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Have Fun in the Kitchen

NUTRISPEAK by Vesanto Melina
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The kitchen has traditionally been the heart of the home, a powerful space to generate physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well-being. 

– Chef Joseph Forest

Some of us follow recipes to the letter. If directions say to whisk the sauce and we have a fork but no whisk, we turn to another recipe. Others refer to someone else’s set of ingredients or directions solely for inspiration, as a jumping off point only, relying on their creativity or sense of adventure. Both approaches can lead to fabulous dining experiences. There’s room for all of us in the kitchen, though perhaps not at the same time.

How we approach food preparation can mean we either enjoy creating meals or dread it. For a more satisfying experience in the kitchen, be sure to gather the ingredients and utensils first. If you have ever reached the halfway point in a meal preparation and found you lack one key ingredient, you’ll know what we mean. Picture the dilemma: you are halfway through assembling your recipe and find you must drop everything and go to the store. For helpful and inspiring tips to transform your culinary experience, read Cooking Vegetarian (J. Forest and V. Melina, Wiley Canada, 2011).

Some people take the time to prepare several big items once or twice a week. This could include a huge salad to store in one or more containers with tight lids, plus several entrees. One could cook several kinds of beans, to have bean salad on hand, or a big pot of lentil soup. When heating a casserole or rice pudding in the oven, add baked potatoes that can be reheated later in the week. You can add to your enjoyment by listening to your favourite music or audio book while you create large batches of the foods you love to freeze.

If you want your partner, children or other family members to share in food preparation, make it a pleasant time. While their help may initially be negligible or even make more work for you, over time, the other eaters at your household will be able to make food for themselves and even spell you off in preparing family meals. Here are a few tips for involving children:

Involve your little ones in food selection. This process may prove more successful at a farmer’s market, in the garden, or after you’ve purchased the groceries and got them home, rather than in the middle of the sugar-laden cereal aisle. Children come to enjoy healthy food when they share in the creative process. They love to help, stir, knead, roll, decorate, chop and do just about anything else in the kitchen that they’re ready for. Consider their preferences when planning menus and include something they enjoy at each meal.

’s right to dislike a few foods. None of us can be expected to love every food, nor is it necessary for good nutrition.

Make mealtime pleasant. Set a pretty table, light a candle (even for breakfast) and encourage positive family interaction. Children are thrilled to drink everyday beverages from wine glasses, even if they came from the thrift store.

March 3: Meet Vesanto Melina at Nature’s Fare in Langley 
#120-19880 Langley Bypass 200th St., 10AM-1PM. www.nutrispeak.com

Vesanto Melina is a Langley dietitian and author (www.nutrispeak.com). Saturday January 28: Meet Vesanto at an author event at Wendel’s Bookstore and Café in Fort Langley, 3-7PM, www.wendelsonline.com. While you’re there, treat yourself to a warming bowl of soup.

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