Friday, September 29, 2017

Veggies Veggies and More Veggies

When I was a kid, our grocery store had a small produce section including iceberg lettuce, carrots, tomatoes, cucumbers and a few other basics.  Items like kale, bok choy, and five different types of mushrooms didn't exist.

Now I walk into our local grocery store with a rainbow of vegetables greeting me at the entrance. Even though all these veggies are at my fingertips, it has taken me time to learn how to incorporate them into our daily menus.  (Did I mention I married a man from Texas and his idea of a vegetable was a potato to go alongside his steak?)

My journey of increasing vegetables started with the sneaky approach.  When making a pasta dish or casserole I took the opportunity to hide vegetables in the sauce.  Shredding zucchini to add in the meat sauce went unnoticed, making my blender my prized kitchen possession.

I discovered that pretty much anything could be cooked, blended up and added in, which caused my vegetable boldness to grow.

Next came kabobs.

The combination of skewers, marinades and a grill took our veggie eating to a new level in the warmer months.  This summer my kids made these veggie kabobs and tried every vegetable on the stick.  (Not all of them were favorites, but at least they tried them all.)

Another strategy: dips.

As a kid, various hummus and fancy dips did not line our grocery shelves, although we did have Hidden Valley Ranch dry packets that you add to sour cream.  I clearly remember eating more veggies when that ranch dip was around.

Veggie snack boxes are an easy way to have a healthy snack on the go; I happily eat any dip presented next to my vegetables.

Now vegetables are a daily part of our meals that my family expects.  In fact, tonight my Texan husband made a new vegan broccoli soup recipe for dinner.   Talk about coming a long way!

Here's to veggies, veggies and more veggies.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Enjoying the Co-op

Before moving to Madison, I didn't know what a co-op was and associated a place like that with people who drink green powders, unfamiliar smells, and lots of bulk beans that I would have no idea how to use.

However, when we first moved here, the co-op was our closest grocery store, so I ventured in one day.  I'll be honest, what won me over had nothing to do with healthy food or local produce; it was the play area in the corner of the store.   Sitting with my coffee and snack while my daughter happily played with the wall chalk and fake food was enough to bring me back.

Over time I began to appreciate the values of the co-op, including the local foods, genuine care for farmers, education around nutrition and a selection that offered plenty variety without being too overwhelming.

Our family signed up as members which includes the perk of an annual picnic.  Tell me, what other grocery store hosts a free picnic with catered dinner, drinks (including beer or wine), music, entertainment for kids and a gift bag of samples and treats?

We look forward to the picnic each summer and walk away with tons of goodies and an appreciation of the customer service.    I'm glad I got over my preconceived notions of co-ops and have a place we like to grocery shop on a regular basis while supporting the community.

Friday, September 15, 2017


Summers in Wisconsin are pretty much perfect:  sunshine, cool evenings, neighborhood swimming pool, 4th of July holiday parades and grilling.

Like most Wisconsinites, we grill our fair share of sausages and brats, but a favorite summer meal is pizza on the grill.

We enjoy home made pizza so much, that Yum Yum To Go now offers pizza kits for others to enjoy.  

We provide fresh dough, seasoned sauce, cheese and your choice of toppings.  Simply pick it up and create your own pizza at home.  It's a great way to make memories cooking together and a fun way to feed a crowd at a party.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Healing a Black Thumb

Besides dressing up their baby brother in random outfits, growing herbs is a favorite new hobby.
(See box of herbs in background, past the cute kid.)

Although Sophia was interested in growing a garden this year, she happens to have a mom who once killed a cactus while plant sitting for a friend.

Fortunately her aunt, who likes to garden, decided to send Sophia seeds and money to buy soil for her birthday present this year.  (Great idea, Aunt Maria!)  Sophia tended her garden well past the point when I was ready to give up and call it quits.  She would not give up even though her soil was sad looking with no spouts in sight.

I am proud to say her perseverance paid off, yielding crisp cucumbers, fresh herbs and possibly even some peppers that seem to be appearing.   Sophia put hope back into her mom and we are already talking about the possibilities next summer.  Her green thumb healed my black thumb.

Sunday, August 27, 2017


The year I was born my dad and uncle opened up a restaurant together, so I have been around food service my entire life.  Cleanliness, food temperature and other safety measures are super important to me when I cook with my kids. I even make my kids wear a hat when they prepare Yum Yum 2 Go food.  (I have not crossed the line of making them wear a hair net; they get to choose a hat to wear as long as it gets their hair pulled away from their face.)

To make sure the girls were well versed in food safety, I asked them to watch the online food handler safety course.   

It’s one thing for me to remind them to wash their hands and use fresh cutting boards, but it drives the points home when they hear an online instructor tell them these things. 

They were glued to the screen as they learned about food borne illnesses and proper sanitation.  Evidently my kids are an easy sell when it comes to learning things from a computer if sanitation kept their interest!  Not only did it encourage me to see them eager to learn about food, but now they hold me accountable for cooking safety measures!  I'm thankful for this resource to educate my kids.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Yoga Time Parfaits

We had a wonderful opportunity this summer to offer food to the Breathe For Change yoga training.    

For those who aren’t familiar, (I wasn’t before this summer), it is an intensive sixteen day training designed for educators.  

To quote from their website, “Breathe For Change empowers educators to enhance well-being in their lives, classrooms, and school communities.”

We enjoyed serving parfaits and healthy lunches to teachers who took time out of their summer vacation to learn new skills on behalf of their students.  

Plus, sampling various granolas to figure out which to include in our parfaits made it a win-win all around!


On a recent trip to the grocery store I bought grapes.  After several days, I noticed the big bag of red grapes sitting in the same spot in the crisper drawer. Although we had a healthy snack in our possession, it sat untouched because it was not washed and cut into little branches that one can easily grab and eat.

This made me wonder how often people buy fruits and vegetables with the intention to eat healthy while the food ends up wilting before we have a chance to eat it.

I brought it up to a friend; she agreed that her intention is to eat healthy but her reality is often resorting to fast food because of convenience. 

I asked her what she thought of experimenting with a Yum Yum To Go salad bar?  What if I chopped veggies for her to have in her fridge in exchange for feedback as to how this assisted her health goals?  She agreed to give it a try.

I started planning out which veggies to buy in order to create this mobile salad bar.  Somewhere in my brainstorming time I ran across the idea of mason jar salads.  (A game changer folks, let me tell you!)

We made some trial Mason Jar Salads for dinner one night to taste test.  My kids tried vegetables they normally wouldn’t touch because salad in a jar seemed fun and novel.   

Mason Jar Salads quickly became a staple for us due to their versatility and the fact that they last in the fridge several days before wilting.  We can make a batch of five salads on a Monday and have week day lunches ready to grab and go.  

With our recent trip to the lake, mason jar salads were the perfect lunch for a hot day.

We designed a salad survey for new customers to discover what kinds of ingredients they like.  From there, we have endless options to prevent salad boredom.

For more information on of our favorite Mason Jar Salad combinations, email us and we will send along recipes to get you started.