Healthy Eating: It's Not Just About the Food

Last Spring was a whirlwind. Both of my daughters experienced milestones in their lives, including Confirmation, 8th Grade Graduation and High School Graduation all packed into one week! Add to that final performances with choir and theater, class trips and Senior Prom and this mom was a little overwhelmed. I breathed a fleeting sigh of relief with all of that behind us and thought we would enjoy a quiet summer together before settling our girls into high school and college in the fall.

...Did you make it through that last sentence without laughing? When is there ever a quiet summer with two teenagers around? Vacation, youth group trips, work and play have kept us hopping. I was proud of myself for getting everyone scheduled into the dentist and eye doctor only to find out each appointment led to a whole string of fun activities like wisdom teeth, cavities and contact fittings. It felt like cutting the head off a hydra only to have it multiply into more and more dates on the calendar, a feeling that every parent out there can relate to.

While this has been a busy time, it has also been a time of reflection on my children’s lives, a time to marvel at the amazing young women they have become. And, like most mothers, a time to question if I have done enough to prepare them for their futures that shine brightly in front of them. Will they follow their dreams, persevere in times of trouble, keep their faith strong, eat their vegetables?

Ahhh, there it is. With my background in healthy eating most people assume my kids love kale as much as I do. Um, not quite. I have tried to encourage healthy habits and have been from one extreme to the other along the way. Yes, I have set the timer for toddlers refusing to eat (which didn’t turn out so well). I have banned all sugar from the house and tried to sneak vegetables into everything we ate (they actually liked the avocado muffins and the bean filled chocolate chip cookie cake, but eggplant...not so much). Yes, I spent hours in the kitchen so we would never have to resort to a trip through the drive thru.

But, when the driver’s license came, trips to Sonic were no longer under my control. I decided that any home cooked meal, even if it didn’t meet my healthy standards, was better for my teens than greasy fast food. I had to let go of the fear of what a few preservatives might do to them and embrace happy family dinners. It wasn’t easy, but well worth the hours we have spent at home together.

Where am I now - just a mom trying to hold on to every moment before school starts and we enter a new chapter of life. “Back to school” looks a little different this year. Instead of scissors and glue we are gathering dorm room supplies and navigating the halls of high school. We are excited and sad at the same time to send one away to college and really are trying to let “the baby” grow up. And through it all I am still trying to keep healthy, fun food on the table.

If you're looking for easy recipes to turn to during those crazy school schedules, my favorite go-to recipe is for beef fajitas. Not only are fajitas easy, they are adaptable for even the pickiest of eaters (you can opt for a plain tortilla and sour cream or load it with arugula and turn it into a salad). Our meals may have changed over the years, but the important thing is we can all gather around the table and enjoy each other’s company before we part ways in a few weeks. If you're looking for a beef fajita recipe, check out this link in my Plan to Eat Account (a valuable online tool that I use in my personal and professional kitchen to keep my recipes organized and easily generate meal plans and shopping lists).

Bio-My passion for healthy cooking blossomed in the midst of a personal health crisis. Sick and tired was my new norm as I resigned myself to life on the couch with a tray full of pill bottles and inhalers as my constant companions. An act of desperation led me to an “alternative” healer who radiated through my foggy brain with new hope. The realization that each meal could either slowly kill me or lead me back to vitality hit me like a bolt of lightning. The fire was lit and in 2012 I set off on a journey to make the world a healthier place. In January of 2016 I used my unique background as an Integrative Nutrition Coach, former educator and family chef to launch Kitchen Pizzazz. I’m on a mission to get healthy food on as many plates as possible with our fully prepared meals, soups and snacks. Find out more at www.KitchenPizzaz.com.