Colorful Spinach Salad and Interview with THE Undomesticated Lady

Hi everyone and please click on the title of this post to read more. Well, I am coming off of a week with THREE workshops at day care centers and after school programs in Northern NJ that were so wonderful. I had all these kids volunteering to wash my fruits and vegetables and almost every single one of them tried a spinach salad with peppers and sliced grapes. As we know, the more colors we eat, the healthier we are eating. Child participation and adult modeling are the key to getting kids to try new things, it really is true!

Well, I have a special treat for you today because you have been so good! I am happy to tell you that we have the honor of a Q and A with Paula Bernstein, a published author and very interesting lady. She is the co-author of “Identical Strangers: A Memoir of Twins Separated and Reunited,” which was published by Random House in 2007 and has a blog called Undomesticated Me where she interviewed me the other day-check it out
She is on a journey to become domesticated, having dismissed the need to be domesticated until she had a child. Paula attended one of my workshops in Brooklyn as part of her process to learn to cook and she has progressed a great deal (she just emailed me that she is preparing my sesame noodles and salmon with maple glaze for dinner tonight-a far cry from her undomesticated past).

Did you have cooking role models growing up?

My mother cooked dinner every night, but I don’t remember her enjoying it. It seemed more like a chore. She used short cuts like
instant mashed potatoes. In fact, I don’t think I realized that
people could cook mashed potatoes from scratch until I was an adult.
We also had a lot of canned vegetables.

If so, why do you think you never learned to cook?

I think I was afraid that if I learned to cook and clean, I would always be expected to do it. I feared I would be chained to the stove
and would never have the time or energy to focus on my creative
pursuits. I see now that I sort of shot myself in the foot. Obviously, it’s possible to cook and clean and still be independent
and creative.

Why do you want to learn now?

Now that I’m a 40-year-old mother of two young children, I realize it’s now or never. I want my children to grow up eating home-cooked meals prepared by me and my husband. I also realize that it doesn’t
have to be a burden to prepare food for people. It can be a pleasure.

Have you attempted to cook in the past and been unsuccessful, and if
so, can you pinpoint why?

As a single woman living in Manhattan in my 20s, I had no need to learn to cook. I was focused on my career and on my social life and
there were so many good restaurants that delivered! I’ve sporadically
attempted to cook, but I have an irrational fear of it. I get
overwhelmed in the kitchen easily, unlike other areas of my life
where I’m so confident.

How would your life be different if you could cook on consistent basis?

In my fantasies about it, I imagine myself as the kind of home chef who can whip up something delicious using whatever ingredients I have around the house. Friends and family would gather around the dining
room table and bond over a bottle of wine and a satisfying meal.

What I loved and found so interesting about her responses to my questions are that they are strikingly similar to so MANY of my clients. We are all in this together so let’s inspire one another with our efforts to improve the quality of our lives. If Paula can do it, so can we! Her blog is real, down to earth and funny and you will love it, I promise!

Here is the spinach salad that I made with the Moms, Dads and kids at the West Orange Community House tonight (see us making them in the video below) and it is a salad that all of us, including Paula Bernstein, can prepare with our kids. Enjoy!:

Colorful Spinach Salad:

A few handfuls of raw spinach, washed
1/4 of a red, orange, green or yellow pepper-or a bit of each, chopped into 1/2″ pieces
a few raisins or dried cranberries
a few grapes, sliced in half, red or green
optional sliced almonds,shaved Parmesan Cheese
Dressing of your choice-I suggest my maple soy dressing or honey balsamic dressing, both of which are on the blog

Allow your child to wash and thoroughly dry spinach, cut vegetables and fruit with a plastic fork and top with dressing, nuts and cheese. All done!


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