6 Remedies to the Pre-Dinner Snack Dilemma

The Snack Dilemma

As a dad, every day is full of food dilemmas: is this meal healthy enough? Should I make them try everything on their plate? How to get five fruits and vegetables a day? One that comes up a lot is, should I feed my kids after school, so close to dinnertime?  Will it ruin dinner? I have a few rules that help me through.

Veggies and Hummus

Click here to read remedies to the pre-dinner snack dilemma John uses with his family…

6 Ways Community Can Support Family Dinners

It Takes a Village to Have Family Dinner

It’s true.  Committing to family dinner as a community makes sticking to family dinner easier in so many ways.  First, you know you are part of something meaningful for all of you.  Being part of a movement helps in those moments when you are teetering on the edge of throwing in the towel and deciding to leave a pot of spaghetti and sauce on the stove and letting people fend for themselves.  I also think it helps our kids stick to the routine when they know that your expectation is the same in their friends’ homes; no kid wants to be called to dinner from a game knowing that she is the only one. Also, as a community you can share ideas, food, and time together.

So here are six ideas for how families can help each other… Read the rest of this entry »

The Dinner Table: Family Dinner Resolution


For the New Year I made a resolution – a family dinner resolution – to actually get home for family dinner. It is a bit difficult on the conscience to be the Director of the Family Dinner Project and not get home for dinner very often. So I resolved, and I have spent the last four weeks doing my best to stick to it. This post is a report on what is working, and what is not… Read the rest of this entry »

The Dinner Table: Giving is Inspiring

Giving Tuesday

Tuesday, December 3rd, 2013,  is Giving Tuesday.  After years of hearing about Black Friday and Cyber Monday, some folks created a day for giving back rather than consuming – and thus Giving Tuesday – the first Tuesday after Thanksgiving.  The Family Dinner Project got inspired by this opportunity and thought – what better place to talk together about giving back than at the dinner table? What better way to raise the next generation of philanthropists great and small?  So we went and built a whole new part of our website dedicated to helping families talk about and inspire giving together.  My favorite is this Decision Tree that Grace Taylor created. But the tips for inspiring giving in children is great, as are the conversation starters.
Here is how our giving conversations have started, but we need your help to see them through. Read on and share your thoughts…

The Dinner Table: Return of the Toast!

Prost! A Sente! Salute! Cheers! To your Health!

The toast is that moment of transition.

Ceremony is too often neglected in what has become a pretty unceremonious society we live in and our dinner tables reflect that.  Some families of course still light a candle, say a thanks, a grace or a prayer before a meal, but as fewer people have these traditions, we have not done enough to cultivate a replacement.

Ritual is an important part of family bonding.  Beginnings are an important part of ritual. Bill Doherty, the renowned family therapist, in his book The Intentional Family: Simple Rituals to Strengthen Family Ties talks about the three phases of family rituals – the transitional phase, the enactment phase and the exit phase. He argues that our family dinners should have all three phases. “The transitional phase is used to move from everyday matters into ‘ritual space,’ where the sense of ceremony and connection are enhanced.” There are three things served here – marking the moment when we separate from the everyday, bringing some sense celebration, care and specialness to the table, and connecting with one another in a meaningful way.

It is for these three reasons that I am advocating the return of the toast.  The toast is a non-religious but ceremonial way of leaving the day behind and marking the beginning our meal together, of celebrating, and of connecting…

Read the rest of this entry »

The Dinner Table: Don’t Yuck on My Yum!

Don’t Yuck on My Yum

The dinner table is the first classroom for diversity.

We don’t have a lot of rules at our dinner table – we try to make it as nag-free as we can. But one rule I insist on I learned from a fourth grader in Lynn, MA, as part of the Family Dinner Project’s lunch mentors program with the Lynn Public Schools.  Don’t yuck on my yum.  I had never heard it before this student used it to defend her choice of sandwich.

It means you shouldn’t criticize the food that someone else is eating and likes. Don’t yuck on my yum.  What I think is yummy, don’t say yuck about.  So often, one child embraces something interesting, healthy, uncommon, or ethnic and gets criticized for it.  What is unknown scares kids. What smells strong or looks different seems strange and weird.  Kids name that to make themselves feel less anxious about being different.  This happens over and over to children from certain traditions or with varied tastes or personalities. Eventually a child’s tastes get worn away to the lowest common denominator until everybody’s eating chicken nuggets and noodles…

Read the rest of this entry »

The Dinner Table: Supportive Pantry & Easy Meals

What’s in Your Pantry?

If it is 5:45pm and I just got home from work and we have no plan for dinner, what I have on hand will make or break my evening plans… Having a pantry full of staples to help make a simple and healthy meal at home at any moment is crucial. Here is my go-to list for a supportive pantry and a handful of meal ideas too…

Creating a healthy home is often about a series of small choices we make every day. In the moment when our kids ask for snack food before dinner, do we say yes or no?  In the moment when deciding what to make for dinner, do we run out and grab some burgers or stay home and cook?  Small decisions made under pressure occur countless times a day.

The question, then, is how do we set ourselves up for making more healthy choices and fewer unhealthy ones in those moments?

Healthy decisions are either supported or thwarted by some pattern in our lives. Whether I decide to have family dinner or not is often dependent on how much mail I have piled on my kitchen table, or if I have any clean dishes, or very often on whether I have anything in my pantry to make a quick and healthy meal…

Read the rest of this entry »

The Dinner Table: Extending Dinner Time with Walking Desserts

A Sweet Idea for Summer (or any time): The Walking Dessert

With the pressures on family time mounting, my wife and I are always looking for ways to stretch out our time together around family dinner. During the summer that means a walking dessert – usually ice cream cones or popsicles, but anything that fits into a cup will work. The walking dessert was started by my wife because I couldn’t get home in time for dinner and as means of stretching the meal until I arrived, she started to take our restless kids on a walk.

Walking dessert accomplishes many things: It gives us some exercise; it redirects the urge my kids have to get up from the table; it provides new things to look at and talk about; and after sitting all day in an office, then in my car for the hour-long commute, it offers an alternative to sitting again for a long time at the dinner table. Walking dessert is also a physical way of talking together, side by side, which for me (and perhaps for you?) is actually more comfortable than sitting across from someone.

If you like the sound of the walking dessert, here are a few things I suggest…

Read the rest of this entry »

Dinner Ideas: Local Beets & Fennel Salad

Roasted Beet Salad

Check your local farmers’ market or organic produce section for a selection of sweet & colorful beets! (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

Wow, what a wacky growing season this has been! The extremes we’ve been experiencing are challenging. From drought to flooding, cold to heat and heat to cold, the conditions this season have been erratic and stressful to the plants. Our local farmers need our support to weather difficult growing seasons. Look for locally grown produce at locally owned markets and frequent many of the area farmers’ markets.

Despite the rivers that were flowing in our garden paths a week ago, our garden is producing beautifully. We’ve been eating loads of salad greens and radishes, and about fifteen different types of cooking greens. The strawberries and peas are coming on strong now. Lots of herbs have been enhancing our meals. Garlic scapes are ready, we still have a few stray asparagus stalks, and the rest of the garden is looking promising for abundant harvests. Here’s a recipe for Roasted Beet Salad. It uses several types of vegetables and herbs that are showing up at area farmers’ markets.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Dinner Table: Letting Go of Perfect!

Here’s to the “Good Enough” Dinner

Is your desire to create the perfect family dinner creating challenges and tension? Don’t aim for the perfect dinner, but rather the “Good Enough” dinner. The goal is to connect, enjoy one another’s company and to make memories.

I’m very excited that Sienna asked me to contribute a monthly column to Hilltown Families. As director of The Family Dinner Project (FDP), I’m always happy to find new groups of parents who recognize the importance of family dinners and aspire to make them more meaningful (or more frequent, or more nutritious, or more peaceful, etc.). Together we can work on how to go about it.

That’s truly all we think about at FDP; how can we help families tackle the specific challenges they face regarding family dinner? We provide the resources, targeted advice and support you need to make it happen in your home. And it’s not just a one-way street – because we want you to tell us how to do it too, and we’ll help share the wisdom of your home with people all over the country.

I write a lot about parents as innovators.  Every day you are in your home and are faced with challenges and you come up with ways to make things work. Chances are that other parents that are part of the Hilltown Families network face the same dilemmas and struggles you do– and your wisdom can help. As much as anything, we see FDP as a place where families share wisdom.

Read the rest of this entry »

Parenting Possibilities: The Family Dinner Experience

Family Dinners: Joy or Indigestion?

The extensive research on the benefits of family dinners has seemed to define eating together as the make it or break it sign to raising healthy, well-adjusted children. I do agree that family meals have potential to be an opportunity to catch up on the day’s events and bond in the midst of our busy world. For years though, I have been challenged in my experience with family dinners and prefer to bond with my family in other ways. It is only recently that I have felt a shift.

When our boys were really little we would feed them early. After dinner some play, books and then bed. Next came much needed grown up relaxation time often complete with spicy food, red wine and uninterrupted conversation with my sweetheart. I thought this was the best of both worlds. As the boys grew though, things gradually changed. Baseball practices, homework, play dates and more pushed bedtime later. Eating after the kids went to bed was now too late. My partner loved the idea of having more family dinners and so I yielded to her wishes and committed to making it happen.

Often though, I have felt overwhelmed at the table. I always begin with the intention of being mindful and present with my loved ones but quickly slip into a state of constant negotiation. I become focused on moderating the noise level or making sure people take turns talking. I carefully watch for opportunities to teach and enforce appropriate manners. I commonly request slowing down the eating and remind boys to stay in seats…

Read the rest of this entry »

Mushroom Barley Soup

Mushroom Barley Soup

I wake up in the morning thinking of the billowing steam from maple sap boiling. I love going to sugar houses to see the dramatic plumes of steam rising, to smell the sweet maple aroma, to taste the first of the season’s delicate, delicious syrup…to experience the promise of spring again. My seasonal rhythms are tied to sugarin'; it marks the final gasps of winter and the arrival of daffodils and forsythia and fruit tree blossoms and spring greens and warmth and sunshine.

But this year winter isn’t quite letting go. So when I think of what’s for supper, my desires still lean toward hearty, winter foods. Tonight we’ll have Mushroom Barley Soup. We still have some oyster mushrooms from the grow-your-own kit that we got at the Creamery! I’ll bake a loaf of rye bread, roast some delicata squash, and cook some of our frozen shell beans with our garlic and fresh rosemary from our indoor plant. Amy will make a salad from just-picked fresh and crisp mixed greens from a friend’s hoop house (thanks, Penny!), with the last of our stored carrots and Jerusalem artichokes and red cabbage, and we’ll be reminded that we’ll soon be eating more and more nourishing local foods.

♦ Print Recipe: Mushroom Barley Soup [V/Vg/NF] . Stock instructions.

Vegetarian (V) | Vegan (Vg) | Nut-Free (NF) | Gluten-Free (GF) | Wheat-Free (WF)| *With Moderation


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Alice Cozzolino

Alice has been co-owner of The Old Creamery since 2000.  She and her partner and spouse, Amy, have lived in Cummington since they built their home in 1986.  Alice and Amy are very deeply connected to their land; they grow a lot of their own food, eat well (especially during the growing season), feed many friends and loved ones and preserve as much food as possible.  Rarely a day goes by that they don’t say “Aren’t we blessed to live here?” Feeding people feels like a calling to Alice.  She was brought up with her Italian Gram and her Dad putting something wonderful to eat in her mouth and saying “Here, eat this.”  Nothing brings her greater joy than feeding people that she cares about or people that are in need of kindness and nurturing.

[Photo credit: (ccl) Jessica Spengler]

Hey Y’all… Alice is Bakin’ Up Some Southern Biscuits!

Southern Biscuits Enjoyed with Local Western MA Ingredients

Biscuits

Here’s something you can make for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or a snack…how versatile is that!  Biscuits are great any time of day.  They taste best slathered with butter, and even better with local honey or your favorite fruity jam.  When I first met Amy, my choice of bread to go with any meal was a crusty Italian/French-type bread or a dense, whole grain loaf.  Amy grew up in the south, and the way to make a southern gal very happy is to make the very best biscuits imaginable.  Brown and crunchy on the outside, moist and flaky on the inside; this was my goal.  I quickly became an expert, and in the process I also got hooked on this delicious treat.

I make them in the same amount of time it takes the oven to pre-heat, so it’s a quick addition to any meal.  For breakfast, they’re out of the oven in the time it takes to set the table, fry the eggs (local of course!) and light the candle.  For lunch or dinner, I make them after I get a pot of soup on, chill them in the refrigerator to make them extra flaky, and then bake them right before serving.  Our favorite afternoon snack is hot biscuits, soft butter, sweet jam (from our own fruit), and a smoothie with yogurt that we make from Cummington raw milk (Taproot Commons Farm), blended with frozen fruit and a drizzle of  maple syrup. Use Vermont-grown Nitty-Gritty Grain Company unbleached flour for a truly local feast!

♦ Print Recipe: Biscuits [V/NF]

Vegetarian (V) | Vegan (Vg) | Nut-Free (NF) | Gluten-Free (GF) | Wheat-Free (WF)| *With Moderation


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Alice Cozzolino

Alice has been co-owner of The Old Creamery since 2000.  She and her partner and spouse, Amy, have lived in Cummington since they built their home in 1986.  Alice and Amy are very deeply connected to their land; they grow a lot of their own food, eat well (especially during the growing season), feed many friends and loved ones and preserve as much food as possible.  Rarely a day goes by that they don’t say “Aren’t we blessed to live here?” Feeding people feels like a calling to Alice.  She was brought up with her Italian Gram and her Dad putting something wonderful to eat in her mouth and saying “Here, eat this.”  Nothing brings her greater joy than feeding people that she cares about or people that are in need of kindness and nurturing.

[Photo credit: (ccl) Steve Mohundro]

Indian Potato Fritters for Dinner Tonight!

Indian Potato Fritters

Potatoes Bonda

Amy and I were in local food heaven! We were visiting her folks on the Gulf Coast of Florida. It is incredulous to everyone that I chose to go to every farmers’ market within two hours, rather than go for another walk on the gorgeous, tropical-blue-water-white-sand-almost-empty-of-people beach. We did all spend a lot of time together in the woods and salt marshes, watching birds and enjoying the tropical beauty, but if it was a farmers’ market day, the family knew they’d lost me. We ate just-harvested strawberries, oranges, grapefruit, satsumas, eggfruit, red limes, lettuce, mesclun, collards, kale, chard, tatsoi, broccoli, green beans, carrots, red and yellow peppers, chilies, tomatoes, potatoes, garlic, onions, and every kind of fresh herb. Amy’s mother graciously shared her kitchen with me, and I joyfully prepared meals from fresh foods grown by farmers that I enjoyed meeting. Simple pleasures. I was in bliss.

Now we’re back in snowy Cummington, and I have to say I’m happy as a lark. My local food choices are limited, but I love our seasons, our land, our foods here. We’re using up our supply of stored foods, so tonight’s dinner choices are potatoes, onions, sweet potatoes, winter squash, turnips, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, leeks, carrots, and beets. That’s enough variety for this Hilltowns girl! We’ll have a multi-ethnic menu with sweet potato gnocchi (recipe coming in the future!), roasted Brussels sprouts, snow-covered kale, and today’s recipe, Potatoes Bonda, an Indian potato fritter.

♦ Print Recipe: Potatoes Bonda [V/Vg/NF/GF/WF]

Vegetarian (V) | Vegan (Vg) | Nut-Free (NF) | Gluten-Free (GF) | Wheat-Free (WF)| *With Moderation


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Alice Cozzolino

Alice has been co-owner of The Old Creamery since 2000.  She and her partner and spouse, Amy, have lived in Cummington since they built their home in 1986.  Alice and Amy are very deeply connected to their land; they grow a lot of their own food, eat well (especially during the growing season), feed many friends and loved ones and preserve as much food as possible.  Rarely a day goes by that they don’t say “Aren’t we blessed to live here?” Feeding people feels like a calling to Alice.  She was brought up with her Italian Gram and her Dad putting something wonderful to eat in her mouth and saying “Here, eat this.”  Nothing brings her greater joy than feeding people that she cares about or people that are in need of kindness and nurturing.

[Photo credit: (ccl) Kirti Poddar]

Q&A: 12 Suggestions for Including Babies During Family Dinner

QUESTION AND ANSWERS

When your kids were babies, how did you include them at the dinner table?

Jennifer Shiao Page writes, “Well, when she was a wee one, we always ate when she was asleep. Once she could sit up, we put her in the high chair and she sat at the table with us. We always gave her appropriately-sized bits of whatever we were eating, for her to eat on her own (or not). We did child-led weaning, which is basically forgoing baby food and pureed food, and letting her experience the texture and taste of our food. It helped to not have to spoon-feed her.”

Carrie St John writes, “My daughter has always preferred being at eye level-sling or soft back pack instead of a stroller. Also true at the dinner table, so from about 1 month to 4 months she would be in the middle of the table (big table). Right in the action. Once she started rolling, she sat on my lap. Once she could sit, close to 6 months, she was in one of those baby seats that goes right up to the table, not a traditional high chair which tends to be back from the table. She was always right there being a part of the conversation.”

Rebecca Dejnak Svan writes, “High chair. Loved it.  It’s at table height and we started eating together as soon as they could be in it.”

Rebecca Trow Addison writes, “At 7 months our daughter had her 1st Thanksgiving and she ate everything we ate. Just cut it up small.”

Judie Isabella writes, “When mine were too little for high chairs, I’d put them right up on the table in their baby seat. When they could sit in high chairs, I would pull it right up to the table… Always… We still do have the best family dinners.”

Kerri Recore Vassar writes, “While infants they seemed to know when we were eating, so typically they nursed while I ate. As they grew, some times they were in a high chair or on my lap.”

Eileen Collins writes, “I rescued a Victorian bent wood high chair, bought a 4 point harness to secure my daughter and kept the table portion of the high chair always flipped back. This way I could push her high chair up to our table. She was at eye level and enjoyed having her meals with us.”

Janet McLaurin writes, “We have hooks in a beam right at the head of the table and we hung a baby airplane swing there-so I guess the boys started at the table but then if they got bored or fussy they ended up gently swinging often ending up asleep -family dinner time is important-good time to gather together.”

Olivia Leone writes, “Our children were always at the dinner table with us, in their high chair (tray off an pulled up to the table), in a booster seat and now in chairs. No matter how busy our lives get, we make sure to sit together at the dinner table even if it means on dance nights we don’t eat until 7, or when track starts, we picnic.”

Barb Raymond writes, “With love and patience.”

Julie Rodrigues Tanguay writes, “In a ring-sling, on our laps, in a swing next to us, on our laps, in the carriage, on our laps, in the highchair reclined, on our laps, in the highchair, ON our laps, in a booster, ON OUR LAPS, in a chair. Our dining room table is in the center our house, and that is a time and place we go to “talk out” any of the days events & plans for the days to come.”

Susan Lillie Robert writes, “When our girls were little we always included them at the table to teach them about proper manners and family time, we would also take them out to eat to show them how one acts out if public. We were always commented on how well behaved they were.”

[Photo credit: (ccl) Daniel James]

Comfort Food: Roasted Sweet Potato Lasagne

Roasted Sweet Potato Lasagne

Amy might be a southerner by heart and spirit, but she and I are Yankees by practice; we light our first fire as late into the season as we can bear. This necessitates cooking on as many burners (we have 8!) and in as many ovens (we have 2) as possible when we are home and awake for more than a couple of hours.  Fortunately, we still have a lot of food preservation happening, so on Wednesdays the burners are going full tilt, along with two heat-producing dehydrators.  We are warm while we joyfully put up food to feed us through the rest of the year.  But we still try to prepare our meals with heat-generating potential in mind.

We dug the last of our sweet potatoes, and these precious few coveted tubers are beckoning our culinary creativity.  Aha!  One of Amy’s favorite entrees…Roasted Sweet Potato Lasagne.  It requires a nice long burner time to caramelize some onions, and TWO turns in the oven…one to roast the potatoes and one to bake the lasagne.  Perfect.  I prepare this recipe by making or buying fresh egg pasta sheets.  This delicious entree begs to be presented with candlelight and soft music, and in the company of cherished friends.  It will open doors to conversation and camaraderie.  Trust me…you’ll see!

♦  Print Recipe: Roasted Sweet Potato Lasagne [V, NF, GF*]

Vegetarian (V) | Vegan (Vg) | Nut-Free (NF) | Gluten-Free (GF) | Wheat-Free (WF) | *With Alteration


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Alice Cozzolino

Alice has been co-owner of The Old Creamery since 2000.  She and her partner and spouse, Amy, have lived in Cummington since they built their home in 1986.  Alice and Amy are very deeply connected to their land; they grow a lot of their own food, eat well (especially during the growing season), feed many friends and loved ones and preserve as much food as possible.  Rarely a day goes by that they don’t say “Aren’t we blessed to live here?” Feeding people feels like a calling to Alice.  She was brought up with her Italian Gram and her Dad putting something wonderful to eat in her mouth and saying “Here, eat this.”  Nothing brings her greater joy than feeding people that she cares about or people that are in need of kindness and nurturing.

[Photo credit: (ccl) David Lifson]

Just My Type: Finding Normalcy During Holiday Meals

Chew On This

My six year old daughter, diagnosed with type 1 diabetes less than 2 years ago, was thrilled when an antipasto platter was served at a recent holiday meal. She absolutely loves cheese! And since her diagnoses, I love for her to eat cheese, too. Why? There are no carbs in cheese! So I say. “Eat up, kiddo!”

This past Thanksgiving, the cheese bit back.

In our home, Thanksgiving has been a holiday that focuses on the three Fs: family, football — and food. Because of that, it is the second of the five late fall/early winter obstacles our family must hurdle while raising a child with type one diabetes.

The first is Halloween, which probably goes without saying (Just how many carbs ARE in a fun-size candy bar?). The second is Thanksgiving, with its all-day noshing of carb-laden food. The third is my daughter Noelle’s birthday in mid-December, which not only presents nutritional challenges but also social ones, as it is so hard to pull the birthday girl aside to prick her finger for a blood sugar test in the middle of fun and games. The fourth is Christmas (see Thanksgiving). And the fifth is New Year’s Day, which was, long before Noelle came along, a day my husband and I dubbed the “Day of Decadence,” where we sit around in our PJs all day, watch football and eat food we make ourselves in our deep frier. — ‘Tis the season!

We survived this past Halloween. Somehow we made it through her birthday party, mostly because she doesn’t like cake, though she doesn’t like to admit she doesn’t like cake because she feels like she’s the only kid in the world who doesn’t like cake (I have to admit that that makes me sad, because I think the reason she doesn’t like cake is because it’s extremely difficult to correctly match insulin to cake and frosting carbs and thus having cake usually leaves her with a high-blood-sugar tummy ache.). And Christmas and New Year’s Day this year promise to be a little more laid back than usual thanks to a family vacation that will leave us traveling on those holidays.

So that leaves Thanksgiving, where Noelle was thrilled when an antipasto platter arrived on the table that day. She absolutely loves cheese! And since she was diagnosed with diabetes, I love for her to eat cheese, too. Why? There are no carbs in cheese! So I say: Eat up, kiddo, no need to stop to bolus insulin. You might get a little … “bound,” to put it delicately, if you eat too much, but have at it!

I watched her select a piece of cheese and eagerly pop it into her mouth. Despite the food issues that diabetes presents, Noelle is always a really good sport at trying new or unfamiliar food, something I admire about her. She scampered off, but within a few seconds she was standing in the hallway with tears in her eyes motioning for me to come to her.

“What’s wrong?” I asked her. She was crying. “I didn’t like this cheese,” she said. “OK, you don’t have to eat any more of it,” I said. “But it’s still in my mouth!” she wailed around the lump in her mouth.

Good grief. I ran back to the dining room, grabbed a napkin and instructed her to spit it out. Which she did, along with a little bile.

“I usually love cheese,” she sobbed. “What WAS that?”

As I found a garbage can in which to dispose of the offensive cheese, I experienced a flash of normalcy. For once since she was diagnosed two years ago, a food issue had nothing to do with portion-controlling and carbohydrate-counting and insulin-matching. This time, it was normal, healthy almost-7-year-old behavior, and as repulsive as the half-chewed cheese in the napkin was, I loved it.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rebecca Dravis

Pittsfield native Rebecca Dravis is a former journalist who lives in north Berkshire County with her husband and daughter in Williamstown, MA. This is the debut of a monthly column where Rebecca will share her experiences as a parent raising a child with type one diabetes. – Check out Just My Type on the third Monday of every month.

What is Type 1 Diabetes: Type 1 diabetes (T1D) is an autoimmune disease in which a person’s pancreas stops producing insulin, a hormone that enables people to get energy from food. It occurs when the body’s immune system attacks and destroys the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas, called beta cells. While its causes are not yet entirely understood, scientists believe that both genetic factors and environmental triggers are involved. Its onset has nothing to do with diet or lifestyle. There is nothing you can do to prevent T1D, and-at present-nothing you can do to get rid of it. [Source: JDRF]

[Photo credit: (ccl) Gust

A Quick, Cozy & Nourishing Meal For the Winter Months

Quick and Cozy Spicy Chickpeas and Simple Couscous

The diminishing afternoon/evening light seems to get my stomach rumbling for dinner much earlier than our usual late night dinner hour. When I tune into my natural rhythms, my body yearns for meals earlier and sleep much earlier than I am accustomed to. I look forward to tuning in more deeply this winter, listening to and responding to the internal callings that are in sync with the external cues, and finding the rhythms that are just right for Amy and me this winter.

But some nights we get home when it’s dark, we’re tired and hungry, and we want nourishing food on the table quickly. On these nights we turn to Spicy Chickpeas and Simple Couscous, adding a green vegetable for a complete dinner. This is our standard quick meal, often on the table in 20 minutes from the moment we begin thinking about dinner. Amy gets the fire roaring in the woodstove, I cook supper, and in less than a half hour, we cozies up to the woodstove enjoying a nourishing, delicious meal and each other’s company.

♦  Print Recipe: Simple Couscous [V/Vg/NF/GF*/WF*]
♦  Print Recipe: Spicy Chickpeas [V/Vg/NF/GF/WF]

Vegetarian (V) | Vegan (Vg) | Nut-Free (NF) | Gluten-Free (GF) | Wheat-Free (WF) | *With Alteration


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Alice Cozzolino

Alice has been co-owner of The Old Creamery since 2000.  She and her partner and spouse, Amy, have lived in Cummington since they built their home in 1986.  Alice and Amy are very deeply connected to their land; they grow a lot of their own food, eat well (especially during the growing season), feed many friends and loved ones and preserve as much food as possible.  Rarely a day goes by that they don’t say “Aren’t we blessed to live here?” Feeding people feels like a calling to Alice.  She was brought up with her Italian Gram and her Dad putting something wonderful to eat in her mouth and saying “Here, eat this.”  Nothing brings her greater joy than feeding people that she cares about or people that are in need of kindness and nurturing.

[Photo credit: (ccl) Rachel Hathaway]

Kettles Full of Apple Chutney!

Apple Chutney

When our vegetable garden begins slowing down, we begin apple season. We harvest our own apples, visit friends who have apple trees, and gather apples from wild trees and abandoned orchards. It’s apple time early in the morning before work, late at night when we return home, and on our day off. We dry dehydrators full of apples and line our shelves with many glass jars full of delicious apple rings. We freeze and can loads of apple sauce. We make tray after tray of apple fruit leather. We press and freeze dozens and dozens of jars of cider. And there’s still apples in baskets and boxes scattered about the kitchen and dining room. Our favorite apple final resort? Apple Chutney! We can a couple kettles full of apple chutney in jars and eat it all year. It adds a special flair to a quick rice or quinoa or couscous dinner when we get home late at night.

If we haven’t gathered enough of our own apples we supplement them with Scott Farm apples. Their 626-acre farm in Dummerston, VT, boasts more than 70 varieties of ecologically grown apples. They are helping to restore rare and endangered varieties not found elsewhere in our region. Their apples are diverse, beautiful, and delicious. We sell them at the Creamery; it’s an honor to be able to offer foods from so many amazing farmers in our area in this abundant harvest season.

♦  Print Recipe: Apple Chutney [V/Vg/NF/WF]

Vegetarian (V) | Vegan (Vg) | Nut-Free (NF) | Gluten-Free (GF) | Wheat-Free (WF)


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Alice Cozzolino

Alice has been co-owner of The Old Creamery since 2000.  She and her partner and spouse, Amy, have lived in Cummington since they built their home in 1986.  Alice and Amy are very deeply connected to their land; they grow a lot of their own food, eat well (especially during the growing season), feed many friends and loved ones and preserve as much food as possible.  Rarely a day goes by that they don’t say “Aren’t we blessed to live here?” Feeding people feels like a calling to Alice.  She was brought up with her Italian Gram and her Dad putting something wonderful to eat in her mouth and saying “Here, eat this.”  Nothing brings her greater joy than feeding people that she cares about or people that are in need of kindness and nurturing.

[Photo credit: (ccl) Clara S.]

10 Outdoor Summer Music Series in Western MA

In addition to lawn concert series, other places families can often times catch free live music is during the many farmers’ markets in the region. Markets like the Burgy Farmers’ Market in Williamsburg, Ashfield Farmers’ Market and Tuesday Market in Northampton, just to name a few. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield – On the lawn at the Burgy Farmers’ Market).

The summer months in Western MA are an excellent time to check out live music the whole family can enjoy together.  There are several of free lawn concerts that happen in the late afternoon and early evening during these warmer months where families can have evening picnic dinner together on the green while taking in live music.  Bring your own chairs, blankets, beverages and bubbles too, for a fun time during the setting sun.

Every Sunday, in the late afternoon, head to Stanley Park in Westfield where families can BYO picnic dinner and spread out while listing to family-friendly performers playing as part of the park’s free summer concert series.

On Tuesdays, The Clark in Williamstown also has dinners available during their free outdoor live concerts; and on Wednesdays families can BYO picnic to enjoy during the lawn concert series at Conant Park in Southampton.

Then on Thursdays there are several lawn concert series worth checking out this summer: Angel Park celebrates their 4th year in Williamsburg, located across the street from the Burgy Thursday Farmers’ Market, a great place to grab dinner for a picnic on the lawn; and Energy Park in Greenfield has new acts each week and a nearby playground for kids while parents take in the show; live music happens on the porch of the Florence Civic Center, across the street from Cup & Top Cafe, a kid-friendly place to pick up a bagged dinner to enjoy with the kids on the lawn; in Russell the VFW hosts a family-friendly outdoor concert series too, but only for the month of July; and there’s a summer concert series at the gazebo in Huntington with a bake sale to purchase desserts.

And to end your week there are two lawn concerts that happen on Friday.  This year The Mount in Lenox hosts an evening of live outdoor music of traditional and modern music among the settings of their beautiful gardens, and Easthampton’s Arts in the Park continues their summer concert series this year with live music at Millside Park.

For more information and a complete list of live music happening all over Western MA to entertain families, be sure to check out our list of Weekly Suggested Events.

Two Recipes to Celebrate the Simple Pleasure of Cooking

Local Food Heaven

I was like a kid in a candy store, or, as my Uncle Mike used to say, “like a mosquito in a nudist colony”! I spent Saturday at Sarasota Farmers Market, buying bags (my own cloth bags of course!) of just-picked produce from local organic farmers located in Southwest Florida. I came home with sacks of oranges (several varieties), grapefruit, limes, and lemons. I got just-picked strawberries (not as good as our local berries), local honey, beautiful large tomatoes, and sweet-like-candy cherry grape tomatoes. I found new red potatoes, garlic, onions, gold beets, green beans, and broccoli. Then I went crazy with the greens and herbs, buying just-picked arugula, rapini, baby bok choy, mesclun, red boston lettuce, kale, Chinese greens, basil, parsley, cilantro, and dill. I went to the seafood stall and purchased some just-caught shrimp and headed home to cook!

Amy’s mom, Mary, has been very gracious sharing her kitchen with us, and we’ve been cooking up a storm. Mary makes us their favorite breakfast of all sorts of local fruits cut in to a huge bowl, plain yogurt (we brought some of Amy’s yogurt made from Taproot Commons Farm milk in Cummington), grapefruit, toast, butter, and honey. The first day I marinated the shrimp in olive oil; freshly squeezed orange, lime, and lemon juices; garlic; and all the fresh herbs, then seared them in a hot frying pan (in the shell), flipped them after a minute or two, browned them on the second side, then added a little of the marinade, put a lid on the pan, and braised them for a couple of minutes. We’ve had several types of fresh salad, greens raw and cooked, potatoes anna, tomato and cucumber salad, fresh pasta with our garden tomato sauce that we brought from home, and Mary’s delicious strawberry desserts. The fish that Dick (Dad) and Brett (Amy’s brother) caught last week was featured in tonight’s dinner.

We’re in local food heaven. Although we love our stored root vegetables back home, it’s been incredible to eat fresh greens and so many types of just-picked veggies. I offer you the simplest of recipes, Kale with Olive Oil and Garlic and Potatoes Anna, to celebrate the simple pleasure of cooking freshly harvested food, prepared simply, and enjoyed with loved ones. Simple Blessings.

♦ Print Recipes: 

Vegetarian (V) | Vegan (Vg) | Nut-Free (NF) | Gluten-Free (GF) | Wheat-Free (WF)


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Alice Cozzolino

Alice has been co-owner of The Old Creamery since 2000.  She and her partner and spouse, Amy, have lived in Cummington since they built their home in 1986.  Alice and Amy are very deeply connected to their land; they grow a lot of their own food, eat well (especially during the growing season), feed many friends and loved ones and preserve as much food as possible.  Rarely a day goes by that they don’t say “Aren’t we blessed to live here?” Feeding people feels like a calling to Alice.  She was brought up with her Italian Gram and her Dad putting something wonderful to eat in her mouth and saying “Here, eat this.”  Nothing brings her greater joy than feeding people that she cares about or people that are in need of kindness and nurturing.

[Photo credit: (ccl) Mike]

Q&A: Dining Together as a Family

QUESTION AND ANSWERS

Studies have shown that the more frequently kids eat with their families, the less likely they are to smoke, drink, or use drugs and they are more likely to do well in school. Sharing a meal helps kids feel connected to their parents and families and creates a part of the day during which kids can decompress and build connections.

How often is your family able to share a meal (any meal) together? What are some of the challenges your family faces finding the time to dine together?

  • Meagheanne Donahue writes: “My son & I eat breakfast and dinner together during the school week, every meal together on the weekends, and Sunday is our family brunch with his grandparents, aunt, uncles & cousins. Granted, he’s only 8 and it’s just the two of us, but we make a big deal out of family dinner and that will be the rule when he’s older.”
  • Jennifer R Payson-Taylor writes: “My husband & I and our 4 children ages 5, 7, 12, & 14 eat dinner every night together!!! Exceptions are if either of the older two are at a friends or it’s a date night for me & hubby! It’s how our parents did it too!”
  • Angelique Phoenix writes: “Every day; it is non-negotiable.”
  • Julie Gouldman Russell writes: “Usually nightly. busy schedules are a challenge – sometimes we eat later than I would like, but worth the trade-off of eating together.”
  • Diane Kanzler writes: “I’m with Angelique. This may change slightly as the child ages, but even then, it will be the rare exception that meals are not eaten together rather than the rule.”
  • Marissa Tenenbaum Potter writes: “We eat dinner together every night, no matter how loud messy or crazy it gets.”
  • Jennifer Shiao Page writes: “I have a traditional 9 – 5 schedule, and my husband does not. He’s a musician and music teacher, so he’s often performing or teaching in the evenings. But, I’d say around three times a week we all eat dinner together. And we make sure to sit facing each other with the TV off!”
  • Sienna Wildfield writes: “We share dinner together every night… it’s scheduled in as part of our daily routine.  Meals are prepared fresh (most of the time) or we dine out at one of our favorite locally owned restaurants. Our challenge is preparing meals that accommodate dietary restrictions and preferences.  But somehow we manage… just have a lot of dishes to clean up at the end of the meal. – We also shop locally together.  Knowing where our food comes from and interacting with local farmers at the markets make for great conversation starters at dinner time.”
  • Jess Kuttner writes: “I grew up in a family that had breakfast and dinner together every day so that is what I strive for.  Breakfast is usually easy – but sometimes the late evenings at work get in the way of family dinner.  I know how important it is and I agree with Sienna on trying to do as many homemade and locally sourced meals as possible.”

[Photo credit: (ccl) Kate Hiscock]

3 Soup Recipes for Winter

Soups to Warm Your Tummy on a Cold February Day

French Onion Soup, a delicious dish to bring warmth and richness to your family dinner on a cold February night!

CBS SOUP

Winter is finally upon us (where is the snow?!?), and it’s time for some hearty, warming, comforting foods. I enjoy cooking soups when it’s cold outside because they often take quite a while to cook (helping to heat our house!). I often bake bread to accompany the soup (helping to heat our house!) and they usually don’t require a lot of attention so I can tend to chores like carrying in firewood (actually heating our house!). I could make a different soup every day of the year and still not run out of ideas for variations. I can match a soup to virtually any ethnic cuisine, to any combination of ingredients that I have on hand, and to suit any taste preference.

This month’s soup recipe is Corn, Bean and Winter Squash Soup, better know by its’ fans as CBS Soup. This soup is hearty enough to serve as a lunch or dinner main course, but versatile enough to serve as a side dish with a wide variety of entrees. Try substitutions if you don’t have all the ingredients, or add other vegetables that you have on hand. We make this soup entirely from our own preserved garden vegetables: the root vegetables and squash are in storage; the tomatoes are canned; the black beans are dried; the white beans are frozen. Now, if Amy could just grow us some olives, we could press our own olive oil! Well, we can’t grow everything here in our Hilltowns, but in this bitter cold it’s nice to raid the pantry and freezer and remember the bounty of summer. Enjoy, and stay warm!

♦ Print Recipe: Corn, Bean and Winter Squash Soup [Vg/WF/NF]

FRENCH ONION SOUP

Amy and I have used the last of our stored garden onions. I tracked down some local onions for us to sell at the Old Creamery from Wendolowski Farm in Hatfield, MA and I bought about 25 pounds to bring home to get us through the next couple of months. Aahhh … the onions! I’ve been looking for inspiration to pull me from dreary February days. I know the perfect thing to bring warmth and richness  to February … French Onion Soup. This is my vegetarian version of the classic recipe. Even without the beef broth, this is a deeply satisfying, soulful dish. I tucked away some of the local mesclun and arugula from Equinox Farm that we had for sale at the Old Creamery over the weekend, so we’ll have a fresh salad to add to our meal. When Amy and I are finished stacking wood, the warm hearth will beckon us, the steaming soup will nourish us, the crisp salad will lift us, a candle will offer light, and flowers will remind us of the ever-present joys.

Print Recipe: French Onion Soup [V/GF/NF]

CHILI CON CARNE

Amy and I love our Hilltown winter lifestyle. We love cutting firewood, splitting wood, stacking and moving and re-stacking logs. We love shoveling snow. We love snowshoeing and sitting inside watching the snow fall and watching the icicles grow and morph before our eyes. We love building blazing fires and huddling up to our hearth. We even love walking from the car to the house late at night after a long day’s work, plowing our way through thigh-deep drifts that have blown onto our carefully shoveled path. The snow and ice that cling to our boots and pants is like a badge of honor…we may be getting older but we’re still tough!

And when we are ready for dinner after our winter work-outs, we yearn for hearty food to satisfy a bold hunger. Our plates and bowls will be filled with rich and substantial vegetarian fare, but I offer you omnivores a robust recipe for Chili con Carne. I’ve used my mom’s recipe as a starting point, but I’ve included a few ingredients and techniques to offer more depth and flavor complexity. Enjoy the challenging chores of winter in the Hilltowns, and treat yourself to a great meal after the work-out.

♦  Print Recipe: Chili Con Carne [WF/NF]

Vegetarian (V) | Vegan (Vg) | Nut-Free (NF) | Gluten-Free (GF) | Wheat-Free (WF)


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Alice Cozzolino

Alice has been co-owner of The Old Creamery since 2000.  She and her partner and spouse, Amy, have lived in Cummington since they built their home in 1986.  Alice and Amy are very deeply connected to their land; they grow a lot of their own food, eat well (especially during the growing season), feed many friends and loved ones and preserve as much food as possible.  Rarely a day goes by that they don’t say “Aren’t we blessed to live here?” Feeding people feels like a calling to Alice.  She was brought up with her Italian Gram and her Dad putting something wonderful to eat in her mouth and saying “Here, eat this.”  Nothing brings her greater joy than feeding people that she cares about or people that are in need of kindness and nurturing.

[Photo credit: (ccl) Sandee Bisson]

Q&A: Getting the Family to Enjoy One Meal Together

QUESTION AND ANSWERS

Having kids help in the preparation of dinner is a great way to share with them the stories behind family recipes, the science of cooking and the nutritional goodness of whole foods... and in the end, maybe even be more inclined to enjoy one meal cooked together.

No one in my family eats the same thing come dinner time! Any advice?

  • Anita Morehouse writes, “LOL! We can’t even agree on a time to eat, never mind what to eat!”
  • Michael Muller writes, “Pizza?”
  • Brooksley Williams writes, “If my kids (ages 5 and 3) balk at what I’m serving for dinner, I express my confidence and excitement at how hungry they will be for breakfast. Eventually, they come around.”
  • Heather Richardson writes, “Everything my husband and I eat is offered to the kids…if they don’t eat it, then well they don’t eat! They won’t starve!”
  • Kara Kitchen writes, “Same here-and they’re identical twins! There are only a handful of meals that everyone will eat and we still usually have to provide different veggies! We are desperately trying to diversify but so far have only succeeded in creating more choices!”
  • Belchertown Mass writes, “When I make a meal, everyone must eat some of it, no matter how small of a portion. If they’re still hungry after that, they can make themselves something else…like a bowl of cereal.”
  • Mindi Palmer Fried writes, “No advice, but we’ve got the same issue here so I’m taking notes!”
  • Michelle Huddy writes, “When we had this issue a couple of years ago, I would make the meal and then have whole wheat bread and butter on the table. They needed to try what the parents were having, and if they didn’t like it, they could have the bread. I especially liked this because then my husband and I didn’t have to get up for different foods during the meal!”
  • Kate McCarthy Roy writes, “I agree with Brooksley…one meal made, eat it or don’t…your choice!!”
  • Pauline Delton writes, “I have a kid who it turns out had a lot of food sensitivities. Keep in mind that kids also reject foods if the foods bother them, even if they can’t verbalize it. We’ve been serving foods that I know he is clear to eat and has willingly eaten recently, keeping it simple because I know he doesn’t like mixed up meals. There are a few items to eat, and that’s it. But, if he’s not hungry at dinnertime, he can have leftovers before brushing his teeth. Not everyone is hungry at the same time…”
  • Amy Meltzer writes, “I insist they try everything, but don’t insist they eat something they don’t like. I don’t want to eat things I don’t like. I usually have a backup for the picky eater (whole wheat bagel or tortilla along with a fruit or vegetable).”
  • Jennifer Friedman writes, “We have a rule …. what is on the table is what is for dinner. If you don’t like it, you’ll be super hungry for breakfast! Nobody is forced to eat anything, and I try to always serve some of what I know people will eat, but the rule cuts down on the fussing. It only takes one night of not eating dinner to come around to eating what is served!”
  • Annie Bob DeCoteau writes, “We do the same as Jennifer and now my kids will eat just about anything. We do have the “try it once” rule and they are pretty willing to at least try something.”
  • Arianna Alexsandra Grindrod writes, “I know I am an excellent cook as I receive that feedback from my husband and friends so I really appreciate that I am not the only one saying – this is what is for dinner, take it or leave it.”
  • Julie Jones writes, “We ate in our ski gear last spring-boots, skis, goggles, etc.”
  • Jennifer Leveille LaValley writes, “We make our Sunday dinner a sit down family meal- we all help cook and we all help clean up ….it’s something we look forward to since our hectic schedules do not allow us to all eat together any other day.”

[Photo credit: (ccl) Mish Mish]

Family Day: Eat Dinner with Your Children

Celebrate Family Day on September 29th

Family Day in Amherst, MA (Sept. 29th, 2009)

FAMILY DAY: A DAY TO EAT DINNER WITH YOUR CHILDREN

Did you know that the more often children and teens eat dinner with their families, the less likely they are to drink and use illegal drugs? They are also more likely to do better at school. Dinnertime is a great time to connect with your kids.

Celebrate Family Day – A Day to Eat Dinner with Your Children on Tuesday September 29th, 2009 with a meal at home or at one of the participating restaurants offering family discounts on Tuesday the 29th. Visit communitiesthatcarecoalition.org for a listing.

  • Look Park in Florence, MA will have Family Day on Tuesday, Sept. 29th, offering free entry to the park, free ice cream and free train rides. All picnic sites are available for free on this day and families are encouraged to share dinner at the park.

%d bloggers like this: