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Healthy Eating for Busy Families

Hectic lives inevitably lead to hectic eating habits. For busy parents, there always seems to be too much going on and not enough time to do it all, especially when it comes to making nutritious meals for the family. Far too often this crisis-mode living leads to unhealthy eating habits.
The food we eat doesn’t just provide us with energy; each piece of food we put in our mouths is either building up or tearing down our health and immune system. A bagel gulped down the go is more of an act of stuffing yourself to stave off hunger than anything approaching nutritious eating.
A leisurely dinner with family or friends, on the other hand, is altogether different. It’s not only psychologically beneficial because of the time you’re spending bonding and sharing with the ones you love but it’s healthier, too. Having the opportunity to eat slowly and chew each bite aids immensely in proper digestion. Enjoying a glass of wine or dessert adds pleasure to the experience and, some argue, additional gastronomic benefits.
Above all, when you’re eating in a relaxed and mindful mode, you’re far more likely to avoid over-eating because you will naturally stop when you feel full. The experience of eating wholesome meals with the people we care about does more than fill our stomachs – it fills our souls.
We often associate the busy person’s “cooking” with the trappings of the frozen food aisle. The tremendous amount of chemical preservatives, salt and fat that go into keeping these frozen foods fresh and tasting good, however, is a real caveat. They benefit the preservation of food, not the health of the human body.
By now most of us are familiar with the pitfalls of fast food – high calories, high fat, high cholesterol and huge serving sizes. For the sake of convenience, however, these hazards are often overlooked, particularly when its 6:00 p.m., you’re on your way home from a harried day at work and the question burns in your mind, “What’s for dinner?” Even the strongest among us can crack and under that kind of pressure.

Cooking for Kids on Their Own

Today’s working parents face the dilemma of having their children home alone anywhere from a few minutes to several hours per day with hungry bellies and idle hands. Before you allow your child to be in your home alone, clear communication is crucial. Just like there are house rules, there should also be rules governing food, especially what’s okay to eat, what’s not, whether or not it should be cooked and the best way to do it.
In general, parents should discourage the use of the stove or oven in their absence. Not only can burns be a safety hazard but the most common types of burns are those from improperly handled boiling water. Only after being well trained by an adult is cooking okay for children who are home alone. Parents must address all aspects of kitchen safety thoroughly. The decision to let kids cook, just like the decision to allow them be home alone, is based on age, maturity and the development of skills to handle not only cooking but what to do in case of an emergency.
Spending some of your free time in the kitchen cooking with your children will help them learn simple cooking and food preparation techniques that they can use when you’re gone. This will not only help to give you peace of mind but you will have been able to supervise them as they learn proper techniques. As a result, they will feel safer, more confident and begin to develop more independence.
If you’ve decided that it’s okay for your child to start cooking when he or she is home alone, it’s important to talk about what’s okay to eat and cook, and what’s not. One way to draw clear parameters is to provide simple recipes that can be prepared quickly and easily.
A good alternative to oven or stovetop cooking is the microwave, especially when heating frozen meals. Children should be reminded to be careful when using the microwave, however, since what’s coming out of it can be steaming hot. Potholders should always be used to remove food and it should be allowed to cool thoroughly before eating.
Snacks and meals that don’t require cooking or cutting are the best option for children who are home alone. Parents can help kids by keeping pre-prepared foods in the refrigerator and a well-stocked shelf in the pantry full of healthy snacks that cover the four basic food groups. There are plenty of good choices: raisins, granola bars, trail mix, wheat crackers, individually packaged cheeses like cheddar and string cheese, cream cheese, yogurt, cottage cheese, beef or turkey jerky, cold cuts, tuna, pre-cut veggies and fruit.
Children who spend time alone at home while their parents are at work have a unique opportunity to learn valuable life skills like independence and problem-solving. The key is for parents make clear rules, especially about cooking and eating, so that kids are properly prepared to be alone and can be well-nourished and safe.

Making Veggies Fun for Kids

Recently, there has been an onslaught of books – and much ensuing controversy – about camouflaging vegetables so that children will eat them. It’s not necessary to be sneaky about vegetables, however. Children are naturally curious so developing both their interest in and excitement about vegetables what will inspire them to want to eat them.

Getting kids to eat well, and especially eat their vegetables, is a challenge for many parents. To help familiarize your child with new vegetables, you should start early in the toddler period by offering a large variety of foods every day and making mealtime fun. How do you get children to eat more vegetables, especially when they may only want to eat hot dogs and French fries?
One of the most significant factors in your children eating vegetables is whether or not you eat them. What you eat has a tremendous influence on what your children will likely eat. If you rarely serve vegetables with meals, it should come as no surprise that your children don’t like them and aren’t used to eating them. Children’s food preferences are shaped in large part by what foods parents choose to make available to them. If children have repeated opportunities to sample new foods, the greater the likelihood will be they will come to like and accept them.
Don’t force your child to eat vegetables (or any other food for that matter). Encourage your child to try tastes of various vegetables and be patient if he or she resists it. Presented enough times, your child will eventually give in and try it so keep re-introducing new foods from time to time.
You might add vegetables to the foods that your children already like to eat. Put banana and zucchini in muffins and chopped broccoli and spinach on pizza. Add a handful of vegetables like cauliflower, carrots and celery to chicken soup, ramen noodles or marinara sauce. Chop tomatoes or grate carrots and add them to chicken or tuna salad.
There are other ways to help vegetables become more interesting and appealing to your child. One way is to simply make them more available. Put out a plate of carrots and celery with an applesauce, yogurt or peanut butter dip before mealtime or just after rigorous activity when your child is the hungriest. Keep a bowl of raw vegetables like pea pods and cherry tomatoes in the refrigerator for when children are likely to reach for a handy snack. Plant and tend a vegetable garden with your child or even plant a tomato plant in a bucket on your patio so your child can be part of the growth process.
Not all children are going to like every vegetable. That would be an unreasonable expectation even for most adults. Not every food is going to taste good upon first sampling. Framing vegetables in a positive light, however and patiently presenting foods repeatedly until they are finally accepted will help ease the struggle to get kids to eat what’s good for them.

Pesto

Since taking my site down at Igroops, I have been considering my options on how to proceed with moving to another platform to get all the main features of igroops but at a lower cost. That is what killed me at Igroops.

In the meantime I am posting as much of that content here, as I can.

Here is my latest video showing my version of pesto.

Sorry it is a little Dark, I tried using ambient light without any supplemental lights. While it looked good on the playback it did
not convert well into streaming format.

But it is viewable and the pesto tastes great.

Enjoy

Pablo Maiorino

Pesto
click here to download

Seasonal Fruits and Vegetables

Shopping seasonally for vegetables and fruits is a great way to get the freshest produce possible. Eating seasonally, however, is a great way to make a positive impact on your physiological health. That’s because it’s naturally in keeping with the rhythm of your body which craves certain foods, with certain nutritional content, at different times of the year.
“There is a reason to have pumpkin pie with Thanksgiving turkey and not with Fourth of July hot dogs,” says Mireille Guiliano, author of the bestseller French Women Don’t Get Fat: The Secret of Eating for Pleasure. “Seasonality is about adapting your eating to what is available at the markets…during specific months of the year. (It) is a vital part of tuning our bodies to their equilibrium, cultivating and well-being.”

While it’s natural to eat seasonally, it’s no surprise why we’ve departed from this way of eating. With supermarkets meeting the demand for all foods, at all times, produce is flown in from around the world. It’s difficult for our brains – let alone our senses – to know what’s in season.

“Canning and mass global distribution of produce have conditioned us to expect all foods year round,” Guiliano says. “I myself have been beguiled by the engineered good looks of off-season produce, but one taste of cardboard is enough to send me reaching for my napkin. Nothing is more flavorless than a supermarket tomato in winter, but a vine-ripened specimen in summer is…divine.”

“It’s so easy to be seduced by year-round produce at the supermarket,” says Deborah Madison, author of Local Flavors: Cooking and Eating from America’s Farmers’ Markets. “But when you allow yourself to be seduced all the time, you’re choosing a shadow image of the real thing.”
To choose the real thing in every season, in the spring look for fresh lettuce, asparagus, blackberries, spinach, strawberries, peas, green onions and leeks. Summer offers a bevy of delicacies including tomatoes, plums, melon, green beans, apricots, corn, herbs and zucchini that are full of cool water and loaded with nutrients.
Autumn offers pumpkins, grapes, butternut squash, yams, apples, broccoli, cauliflower, pears, grapes, yams (and the beginning of seafood and oyster season, just when our bodies are starting to crave more protein). In winter beets, cabbage, carrots, onions, rutabagas, turnips and winter squash warm us up in hearty meals and soups. Citrus fruits are also in season and bolster our immune system to keep us healthy through the cold months.
Use an online search engine to research a seasonal food table for your region so you can become familiar with what is abundant –and delicious – in your area. Check in regularly with your local grocer to keep abreast of what’s in season and what’s at its peak. Talk to friends who garden about what they harvest during each season and what varieties of vegetables and fruit they recommend.
Eating seasonally not only provides the greatest possible sensual enjoyment of fruits and vegetables but it’s also a nutritionally rich experience that gives a natural balance to your physiological equilibrium.

I’m “Flip”ping out!

Hello All.

I recently heard about a digital camcorder that was handy, inexpensive and made web ready videos. It is called the “Flip”
by PureDigital.

I was doing some shopping in my local ShopRite and saw it for sale at the courtesy desk for only $119. The price online is $149 or so. I decided to pick it up and try it out to see if it was everything I had heard about it.

After turning it on and seeing a blinking battery symbol, I replaced the two AA batteries (included). That was after trying to charge it using the built in usb adapter that opens with a “Flip” of a switch. I really should read those directions, but the print is so small.

So I turned the unit on and hit the red record button and pressed it again to stop. Then I played it back using the > play button.
Very intuitive, didn’t need the directions for this.

Next I hooked it up to my laptop and the built in software loaded and I was stunned to see that there was editing software and a movie maker. This little guy really packs it in.

I was getting an image in the background when viewing the .avi file that was on the camera’s flash drive, but not when I created a movie.

So rather than calling support right away, I decided to check to see if there was an update. There was. So I downloaded it and installed it.

It took two tries, I think because I was impatient and clicked the unzipped file as soon as I saw it. The next time I just waited and it did everything itself. Sounds like a lot of work, but it was really easy, and would have taken half the time if I could just relax.

Here is a short video I shot with the “Flip” and converted to a movie(.wmv file) to make it viewable on the web.

Overall I am happy with my purchase and would purchase another one if I needed it or for a gift. You be the judge of the video quality.

Oh, disregard the mess in the background, I will go empty the dishwasher now. LOL.


Click the picture of the “Flip” to watch the video

Flipping out
click here to download

Hummus for the Holidays

Well this post is coming kind of late to wish you all a Happy Holiday, but I am going to do it anyway. HAPPY HOLIDAYS.

This year I bought myself a new digital video camera with a DVD as the recording media. I figured it would be easier to just pop the DVD in and edit the video.

Sounds good in theory, but I think I chose the wrong video format when I formatted the dvd. As a result instead of getting one big video to edit, I got a bunch of small clips. At least that’s the way my video editing software imported it.

As a result the audio track is off and the transitions between the clips are not smooth. Sorry about that, I promise to do better next time.

Getting to the cooking, this is a cooking site right?

I chose to show you two of my staple dips that I put out at most gatherings. Hummus and Salsa.

Though they don’t really complement each other, I find that they both disappear quite rapidly, so I guess people like them and I always put out a good variety of other appetizers. Usually too many. (Sound Familiar) You end up with lots of main course leftovers because everyones full from the appetizers. “Don’t fill up on the Bread” remember your mom telling you at the restaurant ? LOL

Both these dishes should be made the night before so they will be ready the next day when your guests arrive and then you can spend more time with them.

Holiday Dips
click here to download

Marinara Maiorino

My last name has often been butchered to sound like marinara and looking at the two together, it’s no wonder.
This latest cooking video, brought to you straight from my kitchen, as always, is my version of Marinara sauce. It is a little different than traditional marinara sauce.

First I don’t add sugar. Second I use bell pepper. I personally don’t like my sauce sweet and that’s what sugar does, so to counteract the acid that is in the tomatoes, I use the natural sugars that are released from the pepper and onion. If you must add sweeteners, use natural sweeteners like the sugars in vegetables or honey. I haven’t tried fruit but there is probably the perfect fruit out there to do the trick and not overpower the sauce.

In this video I use an imersion blender to make a smooth sauce. If you don’t have one you can get one here Cooking.com or you can use a blender. Sometimes I just leave it chunky, nothing wrong with that either.

As a bonus I have included my recipe for basic meatballs. I know what you’re thinking, do you really need a recipe for that?
Probably not, but here it is anyway, besides some people have never made a meatball in their life. It’s time to start ! So simple and so good :). I have broken it into two videos so that I could upload it on youtube. They have a 10 minute limit. And since I am running out of room on my server, I am going to just embed the video from you tube here.

Enjoy these two videos. To stay here at FreeCookingVideos, click the play button in the bottom left corner. If you click the center of the picture, you will be taken to youtube.

Marinara Maiorino

Meatballs Maiorino

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