Green Sharlene

Balancing "Back to School Busy" with Family Time

Back to school is upon us and that means getting back into routines. Juggling work, school, and fall sports can take some time getting into a groove. Busy schedules can cut out free time to prepare meals and that’s where we can help. Our restaurant, the Dancing Tomato Caffé in Yuba City, California now offers Family Pack Meals on our Large Party To Go Menu and most of our in-house dining menu is available to go, as well. If you aren’t in our area, there are many good food choices prepared and ready to eat that are better choices than fast food.

Mealtime is a great time to catch up with our kids. With the start of the new school year, connecting and communicating with our kids sets the family up for success as we all settle into new routines. Setting the table and enjoying a good meal together is very valuable family-time where you can get to know what is going on with each other. We talk about our day and plan the next days ahead.  

Clearing the table and doing the dishes together is something we, as a family, have fun with. We turn on Three Dog Night’s Jeremiah was a Bullfrog and turn up the volume. We all put on mopping slippers, drip water on the floor, dance in our kitchen as we clean up the dishes, and laugh a lot!

Take time to sit down, eat well, and talk to each other. Get up to dance and laugh together. Be silly and find joy. It’s good for everyone in the room.


Green Sharlene

Have a Happy—and Healthy—4th of July

The official beginning of summer and the July 4th holiday bring to mind picnics in the park, parades, and sparklers. Not to mention, backyard parties, burgers on the grill and ice cream. We’re all tempted to over-indulge at times and it’s easy to abandon a healthy diet when faced with giant bags of chips, hamburgers and hot dogs with everything, and tempting desserts. But it is possible to create a healthy (and even locally-sourced) summer feast that will satisfy every appetite. That’s not to say you have to deprive yourself or never have a treat, but creating a foundation of healthy eating will give your body a head start should you find yourself dealing with anything from a cold to a serious illness. The healthier you are, the faster your body will heal.

Planning a healthy feast is something the whole family can help with. If you involve your children in everything from selecting the ingredients to preparing the dishes, they’ll have a new appreciation for the meal, and understand how to make healthy choices. I love having my kids in the kitchen, watching them experiment, and seeing how much they enjoy their creations. Now that they’re home for the summer, they’re going to the pool or Millennium Family Center, and hanging out with their friends of course, but they still have time to join me in the kitchen.

While thinking about what to do with my family this year, I can’t help but remember my own childhood July 4th celebrations. My family enjoyed the local fireworks, we kids ran around with sparklers, and my neighborhood always had a big gathering with plenty of hamburgers, hot dogs and of course, lots of ice cream.

So what am I going to make this year? I haven’t decided yet, but I do have some go-to dishes for the 4th. Cobbler with local blackberries, which are high in fiber and loaded with antioxidants and Vitamin C, is a family favorite. My kids love homemade peach ice cream, and I love knowing that they’re getting the health benefits of peaches, which include Vitamins C and A and potassium, which works with sodium to maintain the body’s water balance—something vitally important in the summer. Blueberry, watermelon and feta salad is not only red, white and blue, it’s very cooling and a perfect treat on a sweltering summer day. Blueberries are full of fiber, antioxidants, and Vitamin K, which plays a role in blood clotting and is essential to strong bones. Watermelon contains Vitamins C, A, and B6, which supports the cardiovascular, muscular and immune systems. It also helps the body make melatonin, which helps regulate your internal clock.

Speaking of fun in the kitchen, I recently bought a spiralizer, and am making zoodles, and experimenting with spiralized carrots and beets, for wraps and salads. You can really use just about any vegetable. Pair a fresh salad or a helping of zoodles with burgers made with grass-fed Certified Angus beef or free-range chicken, and you’ll have a healthy and satisfying dinner.

A note about picnics: Since I’m Green Sharlene, I need to tell you how easy it is to have a green, zero-waste picnic. Forego the disposable plates, cups, flatware, and paper napkins and pack your picnic basket with reusable, eco-friendly items. You’ll be doing your part for the environment, and I bet your al fresco feast will taste even better.

However you choose to celebrate the 4th, have fun, be safe, and take some time to savor the flavors of summer.




Green Sharlene