Sunday, June 19, 2011

Happy Father's Day!

Happy Father's Day to all of the dad's out there, especially mine!  In addition to my wonderful moms, I also have a really great group of dads.  I have to say that the majority of my cooking and baking tips come from my mom and grandmas but I have also learned many life lessons from my dad and grandpas.

My Dad: 

My dad is like most dads, he likes his meat and potatoes and tries to get a few vegetables in here and there.  Although a steak on the grill with a side of bearnaise is his idea of a perfect meal he also strives to keep his diet balanced.  From my dad I have learned to eat what you like, find healthy foods that appeal to you and always allow yourself a treat.

From as far back as I can remember my dad has eaten cheerios for breakfast with a large glass of orange juice and sometimes a banana, during lent he is the one in the family that gives something up (dessert) and actually sticks with it and he may only have a small list of preferred veggies but included on it is carrots, spinach, lettuce, tomatoes and corn and I am OK with that, his favorites make a colorful rainbow of nutrients.  Growing up I can remember trying to sneak extra nutrients into his diet by grinding up green vegetables (brussels sprouts mainly) and adding to his foods, I figure if he didn't know they were in there he would eat them willingly and be healthier!

My dad also taught me the importance of allowing yourself a treat.  As a kid when we would go on family vacations the end of each day would include stargazing and eating nutty buddies.  While I may not remember all of the constellations I remember the good times that I had with my dad, and come to think of it, I could really use a nutty buddy every once in awhile!

My Grandpa Homer: 

Yes, you remember him, my 93 year old grandpa who can pretty much run circles around me!  Needless to say he is role model for anyone in the health and nutrition category.  He exercises daily, eats well and takes care of himself.  From my grandpa Homer I have learned a lot of things but what sticks out the most at this time is the importance of a good breakfast.

Skip breakfast?  No way, not if you are around Colonel Hilleary.  Some days my grandpa will eat a hot breakfast and some days cereal and fruit.  The breakfast that I am most impressed by is his oatmeal.  While visiting a few years back my brother and I woke up bright and early and were told that we were having oatmeal for breakfast.  I was assuming oatmeal meant a packet of instant mixed with water and served in a small bowl.  We were wrong.... we were given a bowl of oatmeal and then instructed to visit the "oatmeal topping station".  Oatmeal topping STATION?  Yes, you heard right.  On his counter was a carousel of just about everything that we could imagine to top our oatmeal , all conveniently in jars on a lazy susan type thing that allowed for easy access.  Should I try dried cranberries and walnuts?  No wait, how about brown sugar, cinnamon and pecans.  How about raisins and sunflower seeds?  I am telling you, the possibilities were endless...  Breakfast truly is the most important meal of the day and with all of these choices it is no doubt he never gets bored.

My Grandpa Harry:

My grandpa Harry was also a stickler for health and wellness.  He knew that the key to living a long and healthy life was through eating well, exercising and regular check-ups with his doctor.  Being that my grandparents lived so close they would often come to presentations and health fairs that I would have at work and genuinely seemed interested in whatever topic I may have been discussing.  My grandpa Harry always ate three square meals a day, he grew up in Athelstane Wisconsin, any less than 3 hearty meals a day would not have fueled him for long days on the farm.  He also knew the importance of exercise, whether it was working in his yard, using his NordicTrack or talking walks with my grandma he was active just about everyday.

Eating healthy and getting exercise is great but what really sticks with me about my Grandpa Harry is how he always insisted on daily snacks.  My grandparents had many apple trees in their yard so often snacks were apple slices or the occasional applesauce fresh off the stove with some strawberries or rhubarb mixed in.  There was never a candy dish in the house that wasn't full of healthy treats like nuts or trail mix so we never had to look far when we got the mid-meal munchies.  Snacks help us to eat in moderation and make a much needed addition to our days.  A bedtime snack was the one I remember the most, it was my favorite part of visits with my grandparents.  Each night we would put our pajamas on and share a snack while we reminisced about the day and discussed what the next day would bring.


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