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. 

Summer Meal in a Flash

Between my part time work, boys’ swim lessons, swim team practice, speech therapy, and BMX practice and my Park & Rec Commission meeting there was little time to cook dinner last night but we still managed to have a quick and healthy meal.

I sound like a broken record, but I find so many convenient yet healthful foods at Trader Joe’s.  Last night I cooked Mahi Mahi burgers and served them with sides of spinach and broccoli.  The boys had theirs plain, but for mine I added a bit of a flavor treat.  One of my favorite combinations of flavors is Mahi Mahi with mango salsa.  Since the boys had to run out to BMX track and I had to get to a meeting I just skipped some of the parts, but still created a similar taste.  I added a slices of mango and avocado and some Sriracha.  So delicious! Going to do that again soon. 

Trader Joe's Mahi Mahi Burgers with avocado and mango

Trader Joe’s Mahi Mahi Burgers with avocado and mangoIMG_4492



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Chickpea salad I brought to friend’s party on Saturday.  3 cans chickpeas (garbanzo beans)1 cup plain Greek yogurt2 Tbsp chopped fresh mint1 Tbsp chopped fresh chives2 tsp cumin1/2 tsp cayennejuice of 1 lemondozen chopped grape tomatoessalt & pepper to taste … Continue reading

Marinated & Grilled Shrimp

I don’t have photos of this, but thought I’d pass on the recipe since the kids devoured them with such gusto. 

Used about 1 pound of frozen shrimp.  Thaw in cold water.  In a bowl mix 3 Tbsp soy sauce, 1 tsp fish sauce, 1 tsp sesame oil, 1 tsp lemongrass, 2-3 cloves garlic chopped, 1-2 inch piece ginger grated/chopped, juice of 1 lime, 1 lemon, 1 orange, dash or two of cayenne or chopped chili pepper (habanero, serrano), handful of chopped cilantro.  Place defrosted shrimp in marinade and let sit for at least 2 hours in fridge.  Optional tsp galangal.

Grill & enjoy!

Colors of Summer

What says summer more than grilled foods, fresh corn and local tomatoes?  My husband cooked the other night- another swelteringly hot and muggy day.  He grilled a ribeye steak that was simply prepared with salt and pepper.  He chooses to grill over hardwood charcoal not gas because he likes the added smokiness of the wood.  We used to get the charcoal from Trader Joe’s but they only sell the briquettes now, which have been treated with something that imparts an unsavory smell.  He grilled some blanched garlic scapes too to go with the meat.  My youngest eats them cut up like little green beans.

Served with that was Bread and Butter corn and tomatoes both fresh from the farm that day.  Since my 6 year old has another couple of loose teeth, we did our corn per usual then sliced the kernels off the cob.  Reheated with butter, salt and pepper. A little of all three can go a long way, and just enough to enhance the corn’s flavors by adding the other taste dimensions.  (As previously mentioned I usually only use sea salt now. We always grind fresh peppercorns because the pre-ground pepper from tins have lost its punch and flavor by the time it reaches the food). 

Red tomato, basil (fresh from our garden), and goat cheese salad is another summer staple.  Though last year it seemed as it was just my husband and I eating it, this year, we can hardly get a bite in before my oldest two are hogging it all for themselves.  My middle son was even dipping his meat and potatoes into the left over dressing after the tomatoes were all gone. 

Arrange sliced tomatoes on a plate, chop basil in small ribbons (chiffonade), top with chunks of goat cheese (we get TJ’s own brand log), sparinglydrizzle with balsamic vinegar (we use a 50 year old one), a good quality olive oil, and ground pepper to top. We usually use French Grey sea salt or Hawaiian Red sea salt, but we’re out.  We used a Himalayan pink (obviously not sea salt) and. But use whatever good quality sea, or mined salt in this case, you have. 

All Blue potatoes we received from our CSA bin.  They look like Peruvian purple potatoes, but I guess since there are thousands of different kinds of potatoes, these are from elsewhere.  Unlike the “magic” purple beans, these are purplish-blue inside and out even after being cooked.  We simply boiled them and served as is.  They were firm and had a lovely sweet and earthy taste.  The kids loved the color. I believe one way to get kids to try foods that might otherwise be seen as healthy (and undesirable) is to add the colorful veggies and not just green ones.  It’s also good for them to get the different colors because they have different nutrients.

Lastly we served green zucchini (courgettes) and yellow summer squash.  Again my middle son wouldn’t touch them last year, but this year he gobbles them up gladly. 


My sons have favorite colors.  When my eldest was 2-3 his favorite was red, then a couple of years later it was green, then turquoise, then “rainbow”, now he’s got several.  My middle son loved “lello” when he was 2-3 then blue, then green, then turquoise and now back to blue.  And my youngest’s favorite was orange and white, then green, now blue.  In such a short period of time their favorite colors have changed.  Well, so have their favorite foods.  They still love certain things but they keep adding foods to their repertoire and all of a sudden (Now kohlrabi is my middle son’s favorite food.  My youngest asked for salmon or “snapping” for dinner two nights ago.  My eldest still loves spaghetti, but sushi and tacos have taken top spot.)  I believe if you understand that kids change their favorites, their tastes, their interests as they grow you will find that given the opportunity they may actually like that food they had no interest in eating previously.  Give them a chance to try it, eventually they may like it… or even love it!

“Here try it” , “ok” — before he asked for more and more…