Christine Gallup's grandmother was a pretty smart cookie.
To keep Christine occupied when she was little, the two would bake cookies together. Christine would stand on her helper chair, and, using the toaster oven, they would bake one cookie at a time!
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Fast forward and watch this busy working mother of two from Hoffman Estates in action today, and you'll find that she still loves to bake, though with perhaps more speed and efficiency.
While baking is a passion (more on that in a bit), her day job as a registered dietitian helps her keep treats in perspective.
"We do have healthy food in the house, but I'm more focused on balance," she says. "I'll suggest a piece of fruit to my kids if they're low on their fruit quotient. It doesn't work to be overly restrictive."
Christine uses several strategies to ensure her family has fresh, healthy meals during the week.
"Definitely planning ahead," she advises. "Each Sunday I try to make at least two meals ahead for the week, so it's ready to go ... a casserole, or salad so we don't always have to throw in a frozen meal. Granted we do that too sometimes, but this way it's fresh, you've made it yourself, and you know what's in it -- it's not as processed."
Christina has two favorite online recipe sources that she frequents. One is called, 6 O'clock Scramble, a site that pairs groups of recipes with shopping lists, and another is Skinny Taste, a site that offers up a new recipe every day. Finally, Christina often shops for her groceries online using Peapod.
"Oh my gosh, it saves a tremendous amount of time. These are the sort of little things that help you plan and make it so much easier."
Today Christina shares two healthy, make-ahead recipes with us: a nutrient-rich kale rice salad, and her easy, unprocessed tacos.
Now getting back to Christina's true love: baking.
"I guess I'm primarily a baker -- it's the thing I like to do the most, except I don't like making pie!" she laughs. "That's once a year. I'm not a candy maker either, I figure all that boiling sugar is an accident waiting to happen."
What Christina loves to make is cookies, especially for the holidays.
"My family averages between eight to 10 different types of cookies. We love to give trays as gifts."
In fact, Christina rarely visits anyone empty-handed. The people she works with and her husband's co-workers are often the lucky recipients of her baking exploits. Today we are the lucky recipients of her decadent brownie recipe.
"I love to bake, but I don't want it around the house! It gives me a lot of joy to share my cooking with other people. Cooking is soothing; it's how I decompress and is a creative outlet for sure."
Christina does worry that cooking is becoming a lost art however.
"It's so easy to just pick up three meals a day. A lot of people don't know where to start and are intimidated by (cooking). I take every opportunity to involve my kids in the kitchen. They have their own helper chairs and always want to help. My son is 5 and he already knows how to crack an egg!
The question we have to wonder is will he be baking the cookies one at a time?
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