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Get Healthy Recipe Ideas from Jeanette!

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Jeanette from “Jeanette’s Healthy Living” is a mom to four boys and loves cooking healthy meals for her family! She shares why eating healthy is so important to her family and suggests healthy recipes ideas.

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Tell us more about yourself, your site, and your family.

I’m the mother of four boys, ranging in age from ten to twenty, and the wife to my college sweetheart, who I’ve been married to for 25 years! I started my blog, Jeanette’s Healthy Living, almost three years ago as a place to record food I was making for friends in my community with cancer. As my blog evolved, and our family situation changed, I started to include allergy friendly foods (one of my kids was found to have food allergies several years ago) as well as food that I was making for my father-in-law who had Parkinson’s Disease and was on a soft-food diet. Although I was born and raised in the United States, I grew up eating mostly home-cooked Chinese food. Today, as a mom, I love exploring all different ethnic cuisines and introducing these foods to my family and friends. You’ll find all sorts of recipes on my blog, from Asian-inspired dishes to Greek dishes to Georgian dishes to Ghanaian food.

What inspired you to start cooking healthy meals?  Why do you think it is important for moms to be health conscious when cooking?

I’ve always been a foodie, and my mom cooked very healthy when I was growing up, so I never felt deprived of good flavor in the name of health. Although I’ve always cooked fairly healthy, it wasn’t until I started researching foods that could help my friends with cancer, that I started really paying attention to the nutrients that each unique whole food provides for our body, and the harm that processed foods can do to our bodies. In addition to eating a variety of whole foods, the way we prepare it is also so important. As I cooked more and more for friends with cancer, I paid special attention to how I prepared their meals, making sure not to use too much fat or sugar, and using healthier cooking techniques.

As a mom, I think we play a major role in the health of our family. Left to their own devices, most kids and husbands would eat way more processed foods and fast food than they should. Moms typically do most of the grocery shopping, so we can control what foods we supply our kids with. What I learned is that kids are very trusting – they trust that you’re providing them with good food, that you’re feeding them the right foods. That’s a huge responsibility. By being good role models as well as cooking healthily for the entire family, we as moms have a lot of influence on the long-term food choices that our kids will make as adults. Although my kids tease me about all the healthy foods I make them, they also know that all those double portions of vegetables and fruits that I serve them play a huge role in why they are healthy and rarely get sick. They are also so much more aware of what unhealthy food choices look like. Hopefully, as young adults, they will continue to make healthy food choices.

Where do you find ideas for your recipes?  Do you read any cookbooks or blogs?

I get my inspiration for my blog from the foods I’m craving or that I’ve sampled on a trip or at a restaurant. I’m a curious eater and love recreating foods I’ve enjoyed somewhere else back in my own kitchen. My kitchen is my chemistry lab and lots of experimenting goes on. Because I have learned to cook food from so many different countries, I am familiar with lots of different ingredients, spices, and sauces, so often, I mix and match and “cross-pollinate” recipes from different cultures. I used to subscribe to lots of different magazines, but now with the internet, it’s so easy to search for just about any recipe you want. I do have my favorite cookbooks that I go back to, including a collection of cookbooks that my aunt, Florence Lin, wrote many years ago. They are classical Chinese recipes. I also love reading other people’s blogs – there are so many out there with lots of neat ideas.

You are a chef for, at least, four sons!  What are their favorite meals that you cook?

I sure do feel like a short-order chef many days. I kid my boys about thinking that what I do is “normal!” They do have it pretty good. In fact, I’m the one often begging to go out for dinner so I can get a break. My sons and husband would rather just eat in “Chef Jeanette’s Kitchen.” One of my kids’ favorite meals is Turkey Bolognese. They also love my Skinny Spinach Dip and Buffalo Chicken Dip. My husband’s favorite dish hands-down is Kung-Pao Chicken (I used to make this on a weekly if not daily basis for him and his suitemates when we were in college).

What are a few easy and healthy recipes you enjoying making?

I love Asian noodle soups for lunch – they are super quick and easy to pull together. My favorites are Red Curry Coconut Noodle Soup, and Korean Ramen Noodle Soup. When I’m really feeling lazy, I just warm up some chicken soup, and toss in leftover noodles, some chopped Chinese veggies and poach an egg right in the pot. It takes just a few minutes to pull together, but it’s healthy and satisfying.

What do you look forward to the most when preparing family dinners?

I love mixing things up at dinnertime. Almost every night is an adventure for my kids – they never know what to expect, except that they will probably be eating something they’ve never tried before – it might something Jamaican, Thai, Indian or Ghanaian. Of course, I have my go-to meals too when I need something tried and true. The kitchen is my safe haven. When I’ve had a stressful day, it’s my place to unwind. Cooking is my pleasure and it’s my way of showing my family how much I love and care about them. I love seeing their eager eyes as they anticipate dinnertime – they look forward to each and every meal that I prepare for them. There is no greater reward than satisfying my family’s appetites with something healthy and delicious, and letting them know that there’s love in each and every bite.

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