Angie: Raising a Good Eater
Angie has learned to juggle engineering, cooking, and bringing healthy eating practices to her daughter. Find out this mom’s tips for answering that common question: How do I help my child eat healthy?
After watching her own Super-Mom growing up, Angie only recently realized that she has become quite a Hero in the Kitchen when armed with a meal plan. Now every time she cooks, she takes one step closer to her mom while raising her own little adventurous daughter.
City, State: St. Paul, MN
I cook for: my husband, my 2.5 year old daughter, and myself!
Outside of the kitchen I: engineer. Outside of that, I chase my daughter around, occasionally do yoga, sometimes read before bed, and decorate my house at a snail’s pace (we’re 4 years in).
The one kitchen tool / equipment I cannot live without: Cast iron skillet. And my magnetic measuring spoons. And my fancy Wusthof knife (why did it take me 10+ years of cooking to buy a good knife???).
I cook because: I enjoy it!
Favorite Cook Smarts meal so far: Our family go-to favorites are the Jerk Chicken Thighs and Cajun Shrimp Po’ Boy. My personal favorite is probably the Gumbo, but hubs doesn’t like onions :'( so I don’t make it often.
How did you get into cooking and how did you learn to cook?
Growing up, my mom was superwoman. She had homecooked meals on the table almost every night, did all the laundry and cleaning, worked a full-time job, had a catering business on the side (I mean, what?!?!), and raised two kids (my dad helped with that part. A little bit. Kind of 😉 ). She was incredible – and probably like most kids, when I was younger I didn’t want to become my mother, so I refused to learn to cook (or use the washing machine – but that’s hard to avoid once you’re on your own).
In my late 20’s I started realizing that being a woman like my mom would actually be pretty great . . . and that creating meals could actually be challenging and fun, so I started trying out recipes. My mom passed away in 2009, before I had really gotten into cooking regular meals. But she enthusiastically encouraged my initial forays – I started by trying to replicate a pizza soup from a local restaurant, and she was so thrilled she bought me a soup cookbook and chicken and beef bouillon cubes for Christmas that year. I wish that I could share my evolution as a cook with her now, but every time I cook it makes me feel closer to her. She’s always with me in the kitchen . . . and I think I can admit today that I’ve actually become quite a bit like my mom, and I couldn’t have a better person to emulate. <3
What’s the biggest cooking challenge that you recently conquered, and what is something you’re still working on?
I conquered my personal hatred of grating ginger when I realized I can buy it frozen in teaspoon sized measurements. Grating ginger is seriously the worst.
I’m still working on knife skills . . . actually, who am I kidding? I’m not working on them. I keep cutting the way I always have because it will take me too much time to learn to do it right. 🙂 And, of course, now Jess has the knife skills challenge [in the Kitchen Hero Facebook Group] starting so I have even less of an excuse.
“We used to eat out a lot – not because I don’t like cooking, but because I HATE meal planning. Since Cook Smarts does the planning for me, it’s easy to eat home-cooked meals!”
What are your best strategies when it comes to raising healthy and adventurous eaters?
My husband is a lost cause, so I’ll stick to the strategies I use with my kid. I know all kids are different, and maybe I was just blessed with a good eater, but I’d also like to think my approach with her has helped. Here’s what I did / do:
- I made her baby food and gave her a HUGE variety. Even pureed meat, which is totally gross.
- We eat dinner together.
- I don’t give a lot of snacks so she’ll be hungry for real food at mealtimes.
- I always try to have something on her plate I know she likes, but otherwise she always gets what we get, even if she doesn’t “like” it. I don’t make her a separate dinner or modify things for her – even spiciness.
- I never ever comment on what she does / doesn’t eat, call her picky, try to make her eat, or give her any other negative associations with food.
If she doesn’t eat our dinner, she doesn’t get anything else. I’ll save her plate until she goes to bed in case she complains about hunger later (I learned that lesson after I scraped her plate after dinner one night and 20 minutes later she started stalking the pantry whining about being hungry, and I had nothing but snacks to give her. She got me that time).
My approach means sometimes – although, very rarely – she refuses to eat and goes to bed without supper. However, for the most part, it has meant that she is served what we eat and doesn’t complain (much) about it, and while she won’t always eat everything, sometimes she surprises us with what she will pick up and eat.
What’s been the biggest change in your family’s cooking / eating routine since starting Cook Smarts’ meal plans?
I started using Cook Smarts when my partner (now husband) and I moved in together. We used to eat out a lot – not because I don’t like cooking, but because I HATE meal planning. Since Cook Smarts does the planning for me, it’s easy to eat home-cooked meals! With CS, I also make things I probably wouldn’t necessarily choose to make if I were doing my own planning, which has been great for variety! And now with grocery delivery, I don’t even have to go to the grocery store (my least favorite place to shop).
Tell us about your proudest kitchen moment.
I made a taco cake for my daughter’s 2nd birthday (“Dragons Love Tacos” themed party – it’s a kids book for any non-parents out there). I am NOT a baker. That was my first time working with candy melts, and it was a total disaster at first but turned out awesome in the end (thankfully I started making it 4 days in advance so I had plenty of time for do-overs)! That cake was amazing – including the Mexican chocolate ganache.
What are your tips for health and success in the kitchen?
Get good knives!!!
Angie, thank you so much for sharing your story with us! It makes us truly happy to know that our meal plans help you enjoy the cooking process and get to share in something special with your family.