10/18/14

Family-style meals - pizza and tacos

                                           


Growing up, my brother and I were on different schedules all the time. Whereas my brother had gymnastics practice for a few hours every day in the evening, I started my day super early with my dad driving me to swim practice at 4:30am most days during the week. After school, my day would finish with another swim practice, piano lessons and perhaps some after school activity squeezed somewhere in there. Oh, and then there was time for homework in the evening before it all started over again and again and again until I graduated High School.
Then I re-created my similar lifestyle in college with swimming, school, studying, swimming and studying....with eating throughout the day with my swimming teammates.  

Although eating was not scheduled with my family growing up, I always enjoyed the times when we could eat together. And still today, I not only enjoy eating with Karel but also with friends and family. 

Why should we eat together with others? 

Regardless if it is with family or friends but we should all be able to enjoy sharing our day with others. Whether it is first thing in the morning or in the evening (or somewhere in between), eating with others is a very meaningful and powerful to connect with others.
We all need to eat so why not enjoy your eating time with someone else who also is eating.

(And this should be a big message that we all should slow down and take time to sit down and eat a real meal. At a table. Eating slowly. With minimal distractions.)


I'm sure many people could not imagine eating alone on the holidays, even if it does happen every now and then. So, why should we limit the wonderful experiences of eating together to just the holidays? 
Laughing, smiling, smelling, tasting and listening. 



In today's society, with so many food intolerances, allergies, preferences and dietary habits, perhaps some people feel as if there can not be a positive eating experience with friends/family or if tried, it would be too difficult to enjoy special diets around others.  Well, I want to prove you/them wrong.

As a 22-year lacto-ovo vegetarian (since the age of 10 yrs), I have never once felt as if I need to eat alone, I can not eat around others or if my dietary preferences are extreme compared to my friends and family. Yes, it was a little challenging for the first few years as there were a lot of new eating experiences for me (especially as an athlete) to get use to but once they were all achieved, eating time became much more enjoyable for me and my family/friends and now I don't even feel as if I am eating any differently than others. 

Eating together is an opportunity to connect with others over food. Not every meal needs to be the same for every person (or be super complicated) to be enjoyed. 

Part of the fun of eating together is preparing food that everyone can enjoy. Not always do you have to eat everything that is served and never should you put yourself in a food-centered experience with friends and family and feel as if there is nothing for you to eat.


Conversations around food can certainly be about food but I find that the eating experience should be more about being together and celebrating the day, the past and the future. 

To create the most positive and healthy meal-time experience, it is important to make meal time a happy, relaxed, fun and non-stressful time. So to help you out, I will give you two delicious meals that the entire family (and friends) will be sure to enjoy!

FAMILY-STYLE PIZZA

INGREDIENTS
Fresh dough (from your local pizzaria or grocery store. Plan 1 ball of dough per 2-3 people)
Pasta sauce
Mozzarella cheese (chopped)
Fresh basil
Chopped garlic
Tempeh
Cooked/seasoned chicken
Broccoli
Zucchini
Onions
Mushrooms
Corn
Artichokes (canned/jarred)
Asparagus
Peppers
1. Roll out dough on floured surface. Preheat oven to 430 degrees. Place dough on pizza dishes.
2. Every person get his/her own personalized pizza to decorate with sauce, cheese (optional) and basil and then with individual toppings. 
3. Bake for 20-40 minutes.
4. Yum together!


 FAMILY-STYLE TACOS

INGREDIENTS
1 package taco shells
Cabot cheese (Shredded)
Black beans and chickpeas (rinsed from canned)
Brown rice
Tri-colored quinoa
Boca veggie "meat"
Cooked/seasoned chicken
Sauteed mushrooms/zucchini/onions
Chopped romaine
Steamed mixed veggies (from the bag)
Plain Greek yogurt (instead of sour cream)
Salsa

1. Every stuffs their own taco with warm ingredients.
2. You may also omit the shell and create a taco salad in a lettuce bowl.
3. When your taco overflows, use your extra toppings for a side dish
4. Yum together!