Food & Fitness After 50: It’s a Good Time to Pass Along Kitchen Tips and Family Recipes

Keeping our social distance, my neighbor, Amy and I were talking (well, sort of shouting) across our yards and she said she had an idea for this blog. After listening to her ideas, I am posting a Q&A to share her great suggestions for passing along her favorite kitchen hacks and family recipes to the next generation. Thank you, Amy Clark!

fuel-nutritionMost of us value family meals and for good reasons. A recent systematic review confirms that family meals improve fruit and vegetable intake and improve family connectedness, communication, expressiveness, and problem-solving. And, sharing family heritage through cherished family recipes and teaching children some easy kitchen tips and tricks can improve the bond between the generations.

Question: What made you think about sharing recipes with your family at this time?

Self-isolation and family lock-down is a perfect time to teach kids some kitchen basics that they can use for a lifetime and help to instill the love of cooking. I also think that showing our children how to master simple tips can help making cooking more streamlined to save time in the kitchen. This can help them realize that cooking isn’t a daunting task.

Question: What are your top tips to engage younger kids in the kitchen?

For the younger kids, get them to help with some easy tasks. We probably all know that overly ripe bananas can be peeled and frozen and used in banana bread*, muffins, or pancakes, but another use for bananas is this trick that I use. Have kids peel ripe bananas and slice into ½-inch to 1-inch slices and lay them on baking sheet lined with parchment or wax paper. Slide the tray into the freezer for an hour or two and then transfer to a gallon-size freezer bag. I like to stack the layers on top of each other inside the freezer bag by reusing the parchment or wax paper. They don’t take up much freezer space and it prevents food waste of those tasty bananas.

The kids can pull out the slices when they want to make smoothies, put on cereal, or make pancakes. I like to use them for a breakfast bowl.

Amy’s Breakfast Bowl

½ cup uncooked oatmeal

1/3 cup pomegranate juice

1 Tablespoon of shelled, raw sunflower or pumpkin seeds

Handful of frozen blueberries

4 or 5 sliced frozen bananas

Mix together in microwave safe bowl and microwave for 40 seconds. Remove from microwave and stir and microwave for another 40 to 45 seconds.

LemonAnother kitchen hack that is easy to pass along to kids is how to save time by having lemon zest and juice at the ready. Wash lemons and grate the zest. Show kids how to use a cheese grater (carefully, of course!) by grating the lemons on the side of the grater with the smallest holes. If you have a zester, that works well, too. Wrap the zest/peel from each lemon in a piece of parchment paper and store flat in a sandwich-size freezer bag. Once zested, cut the lemons and squeeze the juice into a measuring cup, removing seeds in the process. Pour the juice into ice cube trays and freeze. (Your kids may have never seen an old-fashioned ice cube tray!)  Once frozen, remove the lemon cubes and store in freezer bags. One of my absolute favorite recipes for lemon zest and juice is a Lemon Dutch Baby, which the kids will love. If you’ve never tried it, search online and you’re bound to find several recipes using lemon juice and zest. Kids can easily help with this recipe. I like making it in a cast iron skillet because it crisps the crust and some of the iron from the skillet gets absorbed into the food, making it a richer source of dietary iron.

Question: You said that this is also a good time to pass down recipes from one generation to another. What treasured recipes do you have that you want to share with your sons?

I get concerned that some family recipes may be lost over time.  All three of my sons enjoy cooking and grilling but would rather come up with something on the fly or go online to look up a recipe. I want to not only share family recipes but teach them how to make them. My favorite recipes are those passed down from my husband’s grandmother, Estelle.  Grandma Estelle was an amazing woman and fabulous cook who lived to be 99 years old. Maybe she got her love of cooking because one of her first jobs was working at a dairy farm testing the milk for safety. My two favorite recipes are her amazing pie crust (for her famous Coconut Cream Pie) and chicken and dumplings. Both comfort foods to be sure, what we could all use a little comfort right now!

Homemade pie crust is easier to make than you might think. It is cheaper than buying a frozen or refrigerated crust and the taste and flakiness is unbeatable. Pie crust is a good recipe to make with your kids and watching them learn to use a rolling pin is priceless! The crust can be used for pies, of course, but also for homemade chicken pot pie. Once made, the dough can be frozen in individual balls until you are ready to thaw and roll out, which saves you time.

Chicken and dumplings
Amy’s version of Grandmother Estelle’s chicken & dumplings

Our family’s favorite is Estelle’s chicken and dumplings. To make the recipe a bit less daunting, I substitute a large rotisserie chicken for a raw broiler chicken. I remember watching her make it when she would visit us in the summer. I’m sure many of her generation cooked and baked the same way and trying to pin down the exact measurements was a challenge. She would say, “just use a little of this and splash of that.” But even though she didn’t measure a single ingredient, it always came out just right.

Even at 50+, I am still discovering unique family recipes that I can pass on. Last summer, when my husband Randy and I were visiting his parents, I saw his dad cutting up the entire rind of a watermelon. When I asked him what he was doing, he shared another family recipe I did not know about. My mother-in-law showed me how to cook the rinds down and create Watermelon Preserves. She learned how make the preserves from watermelon rinds when she was young from her mother-in-law! The preserves have a unique flavor and we really enjoyed it. When I got home, I made a batch and shared a jar with my son and his fiancé. (See photos below.) I told her the story and she was excited for me to teach her how to make them…another mother-in-law inspired recipe! I love how that recipe, which was created to use every part of the watermelon, is now something preserved (pun intended) and is being passed down by to another generation.

Question: What do you think is a good way to pass along the family recipes?

tgn_080918_nfmm_consumer_infographics_-14-outline_002Some of us have a little more time at home right now so it is a good time to clean up your recipe files and pass along your favorites to your kids…. you can create a recipe box, a recipe book, or more likely for this generation, a digital file shared on a flash drive! Along with each recipe, write a little history of the origin of the dish or why you like it. No matter which way you choose to share the family recipes, I think your kids will appreciate them for years to come.

Banana bread

 

*One of Chris’ favorite recipes for banana bread comes courtesy of California Walnuts, Old Soul’s Banana Walnut Bread. After baking and cooling the banana bread, it freezes well. I have a loaf in my freezer right now! Click here for the recipe.

 

Chris Rosenbloom is a registered dietitian nutritionist and a nutrition professor emerita at Georgia State University in Atlanta. Along with Dr. Bob Murray, she is the author of Food & Fitness After 50.

Copyright © 2019 [Christine Rosenbloom]. All Rights Reserved.

Food & Fitness After 50: Being Vibrant at 60….or any age

Retro KimI was intrigued when I saw Kim’s Facebook post, “31 Reasons Why I’m Vibrant at 60,” and knew I had to reach out to her for an interview. I’ve known Kim a long time, but haven’t talked to her for quite a while, so it was a good excuse to reconnect. Kim had the same joy, excitement, and, yes, vibrancy, that I remember she had we when we met over 20 years ago.

Make a commitment to healthy

Kim is a culinary registered dietitian nutritionist in Indianapolis and for 30 years has been a self-employed entrepreneur and has always found time to stay fit and active, even when life got in the way. You might be thinking that it is easy for culinary nutritionist to be healthy, but while that career gives her knowledge, it still takes a commitment to choose to be healthy. Kim’s mantra is “be responsible for your fitness, nobody else can do it for you.” Kim takes a “no excuses” attitude, even when she must adjust to a change in her schedule. “I plan my workouts, but if I can’t fit in my usual exercise, I don’t agonize or stress over it; I just find a few minutes in the day to move and plan to exercise longer the next day….or, the day after that.” It all boils down to the same thing she tells her grandkids, “choices and consequences!” If we don’t make the choice to be active, we pay the consequences sooner or later.

Take a “psycho walk”

Kim likes a variety of exercise, but her favorite activity is power walking. “I walk faster than everyone I know, so while I’m not quite a race walker, I enjoy my power walks.” The consistency, discipline, and effort to power walk makes her feel better, both physically and mentally. When time is tight, and she can’t fit her usual walk into her schedule, Kim says she sneaks in 10- or 15-minute “psycho walk.” The psycho is short for psychological and the brain boost and stress relieving benefits it brings are powerful.

She also takes a boxing class twice a week, (real boxing, as in pull-on-the-gloves-and-get-Kim boxingin-the- ring, Muhammad Ali- kind-of-boxing) “I was intimidated by the idea of group exercise classes, but boxing has changed that for me.” Besides the physical challenges of boxing, it keeps her mentally sharp. “Boxing works my brain as much as my muscles; the combinations are called out by the instructor and if I’m not completely focused I can’t do the workout.” Kim has warmed to group classes so much that she signed up for a Bollywood Dance class this spring…. there is photo I want to see!

Be positive about food choices

When it comes to food, Kim doesn’t struggle with food like many women do. “I am dismayed at the agony and angst that I see surrounding women and food.” She encourages a positive attitude toward food, be adventurous and creative with food, and above all, enjoy it. Kim has some great recipes on her website that I encourage you to try. Two of her favorites include Moroccan-Spiced Sweet Potato Hummus and Indian-Spiced Red Lentil Hummus.

Small steps

Kim advises her clients to take small steps to improve their diet or fitness. “I’m a firm believer that small steps yield big results.” Don’t try to change everything overnight but ask yourself what little thing you can do that you can stick with.” But above all, “have with your eating and activity!

More tips on eating well, moving well, and being well are found in Food & Fitness After 50,  available at Amazon.