Friday, August 16, 2013


While this may seem to be me patting myself on the back, please understand that it is written only to express my thankfulness to my mother for teaching me something so valuable, and to share that valuable gift with those who don't know about it yet.


My nine year-old daughter had a Diet Coke the other day.  (It was in our cooler from the church picnic.  We did not choose it or buy it, but it came home with us nonetheless.)  I think it's the first one she's ever had. She didn't especially enjoy it.  She looked at the can and read it.

"Mom, why is it called Diet Coke?"

I explained about the chemical component of diet pops, called aspartame, and how it replaces the sweetness of sugar so that people don't consume as many calories when they choose to drink pop.  I explained that aspartame-laced pop has been shown to be just as bad, if not worse, than sugary pop.

Then she asked, "Why do people go on diets anyway?"

Well...  This was a new conversation at our house.  We haven't spoken of diets before.  I explained that sometimes people look at themselves and think that they aren't healthy.  So they decide to go on a diet.  And then I told her that the problem with diets is that they aren't a permanent change and that if you want to be healthy and do your best to keep sickness away, you need choose healthier eating as a permanent part of your lifestyle.


Tonight over dinner, I was telling the kids about a book I had just started reading.  It's called The Kitchen Counter Cooking School by Kathleen Flinn.  I'm only on page 22, but I love it already.  The author tells of an encounter with a woman at the supermarket...

This woman had filled her cart with Lipton Sidekicks, Hamburger Helper, canned soups, canned pastas, canned other-stuff, and a value pack of ground beef. Except for the beef, she had not shopped the perimeter of the store at all.  As the two ladies stood side by side looking at the meat section, the author mentioned that whole chickens were on sale for $0.99/lb that week.  The shopper looked terrified and said that she would have no idea of what to do with a whole chicken, let alone what kind of recipe to put it in.  The author took her over to the store butcher, who showed them how to cut up a chicken.  The author then bought a recipe book for the woman and made notes in it so the woman would be able to prepare the foods she wanted.  By the end of their conversation, the author had convinced this shopper to put back most of her prepackaged foods and replace them with whole, fresh, real foods.

As I read on, I was struck with the realization that I had taken cooking for granted my entire life.  My mother cooked my dinner from scratch most nights.  When I got married, she gave me a well-organized binder of her recipes, printed on her home computer.  I'm happy to say that 14 years later, I'm still using it.  I used two recipes from it tonight.  (Well, I used one.  My 11 year old son used the other. He baked the brownies and I made the hot fudge sauce. So we indulged a little.  At least it was homemade, right?)

The point, Wanda.  What's the point?

Right.  The point: One of the most important things* I can teach my children is how to plan, purchase and prepare a home-cooked meal.  This is something I've taken for granted my entire life and I'm just now realizing it.

(*Much like the Best Selling Books lists, I'm assuming everyone knows how awesome the Bible is.  Of course, the most important thing I can teach my kids is to love and follow God and his Word, as Christians.)

As I shared with the kids how thankful I was that my mother taught me how to plan, purchase, and prepare a home-cooked meal, the oldest perked up and echoed back "Just like we're learning that from you!"

I'm not the best cook and I have many flops in the kitchen.  But I'm happy to see my kids yearning for the joy of getting messy in the kitchen and crafting a culinary creation.  There's a satisfaction that comes with knowing my kids will have the tools to choose to eat well when they leave our nest.

And that Diet Coke?  My daughter dumped the rest of it down the drain, saying, "It tastes weird, Mom."


If you want some recipes to start with, Pinterest is a great place to look.  Crock Pot recipes are usually easy, although they do sometimes use tinned soups or store-bought bouillon cubes.  But start slowly so you don't get overwhelmed!  No one's asking you to become Amish and grow your own wheat.

Homemade, from scratch (including tortillas, but not sour cream), Mexican lasagna
The recipe for the Mexican Lasagna (seasoning and tortillas, too) can be found here.
And if you're interested, I've got some recipes over here on my other, less-updated blog, Scratch That... although a good number of them are sweets.  What can I say?  I love to bake.  Everything in moderation, right?


  1. I absolutely "love" how you have been teaching the kids how to live a healthier lifestyle. Isn't it amazing to see a 9 year old having no interest is drinking soda pop!
    You've got me to thinking, though, of how I really should have spent more time trying to persuade my guys to learn more in the kitchen. (Dave took interest, but Steve had absolutely "no" interest.)
    Now that they've grown up, Dave is a master cook & Steve is learning new things every day. He has turned into a pretty good cook too.
    - Aunt Bernice

    1. Well, don't get me wrong... She pounces on pop when it's allowed. She just didn't like the chemical taste of the aspartame. :-)

  2. Good post, Wanda. I also take for granted that not everyone was taught how to meal plan, shop or cook healthy meals for their families. I am thankful my mom took the time to teach me those things while I was at home. I rarely shop the interior aisles of the grocery store (which is also why I don't really use coupons).

    We have a saying in our household, "What is common (sense) to you, may not be common (sense) to everyone. I think cooking and trying to be healthy falls into this gray area meaning not everyone learns the same things growing up.

  3. "Crafting a culinary creation". Nice alliteration! But seriously, it is absolutely true that there are an awful lot of people out there who rely on prepared or prepackaged foods. It truly is a blessing to be able to cook! I seriously think our churches could do some seriously positive outreach by putting on cooking classes. Especially targeting the lower income / disadvantaged people.