I have been thinking a lot about my mom recently. Partly because she passed away in September (eight years ago now and I still miss her and always will) but also because she really loved this time of year with all the fresh tomatoes and corn. These were some of my mom’s faves. I simply can’t eat a cob of corn without picturing my mom slathering hers with butter and salt and digging in with gusto. My mom was a great preserver of the harvest as well…making countless jars of jams, jellies, chutneys, brandied peaches and pickles. For my wedding she made both rhubarb and sage jellies (to match the pink peonies of my bouquet and the light green of my bridesmaids’ dresses) to give as favours to our guests.
And my mom was a fantastic cook! Whenever I’d mention I was coming for a weekend visit, in less than an hour I’d get an email from her with an incredible menu of brunches and dinners with mom asking “is this okay?” Okay???!! I’d give anything for one of her dinners right now…they were super delicious and all made with that most important ingredient, love.
So I was thinking that at this time when we perhaps cannot be with our loved ones, either due to loss or the inability to travel or simply sit at the same table (if from different households), one way to connect is through food and our shared memories of times around the table. If my mom were here today, these are some of her faves that I would cook for her. Since she isn’t, I’ll make them anyway and relive the fun times we had cooking (and drinking wine) together and laugh. And, knowing me, probably cry a little too. But she wouldn’t want that. The last thing she said to us was “Go home, have some wine and have some fun!” Words to live by.
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My Mom’s Faves Menu
Appetizer: Guacamole Corn & Feta Dip (Fresh corn and tomatoes in season were two of my mom’s faves. Married with avocados and feta, what’s not to love?)
Main: Lemon Garlic Shrimp Spaghetti Squash (Great lashings of fresh lemon and garlic make this dish a winner. I like to cook the spaghetti squash ahead as it’s easier to scoop out the “noodles” when cooled and you can drain away any excess liquid. Then I just reheat it while I sauté the shrimp.)
Dessert: Raspberry Apple Crisp (Whenever I told my mom I was trying to lose weight and just wanted fruit for dessert, she’d serve up a crisp! This isn’t my mom’s traditional crisp – I used nuts in place of grains and maple syrup instead of refined sugar and it is every bit as delicious.)
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A few featured foods
My mom was ahead of the curve serving spaghetti squash in place of pasta, although pasta often reigned. Like my mom, I like both. And both have their time and place. It is less filling and the flavour really stands out in this light, lemony-garlicky shrimp dish. Besides, I vote for anything that helps get more veg into my day. One cup of cooked spaghetti squash has about a quarter of the carbs and calories of plain pasta. So it is a good choice if you are watching your blood sugar and/or your waistline. Not to mention, it’s a good source of calcium, magnesium, potassium and niacin.
This is one of those foods people love or hate. With my mom and I in the former camp and my dad and brothers in the latter, we’d have shrimp-fests when it was just the two of us. And lemon garlic shrimp was her fave. There is a similar dichotomy on the nutrition front. It is favoured for being protein-rich for relatively few calories. And it is also high in iodine, which supports thyroid function. Yet shrimp has been maligned for its high cholesterol content. Unfairly so, as foods containing cholesterol have less impact on blood cholesterol than foods with saturated and trans fat. In fact, research shows that dietary cholesterol has very little impact on blood cholesterol levels for most people. As with all seafood, the higher quality the better; ideally wild-caught is best.
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