Putting veggies first – a mini tip

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It’s been a busy summer so far with kids out of school and getting distracted by all the fun summer activities to be had here in NYC. I’ve also been diving into a holistic nutrition course to educate myself on a topic that I’ve been passionate about. The course has given me the focus I need and so far it’s been enlightening and inspiring. I hope to incorporate more of what I learn here!

Eating more greens and vegetables is a no brainer for optimal health – and is a common denominator in most dietary theories. As I’m trying to be more intentional about incorporating vegetables at the family dinner table I find that I need a better strategy than habitually keeping greens an afterthought, scrambling together a crudite platter for dinner. Nothing wrong with some raw veggies and dip, but I know I can do better.

With two little kids, there is a very small and unforgiving window of feeding time, as many parents know. So my goal is to have the veggies ready along with everything else served up for dinner – instead of finishing up the salad or roasted veggies halfway through the rest of their dinner.

One day I started dinner prep with vegetables in mind and found everything else fell into place.

Light bulb moment.

Start with the veggies.

I found that this simple mental shift was helpful in ensuring I prioritized greens to have ready right at dinner time.

So, I put veggies first.

I get the produce out of the fridge so that it’s visible. Get the peeling, washing, chopping, drying, etc. out of the way.

I admit this is not revolutionary or maybe not a real cooking tip, but for me the  just taking the time be intentional about something revealed an easy solution that starts with a shift in perspective.

Ideally I’d like to get to the point where I’m a meal planning machine – churning out meals planned well in advance, always having frozen back up meals stocked, not having to rely on pizza delivery (is it just me?) but this baby step – considering vegetables first before I start cooking – will one day take me closer to achieving meal prep glory.

Please share any of your tips for getting more vegetables on your dinner table. I’d love to hear them!

 

 

 

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Resolutions 2017

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It’s a new year and I’ve been taking the past few days weeks to take stock of 2016. There were lots of ups and downs for us personally in 2016 so I’m ready to start afresh. 2017 is already starting off with a bittersweet bang — beginning with a cross country move back to NYC.

Getting ready to move a family of four (plus a dog) and processing it all got me thinking  about resolutions – specifically by reviewing the year’s past. As I shed our possessions to once again return to a small apartment, I’m also looking through the cookbooks, the piles of articles torn from magazines that I saved for later and never actually looked at again.

This unused pile of cookbooks and hidden inspiration in the kitchen prompted me to make some specific resolutions around the kitchen and use the resources under my nose. So this year I’m resolved to try to cook more out of my collection of someday recipes – especially out of physical cookbooks, and try my hand at some more challenging recipes that have been on my mind for a while.

Here’s my short-list of my ambitions (short, because I like to under promise, over deliver).

  • Variations on Roast Chicken –  Thomas Keller’s simple roast chicken has been on rotation in my kitchen this year so I’m going to explore some other spice combinations for some variety. Like this one with sumac, Zatar and lemon.
  • Mom’s Homemade Kimchi – Since my mom’s generation and prior didn’t use recipes cards, cookbooks or have blogs to reference for their family recipes I’ll have to extract it from her and etch it permanently onto the internet.
  • Pok Pok chicken wings – remember the craze?! I have the cookbook and used to live walking distance from their LES location so I have nostalgic cravings for this. After getting the book years ago, which was entertaining to peruse, I was intimidated by most, well all of the recipes, but I think it’ll be worth the trouble for this one.
  • More plants – Kale is definitely on my weekly shopping list and here to stay but this year I’m looking forward to continuing to explore more plant-based dishes. Since living in California and being blessed with its bounty of fresh produce and farmer’s markets, its been easy to get inspired to eat your veggies. And I’m taking this with me to the east coast! The wellness trend taking the food industry by storm is also shedding light to some amazing chefs and interesting things happening with veggies. It’s an exciting time for healthy eating.
  • Meal Planning – Meal planning with 2 little kids is a struggle but an essential part of eating a home cooked meal and surviving the week! I’m still finding my “system” but overall I’d like to be more intentional and make things in “bulk” for future meals.
  • Julia Child’s Boeuf Bourguignon – Mastering the Art of French Cooking is on my bookshelf now thanks to a book sale at my local library. I’ll crack it open this year and start with this classic.

What’s on your short-list? Any food related resolutions on your mind? Share in the comments, I’d love to know!

PC: Unsplash.com

EATING IN KOREA

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We recently came back from a quick 9 day trip to Korea to visit my dad’s side of the family. There are lots of facets to look back on this memorable trip but it was an interesting experience seeing the country and its food culture through the eyes of my Japanese-American husband and two American children.

I’ve visited Korea before and grew up in an immigrant household where we mostly ate Korean food so culture shock was not expected, but traveling as a mom of two kids was definitely a far cry from my last visit as a care-free college student. With my companions (hubby, a toddler and preschooler) in tow, here are some of my observations about eating in Korea.

+ Abundance is a word that comes to mind when thinking about eating in Korea. There’s an abundance of what’s on the table – a stimulating sensorial array of small side dishes (banchan), bubbling stews, pungent pickled things. You can also expect to eat in abundance and not ever feel like you will miss a meal because there’s a restaurant on every corner. You will also have food coming at you from your host or whoever you are dining with. It’s a cultural thing to show your hospitality and love through food and offering it whether they want it or not is not the issue. My husband has already been hazed in this tradition by my parents and extended family. To put it bluntly, Koreans are generally food pushers. Don’t take offense, if someone plops food on your plate, whether you asked for it or not.

“A meal is not complete for a Korean, without soup or Kimchi,” – My aunt

+ Kid seating.  High chairs were a rare commodity. Unless you’re specifically at a family friendly restaurant, or at a theme park for kids (e.g. Lotte World), don’t expect to find any high-chairs or boosters for your kids. In most restaurants we found that there is a section for Western style tables and chairs, or in the more traditional setting of sitting on the floor with a low table. We ended up in the traditional setting most of the time. My kids spend a lot of time on the floor anyway so they didn’t seem to have minded this too much. What they did mind was taking their shoes on and off every time we had a meal ate these restaurants.

With the lack of high chairs we had to rely on lots of distractions to keep them from roaming around since they weren’t strapped down. Thank goodness for Pororo cartoons! (if you don’t know who this cartoon character is, your kids will be indoctrinated as a Pororo fan as soon as you board the plane via the branded kids plane meals and his presence all over Korea!)

+ Kid Food. There’s no special kids menu. And I kind of love this. The expectation is that the kids eat what the adults are eating. Because of the abundance of variety and omni-presence of rice there is always something that kids can eat and turn into a meal. My kids got by like this without having to resort to mac & cheese or chicken nuggets (not that we had the option!).

+ Breakfast. In Korea there’s no specific food you eat during “breakfast” like here in the states. The younger generation in Korea likely adopts a simple western style breakfast but at least within my extended family – they seemed to stick to the same traditional morning meal which is anything you would eat for lunch or dinner! But typically breakfast is comprised of soup and rice with some banchan. I’m fascinated by what people eat for breakfast around the word, there’s so much variety. Have you seen the NYT Magazine piece (from a few years go) on what kids around the world eat for breakfast?

Before we embarked on this trip, I had anxiety around how my kids would adapt to the new country, the language barrier and Korean food 24/7 but I was proud and relieved to see how  adaptable and resilient they were to their new surroundings.

It was also nice to have the astute and blunt observations of a 4 year old. My son exclaimed “that’s a weird breakfast!” at 8am in front of a table set with a steaming fish casserole with banchan around it. We were definitely not having blueberry pancakes that morning.

Perhaps my kids are still too young to have any sort of culture shock, since they’re still getting grounded in their own reality. Through this quick international trip, I hope the sights, the smells, and tastes of Korea are woven into their sense of heritage and family roots.