Feeding my Family

May 21, 2018, Shirley Blake

Today I’m going to talk about food — where do I even start?  

As you may remember, both of my parents are Mexican. Homemade meals (from scratch) were a must in our household. My mother was a stay-at-home-mom who cooked, cleaned, gardened and made homemade enchilada sauce, tortillas, and the list goes on. Homemade Mexican food filled my childhood. In the spring, I would help my mom plant her garden and our summer days consisted of running out to the garden to pick fresh cilantro and tomatoes for our pico-de-gallo and sauces. Since we lived on a farm we had a few head of cattle; I raised sheep and swine for 4-H. Having a fridge stocked with venison and grass-fed meat was the norm.

When I went to college, I was very aware of the “Freshman Fifteen.” That knowledge, combined with anxiety and my love for reading led me to read books on veganism. As a result, I became vegan. Time passed, and there was something missing in my life, so I went to the store and bought some cheese. I am now technically pescitarian. I do not eat red or white meat, but I cannot pass up a fresh winter steelhead from the Alsea River. Thank you, Kody.

My husband, Kody, grew up in house full of delicious homemade meals, a garden, and the outdoors. I would say my husband is a carnivore. Okay, maybe not, but close. He likes to hunt and fish. Our chest freezer contains steelhead, venison, bear meat, and a few frozen pizzas for busy days. Kody is a person that works extremely hard to harvest organic, wildly free range, and locally grown meat. He is very disciplined about eating healthy. I think his respect and discipline for food is due to his experiences; hiking many miles and packing out meat from a mountain. I am definitely the one to eat an entire cake, but that is another story…

We both love food, and Mexican food is an easy pick any day. Kody was the one to introduce me to a chile-relleno-burrito from La Roca and a Mexican-mocha from the Human Bean. I have introduced him to the Beaver roll from Shogun Bowl and Oyster Misoyakis from Momijis (he is not a fan). Now that we have a family, we cook at home a lot. It was a challenge at first as we come from very different households. It is now something we enjoy as we found common ground in healthy, fresh, local, and seasonal ingredients, although with children, somedays it is mac-and-cheese with broccoli for dinner, while other days it is homemade enchiladas.

We definitely have at least one picky-eater, Karson, but sometimes I’m pretty picky too, and that’s okay. We all contribute to the menu. Karson will choose pizza or pasta. I love salads and Kody loves anything with meat. Samuel currently has no say.

Meat is cooked separate and we always have vegetables and a carb.

I have a weekly dinner template that we created as a family. A weekly dinner menu for us looks like:

Monday– Italian (prep food on Sunday) Examples: Spaghetti/Salad, Chicken Fettucine with Asparagus

Tuesday– Mexican (prep food on Sunday) Example: Homemade Chicken Enchiladas (cheese ones for mom), Carne Asada with Beans and Rice

 Wednesday– Easy, homemade “Yum” bowls, Mac & Cheese with Broccoli, Pizza and Salad

Thursday– Leftovers

Friday- Homemade by Kody (he has the day off)

In the summers, we barbeque a lot. In the winter, we like to use the crockpot. Kody and I like to buy fruits and vegetables that are in season. Karson always picks out fresh produce of his liking and gets to pick one meal per week to put on the dinner menu. Samuel will get to do the same when he gets older. Karson is helping me in the garden and he has chosen melon, strawberries and cucumbers to plant. I really believe that the more involved or knowledgeable in the growing of your food, the healthier choices you will make. I want Karson and Samuel to make healthy food choices. Karson does love chips and wishes he could eat a bag every day. When he was 4 years old, we asked his doctor if that was healthy, and his doctor’s advice was to eat one apple for every chip serving. Karson was more cautious after that because eating a lot of chips meant eating a lot of apples! The doctor said so.

My advice to other moms: find out what you like that is healthy and realistic to buy. Help your child find what they like that is healthy. Have them participate in grocery shopping, meal planning, and cooking. Plant a garden if you can and if not get involved with your community garden. If you can make cooking and eating fun, the entire family will feel good about what they eat.