Cooking With Kids – Tip #1


First in a 4-part series on cooking with kids
By Jamila T, chief area manager & veggie fairy godmother:

(TIP 2: Let them do hard things)
(TIP 3: Set kitchen ground rules)
(TIP 4: Use common sense)
(PS: Clean up & celebrate!)

Confession: I love to cook. I HATE cooking with my kids.

I have four of them, and every adventure that begins in the kitchen ends in a mess. A big one. They eat half of what I am preparing and poke holes in the rest. Boredom is inevitable, which leads to wandering during tasks or frustration. It is borderline terrible, but in my eyes, it is terribly necessary.

Learning to cook is an important life skill and will empower kids to make wise food choices. Time in the kitchen is also an opportunity to model practical applications of math, reading, and following instructions. It gives my girls time to hone fine motor skills, explore food science, and practice the art of patience. Cooking with kids is important, even if it drives me crazy.

Does cooking with the kids in your life make your brain hurt? Over the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing my favorite tips. Here’s the first one.

1. Start with projects

Family meals tend to be more time sensitive than cooking projects. Projects like zucchini muffins will allow your child to experiment with new skills, without ruining dinner. Once skills like grating, chopping, tearing greens, and peeling garlic (my personal favorite), have been mastered, they can graduate to meal prep. Trust me, your children will revel in simple tasks. Plus, it is very helpful to have little fingers peeling garlic cloves while you sauté chicken.

Ready to dive in?

Challenge the kids with grating zucchini and make these zucchini muffins. Instead of Greek yogurt, substitute Seasonal Roots’ Trickling Springs Creamery yogurt made from grass-fed milk for extra goodness. You can also use yellow summer squash instead of zucchini — pretty much the same taste and texture.

Mission accomplished?

Celebrate by posting a picture on our Facebook page!

Want to be ready for next week’s recipe?

Add honey and summer fruit like strawberries, blueberries, or peaches to your basket when the Seasonal Roots home-delivered farmers market menu opens on Friday.

Eat Better Live Better / Feb 15-16

Recipes, tips, hacks, specials, and feature stories to help you eat better live better with sustainable local food in every issue of our newsletter!

Read more below or view as a PDF with clickable links.

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A Sustainable Valentine

By Kristin Henderson, chief veggie conversationalist

At Seasonal Roots, we believe in that old saying, “You reap what you sow.” When you help local sustainable family farmers, you don’t just reap fresher, more delicious, nutritious food. You also reap a healthier environment.

Here’s why. The Flores Farm on Virginia’s Northern Neck is typical of the differences between small family farms we partner with and big corporate agriculture.

Gerardo Flores emigrated from Mexico more than 20 years ago. Now he and his son Omar farm 50 acres that are sustainably planted with an amazing variety of crops: herbs, greens, lettuces, root crops, and dozens of different peppers. That’s Gerardo pictured next to a row of his crops side-by-side with a field of wild flowers. Compare that to the factory farms of big corporate ag, which plant acres upon acres of land with the same thing. Out in California, those monocrop deserts stretch as far as the eye can see.

Nature doesn’t work that way. Neither does a small family farm that uses sustainable practices. Gerardo and Omar’s diverse plantings create more natural ecosystems that are good for our soil, water, and air. Their rich patchwork of fields, meadows, woods, and ponds are the perfect habitat for native plants and wildlife. That’s much better for our environment than monocrops or yet another suburban development.

In addition, grocery store produce typically travels 1,500 miles from where it’s grown to get to you. Gerardo and Omar’s locally grown harvest travels less than one-tenth that far. Shorter trips produce less pollution from transportation. And that’s good for the environment, too.

By choosing to buy local food from sustainable farmers like the Floreses, you’re helping them, the environment, and yourself. That’s like giving the whole planet a valentine!

Eat Better Live Better / Feb 8-9

Seasonal Roots member Kristen shared a kid-friendly recipe with us on Facebook that involves a broiler and grapefruit. Krista, another member, shared a recipe for carb loading the right way, with sweet potato hash brown patties. Krista wrote: “These were and continue to be a big hit, I’ve made them with the Kennebec potatoes too!” Do you have a great recipe that uses our local food? Send it our way and EAT BETTER LIVE BETTER!

Read more below or view as a PDF with clickable links.

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By Kristin Henderson, chief veggie conversationalist

Our food system is broken, but word-of-mouth is changing it. People are telling each other about their personal experience with local food, one friend at a time.

For Margo LaMarsh, it started at Bible study. That’s when a friend told her how Seasonal Roots was connecting local families with local farmers.

“Eating better is all about cooking with fresh ingredients,” says Margo. “And there’s nothing fresher than local food.” So Margo joined her friend and became a member of Seasonal Roots.

Because local food is fresh, it has more nutrients and tastes better, so those good nutrients are more likely to get eaten. That’s what Margo discovered when she served Seasonal Roots beets to her high school daughter.

Her daughter was not a veggie eater. “I don’t like beets,” she said.

“When did you ever have beets?” Margo asked – knowing full well that before then she’d only ever had pickled beets from a jar. “You have to take one bite.”

When she finally took that bite, she exclaimed, “These are so good!”

Margo hadn’t done anything special with them. She just wrapped them in foil, roasted them in the oven, and peeled them afterward when the peel practically falls off. “When it’s fresh, you don’t have to do much. They taste good all by themselves,” Margo says. “So I’m a firm believer that the only reason she liked them was because they were so fresh.”

Now her daughter eats pretty much anything veggie. And Margo, who used to work for NASA before becoming a stay-at-home mom, now works for Seasonal Roots. She’s a neighborhood market manager, pictured here with Josh of Harvest Hill Farm on delivery day, making weekly deliveries to members in York County.

Margo acknowledges that eating more fresh local food requires a little more planning than eating processed food out of a box. “But having it delivered saves you time,” she points out. And as her husband says, “We use that time to cook more, which is a lot more fun than going to the grocery store.”

Eat Better Live Better / Feb 1-2

And why are ours so much better?

In 2009 Keith Farrish noticed that, while many things in life made him happy, few compared to driving his tractor. After 20 years in the buttoned-up business world, Keith and his wife Wendy started SADDLE RIDGE FARM.

It’s a small family farm near Culpeper, Va., where they raise chickens, pigs, and cows in open pasture. Their goal is to maintain and improve the mental and physical health of the families who eat what they raise. So they take care of their land and animals in a sustainable way that predates newer, “modern” farming practices…

Read more below or view as a PDF with clickable links.

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Join us and eat better live better!

7 Ways OUR Local Food Will Change Your Life

By Duane Slyder, founder & head veggie fairy:

Can local food really change your life? It can… but only if it’s done right. Here are 7 ways our Seasonal Roots veggie fairies will change your life here in Virginia.

1. Convenient home delivery = a total time saver! All those perishables that have to be restocked the most often? We bring them right to your home or office. That equals fewer shopping trips.

2. Vetted farmers market fare = peace of mind. We know our family farmers and we know they use healthy, sustainable practices and treat their animals humanely. At a traditional market, you’re on your own, and it’s hard to know who to trust.

3. Guaranteed freshness = good taste and good health. We can guarantee it because everything is local or regional. It’s harvested and delivered in a short period of time, so it’s still packed with flavor and nutrients.

4. Dedicated customer service = more serenity, less aggravation. If there’s ever an issue, just email or call 757-351-4565 and we’ll make it right. At other markets, there’s no one to help you between market days.

5. More variety = less boredom, a more balanced diet, and a healthier eco-system. Whew! This is a big one. Unlike a CSA, we partner with dozens of small family farms and food artisans, all growing and making different things. Whether you customize your basket or opt for the default, you’ll experience 7 kinds of sweet potatoes, 4 kinds of kale – hey, have you ever tried creamline whole milk? The list goes on and on. And our farmers’ sustainable practices include growing a wide variety of crops. Much better for the soil and the local eco-system than monocropping.

6. Reliable staples = save your energy for the exotic stuff. Every week you can count on us for your fruit, veggies, bread, grass-fed milk, cheese, meats, eggs, and other basics, all of them fresh!

7. A team that loves what they do = more joy for everyone! Studies show that happiness and good health are closely connected. Smiles are contagious, so we pass ‘em on!

The Secret to Meal Planning: Part 5 “Make it work!”

By Shanna Demers, neighborhood market manager:

About 10 months ago, I decided to give meal planning one more shot, determined to MAKE it work. I can happily say, it’s here to stay! I’m rarely stressing at 4:30 about what we’re having for dinner, I have reduced our food waste, and we’re saving money! Meal planning is one key to my family’s happiness each week.

Over the last four blog posts I wrote about my family’s meal planning secrets:

1. Throw away the rules (not the fresh veggies)! Find a plan that works for your family. Chances are, prefabricated plans will not fit your life perfectly, and that’s okay. You CAN change it!

2. Before you shop the grocery store, shop at home! Before you go shopping, know what you have and what you ordered from Seasonal Roots. Being aware of inventory is a step towards saving money and reducing waste.

3. Each week, know your family’s schedule! Schedules are always changing. Maybe you have an odd evening appointment coming up. Instead of forgetting about it and scrambling, be aware and prepare.

4. Each member of your family can be helpful in the process. If your spouse/partner doesn’t enjoy cooking, have them help with shopping or choosing meals. Get your children involved and help them learn valuable life skills. Involvement gives ownership regardless of age. Don’t forget, teamwork makes the dream work!

Implementing these four things helped us transition from a family that eats on the fly to a family that plans. Hopefully it will help you too!

Check out the Seasonal Roots Pinterest page and newsletter this week for some of the recipes I use in our meal planning rotation — including one for the delicious stuffed gluten-free sweet potato pictured with this post!


TROPICAL FRUIT IN VIRGINIA?!! — Tropical fruits are an important part of a healthy diet, as pirates and other seafarers discovered when they got scurvy! But citrus doesn’t grow in Virginia. So as part of our commitment to eat food from the closest farms possible, we’re partnering with V&B Farms in Florida. Coming from nearby in our region, V&B’s tropical produce will travel far less than produce from California or Central and South America. That means it’s fresher, riper, tastier, and still packed with nutrients. And it’s better for the environment, since less travel equals less pollution. The farmers behind V&B are Tommy Vick and Brandon Boyd, who have known each other since they were in diapers…

Read more below or view as a PDF.
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Eat Better Live Better

The Secret to Meal Planning: Part 4 “Teamwork”

By Shanna Demers, neighborhood market manager:

Teamwork makes the dream work! Five words that never fail to bring my family smiles and remind us that we are in this together. But if teamwork is so important to our family, why was meal planning and cooking ALL on me?! Involving my family in the planning process was a game changer.

I was selecting all the meals when I was following prefabricated meal plans. It was easier this way, but I found myself frustrated when my family (mainly my daughter) wasn’t interested in eating what I had prepared. We all have unique palates and I was only cooking to mine. Meals became more enjoyable for everyone once I started asking my husband and daughter for their input. This is yet another example of why following someone else’s meal plan is not always sustainable. Simple changes really do make big differences.

My family helps plan meals each week, which keeps us on track because we are all invested. Involvement gives ownership. This is important for children as well. Including children in the planning process helps them to learn healthy eating habits and will make them more excited about what’s on the table for meals. They’re more likely to try new things if they helped choose them.

My daughter helps me choose the items in our basket every Friday when the Seasonal Roots menu comes out. Not only is she helping me plan, she is learning where our food comes from. Many children are not aware of how our food production system works. Food doesn’t come from the grocery store — that’s simply a place where we can purchase it. When we order from Seasonal Roots, we can choose our items and see which family farm it’s coming from.

Knowing where our food comes from and how to prepare it are important life skills. I’m helping my daughter learn by inviting her into the kitchen. In turn, she’s more willing to try new foods and eat what we prepare together. A win-win situation!

So this week I’m challenging you to get everyone involved with as much of the planning and cooking as possible. Teamwork makes the (meal planning) dream work!