As we see more and more news stories about the obesity problem in America, I am reminded of my recent conversation with one of my regular customers. We were talking about the difficulty of her being a single mom, balancing her job and making sure her child had nutritious meals after school. She asked if I could create a weekly menu for her that would provide a wholesome, well balanced diet for her child. I was happy to create this menu for her.
So, I decided to call her during this past Christmas season to see how things were progressing. To my amazement, she provided me with an unexpected story. She indicated that the meal plan I had created for her was so simple that she began to have her son cook with her. Now her son can cook several of the meals pretty much on his own (with adult supervision, of course). This customer had found a new way of spending quality time with her son, teaching him about life and having fun all at the same time.
This should be the experience of every family during meal time, especially families with young children. Isn’t that the essence of the family meal–spending time with the family and enjoying each other’s company?
So, whether you are cooking a meal or dessert, you can make it fun, nutritional and a time to bond with the family. With this approach to meal planning, everyone can play an active role in preparing food and thus, should add more pleasure to the family meal.
Cooking, in many ways, is a metaphor for life. Cooking and eating with your kids will teach them about teamwork (working at a job), being aware of time (don’t cook the food too long) and math (they have to be able to measure and use the right amount of ingredients). During this time in the kitchen with your children, this is the perfect chance to talk with them about their day at school and any other issues that need to be addressed. Scientists have even proven that eating in a positive environment makes digestion easier and leads to a more positive eating experience.
So, with all the demands on parents, and all the demands placed on kids today, I have provided a recipe that is nutritious, tasty and fun to prepare with the family. Doing this should add a big thrill to your average family meal.
- 10 oz Fettuccini pasta
- 1 oz Olive oil
- 5 oz Chicken (4 pieces)
- 8 oz Asiago cream
- 4 oz Bacon (thin chopped)
- 1 oz Peas
- ¼ oz Basil Julienne
- 1/2 cupParmesan cheese shredded
- ¼ cup Parsley (chopped, fresh)
- 2 tsp Garlic (minced)
In a heavy frying pan, heat the oil on medium, add bacon and garlic, sauté until brown and crisp. Cool slightly. Using a large bowl, whisk together the asiago cream, parmesan, basil julienne and parsley to blend. In a large pot, bring spaghetti to a boil, cooking until tender but firm, stir occasionally, adding peas. Drain. Add chicken to the spaghetti and cream mixture and gently toss over medium heat until the chicken is thoroughly cooked and the sauce thickly coats the spaghetti. Season pasta to taste. Transfer the pasta to a large serving bowl, ready to serve.
Chef Donnell Long is a nationally recognized chef to the stars and proprietor of The Olde Towne Inn, located in Upper Marlboro, MD.