It’s Only Funny Until Someone Gets Hurt

With the ever expanding plethora of iphone apps, my kids are often downloading something. There are some very useful things like the app that adds a tip and splits the check by 33 diners and very cool things like the ocarina. Recently, they stumbled upon fatbooth. It allows one to take an ordinary mug short and add weight to it and I must say, the finished product is quite believable.

We’ve laughed wholeheartedly and I’ve frantically run through the house trying to escape the lens of the iphone lest I be immortalized with a triple chin. Every time I see the photos, I marvel at the way my children look.  But what if this wasn’t an app and what if, like the issue we read so much about, my children were also caught up in the cycle of obesity?

I do admire the work of Michelle Obama and Amen Iseghohi to take on childhood obesity, to get kids moving and to end the cycle. I like the desired outcome that I’ve heard which is to end it within a generation – smart realization that this will take time. Still, as admirable as the goal is, is it realistic? What if a new administration doesn’t have the same enthusiasm? Will we be half-way there in half a generation and will we be able to correct if we know we are off track in 3/4 a generation?

Listening to the NPR report on drowning this week, I was amazed that the most common reason that children had not learned to swim was because their parents did not swim. It seemed a direct correlation to Jamie Oliver’s food revolution where Jamie points out that children aren’t overweight because they are eating the wrong things, rather they’re being given the wrong things to eat and in many cases, those are the same things that their parents ate.
Perhaps this reveals my simplicity in the midst of a complex issue but I admire Jamie’s pragmatic approach of teaching every kid 10 recipes by the time they graduate from high school.  I can get my head and my kitchen around 10 recipes. It’s measurable in the short-term. We teach it. They demonstrate it. Then we can check it off and move on to our next step like turning off televisions during dinner or taking family walks. It’s important to see progress when we’re on a journey towards a long-term objective. I’m hopeful that I can actually share 10 recipes and report back on it here.

What recipes would you include as part of the ten that a child needs to know for life?
Quick Chick and Noodle

Feeds up to 6
Ingredients:
  • 1 Tsp. olive oil
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • 2 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • A few sprigs of thyme, leaves stripped from stems
  • salt and black pepper to taste
  • 60 ounces of chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1/2 pound of noodles (we prefer soba)
  • handful of fresh parsley
Heat olive oil over medium-high heat in a deep pot. Dice the chicken breast and add it to the pot. Stir frequently until browned. Add vegetables, thyme, and a bit of salt and pepper. Reduce heat and cover for 5 minutes. Add broth. Bring to a boil. Add noodles and cook until they are tender. Throw in the parsley and serve.

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62 Comments

  1. Thanks for this post agrigirl, a subject I am forever ranting about.

    Reply
  2. John

     /  August 18, 2010

    Bacon infused macarroni and cheese is always popular… and ready in minutes!

    Reply
  3. I taught both my sons how to make pesto so they could impress their future partners. They also both wanted my recipe for steak and kidney pie.

    Spaghetti with chili and garlic is a good dish to know. It’s not only delicious, you can make it when the cupboard is almost bare.

    Pumpkin soup or chicken soup so they can self medicate when they’re sick ;-)

    Reply
  4. Lisa H

     /  August 18, 2010

    Great post! Being Wednesday, the grocery ads came out…and guess what’s on sale? Twinkies, fruit roll-ups, and various other sugar filled snack foods. For the grab-and-go families, it’s what’s available, easy, and cheap. What is also on sale, but requires a bit of prep: fresh blueberries, blackberries, and my son’s request of fresh peaches.
    As for my family’s favorite meal, right now it’s a light pasta. Just prepare a large sized pasta (such as penne, fusili, festosi) and mixed with chopped tomatoes, cubed fresh mozzarella, chopped fresh basil, tossed with salt, pepper and olive oil.

    Reply
  5. The photos are darling ~ like you I would run from the camera to avoid being saddled with three chins. : )

    Do they have an app that would take us in the other direction??? That might be worth having.

    Recipes:

    Vegetable Soup
    Versatile Pasta Salad
    Roasted potatoes & carrots
    Vegetarian Chili
    Sauteed Greens with Coucous
    Homemade Bread
    Vegetarian Lo Mein
    Stir Fried Veggies
    Curried Veggies
    Zucchini Boats

    Plus:
    General preparation of steamed and sauteed veggies (broccoli, green beans, carrots, asparagus, peas, corn, zucchini)
    General preparation of fruit (apples, oranges, bananas, pineapple, grapes, clementines)
    General preparation of salad (lettuce, celery, cucumbers, carrots, olives, tomatoes, etc.)

    Reply
  6. Judy Swartz

     /  August 18, 2010

    My boys and I recently took up the sport racquetball. Now we are obsessed. It has the benefit of keeping them very active and we get to spend true quality time together (not to mention it has had a positive effect on me as well)! This makes for a true win/win!

    My boys have learned to love a good stir fry. If the onions are carmelized (cooked well), and the veges are cooked in fresh garlic and salt, they love it with some grilled chicken.

    Also, if you put zucchini and onion in foil (use a grill brush to add a swipe of butter) and add garlic salt to it, they just can’t get enough. You just can’t beat grilled vegetables!!!

    Thanks Tammy!

    Reply
    • Lisa H

       /  August 18, 2010

      Oooooh, caramelized onions are one of my favorites! Did you know you can prepare them in the crock pot and then freeze in small batches? This saves a lot of time and you also have “instant” caramelized onions for pizzas, hamburgers, or one of my favorites: topped over red lentils.

      Reply
    • Great suggestion. One of my boys loves stir fry also. Racquetball sounds fun too.

      Reply
  7. Fantastic post! I love how you transform something as simple as a new iPhone app into a lesson for all of us.

    I thank my parents for forcing me to eat my veggies, limit my intake of sweets and soda and play outside instead of watch TV. Back then, this was considered ‘strict parenting’. I also so appreciate the other life lessons: learning to sew and cook, doing chores (for no ‘allowance’) and going to bed early.

    I see in my neices and nephews the very LACK of simple teachings and wonder how they will fare late. Time will tell.

    Reply
    • I also had many of those life lessons and am appreciative of them. I have to admit that I haven’t been as good in passing them along.

      Reply
  8. Ahhh The fatbooth is hilarious!
    I think frittatas! Not only easy and simple but very nutirious :) my baby love cooking and eating it :)

    Reply
    • The fatbooth is a really funny app. The pictures look so real that they are frightening. Thanks for the frittata suggestion.

      Reply
  9. I agree with Tracy, this is a great and topical post. Both my sons learned cooking at home and at school, it was compulsory during their last year at secondary school. Once a week their classes (in groups of 4 students) would have to prepare a complete and balanced meal with the money given by the teacher. Then they ate together, did the dishes and cleaned the school kitchen. They liked the meals… much less the cleaning ;)

    Today JB loves preparing any sort of rice, fish, tandoori chicken, pasta with home made sauces, grilled veges and lots of salads.
    Antoine, the soccer player loves pasta (“It´s good for me, maman !”). He adds some tuna fish or pesto or tomato or bolognaise sauce. And cheese of course. He prefers preparing salads than cooking veges. Now and then they enjoy a BBQ or a hamburger. Fruits of the Season are always on the family table.
    I m glad they are both aware of what is good for them.

    Thanks for this interesting blog, Tammy.

    Reply
    • Sounds like you’ve done a great job with your boys Isa and I love that they had cooking as a class during secondary school. Thanks for all of the good suggestions.

      Reply
  10. That’s a really disturbing iPhone app.

    No joke: I was in college before I knew you didn’t have to fry chicken (it’s a Southern thing) so, to answer your question, I’d have to say grilled chicken.

    Reply
    • I agree about the app. I really hate it when they do it to me. I grew up in the midwest and learned to eat chicken the same way.

      Reply
  11. Here’s a list of things that I have taught kids (and adults) that are simple, delicious, and can lead to other good cooking possibilities:

    whole herb roasted chicken (easy, showy!)

    basic vinaigrette (Kids also love to make their own ranch and honey dijon dressings too, and are stunned by how much better they taste!)

    also–how to clean, prep salad greens

    marinara sauce—a good red sauce can be used in many ways

    meatballs–lean, healthier, oven-roasted meatballs to go with that red sauce

    eggs: omelets, scrambled, frittata

    vegetable soup

    any kind of stir-fry

    beans and rice

    tuna salad

    knife skills–not a recipe, but if you are able to chop, dice, slice, mince, julienne with confidence….makes a huge difference in your cooking experience.

    Excellent post, Tammy!

    Reply
  12. Sometimes though, seeing two over-weight parents can be just the inspiration needed to make sure it doesn’t happen to you.

    Reply
  13. I make it a point to involve my 12 yr old in cooking at least one meal per day. I have noticed that she is learning the recipes of some of our favorites, like our Saturday morning crepes, which then can be stuffed with chicken or crab, or like our pot roast, or our fresh corn salad…I hope that one day she will teach them just the same to her child.

    Reply
    • Sounds like you’re doing a great job. I hope you’ll post a recipe for fresh corn salad.

      Reply
      • it is too simple for posting, but here goes:
        I take 5-6 ears of corn and blanch them in salted boiling water for about 2-3 minutes, then immediately dunk them in an ice water bath. Cut the corn off the cob and place in a large bowl. Add a handful of sweet red onion which has been diced, and a handful of basil leaves, you can chop those roughly. I then make a simple vinaigrette of olive oil, apple cider vinegar, salt, and pepper, and that’s it!
        Sometimes if I have them in the garden, I add diced red peppers to this for an extra burst of color.

        Reply
  14. I would include some sort of healthy sweet snack – banana oatmeal muffins, or chocolate pudding made with cocoa and skim milk, so that kids growing up knowing that sweets aren’t “bad” per se but simply ought to be enjoyed in a wholesome way and in moderation. If that makes sense!

    Reply
  15. Brilliant post, thanks Tammy :-) I’m getting straight onto the meal-splitter app, but OMG the fatbooth is mind-boggling!

    I was impressed watching Jamie doing his food revolution thing and wondered how well he would be received there. Great if he can make a signifcant difference!

    The knife skills comments got me smiling. I did a course once, for self-defence, when I was a police reservist. Gave that up a while ago, preferring the kitchen variety :-)

    Thanks so much for connecting via my blog – yours is absolutely fabulous!

    Reply
  16. Oh my, there are so many time-sucking apps out there! I really have to force myself away from these types of things sometimes. Funny, but, yes, looked at another way, the fatbooth can be seen as very sad.

    This is just my opinion, but I find the obesity epidemic in this country just another facet of parents *not wanting* to parent their children or perhaps *not knowing how* to parent. Or take care of themselves either. It seems obvious to me that eating McDonald’s, etc. for every meal is horrible for your body, but people don’t seem to see it that way.

    Anyway, recipes. Hmmmmm. Definitely my spaghetti sauce (old family recipe), stir fry, different ways I marinate and grill seafood, just the knowledge that a couple simple things like citrus juices and herbs can pack a real punch with any food.

    Great post!

    Reply
    • Yes, I agree about it being sad – hence the title of the post. Thanks for the great recipe suggestion. I’ll follow up with another post on this once I decide on my top ten.

      Reply
  17. Thanks so much for this post. . . We cannot stress enough this message.

    BTW, check out some of my recent photo posts in my posting of a couple days ago: For the Beauty of the Earth, found at:

    http://reflectionsfromacloudymirror.blogspot.com/2010/08/for-beauty-of-earth.htm

    Reply
  18. I’d definitely include some egg dishes. Simple ones, but more than just fried or scrambled, like maybe an omelet or frittata. And quiche, because it sneaks in an extra recipe for the crust!

    Any recipe that’s easy to adapt or vary, such as pizza, cream of (insert vegetable here) soup, or risotto.

    And I think everyone should know how to make at least one dessert, be it chocolate cake, oatmeal cookies, or a fresh fruit tart!

    Reply
  19. maybe i shouldn’t have read this while I was hungry cause now I’m STARVING! sounds great but I am scared of that app. I will avoid finding it :)

    Reply
  20. Definitely all children should learn the art of cookery – and a handful of basic recipes is a great idea. As always very interesting posts and some great dailogue under them Tammy.

    Reply
  21. great post and I agree, simplicity is always best when trying to enact change, so I agree with you that Jaime may be on to something.

    I’d teach a child how to make a curry – its one of the most popular dishes in the world, with endless variety and for me anyway, one of those one pot wonders that got me through college.

    Reply
  22. wow, I’ve never heard of this app before! So glad you’re bringing attention to this important topic!

    Reply
  23. I’d go with a few of the following:

    Vegetarian Chili
    Cornbread
    Minestrone Soup
    Steamed Veggies, any kind

    It’s definitely important to teach kids how to do some cooking from scratch. While it’s easy to teach them how to make macaroni and cheese from a box or to heat up a frozen pizza, lifelong, healthful skills are the most important ones to teach.

    Reply
  24. Ozarkhomesteader

     /  August 24, 2010

    I like Nancy’s ideas a lot and agree especially on the roasted chicken. Polly, do you really have crepes every Saturday? Mmmmm.

    Here’s my list of, um, eleven, based on the idea that having a few foundations can get you through a multitude of recipe techniques:

    roasted chicken, plus how to use the leftovers in soup, etc.

    beans, chili, and other legumes from scratch

    yeast bread (whole grain, of course)

    quick bread from vegetables or fruit

    simple grilled fish

    roasted eggplant–and everything you can do with it

    roasted root crops mixed (turnips, beets, carrots, sweet potatoes)

    quick cream soup from fresh vegetables

    vegetable soup, tomato base

    eggs, several ways (frugal eats)

    grain basics

    I’m a bit horrified to hear that kids ought to know ten recipes by the time they graduate from high school. I could prepare more than ten unique whole dinners by the time I finished 2nd grade. They weren’t anything special and sometimes involved opening canned ingredients and combining, but by the time I was 10 I did the family shopping, with a check my mother pre-signed.

    I’m so glad everyone here is interested in getting kids heathy and giving them the tools they need to thrive!

    Reply
    • Great list Ozark! I’m so impressed that you could do 10 meals in the 2nd grade! I have a long way to go with my kids.

      Reply
      • Ozarkhomesteader

         /  August 24, 2010

        Hey, one of my dishes was tuna noodle casserole, which involved opening a can of tuna and a can of soup, boiling some noodles, and mixing everything together with grated cheese. It’s not that impressive. I could also make tuna salad–another can to open, some chopped and grated vegetables, some mayo. I could make chicken and rice casserole–pour in rice, put chicken thighs on top, mix canned soup with water and add that on, sprinkle on paprika. Cover with foil and stick in the oven. I could boil veggies to go with things like ham steak. I could do basic seasoned baked chicken with veggies on the side too. We had lots of jars and freezer containers of veggies from my grandparents, so picking veggies to go with the meal just meant going to the pantry or the freezer. I had to use the stove because we didn’t have a microwave. Basically, I assembled stuff from recipes and lists.

        My mother worked at home but in another part of the house. Had I caught anything on fire, she could have been there right away. When I was 10–when I started doing the shopping–she went back to school, and by then I really was on my own when I prepped a lot of meals. I don’t ever remember a time when I didn’t hold a knife, although I’m sure there was one, because I’ve still got all of my fingers!

        Reply
      • Ozarkhomesteader

         /  August 24, 2010

        How come everyone else’s name links and mine doesn’t? Odd.

        Reply
      • Ozarkhomesteader

         /  August 25, 2010

        Odd. Very odd. Oh, well, I’m happy to post here regardless.

        Reply
  25. I would totally run from that app too! I would add crunchy Parmesan chicken. It’s very lightly breaded chicken that’s baked and my son has always loved it.

    Reply
  26. I’ve seen this artwork programme too, and I think it’s very clever, and a little scary too.

    With our 2 daughters getting the balance of them eating well, but not being obsessed with their body, leading to eating issues, very hard.

    Reply
    • Oh yes, it is hard. My boys are also very aware of their bodies but I do think it’s more difficult with girls. If you haven’t shown them the Dove ad about make up – it’s worth it.

      Reply
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