Author Archives: Don R

About Don R

Born and raised in the Pacific Northwest. Retired teacher. Multiple successful business endeavors including screen printing / sporting goods business, executive director of a Boys & Girls Club, commercial fishing, and co-founding an alternative high school. Interests include family, hiking, cooking, Parkinson's research and developing an educational cooking program.

How To Host a Pie-Making Cook-In.

Easy and Simple; Ingredients For Better Nutrition

Easy and Simple; Nutrient-rich meals

by donR  Revised April 16, 2018

During our first class 5 years ago, Lisa Samuel ND, one of our instructors  suggested we add foods to our meals that look like they just fell from a tree, picked from a bush or just pulled out of the ground. She called them “Real Foods.” Since that day I have heard them also referred to as “whole foods,” “natural,” “unprocessed,” “unmodified.” and “non GMO'”.

It is also common to see the words “Eat The Rainbow!” which implies that meals include a variety of colorful vegetables in its natural state (as opposed to dyed) or irradiated to kill any harmful bacteria. 

Then, of course, you have the option of choosing “organic,” which assures the buyer that the food was grown without the use of harmful sprays to kill bugs, weeds, set the blossoms and prevent wilt, and fungus.

To complicate the matter of choosing which foods to serve, you need to consider what types of nutrients are present in which variety of plants.   Here we can help you decide which plants are “nutrient-rich” yet low in calories while others are high n calories with low are some examples:

  1. Grow your own leafy green vegetables in a 4′ X 4′ raised garden bed.

    Keep some leafy greens (low in calories yet high in anti-oxidents, vitamins and minerals) like kale and Romaine Lettuce in  your fridge.  Swiss Chard, which comes in a rainbow of  colors is a popular choice for salads…. Just rinse, chop and add a simple  dressing for salad or keep leaves whole and wrap one around some meat or veggies to make a roll-up.Throw in a handful of seeds and nuts for a good source of unsaturated fats & micro nutrients,  Keep leaves whole until ready to use in order to prevent bacteria from 

Blackberries are one of the richest sources of anti-oxidants.

 

2. Deep colored berries like blueberries, black berries and raspberries are full of healthy micro-nutrients that fight inflammation and attack cancer-type cells in your body. The berries can be rinsed and eaten by the handful. Better yet, enjoy a bowl of cooked steel-cut oats with a few berries thrown in. For dessert or snack, warm up the Quesadilla maker and 2 tortillas. Place a tortilla on the press, put a couple of berries in each section, cover with 2nd tortilla, and close lid to cook. Sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon. 

picture of vegetables

Having fruit and vegetables readily available for snacks is healthy and saves money.

3. A variety of colorful root  vegetables like sweet potatoes, carrots, beets and onions are cut in large chunks of equal size. Coat with a small amount of olive, sesame or peanut oil. Sprinkle with a little seasoning, place in a shallow baking sheet and cook (roast) until tender; about one hour. Root veggies and onions are a good source of vitamins and minerals while olive and nut oils are rich in good fatty acids when eaten in moderationl. 

 

 

 

Pre-schoolers made stuffed baked apples

4. kids can cut a hole to remove the apple core and fill  it with instant oats and brown sugar. Place apples on a shallow baking pan, add a cup of water to keep apples moist. Bake for about an hour to so. .Apples are rich in fiber while whole rolled oats are a natural grain.

 

 

Stuffed peppers are easily cooked in your slow cooker

We usually have extra cooked brown rice, salsa, cooked beans, mushrooms, and garlic on hand. A simple meal is made from whole bell peppers. Cut the top off the peppers and fill each cavity with a mixture of moist rice together with the other ingredients. Place a half cup of water in a large slow cooker. Squeeze up to 6 peppers in the slow cooker (1 layer) Cook on high for 2-3 hours until softened

When the above ingredients are added to meals you are offering food that are high in nutrient value and low in calories.  Next week we will include recipes for these ingredients. They can be cooked quickly and in large batches for homeless shelters and camps. stay tuned’

For more about using whole foods in your healthy meal plan read “The End Of Dieting” by Joel Fuhrman MD These foods are from his G-BOMB  list. 

Finally….. Doctors Are Recognizing the Value of Prescribing Cooking Classes for better health.

By donR     October 21, 2017

Leading a Cook-Ins is one way to help introduce healthy eating and cooking to your community.

According to Katherine Martinko in Living Health, doctors are recognizing the value of eating whole foods as a way to prevent chronic diseases. In fact, they are going a step further by supporting cooking classes, university courses, and clinics that teach patients how to cook with nutritious whole foods.

I have been fortunate to have doctors willing to discuss how my food choices could improve my health. One doctor recommended that big salads include leafy greens, above the ground vegetables, legumes, whole grains and fruit be included in my daily meal plan.

Two thousand years ago, Hippocrates said “let food be thy medicine.”  Today, doctors take the Hippocratic oath but take few curses in nutrition. It is heartening to see that they are finally following Hippocrates’ example.

A healthy diet, plus doctor prescribed medicines, can play important roles towards a healthy life.

Planning A Cook-In: The 5 X 3 Way

picture of pork meal.

Pulled and diced chicken with rice and veggies are three key ingredients for many 5 X 3 meals. ‘K-Bobs and Stuffed pepper are pictured here.

by donR  October 14, 2016

Choosing meals for a Cook-In is made easier by creating a 5 X 3 chart. It is just a list of featured ingredients which you cook and package to use as a base for three future meals.  A well-stocked pantry provides additional ingredients to complement the featured items 

Previously, we described how pork loin roasts can be cooked  and packaged for use in many different ways. Chicken and turkey, are featured in this article. Read more about these and other versatile ingredients to  use when planning 5 X 3 Cook-Ins. Continue reading

Grow Winter Salad Greens: Build A Simple 4 X 4 Raised Garden

4-x-4-gardenby donR September 25. 2006

It may not be too late to start a family garden- the 4 X 4 way.  it’s easy to put together, care for, and makes for a great family project. Read more about how to build the garden  plus two links to helpful growers’ websites:

Continue reading

5 X 3 $10 Meals Part 2; Using Pork, Biscuit Mix, & Beet Greens

The biscuits on pot pies can be made with a master biscuit mix

The biscuits on pot pies can be made with a master biscuit mix. see video

by donR   September 12, 2016

“5 X 3 meals” means that your family can have a Cook-In to prepare 5 different foods for use in 3 dinners. You could easily assemble more but for now let’s keep it simple and use the time to play with the kids.

Our last post used pork loin roasts for several entrees. But this saves little time because you still need to prepare future meals separately. Instead, how about cooking 5 ingredients on one day with family or friends and use those for 3 or more future meals? Here is one example to give you an idea for a Cook-In.

  • Roast the pork and place in convenient packages for your first ingredient.
  • Combine 10C flour, oil, baking powder and soda, plus salt to make a biscuit master mix. You can make the biscuits ahead of time or bake them later as for pork sliders, pot pie, fruit tarts or strawberry shortcake.
  • Roasted beets can be eaten as-is or in salads. See Epicurious recipe.

    Roasted beets can be eaten as-is or in salads. See Epicurious recipe.

    Harvest 4 lbs beets with beet greens. Wash and cut greens from red beets. Cut beets, potatoes, onions and other veggies to be ready for roasting in oil and garlic butter.

  • Cook 2 lbs penne whole wheat noodles in boiling water until al dente. Rinse and divide for use in two meals: IE; 1. Penne salad with chopped celery, nuts, tomatoes and dressing. Chill before serving. 2; Penne Lasagna: Layer noodles with low fat cottage cheese, beet greens, tomato sauce, and pulled pork. Sprinkle with Parmesan and bake or freeze for later meals.
  • Wash chop, slice and dice the beet greens and your favorite veggies and leafy greens. Place a damp paper towel on the bottom of several plastic or glass containers. Fill each container with salad greens, cover and refrigerate for up  to 5 days. Add nuts, seeds, pickled beets, cheese or diced pork and dressing just before serving.

Note: If your family follows the “Choose My Plate ” recommendations, simply add dairy, water  and fruit for a balanced meal.  Once your family gets accustomed to planning and cooking together they will look forward to these memorable gatherings.

 

 

 

$10 Meal for a Family of Six: Healthy, Tasty, and Simply Prepared

 

Your family of 6 can feast on five or more meals using food gathered from Our $50 spree Winco

Your family of 6 can feast on five or more meals using food gathered from Our $50 spree @ WinCo.

by donR  May 18th, 2016

The Family Meals Project originally shared ideas with health-conscious families to plan, prepare and share budget-friendly meals. The goal was to assemble family meals for less than $10 using whole foods in the menu plan. That was four years ago and it’s now time to revisit the idea of preparing a $10 meal*. Yes, it’s still very possible to keep healthy meal costs under $10. To prove it, we spent $50 at WinCo and assembled 5 family meals using these ingredients plus a few planned-overs and pantry staples.

Continue reading

Assemble a Family Dinner For Under $10? Yes. And Here Are 5 Suggestions To Make It Healthier

Winter squash is easy to prepare and a good source of vitamins A and K

Winter squash is budget-friendly in season, easy to prepare and a good source of vitamins A and K

by donR May 5, 2016

Cooking wholesome meals on a limited budget can be challenging.  By “wholesome” we mean the meal satisfies the nutritional needs of family members. The $10 meal price is calculated by keeping  the cost of the main ingredients under $8 and simply add $2 for the pantry items like flour, condiments, planned-overs, and spices.

So, if at the end of the month, you have spent, on average, $10 per main meal and have eaten a rainbow of whole foods, you deserve a “Gold Star” and are welcome to share your ideas with the rest of our audience! Continue reading

The Family Cook-In Part 5: How To Carry On A Meaningful Conversation

Families use good listening skills and add to the conversation

Families use good listening skills and add to the conversation

by donR    March 6th 2016

The Family Dinner Project website has “tons of conversation starters” appropriate for any age level and on a variety of topics. These prompts can be written on cards and shared during the family dinner. This is just one of their many strategies  for promoting thoughtful conversation and this is the easy part. Yes, I repeat: “Starting a conversation is easy” …compared to “Carrying On A Meaningful Conversation.” Read more about how to keep a conversation going. Continue reading

The Family Cook-In Part 4: Having Fun With Games & Challenges

Kids young and old love mentally challenging games.

Kids young and old love mentally challenging games.

Playing games is one way to have fun. Creative elementary school teachers use them to fill in time or give kids a break from the regular routine. They are equally useful on long trips in the car and at the family dinner table while food finishes cooking. Visit The Family Dinner Project website and download game ideas categorized  by age levels.

Another way to have fun is to challenge your family with riddles, mental tasks and  interesting puzzles. Here are three types of challenges I used while teaching at all levels:

Riddles:  Browse the internet to find interesting scenarios like the

Man In Apartment 5C”

“On rainy days a man grabs his umbrella and hat, leaves his fifth-floor apartment at 7:30 AM, rides the elevator to the first floor lobby and walks to work. He returns at 5:00 PM, rides the elevator to the fifth floor and retires to his room.

However, on sunny days he grabs his sunglasses, leaves his fifth-floor apartment at 7:30 AM, rides the elevator to the first floor lobby and walks to work. He returns at 5:00 PM, rides the elevator to the third floor, takes the stairs to the fifth floor and retires to his room.

Challenge: What does the man look like?.

Procedure: One family member can keep asking questions until getting a “no” answer. Then it’s the next member’s turn and so on until they solve the challenge. (The answer is somewhere on page.)

Riddles: ” How far can a puppy walk into the woods?” or

“What do they call a home for several puppies?”

Puzzles: 

  1. Find an interesting photo and  cut it into six pieces with the most interesting part completely on one of the 6 pieces.
  2. Number each 1 or 2 or 3 or 4 or 5 and save 6 for the interesting piece.
  3. Place each piece in separate numbered envelopes.
  4. Procedure. Place part #1 on table and ask your family: “What is the whole picture about?”
  5. Put #2 with #1. Now what’s the big idea?
  6. Place #3 on the table and so on.

d and d gameHere is the whole picture and you “Now know the rest of the story.”

answers: Man: He’s very short. (needs the umbrella to reach the 5th floor button)

Puppies:  A)   an apupment or pup tent

B: half way  when the middle is reached the puppy is walking “out” of the woods,

Note: It’s often  more fun to encourage any answer for a week or two to prolong the discussion and find better answers.