Snapshots by Gloria Freeland - March 14, 2008

Health nuts

Near the end of my work day, the phone rang. It was youngest daughter Katie, calling from home.

"Mom, are we going shopping for groceries tonight?" she asked.

I told her I'd stop by the store on my way home if she gave me an idea of what she wanted.

"No, I want to pick stuff out myself," she said.

I sighed. Although we don't live far outside Manhattan, the thought of driving home to pick her up and then driving back into town was almost more than I could take after a busy day.

"Maybe tomorrow," I answered.

"OK," she said, disappointment in her voice.

I hung up the phone, but not the feeling of guilt. Katie's basketball team recently finished their season and she has told me she wants to keep in shape and eat healthy. That desire has been reinforced by what she's learning in health class. And older sister Mariya, who is a vegetarian, has also influenced her thinking.

So, I drove home, changed into comfortable clothes, and together we headed into town on a mission.

Katie laughed at the irony of what came next. We stopped at Dairy Queen to meet husband Art. Nothing like eating at a fast-food place before buying "healthy" foods. But she told me she has given herself permission to eat at a fast-food restaurant once a month. We shared a chicken strip meal while Art put away a banana split. Then we were on our way.

Before we entered the grocery store, Katie pulled out a typed list of items she wanted to buy. At the top, in large print, was "Healthy Foods List." Underneath the title were five categories: grains, vegetables, fruits, milk (dairy) and meat/beans.

I smiled. She really IS serious about this!

Under grains, she had listed WG (whole grain) pasta, bread and rice, granola bars and cereal. I told her we had plenty of regular white rice at home, but I was willing to try whole grain pasta.

Vegetables included zucchini, fresh spinach, carrots, sweet peas, tomatoes, corn, celery and potatoes. There was no fresh spinach at the store, so we substituted lettuce. She said she'd like to try a salad with either spinach or lettuce, mandarin oranges and slivered almonds. That sounded pretty good to me!

Under fruits, Katie had listed bananas, oranges and canned mandarin oranges. She explained that we should buy canned fruits with juice, not the ones with heavy syrup.

I told her that some fruits, such as strawberries, aren't in season now, which led to a discussion about what produce will be available when the local farmers' markets open later on in the spring. We opted for dried berry mix and dried banana chips this time around.

We moved on to the meat and beans category. I thought salmon sounded good so I picked up some frozen fillets. She added slivered almonds, cashews and lentils to the grocery cart.

We ended up in the dairy aisle, where we picked up skim milk, low-fat yogurt and cheese.

Ever since she was little, Katie has had a strong sense of the foods she likes to eat and recipes she wants to try. A couple of weeks ago, she heated up black beans, canned corn and diced tomatoes, spooned them onto burrito shells, sprinkled shredded cheese on top and added salsa and dollops of sour cream. It was very tasty.

As we stood in line to pay for our items, I thought about how I usually don't contemplate what I'm fixing for supper until I get home from work. Consequently, my selections are usually dictated by whatever is easy. But now there may be some different options. I wonder what concoctions Katie will come up with for our next few meals. Maybe going back into town after work had some real hidden benefits!

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