Our friend, Amanda, a keto lifestyle and health enthusiast, has shared an inspiring story with us on how she started engaging her family with cooking activities to create healthy meals together. Playing the balancing act between working full-time in the fast-paced world of marketing, being a proud mother of a busy toddler and a go-getter grade-schooler, plus squeezing in the time to prepare keto-friendly foods that incorporate fresh produce, means there is never a dull moment in her busy life.
Though health and wellness have always been important in my life, the past few years have strengthened my resolve to eat better and be a good example for my kids on how to live a healthy lifestyle. I started exploring keto about 2 years ago now, after welcoming my second daughter into the world. It was nice being home with her when I started my keto journey as I had time to learn and implement the small changes that I needed to incorporate to live healthier.
At the time, being a stay-at-home mom was busy, looking after my 2 young daughters, running errands, doing house chores, plus cooking for the fam was enough to fill my days. But as much as I loved being at home, I also missed the other side of me, the career side, and the fast-paced world of marketing. When I decided to return to work outside of the home, my busy days got even busier and after long days at work, eating well and spending quality time together became more challenging. The default each night was to turn on the TV or get lost in the world of social media on our devices. We got disconnected from our family time and after a few months I started to notice things change for the worse for our family. I started to eat more keto processed foods and my kids and husband were living off frozen dinner items. But more than anything, we were becoming distant from each other, we all didn’t feel our greatest, and we were neglecting our core values of maintaining a healthy lifestyle for our family. With no extra time on our hands, I discovered I had to make the most of my weekends in order to get back to our health and wellness goals. What is important to me is family, eating healthy, and keeping active with things I love to do.
GOTTA HAVE SNACKS!
I will tell you, although I was hesitant at first to let my girls help out in the kitchen, cooking together has definitely strengthened my relationship with them. We love to #snackhealthy! My oldest that is 8, loves preparing a veggie snack board with me. She slices up Aurora Bites Mini Sweet Peppers, cuts Mini Cucumbers into matchsticks, and we always have Cloud 9® Bite-Sized Fruity Tomatoes on the board. If I’m being honest, we eat those like they are candy, and we have no self-control – they are that good! My 2-year-old helps us lay out the board and then we all dive in to enjoy! My husband can’t help himself picking at the board even if it’s not quite ready and of course, tosses a little treat to our dog ever waiting so patiently for a treat of his own.
We love dips too, although I may not use regular tortilla chips as I use keto substitutes, adding a dip or salsa became a family favourite as part of our snacking boards. The one we make most often is the Numero UNO Salsa and it’s called that for a reason! It has become our family’s go-to healthy dip. It’s beyond the ordinary, traditional salsa as it’s made with Uno Bites™ Nano Cucumbers. It’s crunchy, refreshing, and has just a tad bit of heat for the taste buds. By letting my girls be a part of the preparation experience, I notice their creativity, problem-solving, and organizing skills began to flourish. Whoever thought a 2-year-old would be particular about what veggies are placed where on the serving board? My eldest has certainly learned patience when working with a stubborn toddler to figure out what will fit nicely.
When I was a stay-at-home mom, I had time to cook delicious dinners daily. I love cooking and preparing fresh vegetable-forward dishes. In my keto-based world, veggies are key components for eating creating endless options for savory, salty, or sweet cravings. When time in the evening became limited, I found that planning ahead was key. Rather than being frustrated with the lack of time on weeknights, it became very important to my family that we meal plan and prep or cook on the weekends for the week ahead. One of the easiest things to get ready ahead of time are fresh salads like Summer Salad. As I said before, we love Cloud 9® Bite-Sized Fruity Tomatoes, they are honestly a treat. By having my family involved with the meal planning and prepping we are not only benefiting from eating healthier throughout the week, but I find my kids are also more apt to eat what’s served for dinner when they have been a part of it. My goals is to teach our girls life skills, while also forming good habits by eating healthy. By getting them to try more veggies, will help them become life-long healthy eaters. And with greenhouse grown vegetables we have fresh produce available year-round making it easy to incorporate nutrient-dense produce in all our meals.
COOKING THE SPECIAL WEEKEND DINNER
Because weeknights are busy and often rushing between homework, dinner, and bedtime, we make that we always have one special dinner together as a family on the weekends. This is our way to be present with each other while having the opportunity to share, talk, and listen. I am often surprised by the stories that are shared and what I miss in their lives of one week. Life is busy, and it seems the weekends are for us to catch up. The special weekend dinner is the big event, that’s when all of us chime in and decide what are we going to make, making sure there is always a bit more for leftovers. I also make it fun; this is when we have music playing, the toddler is dancing, hubby is helping, and I am using recipes to help improve my oldest daughter’s reading and math skills. By working together to plan, prepare, and cook a meal, it’s given our family the chance to work together. This now become tradition we look forward to at the end of the week and one where we are creating special memories.
One of our favourite recipes of all time is Cajun Chicken with Peppers. It’s sooo flavorful. Roasted peppers, paired with chicken and creamy cheese. The seasoning is not spicy and it’s simple! Bake it all in one pan. I have my oldest helping cut the peppers, my youngest then stealing the sliced peppers to eat, and my husband places everything in the pan while I am prepping a nice side salad to go with the meal. We even took this recipe and made a soup version of it!
Life is always busy, and figuring out balance is the key. Family time, eating healthy, and keeping active are all important parts of my family life. I have learned by creating food activities to prepare and eat together as a family, we feel better, are eating healthier, are more connected with each other, and have created lasting memories. I value fresh produce as my daily dose of vitamins, and I will continue to teach my daughters that what you eat matters. It’s important to make time for what matters. Whether you need to plan ahead or just be aware. If you feel you may have a disconnect with your own family, I would highly recommend trying to get your family involved with the kitchen. Start small and incorporating fresh vegetables is good for everyone’s health but there are tons of simple recipes you can try!
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