Gin & Zin

Interview with Jessi, on food, cooking, and mealtimes

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Meet Jessi~


About me:

I’ve been married to my husband for 10 years and we have three lovely and energetic kids together. I’m a stay-at-home mom with a Masters in Counseling, and I believe both influence my life greatly. I’m, above all else, a passionate woman and a joy-seeker and I truly try and live my life with intention. For me that means, allowing myself to be where I am (and who I am) while still striving to authentically improve as a person. I never want to become complacent about my life: as a mother,as a wife, as a woman.


My biggest strength as a mom is raising my kids with balance and gratitude. I’m a big-believer in teaching them about hard-work, manners, being grateful for what they have, while also finding joy, humor, silliness, and happiness in the every day. I tell them I love them as much as I possibly can. Also, I’m a big-time hugger.

(You didn’t ask but…) My big weakness is: Patience. I don’t have any… but I’m working on it.

I LOVE to spend time away from my kids! Because I’m with them all day, everyday, I rarely feel guilty leaving them when I get the opportunity. I love time with girlfriends just chit-chatting with a glass of wine but honestly, my favorite time away is with my husband and sometimes a group of close friends. We connect, we laugh, we eat good food and enjoy cocktails, and just forget about being a parent for a little bit! I believe time away from the kids is important for both them and for us! Absence makes the heart grow fonder right?



Onto the Interview on Food, Cooking, and Mealtimes~

Q: What are your memories and/or influences about food/cooking growing up?

A: I grew up in the 80’s when Wonder Bread was still considered wonderful. Truth be told, I didn’t grow up eating super healthy or wholesome foods. Most people I knew (myself included) still drank soda, ate packaged foods/snacks, and ate plenty of white sugar and flour. I never ever paid attention to what I ate (or how it made me feel!) until I had children of my own. Luckily, times have changed and we know so much more about proper nutrition as a society now. Working with kids in the school system as a school counselor, I saw first-hand how eating (or not eating)affects kids’ moods, behaviors, and attitudes throughout their school day so, though I don’t always want to, I truly try to make sure my kids are eating properly.

Q: What is your favorite meal to cook for your family?

A: Dinner is my very favorite meal to cook for my family! I’ve been properly caffeinated by that point in the day… As with most families, our mornings are usually go, go, go so while I always *try to* make my kids a healthy, balanced breakfast~ believe me, it’s not from a place of cooking inspiration! Packing lunches are definitely the bane of my existence. But dinner is the sweet spot for me! Luckily, my husband is very helpful and usually keeps the kids entertained while simultaneously being my sous chef. My ideal way to cook dinner is to find a new recipe, put on some great music, dance and just work away in the kitchen! I encourage the kids to help me (crack an egg, stir, put a pinch of salt in) and though their interest never lasts long, I truly think it’s vital we teach our kids that it’s not only important to make your own food but that it can be fun and enjoyable as well.They also set and clear the table (that’s a non-negotiable 😉

Do I always cook every night and have it be successful? No. Some nights are take-out, some nights there’s more yelling in the kitchen than dancing, and sometimes I spend an hour making something I’m so excited about and it ends with: “This is gross Mom” before any bites have been taken. However, the effort and intention are there which I think are those most important things, not just in cooking, but also in life.

Q: What is the best thing for someone else to make for you?

Fried chicken and a dirty martini, hands down. I’m terrible at both and Ella in Sacramento knows how to do it right. My husband also makes a mean grilled cheese and tomato soup combination. Pretty much anything where I sit and wait to be served food is Heaven because it’s a rarity.

Q: What are your favorite cookbooks, blogs, or websites for yummy healthy meals?

My favorite cookbooks are definitely anything by Gwyneth Paltrow (she has 3 great ones). I know she can be polarizing but I’ve been cooking from her cookbooks for years and her recipes are healthy, delicious, and consistently successful, all of which are important to me! My other cooking go-to (also personal hero) is the Barefoot Contessa! Her recipes are not necessarily healthy but she puts out great, classic recipes and they never let me down! Honestly, I don’t cook from blogs (gasp! I know…) but for many years I would find recipes online or in print that looked so amazing (but had no reviews) and I would spend hours cooking and they would be a complete FAIL. So now I either use cookbooks I know are foolproof or my top tip is to think of what you want to cook, go to, put whatever you’re making in the search bar and sort by rating. Usually the top-rated recipe is a success for me. Sometimes I try and put a healthy spin on it, sometimes I don’t. I just feel like as a busy Mom of three, I don’t have time for cooking fails.

We asked Jessi to share some of her gorgeous food photos~ Hungry yet?

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Q: What are your top three favorite foods:

A: Does coffee count..? A really delicious homemade pizza, an epic cheese board spread, and SUSHI.

Q: What is mealtime like for you and your family? Do you eat together often? Does each member eat the same or similar foods? Do you have any rituals?

A: I definitely try not to dispense too much parenting advice but if I could recommend ONE thing as a parent it’s that you try and eat at least one quality meal with your family a day. Everyone’s life and schedule is different so it might be breakfast or lunch but for us, it’s dinner. I would say we eat 98% of our dinners together as a family. Sometimes we’re sitting down at a properly set table, sometimes we’re at Chipotle, sometimes it’s a picnic dinner at the park on a blanket but I truly believe this ritual is invaluable. When I say quality that means, NO electronics (no TV, cell phones, Ipads, etc.). No matter what anyone says, it’s not possible to be present when you’re cell phone is pinging and ringing at the table so out of sight, out of mind (even if it’s just for 20 minutes).

We always start the meal with Grace, which I think is so very important. Whether you’re religious or not, it’s a great time to take a moment to get centered, to be thankful for your life and your food, and to bring intention to a meal. My 20-month- old literally sits down at the table and crosses her hands before anything! We then say our ‘rose and thorn’ (one great and not-so-great thing about our days). This always seems to facilitate great conversation and allows for kids to share what’s going on in their lives. I truly recommend this! Most of the times the kids actually say their Rose is our dinner together.

I always make one meal for our family; I pretty much refuse to be a short-order cook! I don’t’ force my kids to clean their plates but they do need to TRY everything and there isn’t anything after dinner if you’re still hungry, so eat up kiddos! 😉 My husband is great at reminding the kids to say thank you to me after making them a meal (even if they detest it), which is a gesture I truly appreciate.

Ok, now we’re really hungry. Can we stop by for a treat, Jessi?! Thank you for the insight on mealtimes, food, and psychology, Jessi!

For more beautiful food inspiration, follow Jessi on Instagram @genuwellness.


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