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Get Your Family Eating Right

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I have been so lucky as to be a part of the FamilyCook Productions team through my nutrition internship, and what an experience it has been. Today I went to Hammarskjold Plaza farmers’ market, and I literally felt like I was 7 again and walking into the biggest candy store. From a Danish viewpoint the variety of vegetables was an incredible experience. I had never seen so many different types of kale or squash in my life! There were so many different colors and shapes, and I felt so inspired to make a delicious kale salad with my very new friend the beautiful Russian kale. 

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It is so easy to get inspired when you go to the farmers’ markets, there is something magical about shopping your produce from the hands of the farmers that have nurtured these fruit and vegetables to growth. I feel like I was shopping for delicious vitamins that would fill my body with all the energy and excitement we all need for life. The greatest gift you can give yourself is good nutrition from these amazing fruit and vegetables. 

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The vegetables and fruits that made the biggest impression on me were the different kales, so I made a salad of russian kale, baked red Bartlett pears, and yellow cherdlee tomatoes. 

Kale is not a favorite dining for many, but this vegetable has some amazing characteristics that you can get great pleasure from.
  Kale is very rich in vitamin C, which strengthens our immune system, and it is very high in fiber. Try to experiment with your kale and if you want all the wonderful vitamins and dietary fiber avoid cooking the kale.

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So for this recipe you will need: 

(Serves 4)

  • 1 bunch of russian kale from the farmers' market
  • 2 big Yellow Cherdlee tomatoes
  • 3 red Bartlett piers
  • 1 bunch of Rainbow chard
  • 1.5 cup Quinoa
  • Almonds
  • Olive oil
  • Vinegar
  • Salt
  • Soy 

Directions:

  1. First cut your pears into small wedges and put them in the oven at 300 °F for approx. 15-20 min.
  2. Next set the quinoa over to boil for 10-15 minutes until it has the same consistency as boiled rice 
  3. Roast the almonds with 2 tablespoons of soy sauce, and remove when golden and put them on a plate to cool down.
  4. Rinse all your vegetables and role up your kale and chard to ribbons, so you can cut them in fine strips. Combine 2 tablespoons of vinegar and 1 tablespoon of olive oil together and mix it with the kale
  5. Cut your tomatoes in your desired shapes
  6. Now mix all your ingredients and top with, baked pears, roasted almonds and currants

A great tip is to make a big portion, so you can take it to work or school the next day.

Enjoy!

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Sardine Collage

Vamos a la playa a comer sardinas!!! Sardines at the beach are a summertime fun in coastal Spain.  We love them just grilled and sprinkled with sea salt and lemon. Traditionally, many beaches have shack-like open air restaurants right at the shore where one can enjoy local wild catch in between swimming, snorkeling and sunbathing. In Southeastern Spain, where my parents are from, sardines are abundant and cheap and the favorite food of locals and tourists. 

Even children learn at an early age to detach the juicy body flesh leaving head and tail in one piece united by their bones. Most will eat the crispy skin as well, and even some of the bones. These shacks limit their menus, mostly to seasonal fish, which makes it easier to fight picky eaters. Nature was wise to create the season of sardines around summer when there are more opportunities to cook them outdoors. Their pungent, strong odor will stay for days in your kitchen. During the winter, these pleasurable summer memories are recalled while opening a can of sardines in olive oil and eating them with bread and other vegetables.

Sardines are an acquired taste, especially if you didn´t grow up eating them. My daughter Sofia would not touch them yet; she is scared of mistakenly eating the tiny bones. She also thinks it is too much work deboning the animal for such little flesh. She grew up in New York eating fish that has no head, tails or bones. It may take her until her adult life to accept sardines. What´s important is that every summer when she is in Spain, she is building these memories associating a good time at the beach with parents, cousins, aunts and uncles devouring sardines with pleasure. Keeping fun family traditions entwined with real healthy food is key for assuring lifelong healthy diets.

What about where you live? What traditions have you followed that associate real food with family traditions and fond memories? How do you and your family connect with seasonal summer food in your hometown or the places you escape to?

Tell us your stories by entering our contest here for a chance to win a free copy of Get Your Family Eating Right

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Let your kids try their hand at modifying a recipe…

When my sons were little, my English neighbor Michelle was also a single mom. We often cooked and shared meals together, forming our own hybrid family to help us cope and make meals festive and memorable! Years later, Michelle, now remarried, is back in London. This summer when I visited, our book intrigued her daughter Emma.  As she leafed through, one recipe in particular caught her eye: Fig and Goat Cheese Quesadilla. She made it twice, trying out different delicious possibilities.

Emmas fig quesadilla2

Improvise when you can’t find all the ingredients

Emma is 9 years old and loves goat’s cheese and lots of things most kids would turn up their noses to.  She can also be picky, so when I could not find the fig jam for our recipe, I thought of the berries she loves and settled on black current.  I honestly didn’t know how she’d react to this change, but she wasn’t concerned. She loved crumbling the cheese and was surprised that we did not oil the skillet. When the moment of truth came, and she had cut it into 8 even triangles, she smiled very contentedly – she loved it.

Consider the season when making variations!

Some days later we were planning dinner with her parents, grandmother and cousin.  Emma wanted to make an ‘appetizer’ of the quesadilla.  By this time some fig jam was found and she also bought fresh, local figs at the market with her mom.  When it came time to prepare the quesadillas, Emma was now in full command. She discovered the perfect balance of jam and cheese, and knew exactly how browned she wanted it as she gently lifted the quesadilla with a spatula and peaked underneath to check for the color. She was proud that I photographed her making the final one – I think her self-confidence and pride shows through in these photos!  Well done, Emma!

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My friend Anita’s kids know what’s cooking in Paris! She planned their trip to include visits to the fantastic open markets of this magical city interspersed with the more typical sights.  Before leaving New York, she read about the famous marché at Ave. President Wilson where hundreds of people, mostly Parisians, prefer to buy their groceries rather than in a supermarket.  But you don’t have to visit a world city, like Paris, to make your destination an opportunity to introduce the foods and flavors of a city or town to your children.  Just make an effort to include local food culture as part of your travel experience, so your kids associate fresh ingredients with the pleasurable experience of cultural discovery. This is key to ensure an open attitude about new and healthy foods for life.

Day in paris collage

Parisians flock to the marché - for lunch!

Parisians break for lunch between 12 to 2 PM.  When we arrived just after 12, many people were already waiting in line for fresh, hand-made Lebanese pizzas with zahatar (aromatic herbs from the Middle East similar to thyme and oregano).  We found hand-made artisanal products and various types of meat and chicken on the grill. In additional to seasonal produce, an array of Artisanal breads of every shape and size were on display, perfect for pairing with a wide variety of cheese from across France.  

 

Ask the farmer and the regulars for their food and cooking secrets

We let our kids choose the foods they wanted to try. Their favorites were the summer fruits: apricots, figs, and cherries. I could not resist the white asparagus as Anita had never tried them before, and the season was nearly over.  A cute, elderly French woman shared with us her secret to prepare them:  she recommends using only the tips and serve them with a delicious mustard. When you go to the most touristic places or restaurants you meet tourists. The real Paris is here, at the marché. One meets French mothers, old women, workers and executives all mingled with the same purpose, good fresh food.

 

 The Parisian marchés are not saturated with tourists - yet!  So, take advantage!

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