Monday, June 22, 2009

Healthy is as healthy does

I get a lot of e-mails about the healthy lunches, and it's true that they are. I'm pretty conscious about what the kids eat but I try not to take it too far. It makes me feel good to be taking care of them in this way, and I hope I'm laying a good foundation for them to eat well and to enjoy all sorts of flavors and dishes.

The key to the healthy meals, for me, is prepping the food ahead of when I need them. In my fridge right now is a big bowl of washed cherries, another of washed blueberries, and yet another of cubed watermelon. I have sandwich bags with chopped celery and sliced cucumbers and cooked shelled edamame. All of the snacks and dried fruits are in zip-lock bags so I can grab them, serve them, and put them away faster.

One key strategy is washing the produce as soon as I unpack it. When I'm putting the groceries away I'll just leave the apples, celery, peppers, and the rest on the counter. Then as I go about my business in the kitchen I can see what I need to wash, chop, and prep before putting it away. The celery gets chopped into short lengths, washed, and bagged. Apples are washed and de-stickered (those things are annoying!). Blueberries are washed and put into a bowl - I pad the bowl with a few paper towels to keep the berries on the bottom from going bad too quickly.

I do a lot of the prep work while I'm already in the kitchen so I don't have to spend a lot of extra time on this kind of stuff. If I'm already cooking dinner I'll throw an extra pot of water on to boil and cook a bag of edamame to keep on-hand. If I'm chopping onions for dinner I'll slice up a cucumber and bag it for snacks. Any time I open a new bag of almonds or raisins or veggie sticks I'll pour the whole thing into a zip-lock bag and store it that way.

The other easy way to get this kind of work done is working when I'm on the phone. My friend Kara called a few nights ago and while we gossipped I chopped up and entire watermelon and stored it in two bowls in the fridge. The boys and I have been enjoying the heck out of that watermelon ever since.

Today we decided to meet up with my folks and go watch my sister play softball. I was able to throw together snacks in about 10 minutes:

So that's all good and healthy and proper, right? But...

My general thinking is that if 2/3 of what they eat is healthy then I'm not going to sweat the rest. It really frees me up when they grab cookies at a party or eat nothing but doritos at our neighbor's house. In fact last night we were hanging around and I got a yen from my childhood: Nate and I hit the grocery store and got all the fixings for ice-cream sundaes and that was dinner for them last night. Big scoops of ice cream, bananas, chocolate syrup, whipped cream, and all the sprinkles Nate could sprinkle. It was a fun night.

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