It’s hard to imagine almost five years later that my love for cooking began with a breast cancer diagnosis. As a young mom, I was eager to get back to my old self after recovering from treatment in the winter of 2012. Time and time again, I found myself experimenting in the kitchen.
I had been a pretty conscious eater before, but now I ate and cooked for my family like my life depended on it. I dove into new ways of eating and befriended many delivery men as they dropped off new cookbook after new cookbook. I focused on a whole foods eating approach with the freshest ingredients available from farmer’s markets and my backyard. In so many ways, I felt even better than before.
My focus soon shifted more to my children. I shopped at the health food store and had always packed my kids’ lunches full of organic and whole grain prepared snack foods. I rarely ate processed foods myself, so why was I filling my kids’ lunches with “healthy” convenience foods?
It was time for a family meeting. My husband and I agreed that the kids would get to pick one processed food a day (including breakfast), and the rest would be made at home. The kids were worried about what the other kids at school would think as they unwrapped fruit leathers and cookies in wax paper instead of fancy packages. They liked some recipes more than others. There were a few tears. And then slowly, we formed a routine with recipes that we like. Soon enough, other kids at school asked to trade their snacks with my kids, and parents called me for recipes.
Our next area to tackle was Shabbat. Shabbat is filled with so much sweetness on its own. Spending time at synagogue and with family and friends would be our main focus instead of on our stricter rules during the week. We didn’t want to skip the rabbi’s special lollipop after services at kiddush, but we did host Shabbat afternoon parties to get friends excited about healthy snacks. We filled our table with homemade coconut milk ice cream, avocado puddings and almond flour baked goods. We replaced conventional sugar in recipes with local raw honey and maple syrup. We made sorbet with seasonal fruits. The kids started to look online for new recipes, and their friends made special requests. Slowly, Shabbat felt even sweeter as the kids took charge of making their own dishes to enhance our table.
Now, several years later, the crunch of empty granola bar wrappers in lunch boxes is a distant memory. Some of our favorite snacks are the simplest ones that the kids can make without Mommy’s help. Here is our favorite potato chip recipe. It was developed by my 12-year-old (top photo), and I know your kids will love it, too!