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Chef Vanda

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A Better Family Life: 8 Ways Eating Together Builds Stronger Families

by Alexis Rodrigo

Are you longing for a better family life? Here’s an idea that is so simple, yet it can make your family healthier, help the children do better in school, and reduce Mommy’s stress. The answer is: family dinners.

Various studies have shown that family dinners have many benefits. The following benefits were reported in studies that looked at families who eat together at least three nights a week:

1. From the Archives of Family Medicine: Families who eat together tend to consume more calcium, fiber, iron, and vitamin B6, B12, C and E. Home-cooked meals are healthier.

2. From the Journal of the American Dietetic Association: Children in families that eat together tend to eat more fruits and vegetables, while eating fewer snack foods. Children make better eating choices.

3. From the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine: Children in families who eat dinner together have a reduced tendency to become overweight.

4. From a Lou Harris-Reader’s Digest National Poll: In families that eat together, children get better grades than children in families that don’t share family meals.

5. From a Lou Harris-Reader’s Digest National Poll: Children in families who have dinners together report being happier and having more positive attitudes about the future.

6. From Harvard University: Children in families that eat together have better language skills compared to children in families that don’t have family dinners.

7. From Columbia University: Teenagers in families that have family dinners are less likely to be using drugs, smoking cigarettes, and drinking alcoholic beverages

8. From the Family and Consumer Sciences Research Journal: In families that frequently have family dinners, Moms who work out side the house report feeling less stressed

The researchers attributed these benefits to various factors. For one thing, home-cooked meals are usually healthier – lower in calories while higher in nutrition – compared to fast food or restaurant meals. Another factor is the human tendency to eat less when eating with others rather than eating alone. Finally, family dinners give family members the chance to interact, check in with each other, and update each other about their lives. No wonder families thrive when they eat together!

With today’s busy lifestyles, it is impossible for most families to have dinner together every night. In this case, it is important to make time for shared meals – not just dinners – as often as possible. In addition, engage in other family activities that enhance interaction and personal sharing, such as bedtime rituals and storytelling. Personal interaction in a relaxed and safe environment is the essence of family meals.
About the Author

Alexis Rodrigo is a stay at home Mom of 3 who loves to cook. You will have time to cook with her free quick dinner recipes at http://www.myquickdinnerrecipes.com and get more family and parenting resources

The Asian Pantry

Chef Vanda featured in Frau Magazine from Japan

Chef Vanda featured in Frau Magazine from Japan

I wrote this article several years ago before I became The Organic Personal Chef, many of these ingredients are very hard to find as Organic, but it would be worth effort to find them. Read it, enjoy new flavors, let me know what you think.

Namaste, Chef Vanda

The Asian Pantry

By Chef Vanda

In addition to tasting great, Traditional Asian cooking is one of the healthiest cuisines around. Studies have shown that the traditional Chinese, Japanese and Thai diet is lower in cholesterol and saturated fat than American menus. Don’t confuse the traditional Asian cuisine with the fast food take out “Sweet and Sour Pork” or the “General Tso’s Chicken”. Healthy Asian meals use lots of high fiber fresh vegetables, which are loaded with vitamins and antioxidants. The best place to start understanding their cuisine is in the Asian Pantry.

Sake – a beverage fermented from rice, which is a grain.

Soy Sauce – (shoyu, tamari and teriyaki) is a dark brown liquid made from fermented soybeans. Specific types of soy sauce are shoyu, tamari, and teriyaki. A staple condiment and ingredient throughout all of Asia , if you are watching your salt intake, try the low- or reduced-salt soy sauces on the market. (These may still be too high in sodium for some people who are on low-sodium diets.)

Peanut Oil – a clear oil pressed from peanuts; it is used for salads and, because it has a high smoke point especially prized for frying. Most American peanut oils are mild-flavored, whereas Asian peanut oils have a distinctive peanut flavor.

Sesame Oil – The darker, Asian sesame oil has a much stronger flavor and fragrance and is used as a flavor accent for some Asian dishes.

Arrow Root / Corn Starch – a thickening agent for sauces.

Dashi – a Japanese soup stock, which becomes the base of many Japanese dishes, such as soup and simmered dishes. the basic stock that provides the underlying flavor for most Japanese dishes, used as dipping sauce for tempura or when cooking vegetables.

Panko – used in Japanese cooking to coat fried foods made from dried rather than toasted bread, lower in salt and calories than breadcrumbs and is much crunchier.

Mirin – the secret ingredient in authentic Japanese cuisine, rice wine but very sweet and used exclusively for cooking, used in grilled and simmered dishes.

Wasabi Powder – the Japanese equivalent of horseradish, not just for sushi, one of the cornerstones of Japanese cuisine, often enjoyed with sushi, use with caution.

Sushi Rice – short-grained, sweeter variety rather different in consistency from the long-grain and Indian rice strains it is cooked with rice vinegar and is cooled before being used to make sushi.

Rice Noodles – made from rice flour and water, available in various shapes and sizes, often fried and added to soup. They should be soaked in cold or lukewarm water before being boiled or stir-fried.

Dried Mushrooms – Many different varieties are available including morels, ceps, chanterelles, shiitake and oyster mushrooms. Their flavor is highly concentrated so even a very small quantity will add richness and depth. They need to be reconstituted (soaked in warm water) before use.

Canned Water Chestnuts – actually roots of an aquatic plant that grows in freshwater, water chestnuts have a tender crunch, and a mild, slightly sweet flavor, adds texture to soups and stir-fries.

Roasted Sesame Seeds – sesame seeds provide a nutty taste and a delicate, almost invisible crunch to many Asian dishes, besides having a distinctive flavor, they are widely believed to have anti-aging effects.

These ingredients are usually available at most upscale supermarkets but for hard to find Asian ingredients, go to a local Asian grocery store rather than supermarket chains. Not only will the selection at the Asian grocer be larger, the products sold there are often less expensive.

Asian Cooking can be a great way to eat healthy.

About The Author:

Chef Vanda is owner of Shilloh, a Long Island Personal Chef Service specializing in in-home cooking parties, one on one cooking instructions and healthy-eating meal planning.