Food has always been a big part of my life. My parents and grandparents are from Sicily, so I can assure you, I grew up eating well. My parents have owned an Italian restaurant most of my life, and my grandparents still make sauce every Sunday. I never really had interest in cooking for myself since there was almost always someone else cooking for me at home (or at the restaurant!). However, I was definitely capable of throwing together great pasta and other Italian dishes. That was just a given.
More than a few years ago, when I was home and pregnant with my first child, I discovered the Food Network. It was on constantly at my house…Paula, Giada, Rachel, Ina, Tyler….I could tell you what time of day it was based on what show was on. They were always keeping me company and teaching me new things. I was constantly inspired and excited to cook. Who knew?
These days, I must admit that Food Network is not on the television as much. Disney Channel and Sports Center have taken over. But I’m still inspired. I am quite addicted to reading cookbooks and food magazines…and of course other food blogs and websites. And every now and then I get to sneak a few of my favorite cooking shows that I’ve recorded on the DVR.
My cooking and eating style has really evolved over the years. I try to focus on using healthy, fresh and whole ingredients…I am obsessed with fresh produce and whole grains. My pantry and veggie drawer are always overflowing and the Publix produce guy knows me by name. I love keeping things simple in the kitchen, and love sharing my favorite ingredients and products with others. A couple of years ago, I gave up eating meat (other than seafood) during Lent. It was incredibly easier than I ever thought it would be. Since then, my taste for meat is not where it used to be. I don’t call myself a vegetarian, but I love to eat vegetarian. My preference is always fresh fruits, vegetables, seafood and grains, though every now and then I really do crave a good burger. I will also never pass up one of my grandpa’s meatballs or chicken parm. I have learned to look for protein and nutrition in sources other than meat, such as beans, nuts, kale, quinoa and fish…just to name a few. My family has adapted to more meatless meals very well, and I know we are healthier because of it.
Many people ask me how I get my kids to eat what I eat. Well….I don’t….at least not always. They are still young and are somewhat picky, but I am always working on it. They are learning by example and are starting to come around on some foods. For the most part they eat well, and they are eating more and more of what I’m cooking so that definitely makes me a happy mom. I have learned, and truly believe, that the more exposed they are to colorful fruits and vegetables, ethnic foods and different flavors, the more they will try and eventually develop their own tastes for good food. I really try not to force them to eat anything they don’t want to, but I always encourage them by constantly putting good food in front of them, even if they didn’t like it before. My kids’ tastes change by the day, and I never want to miss an opportunity for them to try something new or something they might not have liked before. My biggest advice to new (and not so new) moms: Don’t ever underestimate your kids’ tastes, they are always changing and will always surprise you if you let them.
Food isn’t the only thing that interests me….healthy living in general is a priority to me. I love all kinds of exercise…swimming, yoga, pilates, spinning, weight training and sometimes running. I have learned that I better love exercise….because if I didn’t I don’t know if I would be able to always enjoy all the great food that I do! I also love to play in dirt…I’ve got an herb garden that gets bigger and bigger every year…as well as a small plot of dirt in the backyard that is the so called garden. Now that is a work in progress.
I also love good books, music, the beach, the Florida Gators and Orlando Magic.
Thanks so much for reading Aggie’s Kitchen.
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