May 6th, 2009

Simple Food for Busy Families

Statistics show that the amount of time that families are willing to put into meal preparation has greatly diminished, decreasing to just 10 minutes for an average meal. I find that statistic outrageous -my family can prepare a meal, eat it and be on to dessert in 10 minutes.

Fortunately, Jeannette Bessinger and Tracee Yablon-Brenner (aka “The Real Food Moms”) have come to our rescue, providing ideas for lifestyle changes and healthy meals that accommodate our hectic lives with “Simple Food for Busy Families”

The first half of “Simple Food” seems daunting, with densely packed chapters filled with particulars about the lifestyles, habits and diets many of us have fallen into. Now, to be honest, this is usually where I will close the book and open the Twinkies, rather than wrap my mind around too much information. Fortunately, the authors are the “Real Food Moms”, emphasis equally on the “real food” and the “moms”. Nothing makes me crazier than a stick-thin, botox-laden “nutritionist” telling me she “gets” where I’m coming from; these moms not only “get” where I’m coming from, they’re from there too. They understand the stress and demands on a parent’s life, not to mention the belief that many children hold that tofu is a by-product of Hell. Facts, figures and advice are layered with humor and personal anecdotes, and each chapter is neatly summarized with key “take-away” points.

The later chapters focus on recipes and food preparation, utilizing the “teach a man to fish” principal, not only providing recipes but also general tips about cooking techniques and the ingredients themselves. Teach a mom to grocery shop and she’ll use bok choy and coriander forever. My favorite sections of the book are the mix and match recipes, recognizing people’s need for habit and routine. We don’t eat pasta and sauce from a jar four nights in a row because I’m honoring my Italian heritage; we do it because it’s easy and familiar. The mix and match recipes provide dozens of options for meals staples such a breakfast cereals, soups, sauces, marinades, sandwiches and more.

So while there are many tools in my kitchen that sit dusty and neglected – hello rice steamer and rotisserie baker – I can see Simple Food for Busy Families as being a resource that we will use time and again.

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This Weeks Tip

If you’re one of those Moms who can actually find the time to put lipstick on, here’s a handy summertime tip. Prevent smudging by rubbing an ice cube over your lips after applying lipstick. The ice helps sets the color so it won’t bleed, melt or smudge.