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Getting Dinner on the Table

By Becky Freeman

Start filing recipes that are yummy, easy and make-you-look- good in a folder and keep it handy in the kitchen. (Ask other moms for their top two favorite recipes in this category.)  Best cookbooks? Hands down, I've found, are church cookbooks.  The recipes are tried and true nearly always yummy.

(Jane Jarrell is a funny, talented author/speaker/friend of mine. She has a GREAT website with fun cookbooks to browse:  Just as I Ham, for the best of church supper recipes, cookbooks for mother & child fun, suggestions for making your home a fun place to live.  (Check out

     Main-Dish: I often cook up a couple of pounds of hamburger or chicken breasts (cut up in 1 inch pieces), season it and refrigerate it while I'm loading the dishwasher or unloading groceries.  Then, near lunch or supper, I use the pre-cooked meat to stuff Pitas or potatoes; put it in spaghetti, chili (1 can tomatoes, 1 can Ranch Style beans), Sloppy Joes or Hamburger Helper; sprinkle it on top of nachos or salads (a summer favorite is a lettuce and tomato salad tossed with beans, grated cheese, corn chips, crumbled hamburger and Catalina dressing).

My kids love sautéed chicken breast pieces dipped in Bar-B-Que sauce or honey and I can fix these from frozen chicken breasts in no time at all. (Slightly thaw in microwave before cutting and browning in skillet with some olive oil.)

Breakfast for Dinner (Bacon, Eggs and Grits; or French Toast and leftover lean ham slices) has saved many a hectic night when I don't feel like cooking or forget to plan a real meal.

Even my husband loves frozen pizzas when I dress them up”with extra toppings and cheese and serve with a simple salad or apple slices.

Flour tortillas, filled with cheese, a little hot sauce, and just about anything else (beans, chicken, scrambled eggs) then folded over and microwaved or sautéed in a little butter, are yummy and quick. (We call these Gobblers.)

Dessert: Ice Cream (Blue Bell, of course, if you are from the south) with fun toppings; instant banana pudding; fresh fruit topped with real whipped cow's cream; freeze 'n’bake cobblers, and even bowls of cereal or oatmeal 'n’raisins, will satisfy the urge for a quick, easy sweet treat while giving your family a little nutrition. (More nutrition than cakes, cookies and candies, anyway!)

For a fast, delicious, not-too-bad-for-you dessert or breakfast treat: Cut up one apple, place in microwavable bowl.  Top with 1 large marshmallow, 1 t. of brown sugar, 2 t. butter, 3 T.  uncooked oatmeal. Cover with plastic, microwave 2-3 minutes until apples are tender.  Top with milk or cream.

I love Liz Higgs recipe for casseroles:  Take everything on the left half of your refrigerator. Combine it with everything on the right half. Sprinkle with potato chips and bake at 350.

Keep Reading

Take Your Vitamins: Every mom needs to take Vitamin C (1000 mg.) and E (200- 400 mg.), Essential Fatty Acid or Flax Seed Oil, at a minimum, along with a good multiple vitamin.  Many nutritionists recommend adding a green drink (barley or algae or some combination) or spirulina tablets (I use Earthrise brand) to your diet for extra energy and nutrition.

For chronic fatigue, a combination of Co-Q 10 (30 mg.)  and the amino acid L-Carnitine (500 mg.), taken up to 3 times daily, is the combination of nutrients most often recommended in the most recent studies I've seen.  Gingko, Ginseng and Garlic (the 3 “G’s) are also favorite immune-fighting, energy-producing favorites. Of course, check with your doctor or certified nutritionist before taking any herb, vitamin, or medication. (My favorite reference, health book is Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine.  Absolutely worth the investment.  Our family almost NEVER needs to go to the doctor.)

Warning: Avoid any natural energy pill”with ephedra or ma huang, no matter how tempted you are to take something promising instant energy”in order to keep up with your preschooler.  Not only can it make your heart race, it's been found to push some people, with sensitive chemistry,  into frightening and even fatal manic episodes and schizophrenic behavior.  We witnessed the scary manic-producing effect of ephedra (taken as Metabolife) on a member of our own family.  It is a real danger, not just news hype. (See Reader's Digest, October 2000 –Herbal Enemy No. 1)

Diet: Get a balance of protein, fruits and veggies and whenever possible, choose whole grains or complete starches (brown rice, oatmeal, potatoes, healthy cereals, whole wheat pita bread) instead of breads made with yeast.   I don't worry about using a little real butter or olive oil.  Studies show that a little fat in your diet keeps you satisfied much longer! (And it sure makes food taste better.)

Sweets? Deserts are nice treats, once in a while, but you know the score.  The less sugar, the more healthy ingredients, and the better you'll feel.  Of course there are those days when nothing but chocolate will do. Just make sure you get really good quality chocolate (over quantity) and savor it slowly!  (If you are a chocolate connoisseur, ask for gift certificates from for your birthday or Mother's Day.  Your gourmet chocolate arrives on ice, in a Styrofoam container! Very impressive. )

Wetting Your Whistle: I've finally given up all soft drinks- regular and diet. Took me awhile, but I found I was highly allergic to Nutrasweet, gave me awful headaches and the regular soft drinks went straight to my hips.  With bottled water everywhere now, it’s easy to get hooked on the clean refreshing taste of H20. (Try putting a few plastic bottles of water in the freezer filled ½ full. This freezes into ice. Then fill with more water and you have a great cold drink all day. )

Caffeine: the studies and reviews in the scientific literature are thoroughly mixed!  However, most experts say that we can tolerate 1-2 cups of coffee a day well, and for most people, this bit of caffeine clears the cobwebs and lifts the mood.  I tend to be lethargic by nature so caffeine doesn't seem to over-rev my system.  Many people find that caffeine makes their heart race, gives them the jitters, adds to PMS symptoms, affects their nursing infants, and ultimately brings them up only to send them crashing an hour later. You are going to have to be the judge on this one.  But nearly everyone agrees that more than 2 cups of coffee a day is not good for your health

Juice Break! I love orange juice in the morning, but I know it's loaded with sugar – albeit in the form of natural fructose.   I'd like to cut back on sugar so I mix fruit juice, ½ and ½, with sparkling mineral water.  It's delicious, bubbly, and children love it, too.  (Try grape, apple and pineapple juice this way as well.)

© Becky Freeman
Becky Freeman is an award-winning, best-selling author, national speaker and humor columnist, and radio/TV media personality. Among her many inspirational/true-life/humor books are fun titles like "Worms in My Tea: And Other Mixed Blessings" (nominated for a Gold Medallion), "Coffee Cup Friendship & Cheesecake Fun: Stories and Adventures Between Girlfriends", and many more. See her website at!


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