The Problem With Holidays

Why does our society encourage gluttony during the holidays instead of health?

As I am slowly diving into the world of Twitter, I have learned many things. While I  will wait to elaborate on all the lessons Twitter is throwing out there, the thing I have been focused on lately is the enormous amount of “holidays”. We just had National Dog Day, which was after National Siblings Day and today is one of my favorites so far: National Grilled Cheese Day. Yes, even two pieces of bread glued together with cheese has it’s own special holiday. I am amazed. While I am sure all of these made up holidays may actually boost a love between siblings and our pets or an increase in sales of grilled cheese sandwiches, is it really necessary? In fact, are most holidays all that necessary or good for us?

Take Easter for example. It is coming up on Sunday. Easter is one of the most confusing holidays in my book. Each year it is on a Sunday, but that day can be anywhere from March 22 to April 23. It is quite interesting the way it is determined: the first Sunday after the first full moon occurring on or after the March equinox. It is quite interesting to me because this means the day Jesus was resurrected changes EVERY year. Talk about confusing when you try to explain that to your kids.

Now, I understand the importance of Easter. I am not very religious but I do consider myself a Christian. It is probably the most symbolic day of the year for the Christian religions. So why let it be ruined but colored eggs, plastic grass and oversized plush animals hiding candy? It seems to make a mockery of this incredible day. In early times, new litters of rabbits were generally born in the time near Easter symbolizing new life, but is this really what the Christian church wants to hold on to?

Ask any kid on the playground at school about what their favorite part of Easter is. While many of them will know the reason behind Easter, their favorite part will not be attending church. It is not going to be learning about the sacrifices Jesus made for humanity and the incredible miracle that took place as he rose from his tomb. No. It is about the big egg hunt. The colored eggs. The candy. Easter has become a day where binging in chocolate and treats is more than acceptable; it is encouraged. Gluttony (one of the cardinal sins) is actually encouraged.

One of the hardest things I deal with while facing these holidays is how bad for our health these holidays are becoming. We eat very healthy. We limit our sugar intake, avoid junk food, teach our kids that things like squash, zucchini, spinach and broccoli are amazing to eat. However, the task of raising our children to avoid bad food is incredibly difficult when every store pushes it on us or people are continuously trying to hand candy to your kids. I even have people tell me that my children deserve a treat, another piece of chocolate, more candy.

In a country riddled with diseases such as diabetes, obesity, heart disease, high cholesterol, cancer, and addiction, shouldn’t we focus on healthier alternatives and a healthier lifestyle than a sugar-induced high? Shouldn’t we protect our children from a life of illness and teach them that when you are constantly indulging in treats, you are actually hurting yourself? Something as simple as a single Hershey kiss has 2.5 grams of sugar in it. Considering an ADULT woman’s recommended daily sugar intake should be no more than 25 grams of sugar, that small indulgence is a lot more than small. Ten pieces is the same as an entire day’s worth of sugar! And that is for an adult, not a child.

I’m not going to tell you that this Easter there will be no chocolate in our house. At this point, it is inevitable. Anywhere we go, candy is pushed at us but what I will tell you is that my children will learn about the true meaning of Easter, and when they awaken to the baskets the “Easter Bunny” left for them, they will have things such as new biking gloves and paints instead of chocolate and chick-shaped marshmallows. The best part about it is that they will be thrilled because treats don’t have to be edible.

One final word: please think before you offer someone else’s children candy. While the gesture is nice and thoughtful, it puts parents in a difficult position to turn it down in front of their children. It make the parent the bad guy for not allowing that sucker. Yes, it is a small treat, but think about how quickly one small treat escalates when everyone is doing it or when you look at the amount of sugar in that small treat. If you do feel compelled to give kids “treats”: things like stickers, pencils, erasers, and tiny trinkets are just as loved by kids and they serve a purpose in the home. Those things have more meaning to children than candy and it doesn’t affect their health. We are doing our best to raise our children to be healthy and we hope that you can support our decisions. While you may think they “deserve” that piece of chocolate, we feel that our kids shouldn’t be getting chocolate everyday or even every week. I am not asking for you to agree with that decision, but please respect us enough to allow us to make those decisions. Thank you.

 

Honey, you shrunk my kitchen!

The kitchen doesn’t have to be large in order to still work efficiently and create lasting memories for your family.

The kitchen has always been my favorite room in the house. It isn’t just the place where food is stored, it is a place of memories. A place where lessons are learned, magic is created, and imagination comes to life. I have been cooking for as long as I could remember. I have never been the best when it comes to baking pies and breads; maybe that is why my waistline still likes me. However, when it comes to the savory dishes, the eclectic salads, the tantalizing side dishes… well those I am pretty good at. I love making food memories. I love the process and the delight when a creation takes place. The reward of hard work. That is why the scariest part of moving into an RV was the size of my kitchen.

In order to come to terms with the shrunken version of my favorite room, I moved in phases. The first phase was getting rid of all the nice things that have limited function, but can be replaced. Basically, anything made by Pampered Chef. I love Pampered Chef and still have a couple things, but I know how to use knives with great efficiency and I have found that over the years, it is easier to grab a knife to dice up vegetables, rather than finding that one tool specifically made for that one specific vegetable, putting it together, using it for 5 minutes and then having to disassemble it and clean it. Second phase was knowing what I needed as far as pots and pans. Having a good pan is more value than having ten. I reduced my pots and pans to six total. (You don’t want to know what I did have). I also grabbed my Ninja, my crockpot, and my electric skillet just in case I needed extra help. Finally, I had to limit the amount of mixing bowls, as well as serving dishes, tableware, wine glasses (glass breaks on the road. I now have beautiful stainless steel ones!), and anything that was “excess”.

Little did I know that was the easy part. Imagine if you will, having two children (age 4 and 7) who LOVE to help you in the kitchen. Reduce the space to a small countertop, six square feet of walking space and having everything to include the stove, oven, sink, and fridge in that same area. It gets a bit tight. You have to get a little bit creative; use other tables in the RV. You learn that since you have to do dishes by hand, one of the sink’s sections is for clean dishes and one for dirty ones. You learn to prep even hours before you are going to start cooking. Prepping is what saves your sanity.

Then there is the food. In a “normal” home, you have a huge fridge. You have a huge pantry. you have the ability to house anything and everything your heart desires. You don’t have to worry about what you put in your grocery cart as you wander the vast aisles of Whole Foods. You have the room. Now…. in an RV. Things are different. But it isn’t bad like you may think. The fridge I have is SMALL. I think it my fridge may actually be envious of college dorm refrigerators sometimes. Cupboard space is limited. We have no room for junk food. We have no room for things we don’t need. We don’t have room to waste.

The average family in America wastes over 25 pounds of food a month. We don’t have the luxury to have that food just sitting in our fridge, growing new colonies of mold. We see everything in our fridge and it all gets used. Our fridge looks like the picture perfect image of the Ketogenic Diet. It is simple, yet elegant. Meat. Cheese. Milk, Veggies. Fruits. The masterpieces you can make when you have clean, fresh food. I am still able to make those inspiring dishes. In fact, I am actually forced to make them, because now, I don’t have the room for any frozen dinners, pre-packaged food, preservatives or fillers. Just real food. I also have to be creative while doing it. No more spreading out over an entire room, using 20 dishes to create one meal. I have become more intimate with my cooking; and I love it! I also love the amount of money I save as a result! We now spend about $100 a week on food for our family of four!

The best part: my children love it too. They still get to help. They will help me prep and they are more aware of what we get when we are grocery shopping. We don’t do snack foods. I don’t go and buy the 5lb container of fish crackers anymore for snacks. Instead, they ask me if they can have a cucumber with lemon squeezed on it. They know there aren’t any gummy snacks in the cupboards so they don’t ask. Instead, they ask for grapes. It makes me realize that even though my kitchen shrunk, the memories made in the kitchen didn’t. Now, I am giving my children the knowledge, the skills, and the nutrition to set them up for success later in life so one day, they can create their own food memories.