Real Food Tastes…Really Good
Over the month of December, our 2 and 1/2 year old daughter, Hannah, went through a bout of illness that seemed endless. She started with mild cold symptoms that progressed through what seemed like every malady there was. After that she continued to have some cold symptoms (runny nose, ear aches) until just after the New Year. Because of this, I ended up having to take over a week off of work to stay home and take care of her. I suppose in some ways we were lucky it was right around the holidays since most offices tend to slow to snail’s pace at that time what with everyone taking different vacation times in addition to paid holidays.
Well while I stayed home, I got quite a bit more motivated in my domestic activities. Usually I look at any house chores as torture. But I actually researched some “healthy” recipes and began trying to cook real food while I had a little time to get meals together. Not to mention the fact that a trip to the grocery store was a legitimate excuse to get out of the house when cabin fever started setting in. I started to get excited about cooking simple meals with whole ingredients. I learned how to cook rutabaga, turnips, jicama, butternut squash and parsnips. Yummy! I discovered that I especially love parsnips. The most exciting part in this is that while Hannah and Joe were less than enthusiastic about most of the vegetables listed above, they actually like parsnips too! I didn’t even know what a parsnip looked like until a month ago. I was even able to bring back a childhood favorite–spaghetti squash. My mom used to make it for us on occasion and I always thought of it almost as a treat. I think I stayed away from it knowing my husband would most likely not even try it and they seem so big that I would end up with too many leftovers. When my mom was visiting in December, I decided to cook one for us and Hannah to try. I made beefy marinara (with Crestview Angus Beef of course) to go with it and it was awesome. I will keep this meal in my cooking rotation, regardless of Joe’s aversion and excess leftovers!
The main motivation behind all this cooking was part of my ongoing personal quest to be healthy but this time it was also aimed at addressing the health issues of our poor baby. I think most of us have heard that this is the worst cold and flu season on record and I know a lot of people have been suffering with various illnesses. But I truly believe that we can avoid a lot of health problems if we eat well, exercise, sleep and try to keep our stress down. Personally, I still get sick sometimes but ever since I have put extra effort into staying fit, eating healthy and getting to bed early I know I have been ill a lot less often.
My quest has continued after we made it through the holidays and most of Hannah’s illnesses. She is back at daycare and still comes home a lot with a cough or runny nose but we are working to incorporate more and more healthy foods into our meals at home and I truly hope that those foods are helping to heal her system. While she still won’t eat very many green vegetables and for some reason doesn’t like carrots (I thought kids loved carrots), I continue to put those things on her plate and perhaps she will start to develop a palate for them. I mean what a huge breakthrough when, after putting parsnips on her plate for three meals within a week’s time she actually ate one and said, “Ooh Mommy, that’s good!”
Luckily, we have access to great beef that we have raised ourselves and she loves that. In fact, she pretty much likes any meat we give her–just like her Daddy. She is also very good about eating fruits and she loves milk. I plan on continuing to research healthy meals that are made from simple, whole ingredients and planning out meals at least to the extent that we do not end up getting home after a long day and resorting to a take-out pizza instead of a real meal. Through these past couple months of better eating, I have been very pleased to learn how good all this real food tastes. I have discovered that simple ingredients can be assembled into tasty meals without having to be a gourmet chef or even a mediocre cook. Root vegetables are so lovely roasted in the oven or you can microwave them and add a few spices and they work great that way too! I personally recommend Joe’s hamburger steak with baked sweet potato “fries” and a side salad. That is indulgent tastes and healthy eating all in one!