Mom's Kitchen Handbook

A Good Read, a Good Recipe, and Other Good Things

A Good Read
While some of you were hiding behind your Kindle screens taking in the naughty details of Fifty Shades of Grey during your summer holiday, I was geeking out to Why Calories Count, the terrific new book by Marion Nestle and Malden Nesheim. The authors, both of whom hale from academia, take a close look at calories in our culture and how it is that we got to eating so darn many of them while much of the world eats too few. An entire chapter is devoted to defining calories, a term we toss around mindlessly without really knowing what the heck it means. I was fascinated by the evolution of what the authors refer to as “today’s ‘eat more’ environment,” and disheartened to learn that the price of desserts, snack foods, and sodas has decreased 20 to 30 percent since the 1980s, while the price of fruits and vegetables has risen 40 percent. Luckily, the book closes on a hopeful note. The authors offer useful advice for navigating our often toxic food environment and practical tips for eating a nourishing diet with neither too many, nor too few, calories.

A Recipe for Right Now
Tomatoes are here and heavenly. I’ve been enjoying them every which way, but most especially in this panzanella salad. It’s practically guaranteed to be delicious; the only requirement is good ingredients. Here’s how: Cut a couple of slices of crusty bread into 1 1/2 inch cubes, drizzle with a little olive oil, sprinkle with salt, and bake at 400 degrees until lightly toasted. Meanwhile, cut a couple of juicy tomatoes into chunks and put into a large shallow bowl or on a platter. Add cherry tomatoes if you have them and chopped cucumbers if you like. Add a cubed avocado or handful of cubed, fresh Mozzarella cheese. When the bread is toasted, cool for a few minutes and add to the tomatoes along with small handful of roughly chopped fresh basil. Drizzle with a tablespoon of olive oil, sprinkle with salt. Toss. Eat. Yum.

A Local Foods Ringleader
I hesitate to share with you about Good Eggs because it’s currently only set up here in the San Francisco Bay Area. But their work is so smart and so exciting, I couldn’t wait. An organization that links small farmers, bakers, ranchers, and other foodmakers directly with buyers, Good Eggs is to food what Etsy is to handicrafts. In my neighborhood, for example, Good Eggs can hook me up with a gal who will deliver freshly-baked gluten free bread to my doorstep on her bicycle. How cute is that? They can also connect me to a small ranch north of the city to buy grass fed beef and pastured chickens without need of a middle man (or woman). For those of you who live outside the Bay Area, looks like Good Eggs plans to expand, so get on their site and tell them where you live. They’ll let you know when they set up shop in your neck of the woods.

A Resource
I’m always sniffing around for new and different resources for all things mom-related. Here’s a comprehensive line-up of 50 blogs focused on healthy living. Its a one-stop-shopping list for moms on everything from healthful eating to physical activity, weight loss and mental health. I especially appreciate that the list includes a section on healthy relationships. So often, the very core of family life, our relationships with spouses and children, is woefully overlooked.

Food Fun and Games
When it comes to games, I’d rather see my kids gathered on a soccer field or around a Scrabble board than behind a computer screen. But, online games are a fact of life for most modern families, so I thought it worthwhile to share one I discovered recently when they contacted me for an interview on healthful eating. It’s called ZisBoomBah and features free online games for kids focused on nutrition education. The site also features recipes for kids and parents, and a whole host of resources for grade school teachers. As far as rainy day games go, this is a vast improvement over so many online options.

What are some or your favorite “Good Things” these days??