The End of Summer Blues
How did we get to August? All of a sudden it’s back-to-school mode. Suddenly we’re shopping for new backpacks, shoes and supplies. I need to make sure everyone finishes their summer reading and is ready to hit the ground running. Easier said than done. My sister sent me a great article by Dr. Jerry Weichman about the importance of transitioning back to routines before school starts. Here are the tips I took away:
- Get them back on a sleep routine and regular bedtime. No way that’s happening for my teenager, but I know we need to get to bed earlier.
- Restart routines and standards. Limit screen-time, have them do chores around the house. Work before play.
- Summer reading. Break it down and get it done.
- School anxiety. I’m definitely starting to feel this one. We have one starting high school and two middle schoolers. The homework is overwhelming. We’ll start to talk about our homework “plan” for the year and be positive and encouraging.
- Family dinner. You guys know I was happy to see this in the article. Sitting down to a family meal, without electronics or distractions, gives kids a respite from stress and pressure. It creates a structure to end their day. It should be a priority to eat together as much as possible during the week.
I hope you all enjoy your last few weeks (or days) of summer. Let me know about your back-to-school plan, I can use all the inspiration!
We fly home to Houston today, and there’s nothing better than Tex-Mex after a travel day. Truth is, we’ll drive straight to our favorite Mexican place and I may order up a margarita. If you’re cooking at home, consider making chicken enchilada casserole. A chopped salad with jalapeño ranch would be the perfect addition.
We’re having one of my favorite meatless Monday meals. My oldest starts pre-season field hockey two-a-day practices today, and she is going to be a zombie. Don’t tell her I said that. On deck is veggie sushi and miso soup with bok choy and tofu for the win. Look for organic tofu. I like the sprouted tofu available at Trader Joe’s, but any organic firm or semi-firm tofu will work. Look for miso paste in the refrigerated section, and again it’s a good thing to buy organic because soy beans are a heavily sprayed crop.
My oldest has a long practice in the Houston heat and humidity and I think something light and tasty is in order. I’m making chicken taco bowls with a “serve yourself” array of toppings. To make them, pan sear or grill a couple chicken breasts. You can sprinkle them with taco seasoning, or just use salt and pepper. After they’re cooked, chop the chicken into very small pieces and give them a generous squeeze of lime and sprinkle of kosher salt. Set out salad greens, brown rice, black beans, guacamole, pico de gallo, shredded jack cheese or crumbled cotija cheese, salsa verde and all of your favorite taco toppings. I’ll use the organic pre-made brown rice from Trader Joe’s (find it in the freezer section), you could use the pre-made quinoa if you prefer. Finish it off with creamy cilantro lime dressing. When I make the dressing I sometimes substitute Greek yogurt for the mayo, but it’s delicious either way. If you don’t feel like making beans, drain and rinse canned beans. If you don’t feel like making guac, buy it. Same goes for the salsa verde. No judgement here!
It’s a busy work day. I have a deadline for the Houston Chronicle, three meetings and a doctor’s appointment. Oh brother. Something super simple, please. Sheetpan sausage and peppers with a salad on the side. Kids can pile the cooked sausage into hoagie rolls, or have them with a side salad.
I’m teaching a private cooking class tonight, so my kids will get something simple. Gluten-free fusilli pasta and Rao’s marinara is my go-to fast dinner. You can change it up by adding sautéd mild Italian sausage, broccoli and sautéd shallots. Or just keep it super simple.
Super easy buffalo wings and tons of raw carrots and celery. Serve with ranch or bleu cheese dressing to tame the heat.
Invite people over and make a side of wild salmon. It’s the easiest preparation with the biggest wow factor. Don’t forget the yogurt sauce and a big spinach salad.
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