Healthy Cooking Tips For Busy FamiliesFri 01 Jun 2012
Story by Jennifer Tyler Lee
Careening towards the end of school, the freight train feels out of control. Our dining room has been overtaken with end of year projects, the summer camp schedule looks like a piece of swiss cheese, and Iím spinning trying to figure out how itís all going to come together.
You too? Pretty standard fare for any busy family. Now try to add healthy, home-cooked meals to that list and you may feel like all you want to do is order a pizza and call it a night. So when it gets hectic, itís essential to have a few healthy cooking tips and tricks in your back pocket.
Healthy cooking tips for busy families was the focus of Cooking with Crunch a Color Ė a fundraiser organized to support Jamie Oliverís Global Food Revolution Day. Amy The Family Chef generously donated her time and expertise and shared a few simple but essential healthy cooking tips with a group of busy parents. Hereís what we learned:
Seek Versatile Recipes
"It's easy to get in a rut with weeknight dinners, but the simple, flexible recipes we learned with Jennifer and Amy make me feel confident that I can change it up without the fear that it will be a flop." - Erin Pasero, Healthy Hip Mama.
Learning a new recipe is fun, but isnít best done on busy weeknights. As we all know, the more times you make a recipe, the faster it gets. It becomes routine, something you can make with very little effort.
The problem: It gets boring, fast!
The solution: Assemble a stable of simple recipes that can be easily tweaked to create different dishes.
For example, made one way, Amyís Easy Italian Chicken is a simple take on chicken Parmesan. Change up the spices by adding chili powder, cumin and oregano instead of garlic and thyme. Add lime and a drizzle of honey at the end, instead of the wine, and youíve got a Mexican fiesta on your hands! You get the idea. Aim for five to 10 of these in your personal cookbook.
Learn a Few Tricks
ďI have been cooking my whole life, yet left our dinner with at least 10 tips that I didnít know and canít wait to try. Everyone had something interesting to add.ď Ė Erin McBride Crocker, Skinny Scoop.
What amazed all of us was how a few simple tricks can make cooking so much easier Ė like mixing your berry crisp in the pan youíre going to use to save on cleanup! We learned how to cut an onion the easy way, and a simple trick to avoid onion-induced tears. Just a few of these simple healthy cooking tips make weeknight dinners so much easier, and more fun! Check out Erinís fantastic list of the healthy cooking tips Amy shared, and be sure to add your ideas to the list: Cooking Tips I Canít Believe I Didnít Know.
Cook with Friends
ďI generally spend Saturday lamenting the Sunday ritual my husband has of basketball with the guys and lack thereof for something similar with my girlfriends. Well, thanks to Jennifer and Crunch a Color, I think I've found the solution. Good friends, cooking healthy family friendly food - oh and a chef to teach us some great technique!Ē Ė Hillary Mickell, Foodily.
The hidden treasure in this class was discovering how much you can learn from cooking with friends. We were incredibly fortunate to have Amy guiding our cooking adventure, but you certainly donít need a professional chef to pull together an event like this. Think of it as a book club but for healthy cooking tips and recipes. With a small group of friends, share a menu each month and then come together to cook, share tips, and enjoy a healthy meal together. Hereís our menu to get you started: Healthy Cooking with Crunch a Color.
About the author: Jennifer Tyler Lee is a mom of two and the creator of Crunch a Colorô -- the award-winning nutrition game that makes healthy eating fun. Like most parents, she struggled to get her kids to eat healthy, balanced meals, so she decided to make it into a healthy eating game and sheís giving back to support Jamie Oliverís Food Revolution. Watch her picky eaters tell the story of how they turned into healthy eaters playing the game. Join the conversation on Facebook or Twitter to tune into Crunch a Color's healthy eating adventure and Jenniferís tips and kid-friendly, easy recipes.
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