Balance. How to get it, how to keep it. That’s what today’s column is all about. It’s one of my favorites in six years. Which is why I reprint the original here. Every good writer has an editor standing over his or her shoulder refining and re-crafting to make good into excellent. Hopefully. This is one instance where my words came from a place of such heart that I’d like for you to have the choice – edited and unedited. Either way, balance is still the thought I hoped to share.
“The problem with making dinner from scratch instead of using packaged convenience food is that when I get home from work, there are so many things I want to do well and cooking for my family is only one of many.” It’s really the crux of it isn’t it? Making food with our own hands for our family – most of us would say this is important, it’s just that we don’t always find the time, can’t find the time, run out of time. The questions is, “If I’m choosing to make a healthy dinner for my family, what is it that I’m not doing?”
Might even be that we are choosing family in another way, such as a daughter’s basketball game, over family dinner. Interesting conundrum. Is sitting down together as a family and connecting over a meal that we made with our hands with food we were intentional about choosing more or less important than teaching our children that moving our bodies, working as a team, and finding ways to learn and excel and feel good is healthy living.
I know I write a column about food, so you can guess where my tendencies lean. On the other hand, no one can make these choices for a family – not a mother-in-law, nutritionist nor columnist – they must find their own way, through what feels right and true for them, not through “should” and guilt about what isn’t done, but through what works for them as a unit and as individuals.
I would suggest balance, as in so many other moments in our lives, has much to do with a healthy, satisfying outcome. Does it all come down to “moderation” and balance? Probably. Boring, but true.
What would balance look like? Thinking ahead, making extra to freeze and developing some standby, go-to meals that everyone likes and doesn’t tax the cook in the house – such as omelets, frittatas, beans (go for the canned) and rice and/or pasta with frozen sauce. This is what gets a family out of the quicksand of chaos management governed by pizza and cereal. So that those days when everyone must eat within 15 minutes of you walking through the door don’t end up looking like – bowl, milk, cereal – with you saying, “Hey, look at all the vitamins and minerals they list in the ingredients!” Then those moments of I’m tired and my kids are quickly moving through the grumpy hungry stage into the full on melt-down stage don’t seem so extreme and take out pizza, frozen dinners or cereal don’t seem like the only options. Then the balance of quick and easy with long, slow, filling up the house with good smells doesn’t seem so overwhelming.
I would also postulate that the balance of baked goods with bright kale and cheesey fondu with a stir fry are also healthy choices. Especially when cereal and pizza don’t pepper the eating landscape quite so much. Would scones for breakfast be something to incorporate on a regular basis? Probably not. Best if we didn’t forgo the usual oatmeal, grapefruit or hardboiled egg breakfast, but as something special when there is a moment, priceless. Nothing can replace the aroma of a freshly baked flour, butter and sugar combination emerging from the oven to wrap around us like a soft, well-worn comforting blanket on a rainy Sunday morning.
For me, I would rather choose less peanut butter and jelly, pizza and fast food so that I can indulge in the occasional steamy, sumptuous scone. Healthy eating and the balancing that comes with it can take many shapes and forms and is as diverse as the families that achieve it.
Click here for the Brown Sugar and Date Scone recipe along with the edited version of today’s column.
May balance find you and your family.