A Chat with Mamiverse Mom Sonia Margalef:
To say most moms are busy is an understatement to say the least. Whether one child or more, there’s alot that moms have to contend with on even an average day. In this new series spotlighting Mamiverse moms, we’ll hear great tips and ideas on how to bring busy families together over the pleasures of the table. We recently sat down with one of Mamiverse’s busiest moms, our own VP, Director of Marketing, Sonia Margalef, to talk about food and family.
Mamiverse Food: As a busy working Mom with a busy working Dad too, how do (or have you) managed to bring your family together over food?
Sonia Margalef: Food is one of our passions and plays such an important role in our lives. We like to combine the 4 F’s: Food, Family, Friends and Fun. Food brings us together as a family every night and and on the weekends but especially around the Christmas holidays, when we share it with friends and family. It also connects us on so many levels. My kids (11 and 8 years old) and I have so much fun cooking and baking together. We also read about different cultures and what children in other countries eat. We love to discover new foods and restaurants when we travel. With food the fun never ends…
Mamiverse Food:How have you brought out your children’s interest in food?
Sonia Margalef: I love grocery shopping and cooking with my kids. We see these activities as family adventures and a way to explore different foods, recipes and cultures. We also like to experiment with new recipes. Food can be educational too and opens our minds to other peoples and cultures so no matter where we travel we love to explore the local ingredients and cuisine. During summer and fall they absolutely love apple and strawberry picking. In general, I put a lot of emphasis into educating my kids to make healthy choices. They know the best food is natural and does not need preservatives or any artificial additives. We often talk about this and I help my kids read and understand product labels and nutritional information. I want them to know what they eat.
Mamiverse Food: You shared with me your son is a picky eater – how have you worked around that to help him experience new tastes and expand his palate?
Sonia Margalef: This is a tricky one since he’s not easy to persuade. I try as often as I can to get him involved with cooking but it can get frustrating. My biggest motto is to give any new food a try so I’m thrilled when he does. Last summer we planted a vegetable garden in our backyard which made him more open to trying other vegetables. I’m happy for any advice I get from my mom friends who are in a similar situation. You’d be surprised how many of us have a picky eater in the family.
Mamiverse Food: You also shared with me how mealtimes have become a very important time for you and your children – can you talk a bit about that?
Sonia Margalef: We all have breakfast and lunch at different times and places so dinner is the only time of the day when we get a chance to sit at the table and talk. During those precious moments I realize how critical it is to reconnect as a family and share our experiences, what happened earlier in the day, and what we look forward to for the next day. The weekends are best since we have a lot more time than during the week. We’re also creating memories that we’ll cherish once they’re grown up.
Mamiverse Food: I’m sure you’ve packed many school lunches – what makes the best school lunch that’s both healthy and tasty for kids?
Sonia Margalef: I try to pack healthy nutrition and a variety of foods and snacks so school food is different every day and is something the kids look forward to. The goal is to give them a balanced mix of fruit, vegetables, protein and carbs. I’ve made a list of all the foods and snacks they like and I try to rotate them, excluding anything that is too sugary, processed or unhealthy. I stopped giving them juice boxes and pack a bottle of water. Once in a while I will pack a little something they like (but it’s not necessarily healthy) or a juice box and they know it’s just a treat. I try to make that lunch box a bit special so sometimes I also like to include a handwritten note to wish them good luck on a test, to cheer them up or just simply to say how much I love them. When their lunch box comes back home empty, I’m so happy.
Mamiverse Food: I’d like to know a bit about your growing up in Spain – what were you strongest food influences as a child? Did you cook with your mother and grandmother? What are some of you most vivid food memories?
Sonia Margalef: I learned to cook by watching my grandma and mom, but especially my mom has been my inspiration. She’s so talented at cooking Catalan and Mediterranean style meals. I was cooking for the family when I was a teen as my mom was working and I was the eldest of four. It was a lot of trial and error at the beginning. I have great food memories, like the cookouts we’d do featuring paella (rice dish with seafood, my uncle is the best cook), “parrilladas” (grilled meats) or calcots (grilled long baby onions eaten with a typical sauce) when we’d all get together, eat and socialize. Or at Christmas when my mom would cook her famous meat canelloni and “escudella” (hearty soup with meatballs and blood sausage). And don’t get me started with all the desserts like my favorite “crema catalana” (similar to creme brulee) and cakes sprinkled with with pine nuts.
Mamiverse Food: What have been some family favorite meals that you cook now for your children?
Sonia Margalef: I love to cook all my mom’s recipes: paella, chicken noodle soup, fricandó (meat in gravy and vegetables), potato omelet (tortilla de patatas), crema catalana, but also other meals such as cheese & vegetable quesadillas, pasta, lentil soup, and some German dishes (my husband is German) such as meatballs with potato salad, potato pancakes with apple sauce.
Mamiverse Food: What is your advice to Moms who want to strengthen their family’s bond through food?
Sonia Margalef: It’s very simple: Try to make time to go grocery shopping, cook and eat as a family and be open to different types of food and recipes. Especially for working moms finding the time can be very challenging but I assure you it pays off.