Have you ever felt stuck in a rut when it comes to cooking for your family? If so, you’re not alone. Finding time, inspiration or motivation can become stumbling blocks when feeding hungry kids after a long day at work or managing the household. In Laura Keogh and Ceri Marsh’s new cookbook, How to Feed a Family: The Sweet Potato Chronicles Cookbook – Eat Healthy Live Happy Stay Happy (Appetite by Random House September 3, 2013), the authors take the intimidation out of cooking and provide approachable, family-friendly recipes that address the realities of parenthood and family life. They inspire us to cook easy and flavorful dishes to nourish our bodies and minds, and provide insightful anecdotes and helpful advice regarding nutrition in a way parents and their children can understand.
It is worth mentioning the tips and suggestions they offer are presented in such a way that comes across as genuine without judgment or condemnation – which as a parent I appreciate. The last thing I need is for someone to tell me what I’m doing wrong. Instead they keep things very down-to-earth. I personally love the way they address health considerations and use healthy alternatives (like spelt flour) without compromising the quality and integrity of each dish. This is the perfect cookbook for families wanting to experiment beyond their typical familiar menu in a way that will not turn off young eaters. In fact, this may be the stair-step approach that will help expand your kids palates and help them become more adventurous in the foods they will eat.
Today I’m happy to share one of their great pieces of advice from their cookbook as well as their recipe for Beef Lettuce Wraps. Thanks Laura and Ceri, your cookbook has earned a place on my kitchen counter as a go-to resource to address the age old question: what’s for dinner tonight?
Chores and Manners for Peace
“We all have a vision of what family meals should look like. Happy times at the table, sharing the details of our days over lovingly prepared food. Too often our reality—bickering siblings on one side of the table and badgering parents on the other—leaves everyone feeling more depleted than nourished. Enter chores and manners. I know, I know, but stick with me here. Central to SPC’s philosophy is the belief that involving kids in the food they eat might be harder, slower, messier in the beginning but is so worth the investment. The same approach might be applied to the whole world of the table. A kid who sets the table or washes the dishes is less likely to see you as his short-order cook. And a child who knows to place a napkin in her lap or use her cutlery properly will not only be a more pleasant dining companion for you, but she will have more social confidence when she’s out in the world on her own. And yes, you’re going to have to remind them about three hundred and fifty million times before they do these things on their own but what part of parenting isn’t like that? The trickiest part? You’ve got to lead by example. So put down the phone, turn off the TV, sit up straight, elbows off the table . . . actually, I’ve never understood that one.”
Recipe and photos republished by permission from Laura Keogh, Ceri Marsh, and Appetite/Random House (publisher) from the How to Feed a Family: The Sweet Potato Chronicles Cookbook – Eat Healthy Live Happy Stay Happy
Authors’ recipe headnote: We don’t eat a whole lot of red meat but sometimes nothing but a steak will do. If we’re going to have beef, though, I prefer meals like this, where it’s just one element among many, not the king of the plate.
*For more information about Laura and Ceri’s fabulous family-friendly Sweet Potato Chronicles food blog, please visit http://www.sweetpotatochronicles.com/wordpress/
Recipe: Beef Lettuce Wraps
An Asian Inspired Beef Lettuce Wrap Recipe that the whole family will love. From Laura Keogh and Ceri Marsh’s new cookbook, How to Feed a Family: The Sweet Potato Chronicles Cookbook - Eat Healthy Live Happy.
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp (5 ml) minced fresh ginger
1/4 cup (60 ml) low-sodium soy sauce
2 Tbsp (30 ml) fresh lime juice
1 Tbsp (15 ml) sesame oil
1 Tbsp (15 ml) fish sauce
1 tsp (5 ml) Sriracha
1 lb (450 g) flank steak
1 cup (250 ml) whole grain jasmine rice
1 head soft lettuce, such as Boston or Bibb
1/2 cup (125 ml) finely chopped cucumber
1/2 cup (125 ml) matchsticked carrot
1/2 cup (125 ml) matchsticked red bell pepper
Handful of chopped cilantro
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 green onion, chopped
2 Tbsp (30 ml) low-sodium soy sauce
1 Tbsp (15 ml) rice wine vinegar
1 Tbsp (15 ml) water
1 tsp (5 ml) Sriracha
1 tsp (5 ml) sesame oil
1/2 tsp (2 ml) sugar
• For the marinade, mix the garlic and ginger with the soy sauce, lime juice, sesame oil, fish sauce and Sriracha in a baking dish.
• Place the steak in the marinade and turn it over once or twice to thoroughly coat. Cover the whole thing with plastic wrap and get in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour—but overnight would be even better.
• Cook the rice according to the package instructions. Pull apart and wash a head of lettuce. Dry the leaves with a spinner and stack the leaves on a plate. Arrange all the extras—the cucumber, carrots, pepper and cilantro—in small serving dishes.
• Prepare the dipping sauce by mixing together the garlic, green onion, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, water, Sriracha, sesame oil and sugar.
• Place the rice in a serving bowl or dish and arrange it along with all the extras on the table. You can cook the steak on the barbecue or under the broiler for about 3 minutes a side. Allow the meat to rest, covered, for 10 minutes before slicing it into thin strips, across the grain. Lay the meat out on a platter.
• To assemble, hold a lettuce leaf in one hand and build your choice of ingredients on top of the other. Yes, it’s going to be messy! Encourage everyone to make up their own combinations.