Category Archives: Health

Instant Pot Chana Masala and a Must-Have Resource That I Love

A little food,  interesting conversations, and meaningful connections — that’s what the family table is all about! So today, I’m sharing a book that I love and some really good food. I only wish that we were all sharing it around an enormous table filled with friendly conversation and lots of laughs. I hope you enjoy and as always look forward to hearing from you.

Instant Pot Chana Masala

Ingredients

  • 2 cups dried chickpeas
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 3 whole cloves
  • 1 large onion, finely diced
  • 2 to 3 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 1 inch piece of ginger, peeled and finely minced
  • 3 plum tomatoes, diced
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoons ground dhana jeera
  • 2 teaspoons chole (chana) masala spice
  • 2 teaspoons garam masala
  • 1/4 to 1 teaspoon ground red chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • sliced scallions or fresh cilantro for garnish

Instructions

  1. Soak the dried chickpeas for 8 to 12 hours.
  2. Turn the InstantPot on sauté mode and warm the oil.
  3. Add the cinnamon, cumin seeds and cloves to the warmed oil and sauté for a minute or two until fragrant and cumin seeds begin to pop/sizzle.
  4. Add the diced onions and sauté until golden. Next, add the minced garlic and ginger and sauté for an additional minute or so.
  5. Add the diced tomatoes and continue sautéing until the tomatoes have wilted down.
  6. Add the tomato paste and remaining spices, including the salt. Stir to combine for 30 to 60 seconds.
  7. Add the drained chickpeas and 2 cups of fresh water.
  8. Change the Instant Pot setting from sauté to manual high pressure and set the timer for 15 minutes.
  9. When the timer goes off, allow the pressure to come down on its own and remove the lid once the pressure has come down.
  10. Taste for salt and season to taste.
  11. Serve over rice, garnished with sliced scallions and alongside a green salad.
http://www.thefamily-table.com/instant-pot-chana-masala-and-a-must-have-resource-that-i-love/

With love,

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A Special Conversation On Talking to Your Teens About Weight

Are you the parent of a tween or teen? Do you worry about your child’s weight? Does your child worry about their weight? Have you ever heard your child say “Ugh! I’m so fat!”? Did it leave you speechless and panicked? Are you worried that your child has an eating disorder or is over-weight? Are you at a loss when it comes to talking to your child about health, weight, and the importance of being active? Well, then I suggest you grab a cup of tea, get comfy, and have a listen to this wonderful conversation I had with Dr. Dianne Neumark-Sztainer, a researcher and professor at the University of Minnesota. She is the author of “I’m, Like, SO Fat”: Helping Your Teen Make Healthy Choices about Eating and Exercise in a Weight-Obsessed World.

Over the summer I read an article in the NY Times which hi-lighted the importance of avoiding commentary on your child’s weight. Dr. Neumark-Sztainer was featured in the article, and it reminded that I had read her book a while back. I decided to reach out to her to see if she would be willing to chat with me. Of course, I was thrilled when she said yes, and excited to share our conversation with you. We discuss how to talk to your teen, how to create a health-promoting environment at home, how to approach teens that want to be vegan,  the importance of family meals (of course!), and much more.

I hope you enjoy our conversation, and as always, I welcome your comments, feedback, and suggestions.

With Love,

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Are Vegan Diets Safe For Kids?

I’ve gotten a lot questions around this topic over the years. The short answer is an absolute YES! In this video I tackle the one main obstacle that most people come across in answering the question of whether a plant-based/vegan diet is safe for kids.  This video will give you a nice overview of the topic, but in upcoming videos, I hope to answer questions on specific nutrients, common parent concerns, as well as to share useful tips and tools to help guide you.

The standard American diet, in my opinion, is NOT an optimal way of eating. Getting more plant-based foods into our diets is not only safe and doable, but also health promoting.

I’d love it if you would share your questions and comments with me below. What issues around food and nutrition do you struggle with in your family?

With love,

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p.s. here’s the link to the position statement on vegetarian and vegan diets mentioned in the video:)

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A Mini-Makeover

Hello and welcome (back) to The Family Table! I’ve been a little absent from the site because I have been regrouping, revising, and rethinking the focus and format of The Family Table. I refreshed the site a bit and have decided to start using video as a way to share content in more personal and hopefully, interactive format. In this first video post, I wanted to spend a little time introducing myself more fully and to address some frequently asked questions about The Family Table (you can also find the answers on the FAQ page). It’s my first attempt in this new format so I hope you will forgive any messiness and clumsiness as I learn to navigate these new waters.

My intention is to grow this site and community to serve you in all of the best ways possible. My mission at The Family Table is to help families thrive, whether it’s through the food and connections around our dinner tables or by tackling some of the more challenging issues that we face as parents. Conversation is key, and I’m hoping that you will share your comments, suggestions, and concerns.

I plan on sharing content in other formats as well. If you missed it, you can still listen to a recent podcast I did with my good friend, Wendy Solganik, at Healthy Girl’s Kitchen by clicking on this link. It was a fun and informative conversation about feeding your family for health, while at the same time, finding balance and joy.

One final request. . . If you have already subscribed to The Family Table, thank you! If you have not, or have a friend or two that might be interested in these conversations, please consider joining the mailing list or forwarding. I have a free eBook on Making Family Dinner Happen that provides the why, how, and what of family dinner. For those that have already subscribed, expect a copy in your inbox soon!

So, welcome back to The Family Table. I’m so happy that you are here and hope that you will stay for a while.

With Love,

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FOOD. CONNECTION. CONVERSATION.  

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Green Soup: A Cold-Weather Twist on the Classic Green Smoothie

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving Holiday. Ours was spent with family in a non-traditional setting. My dad turned 70 this fall and we decided to celebrate by spending the holiday in Mexico. It was an easy to get to destination for all, filled with sun, sand and togetherness. I find that when I travel or come through a holiday with a heavy focus on food, the following days require a bit of a reset. For me, that means refuelling with simple whole foods. Green smoothies and juices are a great way to reset, but as the weather cools, I want something a little warmer. This green soup fits the bill for sure. I made I nice big pot of it on Sunday and it will be great to have on hand throughout the week for a simple lunch, snack or even breakfast.

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This recipe really is about as unfussy as you can get. Think of it as a green smoothie in soup form — use what you have on hand, create a nice texture, and try to balance the flavors. Start with some aromatics (garlic, onion, maybe ginger?!), fill it with as many greens and other veggies as you can, and consider adding in something to give it a creamy, hefty texture (potatoes, cannellini beans, etc.). This basic recipe will give you a way to access “green soup” but, really, add your touch to it. I kept things simple for this version, but you could certainly spice it up with additional seasonings, toppings, and condiments.

Basic Green Soup

Ingredients

  • 1 teaspoon olive oil (optional)
  • 1 small or 1/2 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, sliced
  • 2 ribs of celery, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • large bunch of kale, roughly chopped
  • large head of broccoli, chopped into florets
  • 1 quart vegetable broth
  • 3 small Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. In a medium sized pot, warm the olive oil over medium heat (alternatively, you can omit the olive oil all together and do a no-oil sauté).
  2. Add the diced onions and sauté until they begin to brown.
  3. Add the garlic, celery and bell pepper and continue to sauté until the vegetables have softened.
  4. Next, throw in the kale and broccoli. Sauté until it the kale has wilted.
  5. Add the vegetable broth, potatoes and salt. Add an additional 1/2 to 1 cup water to make sure the vegetables are covered in liquid.
  6. Simmer until the potatoes are cooked tender.
  7. Carefully, and in batches (it took me 2), purée the soup in a blender.
  8. Return the soup to the pot. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste.
http://www.thefamily-table.com/green-soup-a-cold-weather-twist-on-the-classic-green-smoothie/

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To serve the soup, I recommend topping it with a few toasted pumpkin seeds or even some roasted chickpeas for a more substantial meal. You can store the soup in the refrigerator and just warm up a bowl or mugful at a time. I don’t mind having a bit of texture to it and flecks of broccoli, so I don’t purée it for too long. It also packs very nicely in a thermos.

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I wanted to end this post by sharing a personal story. A bit of an “emotional reset” it you will. As parents, we tend to worry about our children in all the many aspects of their lives. School, friendships, homework, safety, happiness — you mention it, we are capable of fretting over it. Over the last few weeks, I faced some professional challenges of my own, and what I realized is that how we behave and how we handle things are perhaps the most powerful lessons we can provide our children. There is such a push to teach our kids to be resilient, graceful under pressure, not whine and somehow manage it all. We lose patience when they can’t seem to be ready on time, fuss over homework or complain about chores. But, what I learned from my 13 year old (soon to be 14, yikes!) is that sometimes our quiet presence, a few simple words in place of a lecture or lengthy discussion, and just a bit of time and space work wonders.

I can no longer say that we “just” moved to California. It’s been nearly 18 months, and the truth is, it’s been challenging at times. After a year of getting settled and exploring options, I had decided it was time to get back to work. I looked at various opportunities and found one that I thought would be a good fit. The job ended up not working out and it threw me for a loop — a big one. After months of effort, I would have to begin again. I was in the car with my daughter, and she was acutely aware of my mood. There was a lot of silence in the car. She waited for the right moment to ask what was going on. I explained. She waited some more. Somehow she found the words to reassure me, to encourage me, and to remind me that how we handle adversity not only shapes who we are, but how we move through life. I needed a few days (ok, maybe more than a few) to fully feel the disappointment and upset. There was no pressure to make an immediate decision. She didn’t fill the silent spaces with lots and lots of words, nor did she demand that I immediately look on the bright side of things. She had the confidence that I would figure things out. How did she get so smart?