We have finally reached the end of our first year of homeschooling, and I am thrilled about the new activities that we are incorporating into our summer learning and what we will continue next school year. When Taniya was in public school, she was fortunate to have a program that came to visit once a month that taught them healthy eating and cooking. I genuinely want to incorporate her in cooking many of our meals, but I find myself getting anxious because of the time it takes. Most of the time I am in a frenzy trying to get the meal complete by any means necessary. I’ve spent all day teaching, chasing after Jayla, getting them outdoors to play, preparing breakfast, lunch and all snacks, and washing dishes each time. By the time I’m ready to cook dinner, I need it finished in enough time for my husband to be in bed early for his work day, and my children in bed early so that I can have my free time (wine). I began to feel bad, until an old friend came into the picture.
Liz and I went to middle school together and reconnected about 8 years ago when we both first became mothers (her; a year before me). Motherhood joined us, but I became more likened to her motherhood journey when I saw her brand develop over the years. She is the owner of Greenwithin, where the goal is to create opportunities for her community to explore and adopt a plant-based lifestyle. She recently expanded her footprint to include connecting as many individuals living the Washington, D.C. area to plant-based meals using locally grown produce from a local garden. Her goal is to be able to host events where she is able to educate the youth and their families with a hands-on experience.
Once she has her entire program in place, we will be first in line to take part in the experience, but for now I absolutely love the one-on-one experience. Taniya’s first lesson was a simple fruit bowl. While she may not have liked each fruit that was included, she was taught how she could use any fruit to create a colorful and healthy meal. The fruits that were used on this occasion were champagne mangoes, blueberries, banana, watermelon and kiwi. She cut them with a reusable wooden knife like a pro.
Taniya and I love watching Food Network. One of our favorite shows is Chopped Junior and Chopped (the original). Because of the amount of hours she and I have spent watching that show lol, she is well aware of what a good presentation is when it comes to cooking. I was very pleased with how much effort she put into the placement of the fruits with the assistance of her great teacher, Liz. The outcome was both beautiful and tasty! Jayla and I waited patiently and then enjoyed every single bite.
I was also very happy to let go of the teacher role for a bit, and to watch Taniya be able to take her time to learn and cook without being rushed (by me). It was enjoyable for her also because it gave her a moment to say “this is just for me.” I always teach my children to share, but I think it’s great to give them moments where they can say “this is just for me and not my sibling.”
My husband and I were already very enthusiastic about living a more plant-based lifestyle, so now the goal is to get Taniya on board. We don’t plan on having a completely meatless diet, just a more fresh and natural colorful diet. Jayla would adapt well as I have only recently introduced meat to her, but Taniya has had years of an on-and-off again poor diet. When I had Taniya home with me for the first year and a half of her life, her diet was consistent and healthy. Once I began working and she was in school, we were always on the go. It was only her and I, being as though my husband was over-the-road and I always went for quick meals. That usually meant eating out. Once I became a stay-at-home wife and mother at the end of 2016, it felt good to hear her say, “Mommy, can we eat something outside of the house? We never eat out anymore!” Now I’m ready to hear her say, “Mommy, can we try adding a little more kale to our salad? We always have spinach!”
I believe with the continued guidance and motivation from Liz and Greenwithin, Taniya will be thrilled to live a more plant-based lifestyle. I plan to choose a day and time where Taniya can have more of these moments together in the kitchen where she and I aren’t in a rush. I don’t want her growing up thinking that her experience in the kitchen has to always be rushed and stressed!
If you’re interested in learning more about Liz’s efforts and seeing some of her amazing recipes, follow her on Instagram @greenwithin and twitter @plantbasedvibes.