The Power of Food: A Hearty and Inspiring Conversation with Kayla Mangione About Food, Family, and Simplifying Meals
What inspires you most about nutrition and cooking for your family?
My family believes that food is fuel; fuel for energy and health, or fuel for disease and lethargy. This belief factors into my grocery shopping, cooking, and eating decisions. I am incredibly inspired by my children. We were very fortunate to have two beautiful, healthy children, and I see the opportunity to feed them as a gift that I never want to take for granted. We try to make the best decisions we can for the health of our children, while keeping balance in mind.
There is a common misconception that the average person can't eat healthy and tasty meals under a budget and with minimal time to dedicate in the kitchen. What are a few simple and inspirational tactics you can offer to the skeptics and busy families?
First, let me mention that budgeting (money and time) are always a work in progress, especially for me. I am not really a meal-planner, though I know that would help with budgeting. I am driven to be creative in the kitchen and with groceries by my love of food and my distaste for food waste. By not wasting food, I am forced to make interesting meals that I may never have come up with otherwise, and when food is not wasted, neither is money. Utilizing cost-effective foods like seeds, bananas, cabbage, beans, and potatoes can really help too. Time is another issue. A few minutes of weekly prep can save a ton of time. My fast and healthy go-to's include, smoothies, crock-pot meals, roasted veggies, and hummus. I get my kids involved in the cooking too, so that when it does takes time, it is also time well spent learning together.
What is one piece of advice you have for fellow parents trying to encourage their children to eat healthy, colorful, and tasty food?
Be patient. I think that people who strive to eat healthy tend to overdo it with strict diets, only leading to failure and an eventual feeling of shame. Moving into a healthier relationship with food should be a slow and gradual process, with realistic goals and modifications. As for children, they want fun food, so color, shape, and texture are huge factors. Be patient with your child as they form their opinions about food. It will pay off in the end.
Winter Spiced Gluten Free Granola
- 4 cups gluten free oats
- 1½ cup mixed nuts & seeds (I used 1 cup pecans and ½ cup pumpkin seeds)
- 1/4 cup mixed little seeds (like hemp, flax & chia)
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon pumpkin spice
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/2 cup melted coconut oil
- 1/2 cup maple syrup
- 1/4 cup unsweetened pomegranate juice
- 1 teaspoon vanilla powder (or extract)
- 1/2 cup dried seasonal fruit (I used cranberries, golden raisins and blueberries)
- Preheat oven to 275 degrees
- Melt coconut oil and blend with pomegranate juice, maple syrup and vanilla extract (if using)
- Pour over all other ingredients, reserving dried fruit for later
- Mix well and lay flat on a parchment covered baking sheet
- Bake for about an hour
- Add dried fruit
- Let cool completely before storing
- 3/4 cup granola
- 3 tablespoons smooth almond butter
- 2 tablespoons ground flax meal
- 1 1/2 tablespoons maple syrup
- Mix all ingredients together and form balls
- Add a bit more wet ingredients if balls do not form or add more flax meal if balls are too sticky
- Store in the refrigerator