"The ability to feed our offspring is one of the most fundamental human skills, one of the things that makes us human." - Dr. Maya Adam
This is Part 1 of a series, "How To Feed Our Children More Nutritiously" from an interview with Dr. Maya Adam who is a specialist in child health from Stanford's School Of Medicine. Dr. Maya Adam is a mother of three children ages 12, 9, and 7.
The Biggest Mistake We Make When Thinking About Nutritious Home Cooking For Our Family
Maya says: "The biggest mistake that we make, and I make it as well when I don’t watch myself carefully, is that we fall into the trap of thinking that preparing food for our families is somehow a chore and a really difficult task that’s going to take a lot of time and a lot of money and a lot of skill. When in fact - when we create simple healthy meals - we do not need to make it a chore. It does not need to take a lot of time and it does not need to take a lot of skill."
How To Make Nutritious Home Cooking Quick and Easy
1. Pre-wash and pre-cut vegetables once a week. It can even be a fun activity to do with your partner.
Maya says: "At the beginning of the week, if I have a little extra time like on a Sunday night, if I can prepare some vegetables, for example have a few broccoli florets washed and put in a zip lock bag ready for me to throw into that meal during the week when I’m short of time.
If you can even spend some time with your partner in the kitchen and say “Hey, while we chat about our week let’s just chop some onions and put them in an airtight container so that it’s all ready to go for tomorrow.” I think little things like that can make it easier. "
2. Cook meals that require only one pot. This makes cleaning up much quicker.
Maya says: "If you’re cleaning up, thinking about using fewer pots is always something I like to do. For example, if I can sauté some onions and then add a little bit of chicken or whatever my protein is going to be, and then add a lot of vegetables so that I have a dish that’s mostly vegetable and flavored with a little bit of meat. If I can do that in one pot, then that’s going to save a lot of time because I’m only going to be washing up that one pot."
3. Use vegetables that actually do not require any cooking. Simply dress up raw vegetables with a nice dressing for a great side dish.
Maya says: "Also, you don’t have to cook everything. You can chill some carrots and chop them up and put them on the side of something. If they are good quality vegetables, they don’t necessarily have to be cooked. You can put a lovely dressing on some raw broccoli and that makes a nice salad if the dressing is good. It's about choosing the best ingredients you can afford and then presenting them in a way that you enjoy them that isn’t over the top in terms of there are three different sauces. It does not all have to be soufflé!"
How To Make Nutritious Home Cooking Cheap
1. Use vegetable proteins instead of animal proteins. Vegetable proteins (like lentils and beans) cost far less than animal proteins.
Maya says: "One way to keep it economical is just to reduce the amount of animal protein in her diet. Surprisingly, if we use more lentils, and beans, and quinoa, and all those wonderful sources of vegetable protein and then by reducing the amount of animal protein in our meals and in our general weekly food profile, we can really reduce the cost of our grocery bills significantly. Vegetarian sources of protein like lentils and beans and quinoa and all those wonderful vegetable protein foods are not only much more healthy for us and full of fiber, they are also really very filling and can be cooked in a wonderful way. Lentils do not have to be something that’s tasteless. If we can find creative ways to flavor vegetarian sources of protein, that’s one great way to really reduce the cost of all of our meals."
2. Purchase primarily vegetables and fruits that are in season. These are often much cheaper than those that are not in season.
Maya says: "I think another way to make home cooking more economical is to look at what’s seasonal because often seasonal vegetables and seasonal fruits are much less expensive. If you have a farmer’s market nearby and you can just buy what’s in season, often that will end up being much less expensive."
3. When planning the weekly meals, think about how you can make one dish on one day and use the leftovers to create different meals in the following days.
Maya says: "Another way to make home cooking economical is thinking ahead and thinking about what you can reuse. For example, if there is a way that you can roast the chicken on Monday and then use whatever is left from that roast chicken to make a soup with a lot of vegetables, you have a lovely mostly vegetable soup for the next day. If you can give some thought to how you can make one meal roll into another meal that’s also a good way to keep the budget down."
More About Dr. Maya Adam
Check out her free courses on Coursera:
- Child Nutrition and Cooking
- Stanford Introduction To Food And Health
- Stories of Infection
- Health Across The Gender Spectrum
Check out her Youtube channel
See her non profit Just Cook Kids where she also shares great tips and recipes for making healthy cooking easy!
Dr. Maya Adam currently is in South Africa leading an effort to teach mothers about child health and nutrition using engaging videos delivered to mothers in their homes on tablets. You can see more about her initiative called Digital Medic here.
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