Archive for the 'Nutrition' Category

So, what’s the food like?

Snail casserole

This post is purely for “dessert,” if you will. I was thinking recently of that famous question that gets asked to all missionaries on home assignment. Is it, “What’s ministry like?” or perhaps, “What’s God been teaching you through your experiences there?” or “How many people have you seen coming to Christ recently?” No, though of course those are also on the top of the list, the one I’m thinking of is one that you know quite well… “So, what’s the food like?!” Although it doesn’t get quite to the heart of our reasons for being where we are, you’ll have to admit, it’s an interesting topic! If we were all to get together over coffee some day, I am pretty sure in the midst of all of our chat about kids and cross-cultural life, we’d exchange a few stories about the crazy things that we’ve eaten in the places that we serve.

So, without further ado, what’s the food like where you live? Please share your favorite and least favorite dishes and perhaps the strangest thing you’ve yet to encounter! If you are currently in the US, please share from past experiences overseas or the most adventurous thing you’ve tried state-side!


I quit cooking

This week is a crazy one at our house on all fronts. First I am co-leading a semi-important (and somewhat intimidating to me) ministry event that requires both time for prayer and planning. Secondly, we’ve finally hit a point where it is an absolute necessity to do some significant sleep training, if you could call it that, with our 3 year old who is very strong willed and likes to play “Jack-in-the-Box” when it comes to bedtime. She pulls out EVERY excuse imaginable to try to get out of bed (fears, ailments, sudden pangs of hunger, missing stuffed animals, random biting bug visitors, theological questions…). After enough experience sorting through this mass of semi-reasonable requests (reasonable in isolation, that is),  it boils down to the fact that she is just very persuasive and actually is perfectly fine and doesn’t need any of this extra attention. Soooo, we’re in the midst of a few rough nights trying to help our little lass understand that bedtime indeed means bedtime. And on top of that, language learning is getting hard and my brain is starting to reach overload. When that happens the good old brain starts ejecting vocabulary and cases at random, leaving me with a confused jumble of conjugations and adjective endings and an only semi-completed grammatical framework in which to “isporzovat” (use) them. Yes, my brain is fried. Can you relate? I think you probably can!

So, in a tiny effort to steal a few extra moments, I have decided to quit cooking for the rest of the week. Here is what we will be eating:

-The giant pasta salad I just made. That was the last cooking effort. (Pasta, various beans, pesto sauce, tomatoes, green onions, Italian seasoning, pine nuts… should have had chicken, but like I said, I am too tired to get that complicated).

-Hard boiled eggs

-Carrot sticks

-Yogurt with flax seed and wheat germ and/or granola

-Pears, oranges

-Cheese and crackers

-Frozen soup that I made last week

-Probably some extra healthy (ha ha) frozen pizzas, chicken nuggets, and Russian dumplings.

-Ice-cream… a definite must during a week like this.

So, the question of the day is, how do you create extra time in your schedule during busy weeks? Also, can you help me/us with other healthy no-prep food options?

Oh, and in case you wondered how it works out that I am too busy to cook, yet not busy enough to forgoe writing this post, the answer is that it is fun for me, and even in the midst of busy days, I think it is important to have a few minutes worth of fun. It motivates me to know that I even have 5 minutes of leisure to do whatever I choose! On that note though, my 5 minutes is up. Sorry, no pretty picture today! I hope and pray that each of you are having a wonderful week, busy or not, and that you are enjoying God, your family, and your ministry in the midst of it!

Nutritious and Delicious


There is a great book out there called: Deceptively Delicious that I can’t wait to get one of these days. It is a book all about one of my favorite tricks to healthy eating: don’t let them know that it is good for them!

One of my favorite strategies to healthy cooking is hiding nutritionally packed ingredients in the recipes that my kids love most. Here are a few standard “tricks” that i use:

Ground nuts and seeds, wheatgerm, and especially ground flax seed have a way of making their way into lots of things. Hot cereal, cold cereal, sprinkled on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, sprinkled on other sandwiches, mixed with yogurt, grilled in quesadillias… there are many places to hide these boosts. You of course need a nut or coffee grinder for the nuts and seeds, but I assume that many places have such a appliance available. Oh, and ground nuts and seeds can go rancid, so you need to only do small batches and freeze anything that you don’t use right away. I just found flax seed for really cheap at the market here, so now I am especially excited.

Spinach puree is also great for adding to various dishes. I add it to soups, sauces, stir fry, spreads… Here is a recipe that my sister-in-law recommended that even uses it in a delicious dessert! You can puree other veggies and use them the same way, but i usually use spinach since we can buy it pre-pureed and in cubes here. Yea for Russia!

-Pumpkin puree is also a great and mild mix-in that won’t disturb the flavor of most things. Add it to a curry sauce, mix it into a marinara, experiment with this one.  Other mild squash purees would work great too.

-Nutrition packed marinara: My kids LOVE spaghetti and I take advantage of that fact. I use lean meat (turkey or chicken are my preferred options, but we usually only have lean beef), and then mix in the usual flax seed, wheat germ, other ground seeds or nuts, purred spinach, etc. The meat and red sauce disguise pretty much everything else both in color and texture.

-Plain yogurt is my standard substitute for anything that calls for sour cream. It works great! You can also use it on sandwiches instead of using mayonnaise (we supposedly have “light” mayo here, but it only has about 1 gram less fat than the regular stuff, or something crazy like that).

-Olive oil in brownies, muffins, and other baked goods sounds gross I know, but with extra light olive oil you can’t taste a difference.

-Applesauce instead of oil? This is a classic substitute, but in my opinion it messes with the taste and texture. If it is for little ones though, chances are they will still be excited about a special treat and won’t realize that it tastes much healthier than it should.

-“Veggie” burgers: I have heard that you can add finely minced veggies (soft ones I assume) to ground meat and use it to make burgers. I think you can use about 1/3 minced veggies proportionately. I don’t make burgers (not a huge fan of touching ground meat), so I haven’t tried this.

-Tofu: I grew up vegetarian and my mom put tofu in pretty much anything that should have had meat. Marinara sauce and stir fry were the classics that I loved. Also you can scramble tofu, cottage cheese, and shredded cheese together for a great breakfast! Add some purred veggies, diced zucchini, or kale, and put it on toast to make a balanced meal. Yum!

-Smoothies: a standard trick to getting your fruits for the day. Add frozen berries, yogurt, milk, juice, purreed pumpkin, frozen bananas (cut and freeze in small pieces), frozen yogurt… No recipe needed. Just go with what you think might taste good.

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