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: Want to save money on food?

I hope that got your attention! I don’t know anyone who doesn’t want to save money on food. While there are many strategies to save money, such as buying in season, checking the weekly specials, and using discount shopping cards, did you ever consider wasted food as throwing away money?

At a recent conference, one of the sponsors was General Mills, discussing sustainability. A featured speaker was Lindsay Boswell, the CEO of FairShare in the UK, whose mission is to fight the twin challenges of hunger and food waste. (As part of their sustainability platform, General Mills is major supporter of organizations, like FairShare.)

I learned some startling facts about food waste:

• 40% of all food produced in the U.S. is wasted.
• The average American throws away 50% more food today than we did about 50 years ago.
• Today, the average American throws away 300 pounds of food each year.
• While there is food waste along the whole food chain, consumers lead the way on food waste; throwing away 15-25% of all food purchased.
• For more details on of food waste, here’s a good article.

That got me thinking, what could I do to reduce food waste and save money at the same time. So, I started my spring cleaning a little early by taking inventory of everything in my pantry and kitchen shelves to uncover what was hiding in the cabinets. As I did, I made a list on my tablet of everything I had on hand.

Next, I tackled the freezer; that place where many leftovers go to die. After my inventory, I realized that I had enough food in my house for meals for the next month! The only thing I will need to pick up at the grocery store is milk, yogurt, and some fresh veggies and fruit.

Some of the meals on my menu will include:

• Quinoa and chicken skillet (thanks to my niece, Sena, who gave me a jar of black quinoa).
• Grilled quail and roasted red potatoes with frozen green beans (thanks to my brother-in-law, Steve, who brought quail from a hunting trip in South Georgia).
• Spaghetti and turkey meatballs (left over meatballs from New Year’s Eve appetizer).
• Honey-ginger pork with carrots and apples (I remember when that pork loin was on sale, but forgot it was in the freezer!)
• Sweet and sour chicken bowl (this uses pouches of ready rice, which I had several of in that corner cabinet that is hard to reach)
• Peanut butter noodles with spicy orange shrimp (frozen shrimp, of course, and who doesn’t have peanut butter?)
• Pesto over hot noodles (I bought a jar of pesto at gourmet shop in Anderson, SC and never opened it).
• Peri-Peri turkey tenderloin (spice brought back from trip to South Africa last fall).

And, I’m ready for Super Bowl snacks with black bean and corn salsa with toasted pita bread wedges and Bush’s “hummus made easy” roasted red pepper pouch, blended with can of garbanzo beans.

So, you get the idea; it was worth the couple of hours to inventory and get creative with meal planning. One other thing I did was check the dates…this can get confusing, so here is quick primer:

• The “use by date,” “best by,” or “best before” dates are found on pantry staples, like canned foods and condiments and refer to the best quality of the food. If unopened, these foods are still safe to eat.
• The “sell by” date is the day your grocery store must sell the product. But, it is still safe to drink the milk or eat the cheese for several days after the sell by date, if you’ve stored it correctly (that is, did you keep in the fridge?)
I must confess I had to toss a can of mandarin orange slices that was wedged in the back of a shelf with a “use by date” of October 2015, but I blame that on my dumb cabinet design, well, that plus my forgetting to make that chicken-mandarin orange salad I had once upon a time planned.

So, whether your goal is to save money, help the environment, or help reduce hunger (or hopefully, all three), start at home to reduce food waste. I would love to hear your creative ideas or ask a question about food waste here, on my website.

And, for information on reducing food waste and saving money check out let’s talk trash.

Chris Rosenbloom is the author of Food & Fitness After 50, with co-author Bob Murray. For more information on the book see our webpage.