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Three years ago, my family’s Sunday morning routine looked more like a regular school day: utter mayhem. Mom yelling, kids grumbling and a peace-loving husband trying not to let it get to him as we hustled to get our family of five to church by 9 a.m.
When churches and most of the rest of the world shut down for the pandemic, we started another kind of routine: working out together. As a fitness professional for more than 25 years, I’m excited that our family ritual has continued even after businesses reopened their doors. Now, every Sunday morning, my 13-year-old son wakes me up and reminds me it’s time to go to the gym. Like his dad, he’s an early riser. Like my teenage daughters, I sleep late. Still, at the sound of my son’s voice, I pull myself out of bed and jump into gear, eager to sweat with my family.
While financial experts stress to families the importance of building generational wealth, I would argue that passing on a legacy of general health — with shared fitness at the core — is equally important. Of course, healthy habits begin in the kitchen, but there’s something special about sharing a physical workout with loved ones — egging each other on, seeing each other push through challenges (keeping all ability levels in mind) and then high-fiving each other over a job well done.
When the world was shut down, many families I know started exercising together. Over time, as we inched back to some semblance of “normal,” though, some of those good intentions got pushed to the back burner. I spoke with some locals who have continued to make family workouts a priority.
Getting creative online and in person
Deitra Baker, a Los Angeles mother of 3, recalls a powerful example of how isolation created space for family’s multi-generational exercise routine.
“My husband has always been into weight-training, and I like high-intensity classes,” Baker says. “During the pandemic, we lived with my parents in Texas. We were all trying to find ways to stay active. My 9-year-old daughter would go on
Zoom with her Los Angeles grandmother and pick a song so they could dance together. Before long, our daughter was leading dance parties with all of her grandparents from miles apart.”
Even when the kids are not directly part of your workouts, watching their parents’ commitment to fitness still establishes a healthy foundation that can serve as inspiration.
Natalie Gouché, a social media expert, is no stranger to technology, but instead of Zoom workouts during quarantine, she and her husband transformed their garage into a gym so they could spend quality time together.
“We would wake up early… and go to the garage for a workout,” Gouché says. “We enjoyed being able to share that time together, plus he likes to watch me do squats and I love to see him in his element. My husband is naturally athletic and gets really excited about working out.” The couple is now expecting their fourth child — a child who will be born into the arms of healthy parents.
Connecting mind, body and heart
On the heels of the pandemic, The Bay Club created what it calls a “shared membership,” which caters to families, friends and co-workers. The core membership allows a member to add up to five additional members to an account because, the club states in its promotional materials, “we know that our best times are shared with the ones we love.”
Other health-and-fitness professionals found ways to keep families active and connected within their own homes.
Alicia Easter, a certified yoga instructor, shares her experience as a practitioner who worked throughout the pandemic. “Being stuck in the house all day made us realize the importance of family bonding,” she says. “For myself, yoga is the most effective way to learn about adaptability. I found that once I began consistently practicing yoga, I was able to slow down and learn about managing reactions to situations that were out of my control. The pandemic was something that we could not control, and learning, as a family, how to adapt to these uncontrollable circumstances was essential. During the pandemic, I would teach kids yoga on Saturdays in hopes that they would be able to release the tension and restlessness of being stuck inside.”
In the midst of online learning, social media and constant access to technology, childhood obesity became a concern for many parents. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, there are 14.4 million American children who are considered obese by medical standards.
So how do we get our children who may be resistant to workouts to be more active?
Easter believes it starts with helping them make a mind-body connection. “It can be difficult for young children to comprehend their emotions, let alone put their frustrations into words,” she says. “With yoga, they can process their emotions through movement and breath work. And it’s even better when the whole family is involved. Yoga becomes a bonding activity and provides time for a family to just be present with one another for a few moments. Together, families can learn to trust and listen to their bodies.”
Now that our lives are back on high speed again, which might mean less concentrated workout time together, we can incorporate small fitness steps to help our families stay motivated. Baker shares some of her tricks. “We park far away from the entrance of the store,” she says. “We take the stairs instead of the escalator or elevator, we use a [hand-held] basket instead of a [full-sized] cart while shopping. Exercise doesn’t have to be complicated. People just overthink it.”
Gouché shares a helpful hint for mothers with active small children. “When we go to the park, they run around and I run around, too,” she says. “We play tag together. They are my excuse to stay active.”
Like many families, my family and I have abandoned some old routines and replaced them with ones that bring us a deeper sense of joy and connection.
Sundays are different these days. There is no mayhem, no yelling, no crying — and there is no physical church. We took out a family gym membership. While my son plays basketball and my husband lifts weights, I walk on the treadmill and listen to a streaming church service.
Our Sundays may never look the same as they did pre-pandemic. And if I’m being honest, I don’t want them to. Spending time with my family in an active and healthy environment has become the priority. At church, we used to say, “A family who prays together stays together.” We still pray together, but we have added a new mantra: “A family who trains together stays together.”
Claudine Cooper is a writer and mom of 3. She has been a health-and-fitness professional for more than 25 years.
Meet Josh Sundquist, a Paralympic athlete (ski-racer), a motivational speaker, a comedian, an author, and now a TV Show writer for Apple TV+. “Best Foot Forward” is his first on screen work, based off his amazing real-life story. A truly inspirational show and human being.
At what age did you join the Paralympics, and how were you first exposed/ motivated to join?
I learned to ski soon after losing my leg to cancer at age nine. While I was still on chemotherapy, a former Paralympic ski team coach happened to see me skiing and told me I had great potential. Although I didn’t start racing until I was a teenager, his encouragement definitely set my life on a different path.
Why did you choose to be a ski racer?
I think there was a period of my childhood when my friends were playing on baseball teams and soccer teams and so forth when I was stuck in the hospital, or stuck at home recovering from chemotherapy. So maybe I had missed out on the chance to push myself athletically. When I got a taste of competitive skiing in my teens, I saw it as a chance push my limits athletically and perhaps someday to represent the United States in the Paralympics, which was such an inspiring idea to me.
What were some of the challenges you faced while training and how did you get through them?
In my first race I fell five times. But I kept getting back up until I crossed the finish line. I was last place (by far!) but I did finish. And as my skiing career continued, I brought that same attitude of determination to cross the finish line, win or lose.
Did you have a mentor growing up? And what role did that person play in your life and your career?
Two weeks after my amputation was the first time I went in public as a person with one leg. I was playing in my church’s annual softball game. I went up to bat, and I got strike after strike. There was a point when I wanted to quit. I was going to walk off the field. But my dad encouraged me. He kept me in the the game. I eventually got a hit…after more than twenty pitches.
Best life advice you received growing up?
My dad’s advice in that game: keep swinging.
After the Paralympics, how did you decide to become an author? A comedian?
Going to the Paralympics was one of the biggest thrills and honors of my life, but at the end of a day of skiing, all you’ve really done is slide around on frozen water, you know? You haven’t impacted anyone. So I wanted to look for ways to connect with people as a storyteller and comedian, which is what led me to write and perform and ultimately to make this show for Apple TV+.
How does it feel to have a show created based off your life?
It’s surreal. As a writer on the show—we had a writer’s room with about a dozen people working on the scripts for 20 weeks—I got so used to talking about “Josh” as a character that sometimes I’d forget the show was about me. Then when we started filming there would be scenes that would remind me of something that happened to me in my real life, and I’d be like, oh yeah, this show is about me.
How involved were you in the creation of the show?
I was intimately involved. We started developing four years ago, and for the past year, this show has been my life. I was in the writer’s room every day, and I was on set every day when we were filming. We found the star of the show through my Instagram, and I was able to bring in many friends with disabilities who work in the entertainment industry to be a part of our crew.
Tell us about the impact you want the show to have.
I hope first and foremost that people are entertained and that they laugh out loud and want to watch the show again and again with their families. And on top of that, I hope they walk away with a slightly different perspective on what it means to look or to feel different, as Josh does in our show. I hope that families who have a child with special needs find the show relatable, and that families who don’t find that it broadens their perspectives.
What would you tell your middle school self?
Don’t worry so much. Everything will turn out fine. Also, invest in Apple stock.
What advice can you give our readers for any struggles they have or will have throughout their life?
Surround yourself with the people you want to be like. When people who have recently lost limbs come to me for advice, that’s what I always suggest. Find role models and friends and heroes who have already faced this challenge and you’ll naturally become more like those people.
Podcasts have become increasingly popular in recent years. Rightly so, as they are entertaining, easy to listen to and can be made for any age group. With so many options out there, it is sometimes hard to choose which ones to listen to. GoKidGo introduces an innovative approach with scripted podcasts full of adventurous, fictional stories for kids ages 6 – 12. Kids will love listening to these tales each week.
GoKidGo has created a first-of-its-kind universe of repeating characters and storylines. This podcast features new daily episodes from acclaimed children’s author R.L. Stine (Goosebumps) and New York Times bestselling children’s author Patrick Carman. Amazing talent like Danny Pudi, Ariel Winter and Richard Kind star in each show. GoKidGo has engineered a world for kids that is engaging, creative and entertaining for the entire family.
Top shows to check out:
Bobby Wonder: Bobby, voiced by Danny Pudi (Community), just found out he’s an alien that has superpowers. With Mighty Mila trying to make everyone in Pflugerville miserable, Bobby needs to figure out how to stop her. Luckily, protecting his hometown is a little easier with Grabstack, his constant companion, at his side.
Lucy Wow: Lucy Wow, voiced by Michaela Dietz (Cartoon Network’s Steven Universe, PBS’s Barney & Friends), is a brilliant 11-year-old dreamer, builder and force of nature who is driven by the question “what if?”. The best thing Lucy ever built is her mechanical goat, Kapow. Help them design cool new inventions and solve wacky mysteries. Some might be epic…others epic fails.
R.L. Stine’s Story Club: Starring Ariel Winter from Modern Family and from the haunted mind of R.L. Stine, the creator of Goosebumps, this series will make you laugh and scream with its bizarre tales. Let the mysteries begin.
GoKidGo is a great alternative for screen time and designed to engage your child’s bright imagination. It’s the best entertainment for kids and a great resource for parents. Streaming on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and everywhere else podcasts live. Visit gokidgo.com for more information.
When my family moved from Florida to Southern California as a young child, I felt a renewed sense of community because there were more people here who looked like me, who ate the same food, spoke the same language and were living a shared immigrant experience. However, as I got older, that bubble burst and I had to confront that although I moved to a more diverse area, there were still people who were never going to accept me.
The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent discriminatory behavior was a game-changer to many Americans of Asian descent who were unfairly targeted and sometimes violently confronted due to the virus’ origins. Today, even as the country has started to open back up, Asian Americans here and across the country are reckoning with the aftermath of a new strain of hate that we can no longer ignore. For generations, we’ve been the ‘model minority’ or been led to believe we had to conform and turn the other cheek in the face of racism against us. That survival strategy is no longer viable and needs to stop so the hate against us will come to an end
Because of childhood bullies, I grew up being ashamed of my own culture, and only learned in adulthood that the beauty of America lies in its cultural diversity. As parents, we need to show our kids that beauty at an early age. With that being said, I want to encourage other parents to let their kids explore non-Western cultures at an early age by trying different foods together, immersing them in second-language classes, watching movies made outside of Hollywood, and reading children’s books by non-Western authors.
My husband and I are currently teaching our son, Atlas, English, Chinese, and Vietnamese. We celebrated Lunar New Year with him dressed in traditional Chinese attire. Unlike me, he will not grow up ashamed of his culture. If we want others to accept him, we as parents must teach him to first love and accept himself.
It’s also not just our parenting style, but also the influence and guidance of others, such as teachers, neighbors, friends and strangers, that will help him and others like him grow into a thoughtful and generous person who treats others with kindness and respect. We want to take this time to shed light on what we’ve experienced so that others who are in his life and the lives of others in his generation know how to respond to micro-aggressions and bullying when they see them. We want to ensure that our children here in the Los Angeles area and across the country can enjoy a childhood that is free of shame, insensitivity or exclusion. A lot of these feelings are a part of growing up, of course, but we as parents know that we can always do our part to help our kids treat other children better and foster an atmosphere of cultural acceptance and mutual respect.
I’m often angered, even enraged, when I see so many people of Asian descent being treated with such unprovoked intolerance and non-sensical prejudice because of COVID. The hatred that has arisen from the fear of the pandemic also allowed me the chance to talk to other people in a way that I didn’t think was possible a couple years ago. It’s been refreshing to speak to other parents during this very difficult time in our collective pandemic experience and share our fears and uncertainty. We found that we’re on the same side and all want to protect each other and our children. This speaking and sharing with other parents also filled me with hope. I’ve seen an overwhelming amount of support these past months from all parts of the city that have made me feel we can turn a corner and stop discrimination against people of Asian and Pacific Islander descent. If we can all treat each other with compassion and respect and help raise our children with the passion for change I’m witnessing now, I will be most grateful and relieved. I believe this is possible – especially after seeing how other parents in our community have rallied and supported me, my family, and my culture.
Dr. Dagny Zhu is an Asian American ophthalmologist and practice owner based in Rowland Heights who is a first-generation Chinese immigrant. She is an accomplished eye surgeon who has experienced hate and discrimination against AAPI people both personally and professionally. Even though AAPI Heritage Month has come to an end, which is held every year in May, Dr. Zhu wants parents to know how to speak to kids on anti-Asian hate with a story of how she and her husband (also a first-generation immigrant) are raising their son.
Since many of us have been forced to slow down during the pandemic, nature and the environment has been getting noticed. We have taken to the outdoors to refresh ourselves, get the kids in nature and burn off steam. And what we find when we go out there is, well, pretty entertaining. Birds are the most easily noticed thing outdoors because of how active and varied they are
Some think of bird fanatics like the Jack Black character in the movie “Big Year,” where people keep lists of birds and compete to get the most species. Frankly, most of us are nothing like that. When birders go out and talk with community members, you will find that most people just enjoy whatever birds frequent their backyards — and may even go as far as providing food for them. If you supply a constant source of food, water and close-by plant shelter, you’ll find that your bird population will skyrocket.
Birds come and go with the seasons (as they migrate), and one minute you’ll find a hummingbird feeder hotly guarded by a swarm of hummers, and then they all disappear to Mexico, leaving you flat until spring when they return to nest. But many hang around all year long, and you’ll find that if you keep a simple feeder stocked, you’ll be treated to blush-red house finches, gold finches, the gray oak titmouse with his tiny crest and small groups of mourning doves in their lovely soft plumage.
If you go to the local park or golfing, there’s a whole new community of birds that require those large open spaces, and they are equally spectacular: Western bluebirds, who are bright blue with rosy chests, black phoebes with their black crest and bright white underside, robins and noisy scrub jays (blue and white). You just have to look for motion in the trees, bushes or on the ground, and you will easily find them there. Watch the skies for hawks, crows or turkey buzzards. Binoculars are always helpful, so you might want to throw a pair in the backseat of your car just in case you spot something cool.
There is no required equipment for birdwatching, but binoculars are really nice, like 8X binoculars that give you enough magnification to see really well — but not too much (since you’ve got to hold them still) and keep up with active birds. If you want to see reviews of binoculars, including kid-sized models, check out birdwatching.com.
Binoculars are one of those things you can spend a little cash on, or thousands, depending on what your budget is. If you really get into it, you can fall in love with spotting scopes or waders for water birds, or fancy telephoto lenses for your camera. If your kids are really into their smartphone apps, check out a couple of sites that are maintained by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology; BIRDNET and Merlin are well worth exploring. BIRDNET allows you to record the bird calls you hear and makes an educated guess at what the bird is. Pretty cool. Merlin will help you go from seeing a black bird on the ground that’s smaller than a sparrow to giving you some guesses on what the real name might be. The eBIRD app allows you to look at reports of birds in any area of the country so you can go find where to see a particular bird.
If you want to birdwatch anywhere in the country, go to youtube.com/c/CornellLabBirdCams and you can live-watch all sorts of birds living their lives. There are plenty of electronic resources out there, so watch your kids quickly become experts and start advising you.
If you decide to go get an overdose of birds, it’s hard to beat the Sepulveda Basin Wildlife Reserve. When you walk onto the trailhead, birds burst out of the bushes as you pass. In the mornings, bunnies and squirrels abound (no dogs, please).
Once you get to the wildlife lake area, be prepared to be wowed by the variety and quantity of birds. During winter, flotillas of white pelicans solemnly promenade, small dark coots will entertain your kids while they dive below the surface (challenge the kids to predict where they will pop up) and lots of common mallard ducks squabble over their girlfriends. Marvel at a whole colony of cormorants nesting in the trees across the way, sunning themselves or dramatically dive-bombing into the lake to gobble down fish. Large Canadian geese hang out in the winter here and arrive in flocks to splash down in the lake, making a heck of a racket with their honking. This place is a no-brainer to bring the kids for an afternoon’s entertainment.
Other places to go birdwatching are Franklin Canyon, Hansen Dam, O’Melveny Park, along the Los Angeles River, Malibu Lagoon, Ballona Wetlands and, of course, at the beach. You can also look up best spots for birdwatching in your area on the internet. Audubon birding groups usually offer organized walks, although at the moment we are on hiatus per pandemic restrictions. The San Fernando Valley Audubon Society has been working with the Resource Conservation District of the Santa Monica Mountains to provide schools virtual sessions on ecology and wildlife biology, so your kids may have already experienced our work in the classroom.
Birders are a social group, so if you see anyone looking at birds with binoculars, ask them what they are looking at. They are usually quite pleased to show you.
There are many Audubon chapters in the Los Angeles area. Check out the ones that are close to your neighborhood. San Fernando Valley Audubon’s website offers advice on equipment, parks to visit, backyard birding, feeders and guided walks. Some other chapters include Pasadena, Los Angeles, Santa Monica Bay, Sea & Sage (Irvine), Palos Verdes/South Bay, Pomona Valley, Conejo Valley, Antelope Valley, Santa Barbara, Riverside, Ventura, Channel Islands and San Diego.
Birding and Reading
There’s a huge array of guidebooks to help you identify that little brown bird on your back porch. For beginners, “Birds of Los Angeles” by Chris C. Fisher and Herbert Clarke is a good start because it doesn’t overwhelm you and sticks to common birds, with helpful drawings and tidbits about their lifestyles. “Sibley Birds West” by David Allen Sibley is easy to use and more expansive. Other areas may have local guides that would be useful outside the Los Angeles area.
Birdwatching magazines are plentiful, educational and have many opportunities to go on travel trips and learn about how and where to photograph fabulous birds. For example, “Birdwatcher’s Digest” and “Watching Backyard Birds” are both enjoyable, family-oriented magazines that will entertain, without going into scientific research.
But the most important thing is to just get out there and look at your winged neighbors living their dramatic lives, right under our noses — and know that we share this planet with marvelous other creatures.
By Elena Epstein
Prep Time: 2 mins Cook Time: 2 mins
- 1 1/2 cups fresh spinach
- 1/4 cup frozen pineapple
- 1/2 cup frozen mango
- 1 large banana
- 1 cup orange juice
1. Place all the ingredients in a blender and blend on high until smooth and creamy.
By Elena Epstein
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics is encouraging everyone to embrace their individuality and add a healthy twist to foods you already love.
March is National Nutrition Month and a great time to put a a healthy spin on our daily eating habits.
“We are all unique with different bodies, goals, backgrounds and tastes, so it only makes sense that our food choices will reflect that individuality,” said registered dietitian nutritionist Roxana Ehsani, a national spokesperson for the Academy in Las Vegas, Nev. “It’s possible for anyone to incorporate the foods you love into a healthy lifestyle.”
Ehsani recommends tips to reimagine traditional dishes:
- Cook with dried spices and herbs instead of salt to add flavor to your dishes
- Try different grains such as wild rice, whole-grain farro and whole-grain barley to reap the benefits of whole grains
- Go meatless: Serve up beans or lentils for a heart healthful plant-based protein
- Cook with vegetable oils instead of solid fats such as butter when cooking to limit saturated fat
- Eat 100-percent whole-wheat bread instead of white bread for more dietary fiber
- To decrease extra calories from fat, bake, grill, roast or steam your food instead of frying
- Sprinkle chia or ground flax seeds on cereal, salad or toast to increase consumption of omega-3 fatty acids
- For flavor, add lime, grapefruit or pineapple slices to glasses of water
- Cook grains in a low-sodium chicken or vegetable stock for flavor
- To add variety, enjoy vegetables in different forms — raw, steamed, roasted, grilled or sauteed.
“Fill half your plate with fruits and vegetables and the remaining quarters of your plate with whole grains and protein foods, such as lean meat, skinless poultry, seafood or beans,” Ehsani says. “With each meal, eat calcium-rich foods and drinks such as fat-free or low-fat milk, yogurt, cheese or a calcium-fortified soy beverage.”
By Elena Epstein
Catherine McCord, co-founder of One Potato and the founder of the popular Weelicious brand and mom of three has made it her mission to create easy yet tasty meal options for families. Author of three cookbooks, including “Smoothie Project,” she says she likes crafting Mexican-inspired recipes because many of them are vegetarian (or easily can be adapted to be vegetarian) and are always packed with flavor.
With this recipe, families can feel good about eating the whole pan, she says, since it’s packed with veggies!
Vegetarian Sheet Pan Nachos
4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons flour
2½ cups milk
2 cups Mexican cheese or a mix of Monterrey jack, mozzarella and cheddar
1 teaspoon nacho, taco or fajita seasoning
1 16-ounce bag tortilla chips
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 bell pepper, diced
1 cup frozen corn, defrosted
1 tomato, seeded and diced
½ cup sour cream
1 cup guacamole, or 1 ripe avocado, cut into chunks
1 lime, cut into wedges
Pickled onions (recipe below)
Melt the butter in a medium sauce pan on low to medium heat. Sprinkle in the flour and whisk until it thickens, creating a roux, about 1-2 minutes. Add about ½-cup milk, whisking continuously until milk is absorbed, and then add remaining milk. Continue cooking and stirring until bubbles start to appear.
Add cheese and taco seasoning to the roux and stir until mixture is melted and combined. Place the chips on a ½-sheet pan. Top chips with the nacho cheese mixture followed by beans, bell pepper, corn, tomatoes and guacamole, pickled onions and lime. You can also top with optional ingredients.
Kookoo Sabzi – Persian Fresh Herb Frittata
By Elena Epstein
The kitchen of my childhood was filled with fragrances of dill, mint, fenugreek and tarragon. Long after immigrating from Iran to L.A., my mom, aunts and cousins continued to scour the Persian market and the farmer’s market for the freshest herbs, gathering bunches in the kitchen to wash, chop and have ready for our favorite stews, rice dishes or to simply enjoy alongside feta cheese and walnuts for a quick snack or appetizer.
The essence of Persian cooking is in many ways the delicate combination of just the right herbs. These handful of herbs (sabzi) make up the staple of Persian cooking: dill, mint, Italian parsley, cilantro, chives, tarragon and fenugreek. The taste and indelible aroma of these herbs is a celebration of nature – harmony and renewal woven together – which is why Nowruz, a two-week celebration of Persian New Year, always begins on the first day of spring— a season of new beginnings.
One of my favorite herb-filled dishes is Kookoo Sabzi, and I turned to one of my favorite cookbook authors and L.A. moms, Naz Deravian, who shared this wonderful recipe from her book “Bottom of the Pot” (Flatiron Books).
The bunches upon bunches of green herbs that take over our kitchen table on a regular basis are mixed here with a few eggs and spices for a fragrant, fresh and vibrant Kookoo Sabzi. Use this recipe as a guide for all the greens and spices that can be thrown in.
This kookoo is prepared traditionally on the stovetop, which is the best way to brown the outside, but you can also place the pan or an oven-safe dish in a 350-degree oven for 30 to 45 minutes until set and broil for a couple of minutes to brown the top. If you prep the greens ahead of time, like the night before, then you can whip up a batch quickly and without much fuss.
You can serve Kookoo Sabzi any which way you like. Serve warm or at room temperature for a light lunch or dinner alongside some plain rice and yogurt, wrap in a piece of lavash or sangak bread with some sliced tomatoes, feta cheese and a few nuts, cut in smaller bite-size pieces for an appetizer spread, or serve with all the sides for brunch.
Kookoo Sabzi – Persian Fresh Herb Frittata
Serves 6 to 8
1 bunch parsley, tough stems trimmed
1 bunch cilantro, tough stems trimmed
1 large bunch dill, tough stems trimmed
1 bunch swiss chard or 1 bunch spinach, stems removed
1 bunch green onion
1 clove garlic, chopped
1/2 cup walnuts, roughly chopped (optional)
1/3 cup barberries, picked through, soaked for 10 minutes and drained, or 1/3 cup dried cranberries, or a combination thereof
1 teaspoon dried fenugreek, or a few fresh leaves, finely chopped (optional)
1 teaspoon dried tarragon, or 1 sprig fresh tarragon, leaves chopped (optional)
1½ teaspoons Diamond Crystal kosher salt
½ teaspoon turmeric
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground saffron (optional)
¼ teaspoon ground Damask rose petals
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
6 to 8 large eggs, as needed
1/3 cup olive oil, plus 2 tablespoons
Working in batches, finely pulse the greens in a food processor until finely chopped but not mushy. Alternately, use a sharp knife and large cutting board. Set the greens in a large bowl. Finely chop the green onion. You can do this in the food processor but take care: green onion quickly turns mushy. Add the green onion and the rest of the ingredients except for the eggs and the oil to the green herbs and give a stir to combine. Add 6 eggs and mix well to combine. The batter should have the consistency of thick yogurt or soft-serve ice cream. If it doesn’t, add more eggs one at a time and combine.
In a large (10-inch or 12-inch) nonstick frying pan with a lid, heat 1/3 cup olive oil over medium heat, add the batter and spread evenly. Cook the kookoo until the oil starts to bubble along the sides, about 3 minutes. Cover and cook until the kookoo starts to set, and the bottom is browned, 12 to 15 minutes.
Cut the kookoo evenly into 4 large pieces. Using a wide spatula, flip each piece over one at a time. You can also set a dish beside you, take one piece of kookoo out to make room, flip the other pieces and place the other piece back in. Drizzle 2 tablespoons oil in between all the cuts, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook uncovered until cooked through, about 10 minutes. Cut the kookoo into desired pieces and serve warm or at room temperature.
To bake the kookoo in the oven:
Preheat the oven to 350. Place oven rack in the center. Pour 1/3 cup of the olive oil in a 9×13-inch oven safe dish. Swirl the oil around to cover and up the sides. Heat the oil in the oven for 1 minute. Pour the batter in and spread evenly. Bake until just set, about 30 minutes. Cut into thirds and drizzle the remaining oil in between the cuts. Bake for an additional 15 to 20 minutes.
By Elena Epstein
Our favorite comfort food turned green for St. Patrick’s Day — with no dye! Recipe from wellness entrepreneur and cookbook author Catherine McCord, co-founder of meal delivery service One Potato and the founder of the popular Weelicious brand.
Prep Time: 10 mins Cook Time: 30 mins
- 1 pound elbow macaroni (you can also use campanelle, cavatappi, or shells)
- 3 cups whole milk
- 1 cups packed fresh spinach
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 4 cups grated white cheddar cheese
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 cups chopped broccoli florets
- 1 cup peas
1. Preheat oven to 350° F.
2. Cook pasta in salted water for about 3 minutes less than package directions call for, until al dente. Reserve half a cup of the pasta water and strain.
3. While the pasta is cooking. Place the milk and spinach in a blender and blend on high speed until smooth.
4. In a large pot melt the butter and then add the flour, whisking continuously over low-medium heat for 2-3 minutes to make a roux. Slowly whisk in the milk mixture and bring to a boil.
5. Reduce heat and simmer, whisking occasionally, 3 to 4 minutes, or until sauce is gently bubbling and starting to thicken.
6. Add reserved pasta water and cheese and whisk until melted. Stir in the pasta, salt, broccoli and peas.
7. Transfer to a greased 13″ x 9″ baking dish and bake for 20 minutes, or until cheese is bubbling and the pasta is set.
How about a bright green smoothie not just St. Patrick’s Day? Check out the recipe HERE!
By Marc Fienberg
I’m the author of “Dad’s Great Advice for Teens,” and the father of four kids, three of whom are professional teens, and a fourth who acts like one.
Now that we’re over that previous year whose name shall never be spoken out loud again, I think we all agree it’s time for a major reboot. Everybody’s got their own personal resolutions for the new year, but how do you know exactly what the right thing is for you to focus on? Here is some “great advice” on how to figure out the best way to define the “new you” for the new year, in addition to some of the best suggestions for almost everybody’s new-year focus.
Advice for teens
- Define your weaknesses and build a NEW YOU on top of those weaknesses
The first step towards building the best new you imaginable is to figure out the aspects of the old you that just weren’t working for you. List out what you think are some of your top personal weaknesses. Then throw that list away and make a real list, this time being absolutely honest about what your weaknesses really are. Then devise a small, realistic and measurable goal around each of those weaknesses. If your biggest weakness is staying up late on your phone, set a goal that the phone gets put away and charged outside your bedroom at a certain time at least three nights a week.
- Set a physical and mental goal for NEW YOU
Almost everything in your life, from your schoolwork to your friends to your relationships relies on a foundation of the two most important aspects of your day-to-day life. No, it’s not Twitter and TikTok– it’s your body and your mind. If your body or your mind falls out of shape, stand back, because lots of other things are going to fall apart around it. As a result, make sure you set at least one goal for a new you that’s focused on your body, and one that’s focused on your mind. For your body, you could commit to running a 10K race, increasing your flexibility enough to touch your toes, or doing 10 chin-ups. For your mind, you could decide to not get so stressed out by homework, meditate five days a week or eliminate negative thoughts about yourself.
- Don’t just set goals for NEW YOU, set one for NEW THEM
After coming up with a list of goals, make sure you include one goal that helps develop a “new them,” with the “them” being anybody less fortunate than yourself. Set a goal for hungry people to have more food to eat, and help them reach that goal by volunteering at a soup kitchen once a month. Or set a goal for a homeless person to have a more comfortable night, and help them reach that goal by giving them warm clothes, or thick socks or a heavy blanket. You may realize that helping create a new them for the new year will probably do more towards creating a new you than anything else you could possibly do.
4. Make NEW YOU take a ME day
There’s nothing that teens focus on more than their friends and relationships (with the possible exception of their hair, which obviously requires a great deal of focus). And that’s a good thing, because it’s our friendships and relationships that contribute more than any single other factor to our happiness. But every once in a while, make sure you focus an entire day on the most important person that you spend the most time with: yourself. At least once a month, take a day off from texting, calling and hanging out with your friends, and devote the entire day to numero uno. You can use that time to focus on a new hobby, setting other goals or just vegging out in front of the TV. It doesn’t matter what exactly you do, as long as you learn to be comfortable and enjoy the time you spend alone.
5. Don’t let NEW YOU procrastinate
If there’s one thing that’s almost universal among teens (and many adults too), it’s their amazing superhuman ability to push things off until later. But procrastination causes a lot of anxiety, and I think you’ll agree that anxiety is something we’re trying to eliminate, or at least reduce, from your repertoire. Recognize that procrastination is usually driven by a feeling of uncertainty about how to go about starting to do something. Once you come to terms with that, as well as learn some time-management skills like scheduling out smaller, more manageable goals, then you’re halfway towards reducing procrastination.
Advice for parents
It’s one thing to parent a teen, but to do it during a pandemic takes a superhuman feat of strength… and some strategy.
- Give some new, additional responsibilities
With all the extra time at home, your teenager is probably able to take on a bit more responsibility than they otherwise would have. Ideally, choose something that they know they’re going to have to learn once they leave home. For example, ask your teen to cook dinner for the family one night a week and give them the assistance they need to be successful at the undertaking.
Or if you can’t stand their cooking, ask them to start doing their own laundry. Giving them some additional responsibilities might not make them too happy at first (ok, it definitely won’t make them too happy) but it will allow them to spread their wings and feel a sense of independence, which is even more important when this pandemic has them feeling anything but independent.
- Emphasize exercise
Back in the good ol’ days when schools weren’t all online, there was something called P.E. class. Now more than ever, it’s important that teens remain active as much as possible. The best way of doing so is by asking them to propose their own exercise plan to keep active. Give them flexibility to keep active in whatever way they’re going to enjoy the most, but also make sure that any “Emphasize Exercise” plan meets the following criteria:
- Plans for some physical activity at least five days a week
- Plans for some physical activity at least 30 minutes per day
- Defines physical activities that are aerobic enough to get their heart rates up and build a sweat
- Balances different types of exercise (aerobic, strength, flexibility, etc.)
- Reevaluate social media and screen time policies
Living under quarantine probably requires a different screen time policy than teens would normally have. On the one hand, being home all day makes it very easy for teens to spend hours and hours on TikTok, Twitter, Instagram and other social media, and let’s just say that those hours probably aren’t doing great things for their development. On the other hand, their phone and computer are likely to be their primary method of interacting with their friends, and those social interactions definitely are something you want to encourage. As a result, you still want to manage their screen time and curtail it to a reasonable amount each day (2-3 hours per day seems reasonable for most teens), but you also want to allow and encourage almost unlimited time on live interactions with friends, be it Zoom meetings, Facetime, texting, or even gaming together online. It’s bad enough that they can’t see their friends in person very easily, so compensate by allowing them as much time as they need to see their friends virtually.