Tagged: Jennifer Lynds

Food, Family, and Fun: New Weekly Column

Dad Sun DinnerI’m excited to announce that 1Aisle’s first Supermom, Jennifer Lynds, will be transitioning into her own weekly column called Food Family Fun.  Jennifer is a wife and a mother to three notoriously picky eaters.  From her community involvement and her own experiences creating a new normal for food in her family, Jennifer brings a unique perspective — the modern stay-at-home mom — and an organic understanding of family food issues to the 1Aisle food conservation.  This week, I sat down with Jennifer to discuss the new column, food in public schools, and the biggest challenges facing parents today.

What do you hope to accomplish with Food Family Fun?  What do you want your readers to take away from the column?

Parents are always looking for fast, healthy ways to feed kids. My goal with Food Family Fun is to gather and distribute useful food information for busy parents to improve the health and well-being of their kids.  Instilling healthy eating habits in children is as important as teaching them morals and responsibilities.  It’s not easy with picky eaters like mine; I win some and I lose some.  But I keep trying, and I’m excited to share my experiences as well as the experiences of my awesome mom network with busy parents across the country.

What are the biggest food challenges parents face today?

One of the biggest food challenges parents face is definitely time management.  Unfortunately, our busy lives can sometimes limit healthy food options.  In my family, we have an 80/20 rule in place which is basically 80% healthy foods and 20% kid’s choice.  I’m not a mother that will throw myself between my children and a candy bar, but I try to create teachable moments out of my kids bad choices, using the opportunity to help them make best choice for a given situation, and sometimes the candy bar wins and that’s okay.  Julia Child said “everything in moderation including moderation.”

Lately, the food trend in our family has been to move away from processed food began.  The move began with one simple step:  no more high fructose corn syrup.  The move was controversial at first as it basically excluded all of my kids’ favorite foods.  But the controversy has subsided as we’ve been able to find agreeable substitutes and create an all-around new normal in the family when it comes to food choices.   In fact, our latest venture — limiting packaged food items to 6 ingredients or less – has taken an unlikely turn, and my children have discovered juicing.  We experiment with different fruit/vegetable combination to see what they like.  I’ve found that involving my pickiest eater in the preparation process makes him more likely to try something which he tends to like.

Do you think we need to hold schools to higher standards when it comes to food choices, or do you think the responsibility is with the parents?  Is there a disconnect?

We absolutely need to hold our schools to higher standards when it comes to food choices. I think society as a whole has the mentality that kids won’t eat this or that so feeding children processed food has become the norm. While I think parents are ultimately responsible for feeding kids, it’s not always possible especially with kids in school for much of the day.  School cafeterias, like grocery stores, offer too many choices. I’d prefer that kids be limited to two healthy choices for lunch:   a hot meal or a salad meal.  It will not only make our kids healthier, but I think proper diet would also relieve some behavior issues as well.

What prompted the name change, from Supermom to Food Family Fun?

I felt the title Supermom was too divisive, too exclusive. There are so many moms who deserve the title “Supermom,” that it just felt wrong.  I want the column to be inclusive, to bring moms and dads together to share tips and ideas about food and family that are fun and accessible.

Editor’s Note:  The Supermom feature will continue to showcase healthy-eating solutions from America’s best mothers.  E-mail dustin@1Aisle.com with your feature ideas.  

Photo courtesy of Family, Fun and Food: Making meals enjoyable! from Mass Public Health Blog.

Jennifer Beck-LyndsJennifer Lynds is a mother of three (Jack, 6; Mark, 8; Rachel, 12) from Warren, PA.  Her approach to healthy eating includes obtaining the majority of her food locally and minimizing food waste.


Trick or Treat: Homemade Soup Instead of Pizza on Halloween

Jennifer Lynds' "Bride of Frankenstein" Wedding Soup

Jennifer Lynds’ “Bride of Frankenstein” Wedding Soup

When it comes to pizza sales nationwide, Halloween comes in second only to Super Bowl Sunday.  Don’t get me wrong, the occasional take-out pizza is a quick fix crowd-pleaser that comes in handy once in awhile.  But I’m convinced that on Halloween, arguably the unhealthiest day of the year, it pays to plan ahead and prepare a fast, healthy dinner to counter all those sugary treats.

Yes, yes I understand that Halloween is a once-a-year celebration.  But the chilly nighttime weather combined with all that excess sugar makes it even more more important to fill our kids with a warm, nourishing dinner before trick-or-treating.  This year, I’m making my “Bride of Frankenstein” Wedding Soup a week in advance, freezing it, and throwing it in the crock pot on the morning of.  Made in advance, this festively-named soup is an easy alternative to pizza, a perfect Halloween dinner for your little ghosts and goblins

I’ve posted my recipe below.  If you can get away with it, add cabbage to the soup to help stabilize your kids’ blood sugar levels.  And be sure to stop by again next week for a fun, engaging, and patriotic idea to manage your kids candy stashes.

1Aisle Supermom Jennifer Lynds

Jennifer Lynds is a mother of three (Jack, 6; Mark, 8; Rachel, 12) from Warren, PA.  Her approach to healthy eating includes obtaining the majority of her food locally and minimizing food waste.


Bride of Frankenstein Wedding Soup

1 qt organic chicken stock
2 carrots, peeled and diced
1 stalk of celery, diced
1/2 medium onion diced
1 garlic clove, diced
1/2 lb of chicken or chicken meatballs (recipe to follow)
Israeli couscous or small sized pasta
Various herbs
1-2 Tbsp olive oil

Heat oil over medium heat in a soup pot. Add onions, carrots and celery. Sauté vegetables for 5-7 minutes. Add garlic and cook 1-2 additional minutes. Add broth and bring to a boil. Add chicken. Cook for 20 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. At this point you could serve the soup, place it in the crock pot on low or cool it and freeze it.

Before serving, cook the couscous or pasta according to package directions.  Portion cooked post into individual bools, add soup, and top with and top with fresh parsley or basil.

Chicken Meatballs

Ground chicken
1 egg
1/2 c bread crumbs
1 Clove garlic diced or shredded
Salt and pepper
Splash of water

Add all ingredients and mix well. Add just enough bread crumbs to bind – not dry out – mixture.  Add to boiling stock. Cook for 20 min or until cooked thoroughly.

Supermom: Do-It-Yourself Lunchables

Easy, Healthy Do-It-Yourself Lunchables

Easy, Healthy Do-It-Yourself Lunchables

Normally, I try to grocery shop without the kids.  But that’s not always possible.  Recently, I had my 6-year-old, Jack, and 8-year-old, Mark, along to pick out their lunch for the week and they knew what they wanted:  Kraft’s dreaded Lunchables, with a list of 27 ingredients, many of which even I can’t pronounce.

Hoping for a teachable moment, I gave my kids an impossible mission:  find a Lunchables with 6 ingredients or less.  They flipped box after box with no luck.  Aggravated, Mark rummaged through my cart and flipped over my bag of cauliflower to look at the ingredients list.  “What’s it say?” I asked.  “Cauliflower,” he replied, clearly exasperated.

To avoid an uprising, we collaborated and came up with a healthy, do-it-yourself alternative that makes us all happy.  Using Ziploc 3-compartment containers and reusable silicone cupcake liners for additional partitioning, we put together our own Lunchables with nitrate-free ham or turkey, cheddar cheese, Triscuits, grapes and carrots.  Best of all, we’ve reduced the ingredient list and taken out the tongue twisters.

1Aisle Supermom Jennifer Lynds

1Aisle Supermom Jennifer Lynds

The pace of life today makes it necessary to take advantage of teachable moments like these.  My kids now understand that if there is an ingredient on a box that they (emerging readers) can’t pronounce, they should look for a better choice.   A healthy lunch will get them through the day.  The ability to make healthy decisions…  that’s for life.

Jennifer Lynds is a mother of three (Jack, 6; Mark, 8; Rachel, 12) from Warren, PA.  Her approach to healthy eating includes obtaining the majority of her food locally and minimizing food waste.

Supermom: The Mac and Cheese Experiment

1Aisle Supermom Jennifer Lynds

1Aisle Supermom Jennifer Lynds

When it comes to meal planning, 1Aisle Supermom  Jennifer Lynds adheres to the 80/20 rule:  80% healthy and fresh and 20% kids’  choice.   Like most, her kids have an incorrigible appetite for macaroni and cheese.  For many busy parents, powder-in-a-box versions, like Kraft, are a dinnertime staple: a fast and easy crowd-pleaser.   However, Lynds suggests her from-scratch version is really the way to go.

“I did an experiment and discovered that both mac and cheeses take about the same amount of time to prepare:  12-15 minutes,” says Lynds.  “The difference is that my homemade version, which my son Jack calls ‘Mom’s Fancy Mac and Cheese,’ has five ingredients (pasta, butter, milk, cheese, and flour) versus Kraft, which has 27 somewhat questionable ingredients.”

From-scratch stovetop macaroni and cheese is fast and easy.

From-scratch stovetop macaroni and cheese is fast and easy.

Lynds likes to have control over what her kids eat, and while her “fancy” version isn’t necessarily the most healthy lunchtime choice, it’s at least wholesome.  “I use high-fiber, calcium-enriched pasta and switch up the shapes,” she says.  “I only make it once a week or every other week, and usually pack it in a thermos for school paired with an apple or carrots.”

Lynds admits that from-scratch macaroni and cheese isn’t quite as easy as the box version, but it’s easy enough.  “It’s a little more work and an additional pan.  But I think going scratch is well worth it,” she says.

Want to know more about what’s in Kraft Macaroni and Cheese?  Check out this article from What is that Ingredient?  See below for the from-scratch macaroni and cheese.

Jennifer Lynds is a mother of three (Jack, 6; Mark, 8; Rachel, 12) from Warren, PA.  Her approach to healthy eating includes obtaining the majority of her food locally and minimizing food waste.

Mom’s ‘Fancy’ Mac and Cheese by Jennifer Lynds 
Serves 4

1/4 c. butter
1/4 c. flour
1 1/2 c. milk
1 1/2 c. cheddar cheese
8 oz. pasta of choice (I used Ronzoni Smart Taste or Wegmans Super Pasta)

Boil pasta according to package. While pasta is cooking, in another pan, melt butter, add flour and whisk, it will become a lumpy mess but keep stirring, and cook for 30 seconds to a min. It will smell nutty. Then whisk in the milk until mixture is smooth. Keep stirring over medium heat until the milk mixture is hot nearly boiling. Add cheese and whisk until smooth.  Remove from heat. At this time the pasta should be done. Drain pasta return to pan, add cheese sauce and stir.  If using for a main meal or need it to be fancier, you can butter a casserole dish and put the mac and cheese in and top with cheese and breadcrumbs and put under the broiler until brown and bubbly.

For 6-8 servings, use 1/2 c. butter, 1/2 c. flour, 2 c. milk, 2 c. cheese, full box of pasta.

Supermom: Jennifer Lynds Gets Her Kids in the Kitchen

1Aisle Supermom Jennifer Lynds

1Aisle Supermom Jennifer Lynds

Jennifer Lynds is an ultra-busy stay-at-home mother of three who rarely finds herself at home.  Between her volunteering activities and her re-commitment to living healthy, however, Lynds finds that spending a little extra time engaging with her kids in the kitchen goes a long way.

“I have two ridiculously picky eaters,” says Lynds.  “But we had a bit of a breakthrough this week.  I decided to make butternut squash ravioli and brought my son Jack into the kitchen.  He helped out and tasted everything as we prepared it.  It was a really positive outcome.”

Butternut Squash Ravioli

Butternut Squash Ravioli

At dinner, Jack was excited to try his creation but a little too full to make it all the way through his meal.  Nevertheless, Lynds considers this a dinnertime win.  “I needed to bolster my credibility in kitchen and convince him that I’m not trying to ‘poison’ him,” jokes Lynds.  “Plus, he was so excited for Scott [his dad] to try his work. Scott made a huge deal about how delicious it was calling it the best ‘the best he ever ate.’  Jack was on cloud nine.”

Lynds’ dinnertime experiment proves that time spent introducing kids to the kitchen is an investment that can help transform how your kids think about food.   And who knows… in a few months six-year-old Jack may well be saving his mother time in the kitchen.

Jennifer Lynds is a mother of three (Jack, 6; Mark, 8; Rachel, 12) from Warren, PA.  Her approach to healthy eating includes obtaining the majority of her food locally and minimizing food waste.