Hello, and welcome to Wholesome Family Kitchen! I’m Amanda, the writer-cook-baker-photographer behind this blog. I am married to a great guy who pretends to enjoy washing the dishes and cleaning up after the messes I make in the kitchen in exchange for being chief taste-tester and batter-bowl-licker. Together we have two sons, ages 7 and 12, who love to help (make a mess) in the kitchen, almost as much as they love to eat.
In my previous life (i.e., before I had kids, or rather, before I had two kids), I’ve worked as a writer, editor, web-content developer, and college writing teacher. I’ve spent time in the high-tech industry and academic publishing, but at the end of the day, my favorite place to spend time has always been the kitchen. As my family can attest, I’m my most happy self when I am in the kitchen, cooking or baking (but not washing dishes!), poring over my latest cookbook purchase or the newest issues of my favorite food magazines, talking about food and nutrition (to my kids, or really to anyone who will listen), or just sitting around the table, swapping stories and enjoying conversation while eating good, wholesome food. I especially love cooking for and feeding other people, and, for me, the ultimate compliment is when someone asks me for the recipe for something I made that he or she enjoyed. Sharing recipes, telling stories, connecting with people over food… all these things make me happy, and all these things led me to start this blog.
But lest you think that my kitchen is all smiles and laughter, sunshine and rainbows, please allow me to dispel that notion here and now: I am a mom of two energetic boys, and as anyone who has a family to feed knows, cooking isn’t always the most relaxing activity. Yes, I love to cook, and I usually find solace in the kitchen, but… sometimes… when it’s been a long day in the parenting trenches, I’m tired, the kitchen is a disaster, everyone is hungry and grumpy, and I still have to make dinner… I just want to retreat from the kitchen and curl up in bed, covers pulled dramatically over my head. We all have those days, don’t we? Even for someone like me who loves to cook, I’ll admit that after the birth of my second son, amidst the haze of sleepless nights and endlessly busy days, cooking started to become a chore, one more thing I had to do, like paying bills or doing laundry. But now that my kids are a little bit older, I’m finding my happy groove in the kitchen once again, with a renewed purpose. My “groove” used to involve spending entire Sundays cooking elaborate meals with music blaring in the background, and although those marathon cooking sessions still happen, they’re different now: I’ll spend a few hours in the kitchen on a Sunday cooking for my future, grateful self (e.g., batch-cooking grains for quick weeknight meals or baking granola for simple weekday breakfasts). The music is still cranked up, but there are more young helpers in the kitchen (which means more One Direction, less Nina Simone). I still get excited when I can find time to experiment with an ambitious new recipe or tackle a complex baking project, but let’s face it: My day-to-day cooking, by necessity, has become more practical.
These days, I’m looking for ways to make my time in the kitchen count, while still enjoying the process of putting a delicious, nutritious meal on the table for my family. Like most busy parents today, I don’t have as much time to spend in the kitchen as I used to have. And as a mom of two rapidly growing, always-ravenous boys (seriously, they are always hungry), I’ve learned that having quick, nutritious options for snacks and meals is a necessity. Fueling children’s hungry tummies and growing bodies and meeting their boundless energy needs can become a full-time job! What I’ve found over the years is that getting them involved in the kitchen, giving them age-appropriate cooking tasks, and talking with them about how and why to make healthful food choices most of the time all help to make our family kitchen a more productive, less stressful place. (But, let’s be honest: Sometimes, when I am not my most patient and/or energetic self, the kitchen becomes a one-mom show and I quietly immerse myself in making dinner or baking a batch of muffins while the boys—both big and small—are kept otherwise occupied.)
Although the way I cook has been changing over the years, what I cook has remained the same: I’m passionate about cooking and baking with real, whole foods and natural, minimally processed ingredients, especially when it comes to feeding my kids. You won’t find a lot of “meat and potatoes” recipes here, but you will find a lot of seasonally inspired, mostly vegetarian dishes featuring fresh fruits and vegetables and whole grains. And because I believe in balance and moderation, not deprivation, you’ll also find a fair amount of sweets and treats (read: chocolate!), often with the nutrition bumped up a bit (made with natural, less-processed sweeteners and other better-for-you ingredients).
I am not a classically trained chef—in fact, I am a messy cook, a slow chopper, and a terrible multitasker—but I’ve learned a few things in my kitchen through trial and error and prepared many healthful yet flavorful dishes that satiate both my meat-loving husband and our voracious, growing boys, and I’d like to share them with you here in this space. (Also, as a Certified Food Literacy Educator, I’ve learned a few things about teaching kids basic cooking skills and helping them to make more-healthful food choices to fuel their growing brains and bodies. Stay tuned for more on this soon!) By sharing my culinary adventures here on this blog, I hope that you will come to see it as a tool that can help you in your quest to feed your family (and yourself!) wholesome, nourishing, and delicious food, while having fun (or at least less stress) in the kitchen and enjoying the process (most of the time). So pull up a chair and settle into my kitchen. Just watch out for any stray LEGO pieces on the floor.
Questions or comments? I’d love to hear from you! (Have I mentioned how much I like to talk about food?) Please contact me at amanda[at]wholesomefamilykitchen[dot]com.
“One of the delights of life is eating with friends; second to that is talking about eating.
And, for an unsurpassed double whammy, there is talking about eating while you are eating with friends.”
— Laurie Colwin