by Rheya Carrington
I see you working hard.
Giving to everyone before giving to yourself.
Making sure everyone is fed, bathed, in a clean space, homework done, running to and from practice and giving all your love.
I know it has been even harder with COVID.
I want you to know… I see you, girl.
I’m here to tell you to take a deep breath. Literally, let’s do it together.
Inhale…1,2,3 and exhale….1,2,3.
I want you to remember to give yourself some grace and to pat yourself on the back for all that you do. And if you have young babies, know that as they grow, they will acknowledge all your efforts even if they don’t always tell you. Your kids understand more than you may think. My oldest is about to be 9 and we’ve been butting heads lately, his tone when he responds to Momma has been tiptoeing on disrespectful. Now, if you know my son he is a quiet, gentle and an emotional soul, but if you heard his responses sometimes….whew chile. Anyways, the other night at dinner he randomly told me how proud of me he was. He said, “You take care of everything Mom and you take care of everyone and I’m just really proud of you.” As I held back tears, I can tell you the moments like that make all the sleepless nights, loads of laundry, attitude, and endless dishes worth it.
One of my passions is cooking and I love making healthy meals for my family. I believe your body is a temple and we must treat it as such, also coming from someone who loves drinking wine. As I got older, I started really diving into the benefits of eating a well-rounded diet and I am not talking about that pyramid you use to see at school. I am talking about eating every color of the rainbow. I grew up eating everything but now I practice a plant-based diet, I will eat seafood but try to have it in moderation. Now my husband and kids, still eat everything… which means this Momma cooks everything. Even if it means I make a separate meal for me but for me or tweak it and add more veggies on the side, it’s worth it.
I want to share a little bit of knowledge that I’ve learned along the way to help you prepare quick, easy meals that are also healthy! I will also provide some pantry staples, menu lists, meal prepping items, so you can always throw something together and make your life easier. Do NOT get me wrong, I have a bag of frozen dino nuggets in my freezer, because sometimes it be like that. However, it doesn’t always HAVE to BE like that.
People always ask how do I get my kids to eat so well? My trick? I started them young, exploring different fruits and vegetables. This isn’t going to work for everyone, but I know kids are sponges so if they see you eating the brussels sprouts from an early age Momma, they will likely follow suit. I also didn’t give a choice on what they “want” to eat for their main meals. They eat what I eat and what I make. I do take requests though 😊 I’ve seen as they get older, the pickier and more vocal they are on things, lately I always deal with the “What’s for dinner?” followed by an orchestra of groans once the answer is revealed (lol). And I do accommodate to an extent (i.e. my son doesn’t like avocado but my daughter does. Neither of them like onions, so I give them 2 pieces instead of 10. For some reason my daughter doesn’t like the spears of the asparagus – hello best part! You get the jist). We have a saying in the house, “You get what you get, and you don’t throw a fit.” Doesn’t always work but it’s a friendly reminder.
They started to take more of an interest in helping in the kitchen and I am so happy it happened organically and that they want to learn. I will prepare them with basic skills before leaving the nest regardless, but this way is much more fun! We get to create memories and I love hearing them reminisce on a time we made… carrot cake, eggrolls, pancakes, etc. Being in the kitchen instills confidence and pride when they do things on their own, handle a knife, turn on a stove, pull something from the oven. I’m also convinced it tastes better when YOU’RE the one who helped cook it.
Don’t fret if you are a meat eater like most of my family, I will also include plenty of meat options if you are not ready to take that step into meatless dishes. To circle back, incorporating the rainbow with your meals will do wonders for your body, no matter where you get your source of protein. I believe in the power of food, and it will reflect a healthier lifestyle for you and for your family. We want to see our babies grow and live full lives, eating the rainbow is just one way to help you be able to do that!
Here are some tips I’ve learned along the way that I hope helps you and yours:
- Your palate changes: just because you didn’t like carrots, raisins, broccoli, etc when you were 15 doesn’t mean you won’t like it now. Try it again!
- Be open to try new things. Maybe you tried asparagus and hated them, try a new recipe. Your spices and method make a HUGE difference. Don’t be afraid to fail!! There are PLENTY of times I missed the mark on dinner. It truly is trial, and error and you’ll learn what works for you and your family.
- Reach out! Don’t hesitate to ask a friend, post on FB, IG, TikTok, Snapchat or whatever other social media platform you are on. Or contact us here.
- Start small. It is about progression, not perfection. If you heavily consume meat, I encourage you to try a meatless meal one time a week. If that is too much, then once or twice a month.
- Balance. I know some people hate this word. What I mean is don’t deprive yourself of bread, pizza, favorite comfort meal or wine. Just don’t have it every meal. There has to be somewhere in between the two and this radiates into any aspect of life.
We need to lean on each other, this includes sharing recipes! Below is one of my favorite meatless meals that is quick, easy, and healthy (and no one complains!). My daughter recently had a stomach bug and was SO upset she could not participate in Taco night that she made me promise that I’d make it again once she felt better. Now, these are in constant rotation on my menu.
Portobello Mushroom Fajita Tacos
- Portobello Mushroom Caps (I buy a pack that has 2-3 depending on size and it is enough to feed my family of 4; also if you know my husband, he can EAT)
- 1 Red Bell Pepper; I personally like to use red, orange or yellow because they are sweeter than green but use whatever you would like!
- ½ Sweet Onion
- Tortillas (I buy ½ corn and ½ flour mix that has 12 in them, we use 8-10)
- “The Mix”; I swear I use this almost EVERYTIME I cook.
The Mix consists of Salt & Pepper, Chili Powder and Garlic Powder (if I am feeling lazy and don’t use fresh garlic).
- Taco Seasoning
- 1.5-2 Tbs EVOO
- Cheese (if desired, sometimes I use vegan cheese and the kids never know)
- Fresh Garlic
- Cut all your veggies vertically to make long and thin strips. Mince your garlic.
- Grab your pan add ½ the oil, put it on medium low heat
- Add your fresh garlic and let that sit for 2 minutes. Then add your onions for another minute or two.
*If you aren’t using fresh garlic, just go straight to your onion.
- Add in your peppers and mushrooms, the other half of your EVOO, The Mix and taco seasoning.
- Let that sit for 5 minutes, while that sits, preheat your oven to 350 degrees
- Grab a cookie sheet, line your tortillas up and sprinkle cheese on them (optional).
- After 5 minutes, stir your pepper, mushroom, and onion mix. You can add a little bit more seasoning if you see fit. Let it sit for 2-3 minutes. Stir again and repeat. You can turn off the stove and let it sit while you wait for your tortillas. Your veggies should look like they lost a little structure. HA! I know that is a weird way to put it but not as crisp as they do raw.
- Add your tortillas to the oven and heat them for 3 minutes.
- Take out your tortillas and add your veggie mix to them.
- Add whatever optional items you like and ENJOY!
There are many ways to alter this recipe and still keep it healthy and easy to make. I try to avoid dairy as much as possible, so I use vegan cheese. For a moment in time, we thought my son had a wheat allergy, so we used almond flour tortillas. You can switch up the mushrooms but the portobello gives that meaty texture.
I hope you like this recipe! Tag me (@Rheya_Sunshine on IG) and let me see how it came out. I can’t wait to see your variations. Also, let me know what you think!