beamsTo save on dinner prep time, Jenny Matthau, director at the Natural Gourmet Institute, cooks a large amount of something (like beans) and adds it to various dishes throughout the week.

In Part Two of Travelingmom’s interview with Jenny Matthau of the Natural Gourmet Institute, Mathau explains her own approach to eating healthy, and shares a few tricks of the trade and tips for traveling moms:

TMOM: Is it difficult for you because you’re a role model or guru of sorts?

Jenny: I don’t consider myself a guru. And I don’t eat perfectly. I will often run into a salad bar and grab something to eat. And if someone in the office has potato chips I’m not above grabbing a handful of them. I know that a lot of people do connect food with spirituality.  I don’t like to look at food as being a religion. People get into these cults where they become so narrow as to what they eat—they can no longer go out with friends who don’t eat what they are eating. I think food and cooking is what makes us human.  It brings people together so it should be a positive thing.

“If you are a mother and you are traveling three days a week, I don’t think that you should be responsible for doing all the cooking.”

TMOM: It seems like no one has time to cook from scratch anymore. Do you have any cheat dinners?

Jenny: One trick is to make more of something. For example, instead of just cooking a half-cup of beans for a particular recipe , cook more and say, “How can I add them to other dishes?”  I try to look for recipes where there were ingredients that were already cooked. Let’s say that you were making bean burgers and you were cooking beans. You could cook extra beans and use this formula to make something like a spread to use for a healthy lunch.  

TMOM: What would you do with your bean puree? Put it on a sandwich?

Jenny: I would put it on a sandwich, crackers and more. When my daughter was younger, I would cut up brightly colored vegetables like carrots, celery, red pepper, green beans and blanched broccoli and she could dip it the bean spread.  

TMOM: You need to have a class for people who have gadgets that they don’t know how to use.  I have this fancy pressure cooker that my husband’s aunt from Italy gave us. I have no idea how to plug it in!

Jenny: We do have pressure cooker classes here. It’s such a time saver. For beans or for dense vegetables that take a really long time to cook, the pressure cooker is fantastic. Also, when you cook things like a bean soup, if you cook it long enough it will just puree so it saves you that extra step of having to put it in the blender.  

TMOM: So what do you do if you’re a mom who is traveling three days a week, but she really cares about what her family eats? One class I took at the Natural Gourmet Institute was how to make 30-minute meals – it was wonderful.  

Jenny: If you are a mother and you are traveling three days a week, I don’t think that you should be responsible for doing all the cooking. Unless their husbands are working 15-hour days, women should at least expect that their husbands should learn at least some of the basics of cooking.  Why do we always have to be superwomen?

TMOM: Do you bring healthy food with you on the road?

Jenny: Whenever we go somewhere, I bring a big cooler and we pack it with things you don’t have to cook like fresh fruit, already made bean dips and spreads, cut-up celery and carrots, high-quality organic raw cheeses and whole grain crackers.

TMOM: What do you make when you’re on vacation?

Jenny: I don’t cook when I’m on vacation. Maybe it’s just this point in my life that I don’t want to have to worry about cooking when I go away. I think that you can be educated about what are good choices. Having said that, I was in North Carolina, in the Outer Banks. The food was God-awful. Everything was fried, the fish and everything was on white bread. We were staying in a place where we had a kitchen and we made a few very basic things. We bought a lot of fruit and we bought vegetables to have as snacks. We were able to buy things like hummus and dips and whole wheat bread. It’s not always the best quality, but you take the basic principles and you do the best you can.  

Read Part 3