dimanche 22 novembre 2015

Meeting the Food Nanny

Have you heard about the Food Nanny? No?  Well, let me introduce you to Liz Edmunds, "the Food Nanny", whom I met this Friday evening.

When my Relief Society president (organisation for women in my Church) told us that the activity for November will be conducted by someone called the "Food Nanny", I was eager and intrigued. I love cooking classes, so yes eager, and I had never heard of her... I looked up on the internet to find informations and I stumbled upon her TV show, her blog and her youtube channel, and loved them. Well, after meeting her I'm even more a fan.

She's for a few months on a mission with her husband for our Church, and they have been assigned in Frankfurt. She told us that wherever she goes, she's always happy to help families have more meaningful and healthy dinner together.

When she was a young mother and her husband was flying somewhere (he was a pilot), she decided that she would have a life on her own and started to learn how to cook for her family, with the aim of having family dinnertimes and healthy food. At that time, there were no TV shows or internet, just books. So she grabbed books in the libraries and taught herself. As she often traveled with her husband to Europa, she tasted there yummy dishes and had the taste in her mouth for days. She decided to cook those dishes at home.

In her books - she wrote two books The Food Nanny rescues dinner  and The Food Nanny rescues dinner, again! xo - all the recipes are her owns or from friends. She wrote down the mealplans she used with her family and that's what interested her publisher: she had lived this system for many years and still enjoyed it. 

Her mealplan for dinner is really simple but so effective! Each day, a name/thema. She has met with many nutritionnists and they all said it was great. For her family, her weekly dinner meal plan is the following:
  • Monday: Comfort food
  • Tuesday: Italian
  • Wednesday: fish or meatless
  • Thursday: Mexican
  • Friday: Pizza (she always fed numerous youngs from the neighbourhood that night)
  • Saturday: Grill
  • Sunday: Tradition food

The rules for nutritious, healthy and delicious dinners that she teaches during her classes are (non exhaustive list):
  • plenty of vegetables and fresh fruits. She cooks for each dinner 1 dairy and 2 vegetables products (one fresh at least, the other "frozen" or caned). 
  • no red meat everyday 
  • fish once or twice per week
  • eat from everything and don't restrain yourself from something you like (be careful with allergies though!)
  • portion control is the key to stay fit

Liz was firm in telling us that children should participate when we discuss the mealplan for the following week, so that they know what to expect and tell us what they like/want, and also during the cooking. 
When dinner is ready, the whole family sits together at the table and enjoys the meal. Dinner is important because it's THE bonding time a family should have together. She accepted to become the Food Nanny on the purpose of helping people have more family time. So many young people don't know how to cook and older ones are fed up with cooking for family members who don't take time to eat and talk. 

Her moto: "I want to bring families home for dinner" has struck a cord within me. As a child, my grand-mother and my mother have always taught me that a meal has to be eaten at the table, sat on a chair, and that it was the moment when we can talk. 
French people in general are very strong minded when it comes to food. And dinner time. Some nutritionnists say that French eat perhaps too much in the evening... but how could we not share with our loved ones good food and conversation? Eat take-out everyday and rarely take time as a family: unthinkable for many of my French peers (I think I can add many European countries...) Although, with the way our society is changing - always faster, numeric friends before real ones, juggling too many activities, etc -meal time has became less treasured.

At our home, dinner is eaten on our big table, without the TV on (if so, it's for a very special occasion) and the children have to behave (read: eat as cleanly as possible and stay on their chairs until they are "full"). Like the Food Nanny teaches, we eat various type of dishes and I cook them by myself for the most part. I say the most part, because I'm not a crack with pastry... so the profiteroles we have eaten tonight were definitly bought at the supermarket. 
However, I cook half time on a whim (what do I still have in my fridge and pantry?) and the other half I follow a plan. I will start in January with a meal plan as the one Liz has created. I have one month to decide with my husband and my kids on the topics of our dinners. Mexican evening is clearly not adequate for us, but I know that we will have an International night, a French evening, and Italian one (my husband and pastas... a true love story)... I will keep you in the know when it will be chosen!

From left to right: Liz Edmunds, me and Alice.
Alice was very quiet for her first cooking class, even though she couldn't try the French baguette or the pizza...

Meanwhile, I invite you to try to be more present at dinner time. Even if you're single, you can have a nice dinner and cook what you like. Be more conscious of what you have in your plate and what your body needs. Take small steps if it's too overwhelming for you, but I assure you that one day you will have daily yummy, fun and healthy dinners with your family (or friends)!

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