Adventures in Drool: Fighting the doldrums
Happy Monday afternoon droolers!
With all this bad news recently - Colorado shooting, Penn State University problems, etc. - I am trying to find positive ways to fight the doldrums. What could be more positive than making every moment count with your family?
When bad news builds up, people become more anxious, more worried and tend to isolate themselves from the world as a coping mechanism. If this goes on long enough, they could find themselves completely cut off, which is never good.
Humans are social beings, so that interaction with friends and loved ones is so important for us. It's also important for our children.
I know many moms who go above and beyond to make that extra effort to socialize their children. This could mean playdates with other children, pool parties and outings to museums and zoos. It can be hard to fit all these fun activities in, however.
As Americans, we are so rushed. Everything is rushed - especially our meals. When is the last time you sat down and enjoyed a multiple-course dinner over three hours? The answer might be never.
I am a huge culprit of running around and trying to do too much. I often find myself just jumping from one task to another, without really taking the time to think about whether that task is important.
It's hard to slow down.
Having children at the dinner table might make it even less likely to happen now, but I think it is important to teach children that relaxation and enjoyment are key to a happy, healthy life.
One place parents can make a change is at the dinner table. In between children tossing cups and food onto the floor, really try to enjoy the experience of eating as a family.
Having multiple courses is one way to slow down a meal. As the primary cook in my house, I know how hard this seems, but it can be easy with a few tricks.
First, start with some finger food. Kids love finger food. This can be made in advance and can be as easy as a vegetable plate with dip. Try using hummus or ranch-style dressing as a dip. Other appetizer courses include crackers with cheese, a variety of nuts or fruit kabobs.
Once you set these on the table and the kids dig in, then you can return to the kitchen. If you are advanced, you can have a salad course. I usually tend to serve the salad with the main course because it is one less step.
As the kids are munching, toss a homemade vinaigrette with some greens, a sliced pepper and some carrots. You can prepare the vegetables in advance so it is faster at meal time.
Here is a quick vinaigrette: Whisk 2-3 tablespoons olive oil with 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar, a pinch of oregano, salt and pepper. Pour over the salad just before serving.
Have one of the kids help set the table while you are finishing up the meal. One trick is to plan a quick skillet meal. Have all of the ingredients ready to go so that while the kids are eating their appetizer, you can just toss everything into a skillet, cook and serve.
Here is a great recipe for a skillet meal.
You will need:
• 3 medium skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
• 2 cloves garlic, minced
• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• 4 roma tomatoes, chopped
• 1 14-ounce can quartered artichoke hearts, drained
• 1 2.25-ounce can sliced pitted ripe olives, drained
• 1/2 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning, crushed
• 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
• 2 cups romaine lettuce or mesclun mix, chopped
• 1 cup crumbled feta cheese (4 ounces)
• 1/3 cup fresh basil leaves, shredded or torn
• Sliced crusty Italian or French bread, toasted
In a skillet, cook and stir chicken and garlic in hot oil over medium heat for 2 to 5 minutes or until chicken is brown. Stir in tomato, artichoke hearts, olives, Italian seasoning, and pepper. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, about 10 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink. Top with lettuce and cheese. Cook, covered, for 1 to 2 minutes more or until lettuce starts to wilt. Sprinkle with basil and serve on or with bread.
Makes 4 servings.
Source: Better Homes & Gardens
With a little preparation, you have already served at least two course; maybe three if you are advanced!
In my house, we often have a dessert, but I like to serve that later in the evening to give everyone a little time to digest dinner. One great idea that we are doing at home is to take a family walk after dinner.
Once the meal is finished, everyone helps clear the table. We put away anything perishable and round everyone up. The walk lasts anywhere from 10 to 20 minutes. By the time we return home, we are refreshed and ready to start dessert.
A quick dessert is low-fat vanilla ice cream or frozen yogurt topped with blueberries and a drizzle of honey with a pinch of cinnamon. It's a family favorite and it gets one more fruit into their mouths!
I hope you enjoy the recipes, and that you make more of an effort to slow down this week. Take in the beautiful weather and your beautiful family - it will make every day a joy and relieve those mid-summer doldrums.
Have a great week droolers!