mealtime

A Peek Inside My New Cookbook!

by Sally on April 15, 2014

Dinnertime Survival Guide by Sally Kuzemchak

Complete the following statement:

Cooking dinner every night…

A. Is really important and allows me to express my love for my family and communicate our food values.

B. Can sometimes feel like chore at the end of a very long day.

C. Makes me want to run screaming out the back door, jump into my minivan, and drive far, far away. Or at least to the nearest restaurant.

D. All of the above

If you answered D, Dinnertime Survival Guide is for you.

When I was writing this book, I wanted to be, first and foremost, honest about one thing: Getting dinner on the table every night is hard. Anyone who tells you otherwise is lying. Or has a stash of take-out containers hidden at the bottom of her trashcan.

Although this book can’t solve all your problems (that’s called a live-in chef), the goal is to make dinner a whole lot easier to pull off by tackling the 10 biggest obstacles standing between you and a home-cooked meal, like…

  • Maddeningly finicky eaters: That’s chapter 5, “I’m Not A Short-Order Cook!”
  • Crazy schedules that have everyone going in different directions: That’s chapter 7, “Nobody’s Around To Eat It Anyway”
  • A mean case of dinnertime apathy: That’s the final chapter, “Frankly, I Just Don’t Feel Like It”

It includes 150 recipes like Peanutty Stir-Fry, T-Riffic Tilapia Tacos, Cheesy Mini Meat Loaves, and Chocolate Awesomeness Brownies. Throughout the pages, you’ll also find “Crazy Tricks That Actually Work” from my own kitchen, cooking shortcuts and tips, and seriously smart nuggets of hard-won dinner wisdom from Real Mom Nutrition readers.

If cooking matters to you, this book can help you make it happen more often—without losing your marbles. (And if every now and then, you cry “Uncle!” and serve everyone heaping bowls of cereal for dinner, well, you know me. I won’t judge.)

Cooking Light Dinnertime Survival Guide goes on sale next Tuesday April 22nd, but you can pre-order your copy on Amazon here.

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From-Scratch Cooking Confessional by Real Mom NutritionI believe that a diet based around whole foods is the way to go. I believe we should know what’s in our food, that we should strive to eat food that isn’t laden with preservatives and artificial flavors. Over the years, my suspicion about ingredients like artificial colors has grown, and I’ve become increasingly annoyed with food marketing designed to manipulate and deceive.

As a result, I buy fewer packaged foods than I did even a few years ago. I experiment in the kitchen, making homemade versions of store-bought staples. Sometimes I post those recipes here and on my Real Mom Nutrition Facebook page because I want to share something that’s worked for me.

What I DON’T want to do: Give you the impression that everything in my house is homemade.

It’s not.

I love to cook and bake. I love the satisfaction that comes from making something myself.

But making everything from scratch? While I’m in awe of people who do this, it appears to be statistically impossible for me. Four of us eat nearly every single breakfast, lunch, and dinner at home (or a packed lunch made at home). My fourth grader’s appetite is becoming alarmingly robust. And if the mountain of dishes I create every day from prepping all that food gets any higher, I’m afraid it will topple over and bury my husband, the designated dishwasher.

Here’s how from-scratch cooking goes down in my house:

What I always make from scratchvinaigrette dressing, pizza dough, hummus, barbecue and pizza sauce, cookies, pesto, and chicken soup.

What I sometimes make from scratch if I have time: bread and rolls, applesauce, French fries, granola bars, nut butter, and macaroni and cheese.

What I very, very occasionally make from scratch (or in some cases, have made only once just to see if I could do it): donuts, tortillas and pita bread, knock-off pop-tarts, pasta, fruit leathers, and sushi rolls.

And here’s what that looks like for our family:

  • If we have from-scratch hummus, we’re probably eating it with store-bought pita bread.
  • If we have homemade nut butter and granola bars that week, there’s also a bag of pretzels in the snack cupboard.
  • If there’s a pot of chicken soup on the stove and homemade rolls in the oven, we are likely having boxed pasta and jarred sauce the next night (or fish sticks and French fries from the freezer).

In some circles, all packaged food seems to be demonized–that to admit you buy packaged foods is to somehow admit failure, laziness, or a lack of concern about health and wellbeing. And don’t get me wrong: I love a good Pinterest challenge. Homemade graham crackers? Maybe I’ll attempt that some lazy Sunday afternoon.

But in the meantime, I don’t feel guilty about using packaged foods because I choose them carefully by reading labels (read: “Does the Food Label Even Matter? Here’s Why I Say YES.”). We keep junk to a minimum in the house. And for me, relying on some packaged foods does help my health and wellbeing because it preserves my sanity.

How about you: What do you always make from scratch–and what do you usually buy instead?

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Last year, Sam went on a dinner strike that just about did me in. The wonderful Dina Rose talked me off the ledge and gave me some strategies that really worked. But even today, dinner is just not Sam’s thing. The same probably goes for many other young kids: It’s the end of a long […]

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I wrote this post as a participant in the Eat Better, Eat Together Balancing Act blog carnival hosted by MealsMatter and Dairy Council of California to share ways families everywhere can make time for family meals that include foods from all the food groups. A list of other registered dietitians and moms who are participating […]

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