cooking for a family + giovanna’s most-requested meal (hint: it’s not vegan)

It’s been a while since I shared a recipe. But I am experimenting in the kitchen on a daily basis, creating green smoothies, fresh juices, and colorful salads, grain and pasta dishes, some very kid-friendly and some very not kid-friendly, but always, always, ALWAYS healthy: organic as much as possible, hormone-free, whole grain, easy on the gluten/dairy/meat, heavy on the vegetables, you get the picture?

I don’t see much of a point to cooking if it’s not healthy. There are hundreds of restaurants in this city that will serve pink slime, rancid fats, and pesticide residues. If I’m going to go through the trouble of preparing food at home, seven days per week, 2-3 meals per day, it’s going to be good. And by good, I mean wholesome.

Why bother? Because my intuition, the wisdom we all have deep inside, tells me to pay close attention to what my family eats, and I’ve chosen to listen. Because I know what happens when you eat food that your body hardly recognizes as fuel; I know how it feels to be depressed, lethargic, unhealthy.

I want my family to fill their bodies with life-force by eating foods close to the earth. I want my children to not only eat vegetables, I want them to enjoy vegetables. I want to satisfy my sweet tooth with fruit, and savor processed sweet treats in moderation. I don’t want my family to be addicted to sugar (here’s why). I want to expose my children to exotic spices and cultivate a sense of culinary adventure in their young, impressionable minds. I want to teach them that healthy food can be rich, tasty and satisfying, and although it requires time, dedication and resources, it’s worth it in the end.

The truth about this philosophy? This is hard. I’m not an expert, nor am I perfect. A few months ago, I promised to cut back on dairy. And I have, we all have, but not nearly to the extent I’d planned. I’m okay with this minor failure, for now, I’m okay with small amounts of safe and cruelty-free animal products in my fridge.

And I still buy rice crackers because although they’re processed, they’re gluten-free and they’re easy. Sometimes (often) I need easy. If Giovanna won’t, for some odd reason, eat her most-requested meal of “egg!”; a locally grown organic egg cooked in organic extra virgin olive oil at a low heat with goat cheese and sometimes baby spinach and sugar plum tomatoes; I still need to feed her lunch. If she doesn’t eat anything at lunchtime, she doesn’t get an adequate nap, and if she doesn’t get an adequate nap, no one is going to sleep well at night either. (The curse of “sleep begets sleep.”) But maybe she will eat a few crackers instead, and I can hope for an hour and a half.

I’m not going to go into all of the ways that I fall short of my image of “perfection” in terms of nutrition and eating and feeding a family, but let’s just accept that I do.

I’m not discouraged though, I am encouraged. Because I think the bigger issue is how we feel about the majority of the foods we put into our bodies. I know my family is eating a lot of produce from every color in the rainbow. I know there are no hormones in our animal products. I know I’m cooking brown rice or quinoa pasta instead of white pasta. Unless it’s freshly made ravioli from the farmer’s market, that is.

I know that we’re doing better than fine, and I have faith that I’m getting better at this thing, eating and cooking and parenting and living, every day.


  1. I have a friend who feeds her baby a vegan diet, and shes the most mild mannered, sweet, well behaved baby I’ve ever seen! People don’t realize how important a child’s diet is, it impacts them for life! It sounds like you’re doing a great job when your daughter asks for an egg, not a cookie!


    1. I love this story! Sometimes I wish I’d started out on the vegan diet with my daughter, but since my stepson wasn’t used to it, it would have been that much more challenging. Do I make them separate meals or do I tell him that he can’t have his beloved milk and cheese at our house? Oh del – there are no *excuses* as well as no regrets.


  2. Are you familiar with the website and/or the book Feeding the Whole Family? They are both produced by Cynthia Lair, a local nutrition counselor and teacher at Bastyr. She’s fantastic and has TONs of great recipes in both the book and website (not vegan, but with a focus on whole foods) and focuses a lot on family-friendly meals. I also like it because she is local and so I know I can get all the ingredients she uses (usually at PCC).


    1. Never heard of it, and I’m going to check it out now. Anyone from Bastyr has my attention. My naturopathic doctor is a grad and since my parents live nearby the Kenmore campus, we love dining in their gourmet vegetarian cafeteria, which is open to the public. Thanks so much, Louise!


  3. There’s nothing wrong with easy meals/snack items! Any mother knows how hectic life can get…especially with toddlers.
    Are you using any cookbooks or websites in particular? I agree that foods should fill you with lifeforce, not take it away like so many processed and fast foods do (unfortunately, I still eat those more often than I should!). Do you have any cookbooks or websites that have helped you on your path?


    1. Haha!!! I do it too. There are so many awesome vegan and vegetarian websites out there, but the ones I’m drawn to are usually for grown-ups, not kids. I think this is another blog post in itself… A very comprehensive general cookbook is “The world’s healthiest foods” and they also have a website, outlining the most healthy way to cook the world’s healthiest foods!


  4. I think as long as you have great goals for healthy eating (and you do!), then you really can’t go wrong. N is also somewhat of a picky eater. I didn’t start her out on a vegan diet, but it seems that’s what she likes. She likes vegetables and fruit over processed foods or animal products, which, I must remind myself, is a good thing. 🙂

    Your egg recipe for Gigi sounds yummy! N used to eat eggs but she stopped, for some reason, about five months ago. Each time I try with her, she always says, “Yuck!” It’s frustrating because I think she really would like eggs again, but I don’t force it. Oh, the woes of being a parent!


  5. Hi Lucy, we have both the same direction when it comes to food for our children. I don’t tolerate my daughter to eat ready to eat food especially from fast food restaurants. Since she was a baby I feed her mashed potatoes, carrots and squash. Until now, I cook more on veges rather than beef and pork.


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