Our family underwent a rite of passage this weekend. My oldest, newly 8, opted not to celebrate with a Beach Party or Make-Your-Own-Pizza-Party, as in years past. Instead, she invited three best friends over for a slumber party, the first we’ve hosted. They ate their share of junk, more than we normally have in the house. Rolos and Starbursts were prizes in the treasure hunt; Pringles were a hit during a late-night game of Junior Monopoly.
To make up for it, I tried to serve healthy fare at other times. Whole-wheat pasta with parmesan, steamed broccoli and milk for dinner. (No gripes there; everyone had thirds.) For breakfast I opened a bag of local, organic strawberries picked in August on my daughter’s last day of summer. Standing at the kitchen sink looking out the window at the snow, I smiled. Who knew on that early morning in the berry patch — one still full of the peacefulness of summer not the rush of fall — that we would open them on a day like this, a birthday party for a girl who just yesterday wanted to wear princess dresses and make shell necklaces with her entire class? As I listened to the girls laugh at the table, I was hit by something so true it’s cliché: Change sneaks up on you when you least expect it.
After the berries were rinsed and mostly thawed, I cut off the tops and mashed them, adding sugar and a spritz of lemon juice. We served the sweet red sauce atop homemade waffles with a dollop of whipped cream. Luxurious in their minds; healthy in mine. Perhaps the start of a new birthday tradition.