Every time my dad comes to visit, we make hummus. His “Greek” recipe is so delicious, it tastes authentic. “Of course, it’s authentic! It’s Greek!” he says.
Having both my mom and stepdad over is a bit comical, almost like the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding. My mom, the Spaniard, tries to tell him to use more or less olive oil or garlic, etc. He says: Hummus is Greek. Don’t mess with the ingredients.
What’s better than a cookie? A whole-wheat chewy chocolate chip cookie, of course! This cookie will become the star of any lunch box. My kids love “chewy” cookies. They prefer warm and chewy versus crunchy and dunking. While having a glass of milk and cookies can be satisfying and ritualistic, we rarely do that at our house. No, I’m not the cookie Nazi; however, I like my cookies to be a bit more substantial and wholesome. I make a batch every week and place one or two inside their lunch box. They love having a “treat,” and I like knowing the ingredients that are in it. Double or triple the recipe, and freeze uncooked dough for future baking!
Melt the butter in a heavy-bottom medium saucepan over low heat. Sift together the flour, salt, and baking soda, and set aside.
Pour the melted butter into a mixer’s bowl. Add the granulated sugar and brown sugar. Cream the butter and sugars on medium speed. Add the eggs, milk, and vanilla extract, and mix until well combined. Slowly incorporate the flour mixture until thoroughly combined. Stir in the chocolate chips. Chill the dough.
When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 375F, and line baking sheets with parchment paper.
Scoop the chilled dough onto the baking sheets.
Bake for 10 to 14 minutes or until golden brown, checking the cookies after 7 minutes. Rotate the baking sheet for even browning. Cool completely, and store in an airtight container.
A couple of weeks ago, this was a rare sighting; my two kids, peacefully helping me in the kitchen. Lunchtime, let alone dinner time was more of a battle ground than a Norman Rockwell picturesque moment.
It was usually loud, chaotic, full of, “I’m NOT eating that!” or “I don’t want to help you!” Now, I am not saying that my kids are selfish monsters, but at times and especially at mealtimes, they can be. What changed? Me.
I got fed up with all the negativity around our kitchen at mealtime and looked my screaming monsters darling babies in the eyes and said, “Well maybe mommy would make all the yummy things you like if you helped her every now and then.”
I don’t know why or how, but they understood me completely. Now mealtime is full of, “I help you mommy? We make noo-noos?” [Barrett speak for noodles]
Enter the local Farmer’s Market and life got a whole lot easier. This not only has helped educated my children about food and its origins, but it has become our Sunday family tradition and I couldn’t be happier about it.
The kids and I began just walking around the Farmer’s Market to check out all the local goodies, but slowly, with more visits, they began to run up to counters with their eyes lit up, “What’s this mommy?” asked Brayden pointing to an eggplant. “PURPLE!” blurts out Barrett, “My favorite color!
BAM! Eggplant was then introduced to my children. Seriously, I would have NEVER thought to buy an eggplant. 1: I can’t remember the last time I had an eggplant; 2: I have no idea how to cook an eggplant; and 3: what kid on earth is going to openly ask for it? However, purple food was an easy sell to Miss B, even when she didn’t like the taste all that much; she got really excited about trying it and having purple food for dinner.
This was when I experienced, firsthand, the power of making our children apart of meal planning and mealtime. They were excited, intrigued by the things they were seeing; the colors, the different textures, the sizes, the everything!
They were hooked and so was I.
I then began to ask for the kids’ advice and input when preparing their meals; “What do you think we should have with our chicken tonight? We need a vegetable. Did you see any vegetables at the Farmer’s Market?” The fact that I, the big mama, was asking for their help inspired and empowered them. They feel special and important when we, as parents ask for their input. The proof is all over their faces.
Does this mean that all my meals are now blissfully domestic? No, I wish, but it has made my nights a lot easier.
Lunchtime was just as difficult.
I would pick them up from preschool and see that they barely touched their lunches, even if it was the lame standard of pb&j. On days I don’t have my act together and forget to prepare ahead with MOMables, I turn to them and ask them what they would like for lunch. “We need a fruit and a veggie in our lunches today, can you help me pick?” The conversation opens up and again, makes their little minds think about what we saw last weekend at the Farmer’s Market.
I know it sounds simple and some of you are probably thinking, “DUH!”, as you read this, but this is huge for our family. I have a tendency to try to “do-it-all” and shush away the kids so I can just get it done, but that doesn’t work well on many levels. Take a calming breath and inviting the kids into the kitchen has been one of the greatest things I have ever done. It makes mealtime fun, a teaching moment, and empowers my little people.
I have even researched other local Farmer’s Markets that run not only on the weekends as a way to keep the kid’s engaged with our weekend tradition if we can’t make it on Sunday. Grocery stores are just as good, and we hit up Whole Food’s on a weekly basis, but I have a special place in my heart for local Farmer’s Markets. It is the easiest way to help educate the kids on where our food comes from and why. This lesson can get lost immediately when you walk into a grocery store that offers no seasons.
How do you get your children to engage with your mealtime choices and preparation?
Do you explore your local farmer’s markets in the same way my family does?
What have you learned from asking your children their input on mealtime choices and preparation?