREE with your purchase of Perfect Paleo Protein! Get yours today, so you can start with me on August 16th!
By: Leanne Ely
Fresh dill is one of my very favorite herbs. It just tastes like summer to me. Maybe that goes back to the taste of a dill pickle sliced onto a grilled hamburger!
I love the look of dill’s wispy green leaves and its sweet soft taste. I chop dill into salads and dressings and over fish. Dill is delicious in plain yogurt with some chopped cucumber for a summertime dip or chopped into egg salad.
It just so happens that dill has more going for it than taste alone. Dill is also a nutritional powerhouse.
Dill’s Nutritional Benefits
Dill is high in Vitamin A, calcium, dietary fiber, magnesium, iron and manganese. Dill also contains two types of healing components (flavonoids and monoterpenes),which give dill some unique health benefits.
Cancer protection. Dill contains special oils that allow it to neutralize certain types of carcinogens, including those found in charcoal grill smoke, cigarette smoke and smoke produced by garbage incinerators. For this reason, dill makes a great addition to a marinade for foods you’re putting on the grill.
Protection from free radicals. Dill’s monoterpene components help to protect the body against damage caused by free radicals–unstable molecules that attack healthy cells in the body.
Antibacterial. Dill is believed to have the ability to prevent the overgrowth of bacteria within the body.
Dill is at its best when it’s fresh but fresh dill doesn’t have a very good shelf life—it only lasts for a day or two. To get those two days out of it, store dill in the fridge wrapped in a damp paper towel or with its stems in a glass of water.
If you have some dill you need to use up but you have nothing to use it in, freeze it! You can freeze dill chopped or whole. Try chopping dill into an ice cube tray with some stock so you can easily add a flavor boost to a pot of soup.