(Family Features) Dinner can be a daunting task for any family with multiple mouths to feed. Factor in complex schedules and individual tastes, and a family meal can become a stressful thought for home cooks.
However, with proper meal planning and preparation, those stressful evenings can become a thing of the past. Consider these steps to becoming a better meal prepper:
If you’re new to meal prepping, don’t bog yourself down trying to come up with ideas and ingredients multiple days in advance. Start by planning just one or two days ahead then consider lengthening your prep phases as you get more comfortable.
Avoid overbuying by heading to the grocery store with a plan in mind or, even better, a specific list. While perusing the aisles, look for the Produce for Kids logo next to healthy, family-friendly items to help make nutritionally sound choices.
Go with What You Know
Rather than teaching yourself to meal prep while trying to learn new recipes at the same time, stick to the basics. Create dishes you’ve made in the past while you get into the habit of meal prepping.
Make It a Family Event
Recruit some help from your kids by enlisting them with some easier kitchen tasks. It can be a learning and bonding experience to make recipes like Easy One-Dish Chicken and Veggie Bake or Sweet Potato and Black Bean Quesadilla.
Plan for In-Season Produce
Certain fruits and veggies are stocked (and taste better) at certain times of year. Be sure to create shopping lists with these timeframes in mind.
To find family meal tips and more than 400 registered dietitian- and family-approved recipes, visit produceforkids.com.
Easy One-Dish Chicken and Veggie Bake
Recipe courtesy of Produce for Kids
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 50 minutes
1 pound chicken breast, cut in fourths
12 small red potatoes, quartered
12 ounces green beans
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon herbs de Provence
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
Heat oven to 350 F.
Place chicken, potatoes and green beans in rows in 13-by-9-inch baking dish with chicken in middle. Drizzle with olive oil and season with garlic, herbs de Provence, salt and pepper.
Bake 50 minutes, or until chicken reaches internal temperature of 165 F and potatoes are tender.
Nutritional information per serving: 554 calories; 8 g fat; 65 mg cholesterol; 87 g carbohydrates; 11 g fiber; 37 g protein; 9 g sugar; 82 mg calcium; 5 mg iron; 282 mg sodium.
Sweet Potato and Black Bean Quesadilla
Recipe courtesy of Produce for Kids
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes
1 large sweet potato
1 can low-sodium black beans, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1 tablespoon low-sodium taco seasoning
8 whole-wheat tortillas
1 cup low-fat shredded Monterey Jack cheese
Use fork to prick sweet potato. Microwave 5 minutes on high. Let cool slightly.
Cut potato in half lengthwise and scoop flesh into large bowl. Mash until smooth.
Combine beans, cilantro and seasoning with sweet potato; mix well.
Heat skillet over medium heat. Spread sweet potato mixture evenly on one side of tortilla, sprinkle with cheese and place second tortilla on top. Cook 3-4 minutes, or until cheese is melted. Flip and cook 2-3 minutes more.
Repeat with remaining tortillas and mixture. Cut each into quarters.
Nutritional information per serving: 293 calories; 9.34 g total fat; 34.82 g carbohydrates; 10.39 g fiber; 17.04 g protein; 2.33 g total sugars; 237 mg calcium; 2.65 mg iron; 146 mg sodium.
June 20, 2018 | admin
by Frank J. Rich
Contemplations may be the issue of the contemplative, those given to time alone and solitary activity. For these the imagination grows with available time. Most have their place—the shower, a comfortable chair, the “hours after the hours,” walks to nowhere, the littoral gazing across the sea. For others, it may be the opportunity in a singular chore or enchantment that works to separate us from the rest of everything for those moments of reflection, imagining, and the forecasts that raise the spirit. They are the times when plans form, or the anxiety that attends them wafts away as perspective grows; even routines—cooking, cleaning house, washing the car, or painting a fence—that ask only our time and little thought to achieve it.
Not unlike so many that find their way to a place untouched by others, in stolen moments, I am at peace riding a mower. The practice is an imperative for any with property to mend and care for, listening for the cadence that makes measured turns and speeds second nature, until contemplations take the wheel. The activity is at once mindless and mindful, its near-naked cousin able to occupy time, space, and matter simultaneously. Einstein and Rosenthal made math of the artifice, while the rest have simply fallen into its gravitational sleep without thinking.
This gait has no equal; it is mine alone—the same, I imagine, for you. I see new ventures, alternative social solutions, a greater sense of my investment in others, the unique ways the creator has knit me, the model of construction or repair that has needed more skill than I own. Time for all things is suddenly available to me. I consider song, literature—largely my own—kitchen creations, the God of our world, how to do the impossible like bringing two parties together. All things may come into view—TV series, high school memories, mother’s words, gravity, ways to encourage new customers to local shops and craftsmen.
It’s summer, the season of growth—a warning for some to take stock, for others a time to consider the simple world around us. These are the common things—the gratification in a freshly cut, lush lawn, the character of breezes, warm, moist, even warning of storms ahead, and homegrown tomatoes. No other season can produce them, not even Amazon can cause them to appear at your doorstep. Little else is so cherished than a gift of them to neighbors yet unfolded to seasonal joys.
Kierkegaard claimed “I have walked myself into my best thoughts.” Rousseau asserted “my mind works only with my legs.” Thoreau called walking “a sort of crusade, preached by some Peter the Hermit in us,” to reclaim the holy land of deliberation and imagination. Eric Klinger, and other psychologists, suggest that this “daydreaming and fantasizing” is a “reminder mechanism” that helps to separate oneself from busyness, thus keeping “larger agenda fresher in mind.” It’s a time to let the “adaptive unconscious” take control of the wheel, when “feeling” becomes the only form of self-reliance.
Today I’ll take a swim in a nearby lake, listen for the sounds and song of it, and try to be still for the longest time busyness allows. I hope to see you there.
June 15, 2018 | admin
By Evelyn J. Mocbeichel
When thinking about famed American artist Georgia O’Keeffe, people recall her best-known works of enlarged flowers, New York City skyscrapers and the landscapes of New Mexico where she spent the remaining years of her life. Aptly referred to as the “Mother of American Modernism,” O’Keeffe also did stunning works of the Hawaiian Islands.
In its current exhibit, which runs through October 28, 2018, The New York Botanical Garden (NYBG) will feature lush floral tributes in the Garden’s Enid A. Haupt Conservatory evoking the gardens and landscapes that inspired O’Keeffe, as well as the complex story of the flora and unique ecology of Hawaii. The exhibition will also feature 20 of O’Keeffe’s depictions of Hawaii, including paintings not seen together since their 1940 New York debut. Visitors of all ages will learn about Hawaii through complementary events and programs, including a scholarly symposium, an original short film, a film series, and the Interactive Mobile Guide.
What prompted O’Keeffe to travel to Hawaii? In 1938 an ad agency asked her to create two paintings for a pineapple company that is now the Dole Food Company for use in their advertising. She was 51 at the time and critics seemed to be less enchanted with her New Mexico desert paintings. O’Keeffe spent nine weeks visiting the islands and she completed 20 paintings.
At the NYBG exhibit, there will be plantings designed by Francisca Coelho and set pieces designed by Tony award-winning scenic designer Scott Pask. The exhibition also introduces visitors to the profound importance of plants in Hawaiian culture and growing concerns about threats to native Hawaiian plants. Long borders of colorful tropical garden plants such as those Georgia O’Keeffe encountered and painted while in Hawaii include Ti plant, frangipani, bougainvillea, heliconia, hibiscus, bird-of-paradise, ginger, and many more tropical favorites.
Beyond the borders, planting beds arranged around an open sided, thatched roof pavilion inspired by a traditional Hawaiian tale, tell the story of canoe plants—the useful plants brought to the Islands more than 1,000 years ago by Polynesian settlers. Outside in the Conservatory Courtyards visitors will see a wide variety of Hawaiian plants in beautiful potted and ground-level trough displays. Pineapples and bananas, among other favorites, will be on view in the Central Courtyard, while hundreds of hibiscus, as well as gardenia and bougainvillea, will fill the Hardy Courtyard. Canoe plants and other edible and useful tropicals such as papaya and sugarcane will be on display in the Tropical Courtyard. The O’Keefe paintings will be on display in the LuEsther T. Mertz Library Art Gallery on the grounds.
The NYBG is located at Bronx River Parkway (Exit 7W) and Fordham Road.
For information about their programs, events and exhibits call 718 817-8700 or visit their website at: www.nybg.org
June 13, 2018 | admin
(Family Features) You are never too old (or young) to take part in activities that enrich your physical, mental and emotional well-being. No matter your age, there is no better time than now to start.
To help do just that, consider these tips from the Administration for Community Living:
- If you don’t usually exercise, choose a low-impact activity that you can do a little at a time. Walk for 10 minutes in the morning, sign up for a tai chi class or learn gentle stretches, for example. Remember, it is wise to consult a health care provider before beginning an exercise routine.
- Exercising is less of a chore when you do it with people you enjoy. Gather a group of friends or join a class. Some senior and community centers even offer free or low-cost options.
- Good nutrition is vital. Keep an honest record of what you eat. If you have a condition like diabetes, consult your doctor before changing your diet. Nutritionists can be excellent resources, whether you have special dietary needs or not.
- Eating healthy foods and staying active may reduce physical health risks, and you also can exercise your mind by reading, playing games, taking a class or simply being social.
- Second or even third careers can be personally and financially rewarding. Determine whether you have the skills needed for something new. If not, seek out classes or training, and remember to ask whether financial assistance is available.
- Express yourself through the arts. Learn to paint or draw, dust off those dancing shoes, take an acting class or finally write that novel. As a bonus, studies show the arts can improve brain health.
- Keep expanding your knowledge and growing by learning a new language or taking a computer class. Or, if you’re more an adventurous type, maybe you’ve always wanted to travel and discover other cultures.
- Consider using your experience to serve others. Volunteers meet a range of community needs, from mentoring at-risk youth and providing job training to helping families recover from disasters. Find opportunities by visiting local organizations or charities.
- Pick and schedule service activities that match your skills and interests. If you are handy, assisting with a nonprofit housing organization may be most rewarding. If you enjoy working with kids, contact a local school to talk about ways you can help.
- If you want to help others more informally, consider helpful tasks like driving neighbors to appointments, babysitting for working parents or tutoring kids in your neighborhood. If you are a member of a spiritual community or club, ask if there are outreach programs that need assistance.
Increasing your well-being – physically, mentally and emotionally – can be made simpler by finding activities that fit your personality and interests. Visit oam.acl.gov to find more information and resources to engage at every age.
Photo courtesy of Getty Images (couple walking)
June 13, 2018 | admin
(Family Features) Dads typically love steak, so this Father’s Day, go ahead and shower him with some love straight off the grill. You can make the day even more memorable by sharing the grilling experience together.
In fact, it may be the perfect chance to teach your old man a thing or two with these tips from Omaha Steaks Executive Chef Grant Hon.
Choose Your Protein
Selecting quality protein is the starting place for an exceptional grilled meal. For example, the ribeye is the most well-marbled steak, meaning it’s super juicy, rich with beefy flavor and excellent on the grill
Prepare the Grill
Always start with clean grill grates. Heat your gas grill to high or start your charcoal 10-15 minutes before you grill. Dip a paper towel in oil using tongs and oil your grill grates before adding steaks for a great sear.
Prepare the Meat
Pat steaks dry with a clean paper towel and season them before they hit the grill. You can’t go wrong with simple sea salt and cracked pepper, but creative recipes like this Dukkah Rub can add a special twist.
Sear and Crust
Cook steaks directly over your heat source to get a tasty, crunchy sear on the outside of the steak. This is where the best flavor comes from, and it offers a delicious contrast to the rich, juicy inside of the cut.
Control Your Cook
Keep the grill cover closed as much as possible to maintain a temperature of around 450 F. This helps lock in flavor and prevent flare-ups. Remember the marbling on a ribeye means more fat, which melts during cooking. This is a good thing, but you may experience more dripping or flare-ups if you’re used to grilling leaner steaks.
To minimize the need to open the grill cover, determine the amount of time you’ll need to reach your desired doneness then use the 60-40 grilling method. Grill 60 percent on the first side then 40 percent after you turn the steak over for an even cook.
Let it Rest
A resting time of at least 5 minutes allows steak juices to redistribute for the best eating experience. A foil tent can help regulate temperature during the resting period.
Garnish and Flavor
Whether you’re grilling vegetables, sauteing onions or adding a different kind of sweet or savory topping, just before you serve is the right time to garnish your steak.
Find more expert tips for summer grilling and the perfect Father’s Day gift at OmahaSteaks.com.
Prep time: 5 minutes
Active time: 5 minutes
1/3 cup sliced almonds, roasted with no salt
1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds
2 tablespoons Omaha Steaks Private Reserve Rub
2 teaspoons sesame seeds
On cutting board, chop almonds to rough texture and add fennel seeds, chopping until mixture is fine. Place almond and fennel mix in bowl and add rub and sesame seeds.
Once you pull a juicy steak away from the flame, there’s only one way to make it better: toppings that create a true taste explosion. When they’re prepared with fresh, premium ingredients, your friends and family may not be able to get enough of these sweet and savory additions. Simply mix them up while your meat is on the grill, or skip a step and rely on Omaha Steaks Toppers to capture the same delicious flavors without the prep work.
Crispy Onions and Jalapenos: Savor a one-two punch of crispy onions combined with spicy jalapenos for some crunch with a kick.
Dijon Mustard Aioli: Blend Dijon and whole-grain mustard with creamy Greek yogurt, garlic, tarragon and white pepper for a rich, tangy topping.
Mushrooms and Blue Cheese: Mix hearty mushrooms and full-flavored blue cheese with your favorite savory spices and a splash of sherry wine.
Smoky Bacon Jam: Start with the finest cuts of bacon browned to crispy perfection then add caramelized onion and an accent like brown sugar or balsamic vinegar.
Sweet Bourbon Onions: Warm things up with a medley of natural honey, bourbon whiskey and sherry wine offset by zesty red onions and balsamic vinegar.
Tomato Jam: Experiment with your favorite varieties to find the perfect balance of crushed tomatoes, sweet gherkins and seasonings.
June 13, 2018 | admin