Culture of Food

The Scramblog

The Power of Condiments

The Power of CondimentsYears ago, when I was completing my health coach training at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, one of the instructors suggested serving every meal with lots of condiments. The idea was that if you put lots of options out on the table, everyone could make the meal their own, tailoring it to fit their tastes. The concept appealed to me as I have always been a sucker for flavor boosters, but then I sort of forgot about it until a few years later when I was in the weeds trying to figure out how to support my picky eater. As I read books and articles and listened to webinars about feeding picky eaters, the message that I heard over and over again was to find ways to let the child have a sense of ownership and control over his or her food. I liked that idea so I decided to try putting condiments out at dinner as a way to help my picky eater take some control over his meal and make it his own. The change was miraculous! From the very first meal, my...

Simple Ways to Make Healthier Eating Possible

For many of us, the new year is an opportunity for a restart. We make resolutions, set goals, pick a meaningful word for the year, or even if we don’t name the change out loud, we secretly tell ourselves that this year will be different. But what happens when the change stalls or the cleanse you were doing is over or you fall off of your diet or exercise wagon?

Hitting this wall often happens towards the end of January or the beginning of February—when our momentum has dissipated and real life has been in full swing for a while. It can be disheartening, but don’t let it get you down! First of all, you are not alone—many people are experiencing exactly the same thing right now. Secondly, big changes often come in fits and starts; it is how you handle those ebbs and flows that matters.

When I used to work as a health and cooking coach, I would often talk to my clients about the importance of baby steps. If instead of taking on a big issue all...

What to Do When your Kids Hate Dinner

I was recently talking to a new Scramble member who mentioned that one of the unexpected positive outcomes of joining was that she no longer felt stressed about whether or not her kids were going to like the food she served for dinner. When I probed a little more, it became clear that this wasn’t because they suddenly loved everything, but because by being offered a plan and cooking from that plan, it felt less like a rejection of her; it was less personal. This got me to thinking about how it can feel very personal when a kid, or anyone, doesn’t like or appreciate the food you prepared. It can really sting. So I wanted to share some of the ways I have found to shift this dynamic both for myself and my whole family.What to Do When your Kids Hate DinnerRudeness is not acceptable.When my youngest was about four, I instituted a new dinnertime rule: it was fine to not like the food, everyone has their own tastes, but it was not fine to be rude about it. As a family, we talked...

5 Easy Ways to Save on Groceries

As a general rule, I spend on the lower end of what is normal for a family of four when it comes to food (although this is rapidly changing as my boys get older!), but recently, I have been trying to cut costs down even more since my husband is currently furloughed from his job during this government shut down. Since I know many people are in a similar situation and/or are trying to get their spending under control in the new year, I thought I would share some of my tricks for saving money on food.5 Easy Ways to Save on Groceries1. Cook MoreThe more food you prepare at home, the more you save. Period. Eating out and depending on pre-prepared foods is always going to be more expensive, so try to commit to eating home cooked food at least two more times a week. That could mean bringing leftovers to work for lunch, getting take out less often, or even skipping the coffee shop and having breakfast at home.2. Eat Less MeatMeat is an important protein source for many...

The Night the Meat Went Bad

The other night I had a plan for dinner. It was a good plan and I knew all the guys in my house would be excited about it since it involved red meat, which we don’t eat very often. And then I unwrapped the meat. I had bought just it a few days before and it was still within its “sell by” date, but it was bad. Really bad. The color was off, the smell was terrible, and my dinner plan was ruined. What made the situation worse: the plan had been a stir fry, which meant I had allotted just 20 minutes to get dinner on the table. What to do?The Night the Meat Went BadA normal, sane person probably would have opted for takeout, but I have a stubborn (and cheap) streak and the plan had been for me to make dinner, so I was determined to make that happen. So it became improvisation time. I quickly looked through what I had in the fridge that was not already set aside for a different dinner and came up with: 2 packages of ravioli (not quite enough anymore with the two growing boys...

An Interview with My Formerly Picky Eater

The other night at dinner my 8-year-old, who was a picky eater for many years, said, out of the blue, “Do you remember when I used to be picky? I’m so glad I’m not anymore.” We then talked about how much things have changed and memories he had from dinners when he was younger. It was a wonderful moment because it showed how much his identity as an eater has changed. As we talked, it struck me as an amazing opportunity to learn more about a child’s experience as a picky eater, so I asked if I could interview him.An Interview with My Formerly Picky EaterWhat is your favorite food?Do I have to say one thing? Pizza, spaghetti and meatballs, burgers.What is your least favorite food?I don’t know because I haven’t tried many bad foods. Well, I don’t like stir-fry.Do you remember when you were a picky eater?Yes.What did it feel like to be offered a food you didn’t like?Well, I didn’t even eat it. But I also felt sad that I wouldn’t eat...

Simplify in 2019!

2018 has been a whirlwind, hasn’t it? So many fast-moving news stories, schedules that never seem to stop, and kids growing before our eyes. As we enter 2019, it can be tempting to come up with a long list of resolutions or goals that will make life better: get healthier, get organized, spend more time with family, get finances under control, the list goes on and on. I don’t know about you, but that growing list just adds to my anxiety and if I don’t accomplish the changes I hoped to see, then it also adds to my guilt. No thanks. So, as I sat down to think about how The Scramble could best support busy families in 2019, it occurred to me that the thing we could offer would be a one-stop solution that could help to simplify daily food routines and make them more pleasant, all while supporting many of the resolutions that busy parents tend to be drawn toward. Done and done! So, this year instead of giveaways or prizes, instead of challenges or competitions, we have put...

Healthy Snacks for Any Craving

You have gotten the homecooked dinner thing down (hopefully The Scramble is helping you in that department. If not, check out our two-week free trial to see how much easier getting dinner on the table can be), but what about snacks? For me, finding healthy snack foods that will satisfy my family and don’t require a lot of prep on my part, has been one of the biggest challenges. Because, let’s be honest, all those beautiful snack platters on Instagram and Pinterest are inspiring, but who has time to put one of those together every day? Not me! Over the years I have figured out some tricks that have helped me to avoid potato chips, cheese curls, yogurt tubes, and Kind Bars (although we still do enjoy those from time to time!), while still satisfying everyone’s cravings for salty, sweet, creamy, and/or crunchy without spending too much time in the kitchen. Here are some ideas for you, organized by craving type.Healthy Snacks for Any CravingCrunchyApples Rice...

Holiday Eating: How to Let Go of the Guilt and Enjoy the Food

We’ve reached that time of year when the treats are plentiful, the food is rich, and the drinks enticing. We’ve also reached the moment when many of us start to make deals with ourselves:“I’ll go all out until the New Year and then I’ll reset in a big way.” “I’ll go nuts today and then will only eat salad and exercise every day for the rest of the week.” “I’ll only eat a little bit/skip all the carbs/avoid anything with sugar, so that I can have X, Y, or Z.” I know these deals because I used to make them with myself, not just at the holidays, but all year round. My eating was in a constant state of negotiation, until I learned to let go, listen to my body’s cues, and enjoy food again. It wasn’t an overnight change, but this switch changed my life, so I wanted to share some of the baby steps that helped me to get to where I am (modified for the season we are in, so that maybe you can enjoy the holiday goodies, while staying sane in the...

Simple Thanksgiving Appetizers

I may love to experiment with dinners all year round, but there are a few special meals where I am loathe to stray from my tried and true favorites and Thanksgiving dinner is one of them. That's right, I am a traditionalist when it comes to the main event--I like my mashed potatoes creamy, my turkey roasted, and my vegetables simply prepared. But I still love to play with the appetizers and this year is no exception. This year I am sharing two simple Thanksgiving appetizers that are simple to prepare (ready in 30 minutes) and a little different from the standard options: Creamy Indian-Spiced Spinach Dip and Cranberry & Brie Puffs (plus these would be great for any holiday party this season). Watch me make them on Facebook Live!Creamy Indian-Spiced Spinach DipPrep Time: 5 minutes, Cook Time: 15 minutes, Makes 6 servings 1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil ¼ yellow onion, finely diced, about ½ cup 1 clove garlic, minced ½ tsp. sweet paprika ½ tsp. garam...