What’s for Dinner?: Week of June 29, 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.  Want to read more?  Check out our WFD archives.

This week we hear from Therese, a developmental consultant who lives in Atlanta with her husband and two-year-old daughter, Viviane.  I’ve known her since high school and had the pleasure of seeing her in Paris while she and her husband were on their babymoon… and they’ve just returned from a babymoon for #2!   Thanks, Therese!

Therese’s Family Food Philosophy:  My husband and I try to eat organic as much as possible, though it can be hard with both of us working full-time (outside of the home) and our 2-year old daughter in daycare 5 days a week.  We are lucky to have chosen a school that focuses on homesteading and teaches the children the importance of gardening and eating what you grow.  An example of her weekly (vegetarian) meal plan is detailed below.

We make an effort to shop at the local farmer’s markets in the Atlanta metro-area at least a couple times a month, but if that’s not possible, I keep the fridge and freezer stocked with organic veggies that we can grab on-the-go.  I make my daughter’s meals ahead of time and give her a variety throughout the week, whereas my husband and I tend to make up our meals at the end of a long day on a whim.  I try to incorporate my Vietnamese heritage in our food so that my daughter is exposed to what I was used to eating as a child.  I do my best to have her eat what we eat so that I am not having to make multiple meals per sitting.  Weekend meals are usually more elaborate than weekday meals.

What inspired this week’s menu? The three of us strolled to the neighborhood farmer’s market and grabbed some delicious bok choy, bib lettuce, oyster mushrooms from the vendors.  My husband also took our daughter to the nearby DeKalb Farmer’s Market while I was working late one day and stocked up on eggs, milk, pears, kiwis, celery, and some other goodies.  I based last week’s dinner menu primarily on these items.

So what’s for dinner?

SundayShredded chicken tacos with cheese, sour cream, bib lettuce, avocadoes and tomatoes (adapted from this recipe –http://www.realsimple.com/food-recipes/browse-all-recipes/chicken-tacos)

Monday:  Penne pasta with marinara sauce and organic veggie meatballs

Tuesday:  Marinated pork with oyster mushrooms, jasmine rice, steamed organic broccoli and corn

WednesdayJasmine rice, baked chicken thighs, organic peas and bok choy

Thursday:  Pizza (it was a late day at the office), green salad

Friday:  Sautéed chicken in creamy sauce over rice, fried egg on top, arugula salad as a side

SaturdayBirthday dinner for my father at a Korean BBQ house (variety of grilled beef, chicken, bulgogi, kim chi, bean sprouts, and white rice)

Vivi’s weekly menu at school this week:

Monday Cinnamon Oatmeal + Organic Sliced Fruit Fiesta Rice and Beans + Roasted Vegetables (L) Homemade Tortilla Chips + Sliced Organic Fruit
Tuesday Creamy Grits + Sliced Organic Fruit Stuffed Cabbage(L) + Roasted Vegetables (L) Homemade Organic Hummus + Pita Bread
Wednesday Vegan Pancakes + Sliced Organic Fruit Garden Pasta (L) + Roasted Vegetables (L) Low Sugar Oat Cookies + Sliced Organic Fruit
Thursday Herb Frittata + Sliced Organic Fuit Cuban Black Beans + Roasted Vegetables (L) Organic Yogurt + Sliced Organic Fruit
Friday Oat Muffins + Sliced Organic Fruit Veggie Pizza (L) + Roasted Vegetables (L) Organic Rice Pudding + Sliced Organic Fruit

What’s for Dinner? Week of June 22, 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 we hear from Lucile, a Parisian lawyer who lives in the 11th arrondissement with her partner (a chef!) and 3-year-old daughter, Philippine.  She typically doesn’t plan her meals far in advance–and relies on that week’s market produce for inspiration–but made an exception for us.  Merci, Lucile!

Lucile’s Family Food Philosophy:  I am really bad at cooking proper food. I find it much more exciting to bake cakes, make my own jam or cosmetics! What’s more, Alex is a professional cook, so I rely on his science to dine really well twice a week (he works most night of the week)! I also take into account that Philippine and I have an opportunity to eat healthily every day at our respective cafeterias (at school and at work), so when I come back from work with a starving and exhausted three-year-old, I go straight to the most simple recipes.

I hardly cook meat or fish; sometimes on Monday, when we bought some on Sunday at the market (we do not buy meat in the supermarket, except, occasionally ham, lardons, smoked herring or organic salmon).
I try to prepare as many vegetables as possible, as it is hard to have Philippine eat something else than pasta… Ready-to-serve meals don’t exist in our fridge/freezer, apart from fresh pasta or pate feuilletée.

What inspired this week’s menu?  We had a lot of soup this winter. Philippine eats it very well (as long as it’s in a Mickey Mouse mug with a straw…). It’s getting a little bit more complicated now that I feel like eating raw vegetables that she won’t even want to try… So we entered into a season when we won’t necessarily have the same menu as before.

So what’s for dinner?

Monday : Poached cod with carrot fingers either raw or steamed
Tuesday: Zucchini soup with white rice
Wednesday: Alphabet soup for the little one, while I’ll have a fennel salad:  just very thinly sliced fennel  with lemon juice, olive oil and salt + bread and cheese, bien sûr!
Thursday: Quiche lorraine with salad
Friday: Alex cooks, so I’m off duty! (but if I had to cook, it would be a potato salad, with smoked herring and thinly sliced gherkins/pickles, carrots and shallots).

What’s for Dinner?: Week of June 15, 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 we hear from one of my favorite moms (and my sister-in-law), Jenn.  She lives with her husband and daughter in Seattle, where they fully take advantage of the amazing food scene.  Due to Jenn’s long hours and commute, her husband does the lion-share of dinners… and their 7-year-old helps make breakfast on the weekends!

Jenn’s Food Philosophy:  My husband, Ashwin, and I have a love affair with food; it is one of the many common interests that ultimately brought us together. Our food philosophy centers on the idea of eating well-balanced, healthy, and delicious meals. There are so many good restaurant options in the Seattle area, which is both a blessing and a challenge for foodies like us as it makes it difficult to consistently eat healthy and avoid eating out too often. When eating at home, we often take inspiration from the meals we’ve enjoyed at these restaurants. We also try to purchase locally-sourced and organic produce and meats whenever possible from one of the many neighborhood farmer’s markets that crop up on the weekends. We are also very lucky to have access to some of the best seafood in the world. For example, it is the beginning of salmon season here in the Pacific Northwest; we can easily find fresh King salmon filets, both suited for grilling and sushi this time of year.
In planning our meals, we also have to take into consideration foods that appeal to our 7-year-old daughter, Sophie. We are fortunate though that she has a very diverse palette and is willing to try almost anything we put in front of her with the exception of osyters! Some of her favorite foods include pizza, clams, kalbi [Korean short ribs] and sushi.
What inspired this week’s menu? On Sunday, we went to the farmer’s market and purchased a bounty of fruits, vegetables, fish and meats which can be seen in the photo below. This week’s dinner menu is inspired by our farmer’s market finds.
So what’s for dinner?
Monday: Teriyaki glazed Marbled King Salmon, steamed clams, rosemary roasted potatoes, and a selection of Samish Bay Ladysmith cheeses
Tuesday: Spaghetti Bolognese, Caprese salad with heirloom tomatoes, Samish Bay mozzarella and aged balsamic vinegar
Wednesday:  Chicken Pot Pie with green salad
Thursday: Dinner with Bup and Nia (aka Jenn’s Parents)
Friday: Kalbi-style short rib lettuce wraps with rice, snap peas and kimchee

What’s for Dinner?: Week of June 8, 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.

I’ve gotten several requests for menus from French parents. So, here it is!  This week we hear from Lise, a talented cook and crafter who lives in Lyon with her husband and 18-month-old daughter.  The family recently moved back from northern California, where she taught cooking courses.  Check out her trove of recipes here!

Lise’s Family Food Philosophy:  We apply the famous French saying, “eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper” (except that I don’t eat breakfast (!). Our dinners are usually lighter:  either I base them on carbohydrates (pasta, rice, etc.) and don’t include meat, or I serve meat with no carbohydrates. Along with the main course, we usually have cheese and a dessert (yogurt and/or fruits).

What inspired this week’s menu?  I don’t do weekly dinner menus! I go to my local market twice a week where I buy seasonal and, as much as possible, local veggies & fruits, as well as cheese, meat and fish. Back home I get inspired by what I bought from the market, but most of the time I don’t have any idea of what’s for dinner until an hour before… dinner!

So what’s on the menu?

Monday: White fish en papillote with ratatouille
Tuesday: Croque-Monsieur and green salad
Wednesday: Big mixed salad (lettuce, feta cheese, corn, grilled chicken, tomatoes, herbs)
Thursday: Lentils and lardons salad
Friday: Asparagus risotto and green salad
Bon appetit!

What’s for Dinner?: Week of June 1, 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, we hear from Allison, a fabulous woman that I’ve known since high school.  She and her husband, along with their toddler, are currently living in Virginia while they wait for renovations on their new home in North Carolina to be completed.  She’s expecting Baby #2 this summer, so a special thanks to her for participating during this period of transition!

Allison’s Family Food Philosophy: We like to balance our menu based on food-as-fuel, cost effectiveness, and mealtimes as family time. Our two-year-old daughter has never been a big eater. She is not picky but quantity has always been a struggle for her so I try to make food that, eaten in small quantities, still packs a lot of nutrition and calories. Generally I start the week with a sauce or protein that can be used again in a different way. Since I’m a stay-at-home-mom and my husband works from a home office, we usually have three meals a day together. We like our food to be fun and enjoyable since it doubles as family time for us. My husband and I enjoy eating “kid food” while also exposing our daughter to a variety of foods, flavors, and textures.

What inspired this week’s menu? My daughter was having a “hungry week” where she was actually eating a fair amount of food three times a day. Because of this, I decided to make some of her favorites to keep the momentum going. My Italian step-mother-in-law taught me to make a simple, delicious marinara sauce that can be used in variety of dishes. I started blending in extra veggies for a little more nutrition and to use up vegetables that are about to go bad. We also try to have fish at least once a week and I always try to make food that works as leftovers for lunches.

So what’s on the menu?

Monday:  Homemade marinara sauce with extra veggies (onions, mushrooms, and green pepper) and penne pasta, green salad

Tuesday:  Dinner with the in-laws (this week was a restaurant)

Wednesday: Turkey meatloaf (substitute homemade marinara sauce for ketchup, oatmeal for breadcrumbs, olive oil for butter), roasted brussel sprouts, baguette

Thursday:  Baked salmon, baked sweet potatoes, steamed broccoli

Friday:  Pizza rolls (using last of homemade marinara sauce)

Saturday: Chicken and veggie fajitas, black beans

Sunday: Grocery store rotisserie chicken, corn on the cob, green salad

Bon appetit!

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!