What’s For Dinner?: Week of May 25, 2015

What’s for Dinner is a series dedicated to what real-life families eat.  Each week, a parent shares his or her menus for the week and talks about the food philosophy behind it.

This week, Aparajita shares her weekly menu.  Born and raised in Delhi, India,she’s been living in France for the past four years with her husband and 16-month-old son.  She recently started a twice-weekly vlog called La Vie de Ki.

Aparajita’s Family Food Philosophy:   Our food philosophy has been completely shaped by my son, Krishna. Before we had a baby we lived on take-out. But now that he eats what we eat, we focus on simple home-cooked food and a well-balanced diet.

What inspired this week’s menu?:  This week’s menu was based entirely on Indian food. I find it difficult to cook Indian meals sometimes because it is tough to find all the ingredients and spices here, but I make do with what I can find as I really want Krishna to get used to those flavours. My Indian dinners are usually vegetarian because I grew up in a vegetarian household but we have been trying to learn a few more meat and seafood based recipes.

So what’s on the menu?

Monday: Cauliflower and peas stir fry with roti  (whole wheat flatbread)

Tuesday: Mint and coriander shrimp with brown rice

Wednesday: Slow cooker dal makhani (black lentils and kidney beans) with parantha (whole wheat flatbread)

Thursday: Slow cooker beef saag (beef in a spinach sauce) with roti

Friday:  Mango morukootan (ripe mango in a yogurt sauce), potato stir fry and basmati rice

Bon appetit!

Healthy Eating in Amsterdam


Earlier this month, we enjoyed a family trip to Amsterdam.  It was the perfect time of year to visit:  warm but not hot; busy but not too crowded.  We spent most of our time walking by the canals, hanging out at playgrounds with the little guy, and, of course, EATING.

The Netherlands aren’t necessarily known for their cuisine, but we managed to eat quite well while traveling.  I got my fill of yummy Indonesian food, a few Asian-fusion spots, and some delicious healthier options.  Some of my favorites:

{via Your Little Black Book}

Dr Blend is the mecca of healthy eating in A’dam.  I only discovered it towards the end of our trip, otherwise I would have gone every day.  They offer smoothies, juices, wraps and salads–all 100% organic. My favorite was the Dr. Phil Detox juice, which was hands-down the best green juice I’ve ever had.

{via TripAdvisor}

Greenwoods is another favorite and I make it a point to go every time we’re in town.  They feature hearty (yet somewhat healthy) breakfasts, as well as salads and sandwiches for lunch.  A lot of their produce and eggs are organic.  Save room for their amazing scones with clotted cream and homemade jam.  Try to be there close to the 9am opening time so you don’t have to wait in line.

{via Amsterdam Now}

Our last night in the city, we went to De Kas, a spectacular restaurant and unique dining experience.  Housed in a former greenhouse, it’s located just outside the city center in the middle of a park.  They serve an ever-changing prix fixe menu that’s based on the produce from their farms.  My favorite dish was an appetizer of roasted red beets, goat cheese and smoked fennel. Yum!  Definitely reserve a head and definitely make it the effort to dine here.

What’s for Dinner?: Week of May 18, 2015

What’s for Dinner is a series dedicated to what real-life families eat.  Each week, a parent shares his or her menus for the week and talk about the food philosophy behind it.

This week we hear from Arielle, a very talented photographer who documents weddings, babies, and artists galore! She and her husband, a professor, live in Boston with their 2-year-old son.  When she’s not out snapping pics or cooking up a storm, you can find her getting buff at a nearby barre class.

Arielle’s Family Food Philosophy: We try to eat fresh and in season foods with mostly whole grains and lots of veggies. My husband loves animal proteins so we eat some kind of meat or fish 5 or 6 nights a week. As the mother of a (practically) two-year old boy who also runs a business I only want to prepare one dinner per evening for the whole family. My son is generally a very good eater and eats the same foods that we do.

What inspired this week’s menu? My son loves ground proteins so lately we have been doing a lot of them. I also find them very versatile so if I’m in a rush I will just put a few pounds of ground meat and a few pounds of fish in my shopping basket at the beginning of the week and build our meal plan around them when I get home. We live in Boston and have access to very fresh fish and seafood year-round. I try to make sure we eat at least 3 fish dinners a week. Two of those may be the same fish (whatever I can get the best deal on that day. Often this is wild caught Atlantic cod.) We rarely eat out, maybe once a month, but we did try Blue Apron for a few months last year and some of those recipes have made it into the rotation. I also like to make homemade breads at least once a week – either pizza or pitas. We make at least two roast chickens a month as my son loves the dark meat and I can make soup out of the leftovers, which makes for great lunch possibilities.

So what’s on the menu?

Monday: Salmon Burgers with corn on the cob and basil butter

Tuesday: Thomas Keller’s Roast Chicken, sautéed broccoli with garlic and lemon, roasted sweet potatoes

Wednesday: Cod with soy maple glaze and bok choy

Thursday: Shwarma-spiced ground turkey, fattoush salad, hummus, and homemade whole wheat pitas

Friday: Cod, with panko crumbs and Greek yogurt tartar sauce.

Saturday: homemade chicken massaman curry with sweet potatoes, peppers, and broccoli.

Sunday: homemade whole wheat Greek pizzas (vegetarian)

What’s for Dinner?: Week of May 11, 2015

What’s for Dinner is a series dedicated to what real-life families eat.  Each week, a parent shares their menus for the week and talk about their food philosophy.

This week we hear from Rebecca, a New Zealander who lives in France with her husband and one-year-old daughter, Sophie.  On a typical day, you can find her relaxing over a soy chai latte, breaking a sweat at her local CrossFit box, or hanging out in the park with her little one.

Rebeccas’s Family Food Philosophy:  For the most part our family adheres to a ‘paleo’ style of eating. This means our diet primarily consists of anything we could hunt or find:  meats, fish, nuts, leafy greens, regional veggies, and seeds (and therefore no grains, dairy, legumes, processed foods and unnatural sugars). Living in France–and given that’s it’s the country of amazing bread, cheese, pastries and wine–this philosophy doesn’t always work! Because of this (and because we don’t want to be complete freaks about our eating and miss out on many of the good things in life) we try to follow an 80/20 rule. 80% of the time we eat clean, whole foods and 20% of the time we don’t! We also have a 1 year old daughter whose nutritional needs are a lot different than ours. Although Sophie rarely has pastas, rice or beans, she does have bread, dairy and some processed snacks (often for the sake of convenience!).

What inspired this week’s menu? Once a week I sit down and decide on the meal plan and create the shopping list. I usually plan our dinners using recipes from paleo and clean eating websites and wherever possible try to ensure there is enough for leftovers the next day. In general I try to ensure the weekly meals include the following:

– 1 vegetarian meal (usually a soup)
– 1 fish meal
– 1 oven roast with vegetables
– The rest have a meat as its main ingredient (lamb, chicken, pork, duck, etc.)

So what’s on the menu?

Monday: Cauliflower chowder
Tuesday: Chicken curry with cauliflower mash
Wednesday: Lamb chops with green beans and sweet potato mash
Thursday: Roast chicken with veggies (sweet potato, pumpkin, carrots and parsnip) and my husband’s amazing homemade gravy!
Friday: Salmon with boiled potatoes, steamed broccoli, zuchinni and capsicum [bell peppers]
Weekend: Leftovers or whatever can be rustled up from the fridge…the 20% philosophy often takes over in the weekend!

Bon appetit!

What’s For Dinner? (Week of May 4, 2015)

I’m not cooking this week!  Just eating.  We’re on a family vacation in the Netherlands, relaxing by the canals and enjoying long lunches.

I got a huge response to last week’s inaugural post of What’s For Dinner? (as well as a few people asking for Courtney to invite them over for a meal).  I was also happy to have some volunteers to contribute to the project:  yay!

Do you want to contribute? I’m looking for families who are willing to share their weekly meal plans, as well as a short overview of their family food philosophy.  The menu does NOT have to be fancy, nor does the philosophy behind it!  Rather, we want to know what families are actually eating, not just what Pinterest tells us the perfect meal should be.

If you’d like to participate, please contact me and we’ll set it up.  Let’s do this!

An Elixir for A More Balanced Life?

Ever since giving birth, I’ve felt unbalanced. Towards the beginning, everything was crazy:  I couldn’t figure out how to organize my time; how to eat in a balanced way; how to find the real ME hiding deep down. As time has passed, it’s gotten a lot better.  Still, there’s always a bit off unbalancedness lurking in the background.  As much as I try to dedicate time to myself, off-balance has become the new normal.

Since moving to France, I’ve begun to try more homeopathic remedies, which are much more accepted as part of the mainstream medical system here.  They’re prescribed routinely for various ailments, especially during pregnancy and breastfeeding when most medications aren’t advised.  And they work:  earlier this year, I used homeopathic remedies to successfully conquer my fear of flying + ward off panic attacks on planes. Having tried everything else, I was amazed it worked.

fleurs de bach

While researching another project, I came across the homeopathic elixirs from Les Fleurs de Bach (Bach Flowers).  I know the brand from their famous Rescue Remedy, which is widely available in Europe and North America.  Turns out that they also sell 38 plant-based remedies with names like Genetian and Wild Rose and Crab Apple.  Do I need more crab apple in my life!?

I went to their website to investigate and found not only an in-depth listing of each remedy, but also an online questionnaire that recommends which could be of use to you. For example, Wild Oat can help you make important decisions and Honeysuckle can help you let go of the past.

Sounds cool, right? I took the questionnaire and was presented with 7 remedies that could be combined to help me find emotional balance and stability. I was curious, so strong-armed by husband to also take the questionnaire to see if the results varied. They did–and were eerily correct for both of us.

I decided to take the homeopathic plunge and ordered a customized elixir with my 7 remedies. (For the record, they’re Hornbeam, Genetian, Wild Oat, Olive, Wild Rose, Impatiens, and Beech). It arrived today and I’m excited to try it… I’m hopeful it will help restore a sense of balance in this crazy, busy life.

I’ll report back in a month.  In the meantime, have you had success with homeopathy?

What’s For Dinner? (Week of April 27, 2015)

Today we kick off a new series called, What’s for Dinner?. Each week, I’ll share a parent’s menu for their family dinners for the coming week. As the primary cook for my family, I find it easy to fall into a food rut.  I’m always on the lookout for tried-and-true meals that work for other families.  I hope you find the same inspiration in these menus that I do!

This week my good friend Courtney Recht-Debreuille shares what she plans to serve for dinner this week.  She is a fellow expat living in Lyon, where she tries to combine her American roots with her husband’s French heritage to bring balanced meals to the table that even satiate her 18-month-old daughter, Victoria.  Courtney is a wonderful cook and also loves to craft.  Check our her latest creations on her blog.

Courtney’s Family Food Philosophy:  Our philosophy is definitely shaped by the French influence of eating a little bit of everything, but not too much. I try to have fruits, veggies and a milk product present at most meals. We live in France where food is a religion, so we don’t starve ourselves of the things we like about living here – good cheese, pates, croissants, tarts, etc… but we don’t eat it all the time either. It’s important for me to instill a positive relationship with food for my daughter where she doesn’t go through life thinking a baguette is an evil carbohydrate or that having a piece of a tart au praline is going to make her fat.

What inspired this week’s menu?  I try to make my dinner menus so that I have leftovers to feed my daughter for lunch the next day. We don’t eat a lot of meat or fish so I’m trying to get better about bringing that to the dinner table more. My menu this week was inspired by a load of cabbage I have in the fridge (we ate this salad a lot last week), along with the fact that my daughter is coming back from a vacation with her grandparents, so I needed to think of things she would enjoy eating too.

So what’s on the menu?

Monday: Salmon with coconut rice and spinach
Tuesday: Cabbage with lardons in a mustard vinaigrette and poached egg
Wednesday: Lamb meatballs with a spicy yogurt sauce {via Design*Sponge}
Thursday: Baked penne with roasted veggies {via Giada diLaurentis}

Friday:  Mom’s night out for me; leftovers from Thursday night for my husband

Bon appetit!


Friday Link Love

The end of another week… My husband is traveling, so my plan is to relax and enjoy the sunshine cozy up while it rains.  Here are a few things to check out this weekend:

Balanced, an app that helps track all the little activities you should be doing–like drinking enough water, meditating, or simply remembering to get up from your computer every so often.  {via Cupcakes & Cashmere}

The French Market Cookbook, a wonderful collection of vegetable-centric recipes that is sorted by season.  This weekend I hope to try the buckwheat-asparagus tart!

I recently decided to lighten up the colors in my living room to make way for the summer months.  I fell in love with the pillows from 5CHomeDecor on Etsy, which come in a range of colors and patterns.  They’re very high quality and a great value.

Have a great weekend!

Healthy Hazelnut Truffles


I’ll go ahead and admit that, for me, a meal doesn’t feel complete unless it concludes with something sweet.   It doesn’t have to be a rich, decadent dessert (though I also love those!); most of the time something small will do.

Lately my husband and I have been gobbling up homemade hazelnut truffles, which I created in a quest to wean him from his Nutella-on-a-spoon habit.  They’re the perfect balance between rich but not heavy; sweet but not sugary. They taste very much like my husband’s beloved Nutella, only better.  They’re simple and quick to make–all you need is a few ingredients and a food processor.

Makes approx. a dozen

1 cup pitted dates (the softer the better)
1/2 cup hazelnuts
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp cocoa powder (or raw cacao powder if you want to be fancy)
1/4 tsp salt

Put all ingredients in a food processor and pulse til smooth and sticky.  Roll into balls and enjoy at room temperature.  Can be stored in an airtight container for 2-3 days… if they last that long, which in my household they don’t!

Eating for Your Kids


Many of the women with whom I work tell me that they feel pressure, both from themselves and from society, to diet all. the. time. At the very least, they must constantly watch what they eat, lest one too many cookie go into their mouths and everything falls apart.

The first thing I ask a new client is to identify the top three goals they’d like to accomplish through our sessions.  Overwhelmingly, moms of young girls tell me that they want to change their relationship with food so that they can teach their daughters to find a balance between healthy eating and feeling crazy.

At first, as a non-parent, I didn’t fully understand.  Can’t kids be taught something that we ourselves don’t do?  Can we not pass on a more idealistic version of eating?

Then I had a baby. And now I get it. Starting very early, babies observe us and our actions and, as they get older, begin to mimic us.  Older still, they model their behavior on what they’ve seen us do throughout the years.

The New York Times’ Motherlode blog recently had a wonderful post about a woman whose 8-year-old daughter innocently asked her, when do adults stop eating breakfast? She had observed that her mother never ate breakfast (a result of severe dieting in her 20s), and concluded that there must come a time when morning meals end and semi-starvation begins. The mother was devastated, unaware that she had unknowingly encouraged this notion.

As parents, our food habits can profoundly affect our kids.  As women, it can be extremely challenging to model the behaviors we’d like our children to have. Growing up, many of us may have been taught–either purposefully or unconsciously–that our bodies could use some improvement. As grown women, we’re at an even greater disadvantage when it comes to eating and body image. The diet industry has invested billions of dollars in making sure we know that we’ll never lead successful, happy lives unless we can just have more willpower and lose those 5 extra pounds. In fact, this industry’s entire revenue stream is predicated on making us feel terrible about ourselves every single day.

But, as hard as it may be, it’s a battle worthy of our efforts. Studies show that an estimated 42% of girls in 1st through 3rd grades want to be thinner. A whopping 81% of 10-year olds are afraid of being fat. It gets worse with age: Ninety-one percent of female college students said that they have dieted to control their weight. Clearly, we need a different model of what normal eating looks like and better strategies for how we can achieve that.

For you moms out there, have you worried about passing along bad habits to your kids?  Have you promoted a different relationship with food than the one you were taught growing up? I’d love to hear your thoughts.