Inspired by the Meat Free Monday concept, Nicole Feliciano, editor and founder of the blog MomTrends, has been cooking delicious vegetarian recipes for some time now. We join her in the kitchen to hear more about the blog and cooking with kids:
Where are you from and what was it that first inspired you to start the site, MomTrends?
I grew up in Annapolis, Maryland and attended Vanderbilt University and went right into the world of retail after graduation. As my career progressed, I landed the coveted role of being a Buyer at Ralph Lauren on Madison Avenue. I left my full-time fashion career to raise a family, MomTrends was born out of my need to stay engaged with the fashion world but on my own terms. I wanted to stay up on all the trends, and needed a place to warehouse all my finds and picks that I wanted to share with other style-starved moms. When MomTrends launched I knew I needed meaningful work that could reflect my new passions. MomTrends has done that in spades. It has been amazing to find that there are thousands of moms like me–who want to stay stylish after the kids arrive.
What made you decide to embark on Meat Free Mondays with your family?
The summer of 2012, we spent close to a month in Asia. We travelled and ate together as a family for three meals a day. On the trip, I had the chance to closely observe what the kids consumed. While I was impressed with my kids’ capacity to handle all the rigors of the road, I was a little concerned at their preferences for meat and fried foods. The trip was a great time to start making some dietary changes. More fish, more veggies. Less sugar, less red meat. The changes stuck, and to make sure we keep on this path, we now eat as a family at least 5 nights a week. In January of 2013, we took the meat-free pledge. It was a natural next step in our evolving diet.
How long have you been upholding the tradition?
Just about a year!
What is your family’s favourite part about Meat Free Mondays? Do your kids help you make the meals?
They loved the kitchen garden we grew this summer. They helped plant and harvest all the vegetables. The green beans were the surprise hit! I don’t think I would have taken this garden project on without the Meat Free Pledge. Some Mondays, 90% of our dinner was home-grown. Not bad for a city girl who prefers high heels to gardening clogs.
How do you make cooking fun at your house?
We always have Pandora on to supply an endless stream of music. We also let the kids jump in with preparation. And I’m always on the hunt for fun napkins and tableware to make dinner time pretty.
What’s your best cooking tip for nutritious vegetarian kids’ meals?
Shop in season. I get inspired by the farmers market. I’ll often pick up a new-to-me vegetable and hunt down a recipe online. Food is most flavorful and inspiring when it is in season. Right now I’m really interested in fabulous root vegetables.
What’s your secret to mixing motherhood with your busy life as an entrepreneur?
I had kids on the later side and was able to achieve a great deal before the kids arrived. With age, comes a degree of wisdom. I give myself permission to be out of balance. Some days I focus solely on the kids and amass a huge backlog of emails. Other days I have work trips where business is full steam ahead and I don’t see the girls for a few days. No day, week or month is perfectly balanced, but in the end it all seems to work out. Oh, and never underestimate the rejuvenating power of a long run!
Can you tell us your kidswear picks for the holidays?
I’m crazy about all the embellishments this season. From dresses with appliques to boys jackets with patches–it’s all about playing with texture and attention-grabbing details.