ZEN AND THE CITY

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Eating well at home!

Everyone’s concerned with eating well these days, and for good reason. We are what we eat, and it’s become increasingly evident that eating well pays off not only in good looks, but also in good health throughout pregnancy, motherhood, and beyond.

My take on eating well comes from my upbringing in France where eating well, but also enjoying food, is at the center of everyone’s life. Forget “low-cal,” “low-fat,” tasteless snacks – and welcome real meals made with real food, including a ton of fresh vegetables, fresh fish, and locally sourced meats and dairy.

If you eat three great meals a day, and allow yourself one scheduled afternoon snack, you will never again feel like reaching for that bag of chips or cookies at random times throughout the day. You will also never get the munchies late at night after dinner (the worst for your waistline and for your health)!

The key is to go for meals that are balanced and satisfying and always made with real ingredients. By real ingredients, I mean grown by Mother Nature. One key tip: if your great-grandma wouldn’t know an ingredient (or if you can’t pronounce it) – don’t eat it! Our bodies were meant to eat natural foods, not man-made chemical compounds. I don’t care if it’s low-cal or if the packaging says it’s healthy!

Now, a lot of women I meet are intimidated by cooking at home, or don’t know where to start, or think they don’t have the time. The thing is, it doesn’t take any longer to put together a balanced meal for your family, than it does to pop a frozen dinner into the microwave – or dial your local pizza delivery! If you invest two weeks into changing your family’s eating habits, by setting up your kitchen the right way, you’re likely to find out that cooking at home is not hard at all – and that it’s easy on your wallet. You might also find that you’re sleeping better, concentrating more easily at work, and that you have more energy for your kids.

Here are some of my family’s favorites:

SMOOTHIES for breakfast or for snack. Invest in a good blender that can pulverize ice and that can make smoothies that are actually smooth (kids hate chunks)! Pop in one banana, a drop of orange juice, strawberries, blueberries, some ice… blend, and you’re done! It’s a perfect way to get all of your fruit servings, and even the pickiest kid loves a nice, sweet smoothie. Once your kids are used to smoothies, you can play around – add almond milk or (plain) yoghurt, or sneak in some veggies, based on your children’s preferences. But for a crowd-pleaser, I would stick with the basics at first: berries, fruit and ice. It’s also really important to have a great blender. I used to have a not-so-great one, and although my daughter always loved my smoothies, my son wouldn’t touch them. Then I got a much fancier blender and all of a sudden, my son was on board and asking for more! He just didn’t like the chunks! Now he still dislikes fruit, but he loves a fruit smoothie!

PANINIS (hot-pressed sandwiches).  Even before the kids were born, I discovered the Breville panini press in the William Sonoma catalog and I fell in love with the perfect pressed sandwiches I made every single time. You can go crazy with fun combinations like brie, avocado and pesto; chicken, cheddar and honey mustard; or tomato, mozzarella and basil. The press makes any sandwich thin, crispy and easy to eat! Now that we have kids, we use our panini press for grilled cheese, in addition to the sandwiches that we still make for ourselves. Use whole wheat or whole grain bread for the grilled cheese if you want better nutritional value; add some diced tomatoes, or maybe a slice of turkey or ham, before you pop it into the panini press; and make fun shapes with a sandwich cutter before serving. Show your kids how to dip it into a cup of tomato soup and you have a golden kids’ meal – without any of the grease or chemicals that you would have, if you made that same sandwich on the stove top with a bunch of butter or non-stick spray!

FOR LITTLE BABIES who can’t eat anything but purees, I recommend the BabyCook by Beaba – this handy little device cooks and blends in a single container, so it cuts your prep time in half. You also don’t have to wash a million utensils after you’re done! BabyCook sells puree containers that are freezer-safe, so you can make a whole bunch of puree one day and freeze the rest in perfectly sized baby portions. That way, whenever you need a meal, pop one portion out, and you have a homemade baby meal on a minute’s notice! I recommend the cookbook that goes with the BabyCook – it gave me loads of healthy and yummy ideas for my kids when they were babies. It’s a great way to start your babies off right!

As you can see, it’s easy to make great meals at home if your kitchen is equipped the right way. I would be so curious to hear your feedback, if any of you decide to try my recommendations for kitchen equipment or recipes! Happy prepping, happy cooking and happy eating!

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