3 tbsp of Mindfulness
Kristal Damron is the owner and Chef de Cuisine of Reward Your Appetite Catering, a fine dining catering company offering exquisite cuisine with exemplary service. Kristal’s catering career was borne of a desire to spend more time cherishing others through her joy of food and elegant style. With business acumen she developed over 20 years in corporate finance, Kristal charted a course for success that included graduating with honors from the Arizona Culinary Institute in Scottsdale, Arizona, and publishing a book to inspire elegant entertaining throughout the year. In addition to her culinary training, Kristal holds a BA and an MBA from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She lives in Phoenix, Arizona, with her husband, Jared, and their two daughters, Arianna Victoria and Alexandria Isabella. She and her family enjoy traveling, visiting parks and museums, and spending time with family and friends. Kristal can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or 708.351.4866.
A. Cooking is an essential part of living a healthy life, what tip can you share with readers so a tired parent can still make time to feed their children a healthy meal at the end of the day.
As a working mom, I understand the concern of working all day and then coming home to make dinner for the family. A home cooked meal is very important for a healthy lifestyle because you can manage the ingredients you use. Here are some of my tips.
1) Plan ahead. I like to use a portion of the weekend to think about what I am going to cook for the upcoming week. I will also, if time permits, go to the grocery store and purchase those items so I already have them in the house.
2) Do advance prep where possible. When I talk to other working moms, one of the consistent concerns I hear is that chopping vegetables makes meal prep take too long. My suggestion to prep them ahead, if possible. Pre-cut vegetables can be stored in the refrigerator or freezer and still maintain nutritional value and usefulness. This saves you time when cooking the meal.
3) Use crock pots. I love this cooking tool. I can prep my ingredients the night before and put them in the crock pot in the morning. Set it to the proper temperature, and off to work I go. When I return home, dinner is served.
4) Re-purpose leftovers. I did a short segment on this on Reward Your Appetite Catering's Instagram Stories. I had leftover grilled pork chops. I added just a few extra ingredients and created a new meal for the family that was tasty and elegant.
5) Use quality frozen ingredients. This could be rice or vegetables. When using these, I just add a few ingredients to enhance the flavor and make it delicious. Some favorites are onions, garlic, butter, salt, pepper, or cheese. A quick simple complement to the main protein of the meal.
B. Do you have any advice on how to involve the younger generation in the kitchen?
When I think of the younger generation, I think about myself at that age. Why was I drawn to the kitchen? At first it was because my grandmother was a homemaker and she believed girls should know how to cook. However, as I got older, I wanted to learn how to make some of her delicious foods she prepared for the family. My best advice to moms is to be a role model. Young children look to us and will mimic us. Children love to help Mom with just about any task. So when I am cooking and not impatient, I let the girls help. They like to break the eggs or stir the sauces. This time becomes a mother / daughter bonding moment I will look back on and cherish. Before you know it, they will be cooking for you.
C. As humans, we thrive on social connections. But most often, from planning and prepping for an event, as hosts, we are usually too tired to actually enjoy the get-together. What are your recommendations to mindfully be present and enjoy the special time with our loved ones?
I love this topic and it is the essence of my new book, "Entertaining and Celebrating: An Elegant Feast For Every Season". These are my three recommendations.
Create the right ambience. Nothing brightens the spirits more than a room and table that have been exquisitely decorated, with background music to enhance the mood. These special touches tell guests that this will be an event to remember.
Prepare fabulous food. Whether you pick a theme or serve a variety of traditional dishes, it must be delicious and appeal to your guests. Plan ahead with your guests' palates in mind and always start with quality ingredients.
Plan for service. This is essential and allows you, the host, to engage freely with your guests without the worry and hassle of the event. Service should be part of the planning process. This could be as simple as requesting friends and family to assist, or hiring a service team. It’s well worth the investment to ensure that everyone, especially the host, can have a great time.
D. What are your thoughts on eating seasonal foods and any special food(s) you particularly enjoy during summer?
Seasonal foods are great to use as their freshness allows you to create cuisines that pair well with how your palate changes throughout the year. For example, in spring and summer, we typically crave lighter, fragrant foods. They are easier to digest for an active lifestyle, and they remind us of the season. In fall and winter, foods are typically heartier and more robust in flavor. We desire comfort foods when is the weather is brisk or cold to help us feel warm and cozy.
In summer, I like to eat fruits, salads, and grilled meats. I love the taste of outdoor cooking paired with a citrus vinaigrette, either for my salad or for dressing the grilled meat. I also enjoy broth or pureed soups in the summer. They are easy to make and packed with delicious flavor. They make great leftovers because they freeze well. Enjoy!!!