Today my guest in the Kids in the Kitchen series (where we meet parents and children who bond, have fun and make life long memories in their kitchens) is Lindsey and her three adorable kids!
She teaches cooking at the Prairie Farm Corps, she is the social media strategist for Food Day Chicago, she is also the USA Super Ambassador for Jamie’s Food Revolution Community and the author of her blog, The Mullies. Meet the ever smiling, gorgeous and super enthusiastic Lindsey, who wears all these hats and many more with such elan and pride. Very soon you will also get to try her recipes in A global cookbook– Taste of the Place; a cookbook collaboration where she has contributed recipes from her family table.
Let’s also say to Mac, Abbie and Tommy, her three children.
Lindsey, please tell us a little about your children?
My husband Chris and I have three children together – Mac 11, always “tinkering”, saxophone + guitar player, and lover of memes; Abbie 10, loves basketball, favorite colors are turquoise + mint green, favorite food is fruit + pickles, loves to swim (but cannot whistle), wary of potatoes (except for fries + chips), and has just begun playing the trumpet; Tommy 7, an enthusiastic gnocchi chef, pokemon card fanatic, aspiring comedian and toothless wonder. Abbie has the distinct honor of triggering me into a family food revolution four and a half years ago when she was just starting 1st grade. She struggled in school across the board (sensory processing, reading, attention, social/emotional) and I decided to change her food first to see if it would make a difference in her academic and social life at school. Two weeks in, she became symptom free to the surprise of us all, especially her school intervention team. My enthusiastic (but boy was I scared) newbie plunge into the food revolution world changed our lives forever and steered my passion into the role of a Food Ambassador soon afterwards.
Do your children “cook” with you? How do you involve them in the kitchen/during meal times/grocery shopping?
My kids will all come into the kitchen and cook with me from time to time. However, I do not “push” them if they don’t want to join me. Me whining at them does NOT work. So far, Tommy is my most enthusiastic chef. Alas, they do not love to grocery shop with me. However, when I ask for “help” in finding new ingredients for desserts, school lunches or for other comfort food, it seems they enjoy our time together in the store more (I am not against some clean processed food bribery every once in a while!). As far as cooking in the kitchen with me, the vast majority of the time is spent talking and watching at the island with a few minutes here and there helping me to chop, stir or wash vegetables. Sometimes they join me for the long haul, other times they decline. Tommy’s favorite thing to cook is Gnocchi and Abbie’s favorite task is baking dessert. Mac LOVES pancakes and has gotten quite good at flipping them!
How do you think their getting involved in either or all of the above has altered their food habits?
Without a doubt, my kids are more likely to try a new dish when they have shopped for the ingredients, watched me cook or participated in the making of the dish. It makes them feel more knowledgeable, more adventurous and overall happier at our family table. Food habits have slowly, but hugely improved compared to where they were before my habits changed. However, they still lean towards fast food, are quite picky and are often quite suspicious of my cooking. When I ask them to try a new dish (because it’s sooooo delicious!), it usually garners the following lack luster response: “Yea, but Mom, YOU looooooove EVERYTHING.” … “You’re right guys, I do!”
Probably the biggest recent WIN at our family table is serving the salad or whatever vegetable dish I am serving up FIRST. The kids have to finish their helping before digging into the other dishes. There is less whining (because the rules are the rules) and more importantly Chris and I don’t need to remind them over and over and over and over again to eat their veggies if they are salivating over something else on the table – The kids will eat virtually anything to get their hands on my garlic bread!
How do you deal with mess/chaos that comes with them being in the kitchen? More importantly how do you maintain your sanity?
Ahhhh the mess! I sing “Let it go, Let it goooooooo” in my head A LOT. Everything and anything can get spilled, cleaned up or replaced and we laugh about it. It helps that the kids are getting old enough now to help me tidy up. I believe the kitchen is a playground for the real world, but it is also where practical magic occurs. “Mistakes happen – the magic is in how you fix it” I say. I personally learn so much from my recipe screw ups and I do not want my kids to feel they can’t make a mistake in the kitchen or in life. I say yes to organized chaos and the energy that comes with it!
How do I keep my sanity? I adhere to eating and cooking imperfection. I rarely bake or cook two days in a row. I also try to cook enough leftovers to rework it into another meal or two. Our family schedule simply doesn’t allow for me to cook every night, and it’s really nice to go out to eat once in a while.
Is there any recipe that all of you would like to share?
Cauliflower Macaroni + Cheese (Inspired by Ambassador Terri Salminen)
- 1 package gluten free elbow macaroni cooked and drained
- 1/2 block of Gruyere shredded (almost 1.5 cups)
- 1 package of organic shredded Mexican cheese (An Italian mix or plain old cheddar is fine too!)
- 1 head cauliflower diced to size of macaroni (or smaller)
- 2 Tbsp organic butter
- 2 Tbsp gluten free flour
- 1/2 cup organic half n half (or substitute in full fat coconut milk)
- 1 cup organic rice milk (or organic or BGH free milk)
- sea salt and freshly ground pepper (start with a few pinches and adjust to taste)
- a pinch of ground nutmeg
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cook pasta to package directions (Don’t forget to salt your water with a 2 tbsp of sea salt).
- Roughly chop up the cauliflower to the size of your macaroni or smaller. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and evenly spread the cauliflower over the sheet. Sprinkle sea salt over the top. Roast for 15 minutes and toss (no oil is needed!). Roast for another 5-8 minutes or until starting to slightly brown. There should not be anymore raw “crunch” to the vegetable.
- The pasta and the cauliflower hang out for a bit when I start my roux – Watch this “how to make a roux video” – It ROCKS). Melt the butter, add the flour and stir for 3-5 minutes until bubbly. Slowly pour in cream and whisk to incorporate. Lastly add in the rice milk (about 1/4 cup at a time). You should have a nice white sauce mixture at this point (add more liquid to thin out if necessary). Add in 1 cup of the Gruyere and all of the Mexican cheese and mix until melted and smooth.
- Remove from heat and mix in the cauliflower and macaroni. Pour mixture into a 9 x 12 baking dish. Sprinkle the remaining Gruyere on top. (Parmesan is also awesome on top) Reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake for 20-25 minutes. DIG IN.
Enjoy a 1st course, “gateway” salad or vegetables to start the meal off!!
p.s. We have also subbed in romanesco, peas, broccoli, a soffritto (sautéed carrots, onions and celery) and meat (sausage, pulled pork or chicken). Have fun making it your own!
Thank you Lindsey for dropping by with the Mac, Abbie and Tommy. I absolutely loved reading about you and your family. It is always so beautiful seeing the pictures of your family table and now it feels like I am sitting right next to all of you. Your honesty with what works with children and what doesn’t, how some days they are so enthusiastic about “cooking” and at other times they just won’t and saying yes to cheat meals really touched my heart!
Thanks once again for being a part of this series and for inspiring me and so many others by sharing your beautiful story with us. Do you cook with your kids? Did you enjoy meeting Lindsey & the kids? I’d love to hear.