Summer on the Run

Too many reasons to list why I’ve been remiss in writing.  Been very busy is first and foremost and will have to do for now.  But, I’m still cooking up food, occasionally having a tough time with my youngest two and sometimes I get stuck in a rut of the same food all the time.  But with summer comes so many possibilities.

Summer can actually be a tough time to eat well but it shouldn’t be.   Fresh fruits and vegetables are abundant and they should be incorporated into all meals.  What I’ve been noticing is that unless I cook at home, it’s hard for my kids to get many of those fruits and vegetables in places we might be on a given day.  The lake that I grew up on is where my boys take swimming lessons.  The kids love the concession stand there.  But it gives me added stress because they serve fried food like “curly fries” (curled, spiced French fries) and chicken tenders (yes, they’re real breast meat, but they’re still fried), hot dogs, hamburgers, etc.  They do sell salads but when given those sorts of choices, my boys always want the fried food, burgers and dogs. They also sell ice cream and other “frozen confectionaries” like SpongeBob popsicles and PopShots (quick frozen dots of artificially colored and flavored juice).  And besides the poor nutritional value in these foods, there’s the cost.  It gets expensive if you eat this food daily or even semi-weekly.  So, of course, I have to set limits before we go.   Like, “today you can have _____ but no _____.”  Or, “I’ve made us lunch, we’re not getting anything but an ice cream after, and only the real ice cream, not the colored stuff.”  Or even, “I don’t have money today to buy anything.”  They hate that last one.

Here are a couple of ideas I’ve found success with while at home.  One of my all time favorites are the magic beans. beans purple pot corn rainbow chard


While out, I try to order sides of vegetables or salads.  If we’re at friends who are only cooking up hot dogs and burgers with maybe chips, then I try to fill them up on more veggies while at home.  Healthy sides and snacks like the roasted seaweed snacks and cut up fruits and vegetables help fill the nutrition gap. 

And as my last link suggests: it doesn’t need to be gourmet to be healthy. 

Vietnamese Chicken & Sweet Potato Curry

At the end of the last school year, my son’s wonderful third grade teacher gave me a gorgeous and interesting cook book alice’s Cook Book by Alice Hart.  It has very creative recipes with pairings that I wouldn’t think of; which for me makes it even better! 

Last night I perused it to find something to make with the chicken breasts that I had to use.  Not surprisingly I found a wonderful recipe and it is quite easy. 

I was fairly certain but not absolutely that my kids would eat it— well, without any fuss.  I added green beans to give them one vegetable I knew they’d like and thought would go well with the dish.  I opted not to use the hot pepper as my middle son is especially sensitive to hot spices. I added it to my own dish afterwards.  You could also use Siracha. The cilantro I had looked too sad, so I left it out. 

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Fred Flintstone at 5

We recently got our lamb and beef “shares” from our CSA/Shared Harvest.  The other day I mentioned the lamb burger my middle son initially whined about.  Today we had shoulder lamb chops.  My husband had made a marinade last night for them— olive oil, rosemary (from a friend’s garden), garlic, salt and pepper.  Simple, but oh such a wonderful combination of flavors that complement the lamb so well.  He grilled them over whole wood charcoal and served them with couscous and haricot verte (thin green beans). 

My middle son had said earlier that evening, after asking what was for dinner, that he didn’t like lamb because it was chewy, but I reminded him of the burgers and he instead helped my husband grill the meat and was very keen to try it.  My eldest also helped in the preparation of the dinner, plus he’s usually very good with most foods.  But the most surprising thing around dinner tonight was my youngest.  Not only was he wanting the lamb, he wanted my lamb. 

If you notice the kids usually have colored plates (blue, green) and adults have white, but tonight my son wanted the bigger piece of lamb. (Last night it was the plate with the largest portion of green beans.)One that hadn’t yet been cut.  So, I took what was meant to be his plate.  He was just so eager to eat the grilled chop that he didn’t want an already cut-up piece, he wanted the Fred Flinstone portion. Which also meant he had more couscous, which my eldest kept trying to steal.  

It was so funny and also so nice that they all loved everything on their plates with no whining in earshot!

20 Minute Dinner- Start to Finish

This is one quick chicken dish I’ve come up with for when I’m at a loss for inspiration and time Throw a little Adobo seasoning powder or some Penzy’s Singapore Spice (black pepper, lemon peel, garlic, onion, turmeric, coriander, cumin, fenugreek, ginger, nutmeg, fennel, cinnamon, white pepper, cardamom, cloves, cayenne pepper— all in one!!) on cut up chicken breast pieces, toss them into a hot pan with olive oil, flip around a bit until they’re cooked. If they’re small enough it’s only a matter of minutes.  (Be careful with the Adobo seasoning as it’s very salty and you need only a little.) Add a simple salad, green beans and 3 Grains Blend from Trader Joe’s…dinner in 20 minutes!


The salad contained Romaine lettuce, red cabbage, cucumber, tomato, basil and green bell pepper.  All but the Romaine were from our local CSA.  I used my go-to prepared salad dressing: Briannas French Vinaigrette.  (I’ll post some homemade salad dressing recipes soon, promise.)  The beans, also local, were coooked in rapidly boiling water for 3-4 minutes and cooled in ice bath.  Reheated with butter, sea salt and fresh ground pepper.  The grains took a little longer than I thought, but still were simple to prepare. 


I wasn’t stressed out—boys got a nutritious and tasty dinner after a day outside in the hot sun.  I set up the living room table as a dining table and they got to watch a movie.  It’s at most a once-a-week treat. I prefer to eat at the dining room or outside table, but when they’ve been going full-on all day outside, I don’t mind the occasional retreat in front of the TV.