June 2011

Let’s pause for a moment in the discussion of healthy sports snacks and eating seasonally and talk cookies. Because while kids shouldn’t be given packages of cookies just for standing around a baseball diamond for 45 minutes, kids should still eat cookies. Especially when they’re made by mom.

Around here, we call these Icebox Cookies because they’re kept in the refrigerator. My grandma used to pack them in my mom’s lunch–and though my mom loved them, she admits she was terribly embarrassed because everyone else had store-bought cookies. I come from a long line of mothers who don’t buy cookies.

This is not a complicated cookie. Get a box of graham crackers and you’re halfway there. Better yet, keep a box of graham crackers in the back of your pantry, so you can make some of these when you have leftovers from frosting a birthday cake or batch of cupcakes.

1. Make the chocolate frosting of your choice. My current favorite is the “Fluffy Chocolate Frosting” from The Cake Mix Doctor.

2. Spread it between graham crackers.

3. Refrigerate cookies for at least 4 hours.

And if you happen to consider graham crackers a “store-bought cookie” and want to make your own, Martha Stewart’s recipe is here.


Just a few blocks away from me in my city neighborhood of Columbus, Ohio, urban homesteader and food educator Rachel Tayse Baillieul lives seasonally and sustainably. She raises backyard chickens, presses apples into cider, and makes homemade butter.

I don’t do any of those things, and probably never will. But I still find a lot of inspiration in her blog Hounds in the Kitchen because I’m always looking for ways to eat, cook, and live healthier–and just a little bit simpler. So I asked Rachel, mom to 5-year-old Lillian, to share five steps to healthier living that anyone can take. Here’s what she said:

1. Go for Glass

I store everything, from leftovers to road trip snacks to spices, in glass jars. They are immensely durable (my five year old takes them in her school lunch and hasn’t broken one yet!) and free of BPA, heavy metals, carcinogens, or other dangers lurking in plastic storage containers.

I use tiny quarter pint jars for cheese slices, pints and quarts for dry storage of beans, sugar, and flour, and half gallons for homemade jerky, tea and juice. With only two lid sizes, switching to glass jars eliminates the struggle of finding a matched set of plastic storage.

2. Eat Seasonally

When you eat what is grown locally and in season, it is healthier for you because ingredients do not need to be laden with preservative sprays and have more vitamins when ripened in the soil. The less distance produce travels, the less CO2 expelled into the environment. Eating seasonally is tastier because the ingredients are fresh and ripe. Farmer’s markets are my favorite sources for affordable, local, seasonal foodstuffs.

3. Buy Whole Vegetables

When you purchase vegetables with their tops and roots together, they last far longer in the refrigerator–up to three weeks. I make a big purchase at the farmer’s market or grocery and store head lettuce, beets with tops, and whole carrots in loosely tied plastic sacks in my crisper drawer. Yes, they take a little bit more trimming and preparation later, but reducing trips to the grocery saves gas and impulse spending, not to mention the pain of negotiating with children in the checkout line.

4. Adopt a No-Shoe Policy

The dirt tracked in by shoes doesn’t just add to your housekeeping work, it overwhelmingly contains heavy metals and toxins. At our front and back doors we have large washable doormats. We keep shoe bins next to the doors and have changed our habits to take shoes off as soon as we walk in, asking guests to do the same.

5. Grow Plants

Did you know that gardening improves the mental, spiritual, and emotional health of individuals? And that indoor plants clean the air? Every family can grow something in a sunny window, pot on the patio, or small section of an existing landscape.

My family focuses on growing edible plants indoors and out. Oregano, parsley, lavender and mint are very hardy perennials for outdoors. Lettuces, tomatoes, spinach, and peppers are easy to grow in containers. Indoors, we love our lemon and fig tree.

What are your family’s simple healthy habits?

Photo by Rachel Tayse Baillieul


Snack Backlash

June 20, 2011

I’m happy to report that the t-ball team parents have done a terrific job with snacks. While the opposing team is grabbing Capri Suns and Cheetos, the Orioles are eating bananas and apple slices and nobody’s complaining about it. At least not to my face. Except for this exchange that happened on the way home […]

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THAT Mom: The Sequel

June 8, 2011

A few weeks ago, I wrote about the parade of crappy food at my son’s soccer games–and I vowed to push for a change the next opportunity I got. So when t-ball started a few weeks ago, I immediately wrote to the coach and asked if we could establish a healthier snack policy. His response: […]

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Friday Five

June 3, 2011

Thanks to Rachel at Hounds in the Kitchen for allowing me to piggyback on her regular Friday Five feature! You can read her Friday Five here. Five things in heavy rotation around here right now: 1. Homemade freezer jam One packet of this stuff + a few bags of frozen blackberries I found in the […]

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