Planting the Seed

We had an experience the other day that I really wanted to share. It was Sunday morning and I needed Orlando to go buy some stuff at Whole Foods. Since our food choices tend to be expensive, I am very specific about what we buy where. So when I send Orlando to Whole Foods…it is not to browse. It is to buy items that I know I can’t find at Costco or Winn Dixie (I try to save where I can!).

Anyway, Orlando takes my oldest son Orly with him. When they returned, they both seem excited to show me stuff. Turns out that because it was just the two of them, and they weren’t in a terrible hurry like we usually are, they did actually browse. Or better said…Orly browsed. As they looked for Berries, Orly found a box of Longans. He asked his dad what they were and he had never had them before. Orly then said, “Dad, we should buy these because we’ve never tried them before.” My husband confessed that at first glance he thought to say no to purchasing this unnecessary (not on the list) item…but then he thought about it and remembered how he is always drilling in our kids’ heads that they have to try new foods, over and over like a broken record. Well if that’s his mantra then he certainly wasn’t going to say no to trying a new food when his son suggested it. So the Longans were added to the shopping cart.

A wheatgrass drink called Velu made it home also because there was a distributor giving a presentation and Orly had a shot and insisted that they buy one so the rest of the family could try it. IMG_3523And lastly, my personal favorite….IMG_3516IMG_3518

They were selling this Children’s Planting Bag at the register of Whole Foods as a fundraiser for underprivileged children. Apparently the project is trying to help teach these children to eat healthier foods.

I can’t explain the energy that followed my husband and kid as they walked through the door. They were so excited to share this new stuff they bought. They were dying to try the Longans, Orly couldn’t wait to go plant his seeds, and they were excited to share this with the rest of us.

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Sitting there watching them plant their seeds in the pot, it dawned on me that eating has so much to do with planting seeds. Most mothers have heard when they start introducing solids to their babies, that eating is as much social as it is nutritional. Mothers are told not to worry how much of the food actually makes it in the baby’s mouth. Its more about the baby learning to eat with the family, learning to chew, learning about textures, learning to grab the food, learning to use utensils…its quite a process. But the process doesn’t end once the baby knows how to put food in his/her mouth and chew. Actually, it then is really only the beginning. Because eating is more than chewing food. Eating is tied to culture, to emotions, to income levels, to education. What we eat evolves based on age, health, physical status, stress levels, even seasons. And despite how many factors are involved in this process, our society has managed to make eating a “mindless” experience.  Food has become fast and easy. Drive throughs, lunchables, microwavables, packaged bars, frozen pizza, canned fruits and veggies…fast, fast, fast. Hurry up and eat so you can move on to your next important event. Have you ever been asked to journal what you ate all day? How many times does the day pass and you can’t remember what you ate that day?

But to actually STOP. Plant a seed. WAIT for it to grow. And then USE it in your food preparation…wow! what a concept. We don’t have a yard big enough to have the luxury of planting mango trees, avocado trees, and papaya trees…but on this day we planted Swiss Chard and Radish Daikon. And the point was that my children will learn the concept of planting a seed, watching it grow and eating it. We have some dear friends that do have a huge yard and we have had the privilege of taking our sons to their house to pick mangoes and avocados and papayas. To evaluate whether they are ripe or not, to clean them, and to eat them. I think this teaches kids the lesson of being MINDFUL of what food is and where it comes from.  We don’t always have time for this kind of stuff…but we take advantage of it when we do have a moment.

And it made me think of one more thing…I’m often told that I’m so lucky that I don’t have picky eaters. And with everything in life, there is always a little luck involved 🙂

But I truly believe that a big reason that my kids eat well is because we (as a whole) are mindful about food. We have rejected the fast and easy food system as the norm in our home. And our attitude about food is one of openness, exploration, curiosity, excitement. Its not just me trying to get my kids to eat their veggies. My husband and I share this attitude. We practice it in our own lives and our home has adopted that attitude. Which is why my husband came home with the wheat grass drink and the velu bottle. Its why we huddled around our kitchen counter ready to try these new things.

It probably cost us an extra $20 for just these three little items. And the Longans and Velu drink could have been a hit or miss. But truly that didn’t matter at all.  Its really all about the experience.


I used a “tacita de cafe” for us to have shots of the wheatgrass. We all thought it was tasty.

And I LOVED Longans. They will definitely will make it into the shopping cart again in the near future. I am going to research the nutritional info of this tasty fruit and I’ll let you all know!

Orly was so proud of himself for finding this tasty treasure and we definitely thanked him for giving us something new to explore.

So I put this question out there today for you to answer truthfully. What is the food culture in your home? Does your eating philosophy differ from your significant other’s? Are you eating mindlessly? The answers to these questions may help you if you are struggling with what you feed your children, or with your weight or health. And regardless of what the answer is, know that even though this attitude doesn’t change overnight…you can always help plant the seed of change….wait for it to grow…and reap the rewards!

Have a mindful day.


A light approach to chicken marsala

Funny how so many factors influence what we eat and how we eat. One of the factors that put me in a mentality of eating “whole” foods was when I started making my own baby food for Justin. Making baby food seemed completely impossible, complicated, difficult and intimidating to me when I had my first son. And yet by the time I had my second son, making baby food actually opened my world in terms of eating healthy. It just made sense to me. It became easy and uncomplicated and fun even!

And here we are again…. I just started making baby food for my baby boy and I am revisiting the simplicity of whole foods all over again.

On that note, I bought a whole organic chicken to make my very own chicken stock (which I use for most of my baby food purees). I’ve even become confident enough to slice the whole chicken into pieces…this was something I couldn’t do when I started a couple of years ago. Anyway, we don’t eat chicken at home very often mainly because we eat mostly fish, vegetables, and sometimes ground turkey. And the truth is Orlando doesn’t really like handling raw chicken and even finds it somewhat boring. So chicken rarely makes it to the weekly menu. But since I had these nice pieces of organic chicken breast defrosted in the fridge, it motivated Orlando to take advantage of it.

We both love chicken marsala but most chicken marsala recipes entail breading the chicken and pan frying the chicken which includes a considerable amount of oil.

Orlando opted to take a lighter approach and the result was phenomenal!!!!

Our meal consisted of:

  • white asparagus
  • cauliflower/parsnip mash
  • chicken marsala with onions and mushrooms


Chicken Marsala, cauliflower/parsnip mash and white asparagus


Onions and Mushrooms

  1. Chop 1 red onion. Spray a little olive oil and  sauté in pan with a little salt and pepper until caramelized.
  2. add 1 box of sliced mushrooms to the pan with the onions. When the mixture is cooked through and starts to dry up add a little bit of marsala wine to deglaze the pan.

Chicken– (we had a little under 1lb of chicken from the whole chicken I sliced up. Orlando pounded it to make the breasts thin pieces – not too thin but definitely not thick.)

  1. season the chicken with salt and pepper
  2. spray some olive oil on the pan. Sear the chicken for about 4 minutes or until it gets a nice color, then flip to the other side and repeat. Add a shot of marsala wine just to deglaze.
  3. add the mushrooms and onions back into the pan to warm through and mix in with the chicken.
  4. Cover the pan and take off heat.

Parsnip/Cauliflower Mash

  1. peel and chop 4 medium parsnips (make sure to slice off the tops and bottoms)
  2. chop 1 head of cauliflower.
  3. Boil cauliflower and parsnips for 12 minutes. Strain water out (save water for blending)
  4. Place cauliflower and parsnips in blender – you can either add 3/4 of a cup of  boiled water or grassed/organic milk and 2 tbsps of organic/unsalted butter and blend. NOTE: the amount of water/milk depends on the blender and your texture preferences. It is better to add less and add as you go along then add too much and get a soupy consistency. As you blend you will see if you need a little more liquid until you reach your desired consistency.
  5. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

White Asparagus

  1. Toss in olive oil and salt and pepper.
  2. Bake at 375 for 15 minutes.

The meal was delicious because the marsala wine had a nice sweetness to it without the heaviness of the breading or frying. The sauce with the mushrooms and onions acted like a gravy for the mash. The whole meal was a success. Enjoy!