5 Easy Weeknight Meals: Your 7 Day Family Jump Start!

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A Spring without Zombies!

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I’m not one to tell my kids to go outside and play. Why? I don’t like to play outside! If they’re out there, I have to be too (Call me crazy but I don’t enjoy Maryland gnats buzzing about my head). However, I recently realized that I had to do something to combat the slow screen-addicted zombie-ification of myself and my family. Discovering a sense of wonder (missing in the Google age) for something other than new toy videos on YouTube is definitely a healthy habit for children AND adults. I decided to force that discovery and took advantage of a once a year phenomena to get us out there. (You can see the results above. A lot better than fighting over the remote!)

Washingtonians are often aware of seasonal use it or lose it events because D.C.  is home to the famous cherry blossoms. They bloom once per year (we never know for sure when) and are only at their peak for a short time. Some years I make it. Some years I don’t.

This year I found a pocket of unscheduled time on a Sunday afternoon and took my kids on a drive to see the cherry blossoms. I was so eager not to miss them that I went even though I had heard news reports that it was still early in their blooming process. Alas, the trees were still in bud stage. It was quite the tease. I could clearly imagine the billowy pink canopy coming soon, but couldn’t quite feel or experience it.

Once they were in bloom, I simply couldn’t find an unscheduled hour (during daylight) to get back there. Their peak happened to fall during Purim, one of the busiest times of the year for us; filled with making and delivering mishloach manot, dressing up in costumes, attending the requisite parties (I know, it’s a hard life!) and Megillah (Book of Esther) readings, there just wasn’t time for much else.

When I saw tulips sprouting on neighborhood lawns, I started stalking the website and hotline of a local garden (Brookside). After receiving confirmation that the tulips were out, the only time I had to take my family was on an already packed Sunday.  I planned for us to enjoy a picnic lunch. Our other obligations quickly overtook the day and any window of time to go kept getting smaller. My husband, kids and mom were asking if it had to be that day, what’s the big deal and weren’t we simply too busy and tired that day? I dug in my heels. I missed the cherry blossoms this year. Last year, worse than missing the tulips at the gardens, I got there late – when they were all in various stages of decay. That was so much more disappointing than finding the cherry blossoms as buds.

After all the various, “I have to go to the bathroom” (that was me – and we were there so late the restrooms were closed) and “I need a drink of water,” and “I’m hungry” delays…I told everyone to put one foot in front of the other. We were going to walk until we saw those damn tulips. And we did. The kids, my husband and mom, were equally excited to spot and compare the different colors and varieties. 2016-04-17 18.13.51 2016-04-17 18.13.55

My children played with other kids around the pools and fountains. They clearly understood why I had pushed them to get out of the house, make the long drive and walk through the gardens. Everyone left a bit more relaxed and contented than when we arrived. They both played butterfly on the metal butterfly bench.

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Now, if only I could end the (so far) 7 year streak I’ve missed ordering and planting tulips in time to have them in my own yard for spring.

I have the (bad?) luck that my two favorite flowers, the aforementioned tulips, and Lily of the Valley, come and go in rapid succession and aren’t easily available other times of the year.

In fact, because Passover was a month later than usual this year, I was worried I would miss the Lily of the Valley due to bloom in my back yard. (No, I didn’t get it together to buy seeds and plant them. I had the good fortune to move into a house where it already grew.) I found them in full bloom the day I returned and quickly filled my kitchen with their sweet scent.

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There is some good in being able to find almost anything on YouTube or Google. I can show my children a rare animal or a plant that doesn’t grow here or grow now. However, there is something unique and valuable about savoring a tactile nature-related experience available only once per year. You can’t smell or touch flowers online – at least not yet.

We can teach our children to savor the season on a regular basis by paying attention to the seasons and their associated physical changes and rich bounties.

Now, excuse me while I go pull out my seed catalogues…

2 HFHY Cookbook Recipes in The Town Courier

I’m a little late in sharing this with you, dear readers, but see below for two recipes from – and a review of  – The Healthy Family, Healthy You Cookbook: The Healthy Mama’s Guide to simple, healthy versions of your family’s favorite foods (Volume 2). Do you have your copy yet? What?! You don’t want over 100 easy and healthful recipes for your family – including super easy and impressive recipes for a crowd or company?

Click here to view the article on The Town Courier website.

Let’s All Eat Healthfully

Photo | Submitted

Photo | Submitted

Lately, more and more articles and books are focusing on healthy recipes and better eating for children and families.  “Healthy Family, Healthy You; The Healthy Mama’s Guide to feeding your family well—simply and sanely” by Natasha Nadel ( is a new book that deals with the topic.

Natasha believes we all have a responsibility to feed one another deliciously, but healthfully, rather than stuff one another full of non-nutritive foods so we can feel we were a good host.

Her new book provides healthful recipes for everyday weeknight meals and secular and Jewish holidays around the year, along with tips and tricks for creating a healthy family.  Her motto is “Substitution is your strategy.”

Natasha is an author and freelance writer specializing in sustainable food, the environment, and community trends.  Natasha gives workshops to schools, camps, and local organizations.

Gluten-Free Super Simple Appetizer

Makes 12 servings of 5 crackers each

Having a crowd and don’t want to leave out your gluten-free friends? Here is the answer! Easy, fancy and delicious, this appetizer is fun to make with the kids and can be adjusted as needed. For instance, my tester used different gluten-free crackers, and when she couldn’t find the right sea salt shaker in her small town health food store, she combined plain sea salt with a dulse (a type of seaweed) shaker.

1 box “Mary’s Gone Crackers” (original or cracked black pepper) or other gluten-free crackers

2 avocados

2 pints cherry tomatoes

1 lemon

“Sea Seasonings” brand sea salt and sea veggies shaker (or plain sea salt and black pepper)

Spread the crackers out on a tray or serving platter. In a small bowl, mash the avocados using a fork. Top each cracker with approximately 1 teaspoon of mashed avocado. Slice the lemon in quarters and squeeze a couple drops of lemon juice on top of the avocado. Slice the cherry tomatoes into two halves and top each cracker with one half. Sprinkle a pinch of the sea salt mix on top of each cracker so it covers the avocado and the tomato.

Best-Ever Lasagna (Gluten-Free!)

Prep time:  30 minutes

Cook time:  60 minutes

Yield:  6-8 servings

This lasagna has become such a hit with my friends that they (and their children) ask for it when they come for meals. They don’t tell their kids about the tofu or spinach until they are gobbling it up … and they always gobble it up!

From “The Healthy Mama’s Guide,” Meal Makeovers section.

non-stick cooking spray

1 (16-ounce) bag of chopped frozen spinach

1 cup frozen chopped onion

1 (12- or 14-ounce) box frozen butternut squash puree (or BPA-free organic can, such as the Farmer’s Market brand)

1 1 lb. package organic silken tofu

1 (32-ounce) jar pasta sauce (any flavor like garlic or mushroom)

1/2 to 1 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 to 1 teaspoon dried thyme

1/2 to 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning

1 package brown rice lasagna noodles (10 ounce) like Tinkyada

1 (24-ounce) jar whole roasted red peppers (about 3 whole peppers), sliced and flattened

1/8 cup gluten-free panko bread crumbs (if gluten-free isn’t necessary for you, use whole wheat)

1/8 cup nutritional yeast

Heat oven to 350°F. Spray bottom of 13- x 9-inch lasagna pan with non-stick cooking spray.

Place frozen spinach, onion, and squash into a large glass bowl and defrost in the microwave (I use the “vegetable” setting).

Place tofu into bowl with defrosted vegetables.

Add thyme, garlic powder, and Italian seasoning, and mix thoroughly.

Place one layer of noodles in pan, followed by half of the vegetable and tofu mix. Cover with 1/3 of the bottle of marinara sauce. Spread it thinly and evenly.

Place another layer of noodles in the pan. Cover with the rest of the vegetable tofu mix and another third of the marinara sauce.

Place your final layer of noodles in the pan. Cover with the rest of the marinara sauce and then the roasted red peppers.

Mix the bread crumbs and nutritional yeast together in a small bowl. Sprinkle evenly over the top of the red peppers.

Bake for 1 hour, uncovered.

Editor’s note: For more edible delights by Sheilah Kaufman, go to www.

Your Simple, Healthy Mother’s Day Menu-Done and Delivered!

Happy Mother’s Day!

Sometimes it seems a little crazy (and unfair) that, as a grown-up, we often make our own birthday cake and Mother’s Day Brunch.

Well…Get happy! For this year anyway, I’ve done the work for you. Here’s your simple, healthy Mother’s Day Menu for this coming Sunday.

First…Here is my almost zero work plan…you know, the one I rarely stick to!

The no work brunch means I buy bagels, cream cheese, and lox (I know I don’t eat this, but everyone else does) set them out with sliced tomato, cucumber and red onion.  Add coffee and juice and you’re done.


However, in my opinion, spring calls for crisp, fresh food, not just baked white carbs (e.g. bagels and coffee cake).

Here are five simple, fun and healthy ideas for your Mother’s Day Brunch:

  1. Individual fruit salad appetizers. Halve your cantaloupes (Use 1 for every 2 guests. ). Discard seeds. Scoop out flesh with a melon baller or use a knife to cut out the cantaloupe and cube it.

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Mix the cantaloupe with other sliced fruit, such as fresh strawberries, pineapple, honeydew or green grapes. Bonus points: You can also scoop out pineapple and honeydew so that not everyone has the same fruit vessel for their fruit salad. You will have a beautiful tablescape, each place set with a pineapple, honeydew or cantaloupe bowl of fruit salad.

  1. Lay out a plate of cucumber kabobs or lollipops for kids. Use small kabob sticks or lollipop sticks (found at party stores).

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3. Use rainbow carrots in a vase as your centerpiece, or trim and peel them for the kids to munch while they wait. Tasha’s Tip: Remember, just put them on the table and WALK AWAY. Keep your mouth shut and they’ll probably try them!

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You can also use colored cauliflower the same way.

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4.Place as much fun stuff on the table as possible. Don’t take yourself or your entertaining on a day like this too seriously. See what I found in my cabinet.

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5. To serve something warm, try tofu French toast. I like this recipe.



Last year I made this Spanish frittata (also in The Healthy Family Healthy You Cookbook), made with tofu instead of eggs.

spanish frittata

This year I’ll be trying a chickpea frittata for the first time. This recipe looks good.  It calls for asparagus, which I am randomly allergic to, so I will use a substitute; perhaps red pepper. Like any frittata, you can mix and match the veggies to your liking and also use up any leftover roasted or fresh veggies you have handy.

roasted vegetables

This link to my 2016 Mother’s Day post includes ideas, such as rainbow fruit kabobs (see above pic); and several recipes from my cookbook, including 20 minute tofu scramble, avocado toast, and healthy fruit crisp.

Tofu Scramble

Have a wonderful Mother’s Day! Let me know what you’re cooking over on my Facebook page.