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Dinner before dark

Daylight Savings Time ended November 6th. Yay, you gained a whole extra hour (on a weekend!) Bummer, you have been robbed an entire hour of daylight now through December 22nd.

If you’ve already stashed your superhero cape in the attic from Halloween and have accepted that it seems impossible to serve up a healthy dinner during the week, then let me offer a few tips to see if we can make dinner before dark a reality. (Ok, lets be realistic and forgo the catchy title, and agree to sit down to dinner before (please not during) Dancing With the Stars.)

Let’s start here.

Pick the most appropriate description of your culinary expertise:

a. I think I can locate the start button on the microwave and preheat an oven.

b. “Boil, bake, sauté” – No problem!

c. I could appropriately use the following in a conversation with Padma Lakshmi: chiffonade, julienne, mirepoix, bouillon. I’m ready for something seasonal, refreshing and exciting, yet simple enough that I don’t have to bulldoze my entire evening’s schedule to prepare.

Some solutions for every expertise:

Back East ...in Issaquah

I've been spending my time on the East side opening the crowing jewel of Swedish Nutrition Services, Cafe 1910 at Swedish Issaquah.

Unfortunately I have 20 new pounds to show for it!

Resuming a Routine (but this one includes lunch)

It’s that time of year to get back into your routine. Whether that means packing your child’s lunch, preparing your own, or (ah-ha) adopting the concept of this midday meal for the first time, lunch is definitely an exciting and much needed opportunity to refuel your body with the proper nutrients necessary to continue plugging away until evening! (Yeah right, who has time for that meal? Sit tight, future post to come.)

Excuses, excuses…

1. “I don’t have time”

You wait in line at Starbucks for your double tall, nonfat, 1.5 pump whatever, right? Then you have time to make lunch. I swear – Google it. Told you – 40.3 million results for “quick healthy lunch” discredits this excuse.

If you don’t want to Google a solution, here are some ideas:

  • Planned-Overs*! Purposefully prepare extra at dinner, and reserve some for tomorrow’s lunch. Grilling burgers? Grill up extra patties that you can use for tacos the next day. Salmon? Roast a few extra ounces and save for a salmon salad. Baked chicken? Cut into strips and use in sandwiches, dice and throw in pasta, or add to a can of your favorite soup for a protein boost.

*Word to the wise (or anyone who has experienced food poisoning from improperly handled leftovers): When using leftovers, you need to know the basics of food safety. Keep foods out of the “Danger Zone”, which is 40-140F. Bacteria that can make you miserably ill favors this temp range, so keep your hot food hot, and cold foods cold. Never keep perishable foods in the danger zone for longer than 2 hours (1 hour if it’s hot outside).

Click here to learn more about food safety, including steps to keeping foods safe, myths, dangerous mistakes, cooking temperatures, recalls and much more.

  • Don’t have leftovers to use? Mix and match from the columns to create numerous quick assemble, healthy lunch options:

The Journey

When it seems like it would just be easier to pack it in, remind yourself that your perfect weight is not a destination...it's a journey.

An Appetite for Summer (Summer produce worth getting excited about)

IT'S HERE! The most exciting event of the year (no, I am not talking about the Nordstrom Anniversary sale), it’s the start of summer! While the weather takes its time to transition, I am pleased to present to you an alternative reason to keep wearing your eager smile: summer produce! This is perhaps one of the most generous seasons, offering a rainbow of fruits and vegetables exploding with honeyed and tart flavors.

(Are you hungry yet?)

Summer Produce

This is a rough prediction of when you can expect to see the following produce in season:

You may have noticed that cherries, currants, raspberries, and strawberries are already brightening up grocery bins. Next month (brace yourself) apples, apricots, blueberries, blackberries, boysenberries, figs, huckle/goose/logan/marionberries, nectarines, peaches, pears, and plums will be all be begging to be placed in your grocery bag. Broccoli, cauliflower, cucumber, lettuce, onion, peas, tomato and zucchini will be irresistibly fresh beginning in July that even the “veggie-hater” surrenders. Corn, peppers and melons can be welcomed around the same time as the hydroplanes (August). Herbs also thrive this season, starting in June and extending through September, and include basil, cilantro, dill, fennel, marjoram, mint, oregano, parsley, sage, and tarragon.

Summer Favorites:

Food matters

Cooking with kids is a great way to expose them to new flavors and cultures.  It teaches them math and science in a way that they don’t even realize.  It brings families closer and having family dinners has shown to reduce depression and drug use, and make for happier, healthier kids.

There is a wonderful not-so-new concept that is catching on like the latest cute cat video on YouTube. This experience is bringing communities together and helping families bond.

Community Kitchens.  

Once a week, multi-generational families from a community come together and cook with local foods from their Farmer’s Market to make wonderfully nutritious meals.  There are conversations over chopping carrots about the community, families, and cooking.  Then everyone sits down and has a fantastic meal together and have lively discussions about anything.  At then end, everyone cleans up, and takes home leftovers to freeze for easier and healthier meals during the week.

Parents just don’t have much time in the evening to prepare such time intensive dishes, after work and between homework, laundry, dishes, and bedtime.  Home Economics and Cooking classes have been cut from most school districts’ budgets, so where do our kids learn to prepare barley, or homemade apple pie?

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