Let's Live Happy and Healthy Together!

"Shoku-Iku" is a Japanese term that translates as "food education," but its meaning of promoting healthier living through food is applicable across all cultures. It is not only about educating children about healthy eating habits, but also about teaching them to appreciate food while learning the importance of family ties. These lessons not only encourage children to live a healthy lifestyle, but also help children grow physically and spiritually in society.

Masami Iwase-Watanabe, a busy working mom with two teenage boys, has been promoting Shoku-Iku since 2011 by creating simple, healthy recipes that can be done together as a family. She has teamed up with Mitsuwa Marketplace since February 2014 to host free Shoku-Iku cooking classes for children and their families.

How It All Started

"Hi, I'm Masami Iwase-Watanabe. You might recognize me from my “Simple, healthy Japanese food” column. I am a full-time working mom with two boys. I have worked full-time for many years and my boys are healthy and happy.

I was raised in a family with a mother who stayed at home. She cooked breakfast, lunch and dinner every day and, while it usually wasn't fancy, I never missed a meal while growing up. But when I think of my mother, I always remember that she cared about me. She was always home. Now I don't spend all day with my kids as I work full-time, but I feel very closely bonded with my boys. As a rule of thumb, we eat breakfast and dinner together as a family. I also cook most of the dinners by myself. Yes, we go out to eat pizza and stuff once in awhile and sometimes eat take out.

One day, around dinner time, I was in a long line for Chinese takeout. It occurred to me that for as much time as I was spending standing in line, I could cook a very simple, healthy meal while spending more time with my kids at home. When I get home, I usually start cooking right away while making sure my kids are doing their homework and, many times, I am also on the phone for my business. On a typical Sunday afternoon, I might make a couple hundred gyozas so that I can freeze them and serve them on weekdays. Sure, I could go to a grocery store and buy a bag of frozen gyoza for less than $10. As you know, making gyoza is very time consuming and people ask me if it is worth my time. Actually, it is. My younger son Kyle’s favorite food is “mom’s gyoza.” He always asks for it. One time, when we were remodeling our house, I bought frozen gyoza and he noticed right away and didn’t want to eat that much.

Living healthy involves lifelong experience, starting from when you are young. Unfortunately, the world is getting busier and busier. In a family, parent-child bonding is very important and, in fact, it is a key for a happy, healthy family. I believe that a happy and well-rounded family helps kids grow physically and emotionally healthy. The importance of spending quality time with family is where the term “Shoku-Iku” came to my attention, as it is important for most modern families to learn and practice. “Shoku-Iku” is a lifelong lesson that is taught and learned around the kitchen and it promotes parent-child bonding. How our kids grow and live their lives really depends on our actions as parents. Let’s all live happy and healthy with our families!

Do not skip breakfast, kids!!!!

Did you know that more than one-third of teens are now overweight
or at risk of becoming overweight? An estimated 12 to 34 percent of
children and adolescents skip breakfast on a regular basis, a number
that increases with age. A study confirmed that adolescents who skip breakfast have a higher risk of being overweight and teenagers who
skip breakfast tend to eat snacks with high calories before lunch.
Why are they skipping breakfast? Because they are rushed in the
morning. Preparing a healthy breakfast doesn't need to take a whole
hour. A simple, healthy breakfast that is good enough can be a bagel
with cream cheese with a fresh fruit smoothie. A traditional Japanese breakfast is even better, and easy too. For miso soup, it doesn't have
to be a traditional tofu and seaweed miso soup. You can be creative.
My favorite miso soup when I was young was one with bacon, egg,
potato and onion. You can even cook it the night before and warm it
up in the morning! One thing I am very proud of is that my sons have
never missed breakfast in their lives, and they have grown up very
healthy and happy.