And eating together is so good for families!
– By the Veggie Fairy Team
All you local food lovers have been telling us that you love local veggies AND locally prepared foods, too — because prepared foods make eating fresh and local so easy. So we’re kicking off 2019 by expanding our home-delivered farmers market with prepared foods from local food artisans like My Empanada in Henrico, Va.
It’s easy to build a healthy meal around fresh-made prepared foods. That’s really important because our hurry-scurry schedules are cutting into busy family meal times. Sixty years ago, families spent 90 minutes eating dinner together. Now they give it only 12 minutes! And those precious dozen minutes together are happening less frequently — compared to 20 years ago, families eat together 30% less often.
With our busy lives, it seems like you have to make a conscious decision to carve out time for a meal together. But it’s totally worth the effort. Meal times are often the only time when everyone’s in the same room at the same time doing the same thing. It’s a time for catching each other up on your day and growing closer as a family.
According to the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University, kids and teens who share family dinners three or more times per week:
1. Are less likely to be overweight
2. Are more likely to eat healthy food
3. Perform better academically
4. Are less likely to engage in risky behaviors (drugs, alcohol, sexual activity)
5. Have better relationships with their parents
Eating together is just as beneficial for couples, too!
So knowing all that, we veggie fairies have discovered that My Empanadas’ frozen ready-to-bake empanadas are perfect for busy family meals. An empanada is a type of pastry that’s baked or fried in many countries of the Americas and in Spain. The name comes from the Spanish verb meaning to wrap or coat in bread.
At My Empanada, Juan and his wife Claudia make the crusts by hand and source the fillings from local farmers when available. Stuffed with beef, chicken, or veggies, empanadas are a painless way to get healthy nutrients into picky eaters.
Eat them as a snack on the run…
…or make them the centerpiece of a meal. To build an easy home-baked meal around them, apply an egg wash to the frozen empanadas and pop them in the oven for 25 minutes. While they’re baking, toss together a salad or roasted veggies for sides, and viola! You’ve got a delicious, nutritious meal you can gather around to enjoy together, even during a crazy-busy day.
These family meal favorites come from a family business. We talked with Claudia, who trained for two years in the baking program at culinary school in North Carolina. She now owns and runs My Empanada with Juan.
So why did you and Juan decide to focus your food artisan skills on empanadas?
My husband Juan and I were born and raised in Colombia, South America, where there are as many empanada vendors as there are burger joints in the United States. Empanadas are a popular comfort food. They’re golden brown, crescent-shaped pastries that come in a wide variety of sweet and savory flavors from all over South America and the Caribbean. So they’re multi-functional — you can eat them as a snack or a meal, and they’re a staple for special events and parties.
How are your empanadas different from the kind you can get in the frozen section of the big grocery store chains?
We start with traditional recipes passed down from our family. We’re all about going back to the roots of a culture. Not just our Latin culture, but also other cultures, in search of that special ingredient or spice that creates a nostalgic flavor. Then we use the best ingredients to hand-make flaky, mouth-watering crusts, and we fill them with a variety of filling options.
They’re baked fresh every day. Our fillings include traditional recipes from several different countries, as well as some modified American flavors that you may find in your grandma’s cookbook. Our goal is to give you a taste of these many cultures, straight from our kitchen to your table.
In addition to your take-out store in Henrico, you also go to farmers markets. What kind of response do you get there?
So far we have received great feedback from our customers at the farmers markets we serve. We have really enjoyed getting to meet new people and share a taste of our culture with them. There are often people who have never even heard of empanadas. We find it very rewarding when they try our empanadas and come back for more! Thanks to our farmers markets patrons we just moved into a bigger production kitchen. We’re looking forward to introducing more people to the pleasures of enjoying empanadas!
Now you can see why we jumped at the chance to welcome Claudia and Juan and their irresistable empanadas to our home-delivered farmers market! With a little help from prepared foods like this, busy families can still enjoy mealtimes together. So while you’re shopping this weekend, throw some fresh-made local empanadas in your basket and make plans to sit down and enjoy them next week with the ones you love.
In the meantime, if you’re in Henrico, stop in at My Empanada at 1421 Blue Jay Lane, or visit them on Facebook!
ABOUT SEASONAL ROOTS
Since 2011, Seasonal Roots’ online farmers market has connected Virginia families with local family farmers who use sustainable, humane practices. Our veggie fairies – mostly moms who believe in living better through scrumptious, healthy eating, being kind to animals, protecting the environment, and spreading joy – home-deliver freshly harvested produce, pastured eggs, grassfed dairy and meat, plus artisan fare. We empower our members to eat better and live better with more nutritious, flavorful food that’s good for us and good for the planet. More info at seasonalroots.com.