family meals: week 93

family meals family meals Pork Carnitas Tacos with Roasted Carrot-Habanero Salsa. I used a lean pork and this recipe, but threw it all in the crock pot, and for 10 minutes before serving, I put it in the oven. I knew we would need some sort of salsa, so I experimented roasting some carrots and habanero, then pureeing it together with a little bit of tomato juice. It turned out delicious and super hot, so this is definitely a salsa recipe we will be recreating again.

Week of 11/24 – 11/28
Monday: Vietnamese Chicken Pho
Tuesday: Spaghetti with Stuffed Garlic and Herb Meatballs
Wednesday: Thanksgiving (just the six of us)
Thursday: Thanksgiving feasting
Friday: Leftovers

I’m excited for turkey and stuffing, and for making turkey sandwiches with the leftovers! Of course, there will be lots of pie too. Pecan and pumpkin pie are both on my baking list this week. I probably love pecan slightly more than pumpkin, but I don’t really discriminate when it comes to dessert.



family meals: week 92

chimichurri sandwich chimichurri sandwich Chimichurri Pork Sandwiches with Roasted Chipotle Sauce. I sort of used this recipe for the chimichurri sauce (didn’t follow it exactly); I used about half of the sauce to cook the lean pork in the crockpot on low for 6 hours, then cooked in the oven for about 5 minutes. I made my own version of this sandwich, but made my own bread from this recipe, and made my own roasted bell pepper and chipotle sauce too. Ben and Brave loved it, but the others didn’t like the chimichurri sauce. Since half the family liked it (I liked it better the next day as leftovers), I’ll probably make this again or at least play around with another version of it.

Week of 11/17 – 11/21
Monday: Lavash Bread Pizza
Tuesday: Chimichurri Shrimp with Lime Rice (we still have sauce left over, so this is perfect!)
Wednesday: Leftovers
Thursday: Korean Pulled Pork Rice Bowl (using this recipe as a base)
Friday: Ceviche

With the time change, came the lack of natural, so there aren’t too many pictures to share of this past week’s meals. Besides the sandwiches, I did make some spicy tacos and everyone loved that. I can’t decide if I want to try and make the the rice bowl mentioned above, or this spicy back bean soup. I guess we will see what I’m feeling later this week.



yummy snow monster

33 birthday birthday things birthday things birthday things birthday things birthday things birthday things Though I’m married to a dietitian, who is excellent at practicing what he preaches, he so sweet to indulge my sweet tooth desires. It’s all about moderation, right?! Well, one of my birthday requests was to try the dessert place Snow Monster in Orange County, so we made the trek out to Westminster (there is also one in Huntington Beach). My friend had shared a picture on instagram of this place a few weeks back, and it looked so good! I immediately texted Ben the picture and added it to my birthday request.

We ordered the taro and green tea shaved ice in a large (with strawberries and mochi as sides), and a pistachio macaron ice cream sandwich with Thai tea ice cream. Oh goodness, they were all so yummy. The girls loved the taro shaved ice, but they weren’t quite as fond of the green tea and said it looked like boogers. HA! True couldn’t have the macaron because she’s allergic, but the other girls loved that too. Heck, even Ben liked the shaved ice, and he rarely gets wowed by desserts. My favorite was the macaron ice cream sandwich; that was bomb diggity bomb. One of the coolest things to them were the plastic spoons that changed color when dipped in the cold desserts. The girls were all, “Oooooh! Magic!!!”

I’d like to go back and try some other flavors, so maybe we will just have to plan more trips to Orange County soon. If you find yourself in the area, I highly recommend a stop to try it!



the halloween treat update

halloween candy report Many had questions and concerns on how giving out little toys, pencils and erasers might go with neighborhood kids. In our neighborhood there were more trick-or-treaters out than we’ve ever seen! It was a really nice surprise. Before we ventured out, we had fun passing out our own treats. All the kids that candidly responded to the receipt of the non-food treats had something positive to say…

“Cool! We get stuff!”

“Ooh! I like that game!”

After Ruby had given this one youngster a handful, he stood there waiting for more, asking, “Can I have that one too?” An older sister behind him said, “You get what you get, and you don’t throw a fit.”

The children appeared to be pleased with the treats we gave. If they were disappointed, they didn’t let it show and that was encouraging; children (and even adults like me!) should be thankful, no matter how we might be inclined to ungratefully perceive it.

So how did we let our kids indulge with their own treats that night? For about 45 minutes after getting back home, they bathed in their candy stash. Brave is always the first to cut herself off, while Glow and Soul can stuff themselves silly. True was somewhere in the middle. Because of our schedule on Saturday, we weren’t able to offer the leftover candy at snack, but instead offered it post-dinner. We plan to periodically offer unlimited sweets at future snack times as RD and therapist Ellyn Satter suggests.

This may seem like a completely careless approach, but there’s definitely a thoughtful strategy here. Taking a step backwards, Satter has a “Division of Responsibility in Feeding.” For toddlers on up, the parent is responsible for what, when and where… the child is responsible for how much and whether. So we as parents actually have a lot of control here in what foods are introduced, and when and where mealtimes take place. (I think one of the challenges for us parents is trusting children to do their part!) So, I want to emphasize that the free-for-all candy episodes are a part of a larger method that’s been well-thought out.

These principles may appear counter-intuitive. They take practice and patience. Ruby and I are NOT experts and do a good deal of failing as parents at mealtimes. But there is progress as we experiment and learn.

A related tangent I just thought of yesterday that I’d like to add. I plan to work with our girls on eating mindfully… inviting them to patiently engage all of their senses as they savor the food. So as we allow intermittent opportunities to go bonkers with candy, I will also be introducing mindful eating principles as they consume the sweet, lo-nu treats. (See, it’s a learning process!)

halloween candy report


family meals: week 91

family meals family meals Crunchy Turkey Tacos. I know crunchy shell tacos aren’t authentic Mexican food, but I like it anyway. It’s how I grew up eating tacos, so it reminds me of my childhood. The first time Ben made me tacos, while we were dating, he made them with soft corn tortillas. I thought it was so strange. Well, I later learn that the crunchy shell isn’t authentic Mexican food at all. I’m used to soft corn tortillas now, but I love the crunchy shell from time to time.

Week of 11/3 – 11/7
Monday: Sushi
Tuesday: Spicy Pork Enchiladas
Wednesday: Leftovers
Thursday: Kimchi Udon
Friday: Ceviche

What’s on your meal plan this week?


how we deal with halloween candy in our home

halloween goodies Happy October! It’s Ben here. Ruby asks me to write about how we approach eating healthfully in our family, so here’s how we address Halloween candy with our kids.

You might think with being a dietitian, candy and anything “lo-nu” (what True started calling low nutrition foods a few years back) would be forbidden. Before I speak about that, I wanted to visit what may seem like petty semantics. We’ve learned not to refer to foods as good or bad, but rather, identify them based on their nutrient density. We’ll instead classify them as a high nutrition (hi-nu) food or low nutrition (lo-nu) food. All foods can be consumed within the context of balance and moderation. Furthermore, there’s no need to associate guilt/shame with a food traditionally labeled as “bad.” We strive to teach them how to make healthful choices, and how to recognize what is high nutrition versus low nutrition in our home.

So how do we address the lo-nu Halloween candy? We intentionally allow the kids eat all they want. Yup, you read that correctly. It’s a part of the approach we’ve adopted from dietitian and psychotherapist Ellyn Satter. We’re still learning how to best integrate what seems to be a very liberal strategy when it comes to “forbidden foods” like these after Halloween is over, so we go at our own pace as we continue to experiment with these principles. One of the goals is that kids won’t over-indulge/binge when parents aren’t around. The six of us are learning together; that’s parenting though.

When it comes to how we answer the “Trick or Treat!” request at the door, there was a study in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior that helped form our decision in what we give out. Researchers offered kids aged 3-14 the option of candy vs. a Halloween toy. Half of them chose the toys… an interesting perspective on how many kids define “treat” on Halloween. Since there’s already enough candy being circulated around that night, we’ve opted for inexpensive toys. And for individuals challenged with weight or other conditions in which mindful candy-eating principles are welcome, this is a nice strategy for removing candy in the home that could be mindlessly consumed!

Have a safe and mindful Halloween!




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