Yonkin root vegetable soup

Blank recipe card illustration

Growing up, each adult in my family had a garden in one form or another, whether it was a 40-acre farm or simply an herb garden on the windowsill. That tradition continued with my mother, and now my siblings and me. Along the way, we’ve used our veggies in every recipe imaginable but this root vegetable soup, created by my brother (a chef), is by far my favorite! Fall is the perfect time to pick those vegetables, then make this warm and filling dish that I hope you’ll enjoy!


  • 1 pound chicken breast
  • 8 cups chicken broth (low sodium or no sodium)
  • 2 cups rutabaga, cubed
  • 2 cups carrots, chopped
  • ½ cup yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 cup celery, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 ½ teaspoons fresh rosemary, chopped
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 4 Tablespoons olive oil


  1. Preheat oven to 350° F.
  2. Place rutabaga, carrots and onion on a large baking sheet. Coat with 2 Tablespoons of the olive oil and roast for roughly 20 minutes or until tender.
  3. In a large soup pot, brown chicken breast with the remaining olive oil. Add celery, garlic, rosemary, salt and pepper. Let simmer.
  4. Let roasted vegetables cool slightly (for safe handling) and add to soup pot.
  5. Cover with chicken broth and let simmer for at least 30 minutes or until flavors marry.
  6. Enjoy immediately or freeze for later in the year.


8 servings. Each 402 gram serving counts as a protein serving and low starch vegetables.

Nutrition analysis per serving

  • Calories:  210
  • Fat:  8 g
  • Saturated Fat:  1.5 g
  • Trans Fat:  0 g
  • Cholesterol:  50 mg
  • Sodium:  290 mg
  • Carbohydrate:  11 g
  • Fiber:  3 g
  • Sugar:  5g
  • Protein: 20 g

– Taryn Yonkin is a dietetic intern with Beaumont Health. The Beaumont Weight Control Center offers cooking demonstrations to the community. View a list of current demonstrations here.

Suicide awareness starts with you

backs of adults with arms around each other as support

I was just at a family wedding, and my aunt told me about a 9-year-old who died by suicide.


It’s easy to judge that circumstance. Why didn’t the parents know? Who told the child about killing yourself? What pushed the child to the point of suicide?

It’s not our business, but it’s everyone’s business.

The stigma of mental illness is costing lives. The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention has some sad statistics:

  • More than 44,000 people die by suicide each year
  • Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States
  • For every suicide, 25 attempt it.


Do the math. In one year alone, that’s 1.1 million people who truly believe in their hearts that the world would be a better place without them. That no one cares. That the pain of living is too much.

One million, one hundred thousand.

I’ve called the National Suicide Prevention Hotline. I thought someone I loved was in trouble and I needed someone to tell me I wasn’t overreacting, that I was reading the signs correctly, that even if I was jumping to conclusions, it’s better to be safe than going to a funeral.

One day, I met a nurse manager on the mental health floor of a hospital. She explained to me that stigma is what is killing people. That even the common phrases, “he killed himself,” and “he committed suicide,” insinuate the person who was suffering perpetrated a crime. Killing is a crime. You commit a robbery. You are a committed felon. All negative words.

I hope I never have to, but if I do, I plan to teach my kids that suicide is the result of an illness. It is not shameful nor is it selfish. It is sad. We don’t whisper about it. We talk about it, respectfully.

Imagine what could happen to the people who are suffering if we had open, honest and respectful conversations about mental health. Think about how important those conversations would be to the 123 people who die by suicide every day.

One hundred twenty-three.


– Rebecca Calappi is a freelance writer, adoptive mom to twins and past Parenting Program participant. Surprisingly, she’s mostly sane.

Infant safe sleep

safe sleep, baby with pacifier

NICHD, Flickr. Public domain image.

Did you know that Governor Rick Snyder declared September 2018 as Infant Safe Sleep Awareness Month in Michigan to highlight the importance of preventing sleep-related infant deaths?

Here are some fast facts:

  • Sleep-related deaths are those where the sleep environment likely contributed to the infant’s death, including those ruled SIDS, SUID, suffocation, and other causes.
  • In Michigan, a baby dies nearly every other day due to sleeping in an unsafe sleep environment. That’s over 150 babies each year.
  • Sleep-related infant deaths are the leading cause of death for infants between 1 and 12 months of age.
  • Sleep-related infant deaths in Oakland and Macomb counties are lower than the average rate in Michigan, but Wayne county deaths are higher.

Help protect the infants in your life

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends:

  • Placing baby on his or her back for every sleep time (i.e., nap time or bed time).
  • Putting baby to sleep in a safety-approved crib, bassinet, or portable crib (pack-and-play) with a firm mattress and tight-fitting sheet.
  • Keeping items out of baby’s sleep area. That means no blankets, pillows, or toys. Use a sleep sack if baby is cold.
  • Offering a pacifier when putting baby to sleep.
  • Baby sleeping on a surface separate from adults or other children.
  • Room sharing (not bed sharing) for at least the first six months. Pull baby’s crib, bassinet or pack-and-play next to the adult bed for quick and easy feeding and comforting.
  • Keeping baby’s sleep space free from smoke.
  • Breastfeeding if possible; it is associated with reduced infant deaths.
  • Practicing supervised tummy time to build strong neck and shoulder muscles.
  • Ensuring everyone caring for the infant knows how to keep baby safe while sleeping.

For more information on infant sleep, visit the American Academy of Pediatrics’ sleep sectioncheck out the resources from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, or learn more about the Safe to Sleep campaign from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

Children and racism

group of diverse kids

Cropped image. Hepingting, Flickr. CC license.

The Oxford dictionary defines racism as “prejudice, discrimination or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one’s own race is superior.”

Racism today seems to be as prevalent as it was 60 years ago during Martin Luther King’s civil rights movement. Just a few months ago, a high school student in my hometown was shot at for merely knocking on a door and asking directions to his school. As a society we acknowledge racism, witness it, and many of us have been targets. So why hasn’t it changed in that 60 years?

Recently I was asked to lead a six-week community series on racism. With a topic so broad and timely, I hardly knew where to begin but I knew I had to do research. As an avid reader, I jumped into the latest literature, read Martin Luther King’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail” and read “America’s Original Sin” by Jim Wallis. I watched podcasts, videos, and spoke to as many people as I could.

At the group’s first meeting, I wanted to hear stories from the participants around the topic; most of the stories shared revolved around their childhoods, how they were treated, or biases in the home. During our six weeks together, we visited a predominantly African-American church, after which we had honest and sometimes difficult discussions about racism. Our trip to a mosque was enlightening as we learned how our Muslim neighbors helped shape the history of early America. Our six-week series was so successful that it will continue in the fall as we delve deeper into this topic.

Since most of our group’s stories revolved around childhood experiences, I felt compelled to explore the topic more, hence, I wrote this blog article. As parents, we should acknowledge racism and its implications. We need to do what we can to raise children to be accepting of others as equal members of our society.

One of my go-to references is “Parenting” magazine. From that, I was surprised to learn that children as young as 2 years old recognize differences among people; they notice skin color, hair differences, and the way people dress. At this point in their lives, there are no feelings regarding the differences, only that they exist. However, by the time a child is 5 years old, if the child is raised in a home that displays intolerance of others, he or she will start to feel superior and treat others differently. Fortunately, there are several strategies available to help raise children to be accepting and kind to all people.

  • One of the most effective strategies to stifle racial bias is when parents and role models have friends of different races. When parents have friends that cross racial lines, children learn acceptance and grow to see this as normal.
  • Allow friendships across racial lines to develop. Having deep and lasting friendships across racial lines helps decrease stereotyping and prejudices. In neighborhoods across America, people from different races and ethnicities are living and raising their families. The more opportunities for children to interact with other races, the less likely they are to treat others differently.
  • Simply talking to our children is another way to eliminate racial bias. Since 2014, statistics show that hate crimes have risen by 20 percent. As parents, we have the ability to foster acceptance of all people with our children. However, racism is a broad topic and parents often feel inadequate or uncomfortable talking about it. I recently read that parents are more comfortable talking about “the birds and the bees” than they are about this important topic. Believe it or not, I’ve read that not talking about it sends a stronger message to our children. When we neglect to have frank and open discussions, our children may feel that the topic is taboo. My research highlighted that white parents tend to talk less about racism, while black parents talk about it on a more consistent basis with their children.

Tips for talking about racism with your children

  • When talking with your children, talk about racism at their developmental levels.
  • Keep the conversations simple and be mindful and not tell stories that may be frightening. For example, a young child may only need to know that Rosa Parks had to sit at the back of the bus or stand up to ride if a white person needed a seat.
  • Conversations need to be ongoing, not only occurring when an incident happens and we hear about something in the media.
  • During these conversations, your child may bring up something embarrassing or make comments that appear insensitive to others. It is imperative that we take the time to listen to our children, ask them what they are thinking, and guide them into acceptance and understanding.
  • Three good resources for parents are:

Using books

As always, books can be an effective tool to start conversations or to end an important discussion. Here are a handful of books you may find helpful although there are numerous other books available.

Grades Pre-K through 2

Grades 1 through 4

Grades 4 through 6

Middle School

As you can see, there are many books available to read with your child on this topic. Check out your local or school library to find specific books; bookstores also have large selections. Remember that reading books with your older child encourages dialogue, so regardless of your child’s age, tackle this topic together. You’ll help raise happy children who are accepting and kind to all people.

Happy reading!

– Lori Irwin, M.Ed., is a Parenting Program volunteer. She’s a former teacher of children with severe disabilities in reading, a consultant with a leading educational book publisher, and a mother of two adult children.

First-day-of-school traditions

first day of school photos

Cropped image. AngryJulieMonday, Flickr. CC license.

Today is the first day back to school for many kids around metro Detroit. Lots of families have special “first day of school” traditions that they look forward to each year. We asked some of the Parenting Program staff and volunteers how they celebrate this special day.

  • My son is just now starting kindergarten, but when he was in preschool, we did an annual picture outlining his favorite food, what he wants to be when he grows up, etc. to see the differences between the years. We plan to continue doing that. We might find some new traditions as well! – Stephanie Babcock
  • We take our son’s picture in front of the tree we planted the spring after he was born. He holds a “First Day of (insert grade here)” sign with the date and wears a special outfit with new shoes for the first day, too. We end the day with ice cream (along with half the other kids from our school since it’s conveniently right across the street)! – Becky Bibbs
  • We’ve only done it twice so far, but we go out for ice cream after the first day. – Rebecca Calappi
  • Our back-to-school tradition is that each of our kids gets to pick a place to go out to dinner (or dessert) in the last few days before school starts. Now that our two oldest are in college, they’ve traded dinner out for their choice of homemade meal before they must go without Mom’s cooking for awhile. Since I’m a bit of a soft touch, that usually turns into a week of “kids’ choice” dinners before they head off to their universities. – Nicole Capozello
  • The only real tradition I have is forcing my kids to take smiley pictures on the front lawn before school until they want to scream with vexation. – Wendy MacKenzie
  • We always do pictures on the front porch with our kids holding up fingers representing the grade for that year. Our kids always get a special outfit purchased for that day. – Kelly Ryan
  • We always take a picture with our dog on our front porch. This year my son is starting kindergarten, so I would like to buy him an adult-sized shirt that says “Class of 2031” on the front and have him wear it each first day of school. I saw that some people hand-print their child’s hands in paint on the back for each grade, so we might do that too.  On Friday, we will go out for ice cream on Friday to celebrate the first week. – Emily Swan

What are your family’s traditions for the first day of school? We’d love to see how you celebrate!

Picture “perfect”

boy and girl on first day of school

Pretty much the last thing my kids want to do when heading off to school is pose for pictures. Much to their chagrin, they are lassoed by their parents and wrangled into poses on the front lawn. The sun, peeking through the last of the summer green, illuminates the various scowls and glares that my kids present to the camera. After many attempts, as the minutes before the first bell tick away, we finally manage to drag a half-smile out of them. And that’s what makes my family’s First Day of School pictures so memorable: the sheer effort it takes to produce a satisfactory result.

Hopefully, for most families, taking pictures on this momentous day is a less-trying venture.

Preserving the day for posterity is important. If a cheerful and smiling face is your priority, you may want to consider taking your pictures after school, when time constraints are less of a factor and tensions aren’t running as high. Every year I insist upon the before-school-sullen-kids photos, which are now more of a tradition than anything else. But I have discovered that the pictures taken after school are often more pleasant, both to shoot and to look at later. Everyone tends to be more relaxed, which leads to better cooperation and more genuine smiles.

If you want to truly capture a snapshot of “The First Day of School” though, avoid posing the kids at all. Have your phone in your hand (and really, where else would it be?) and grab some shots at different points throughout the day. Candid shots are amazing for preserving memories; you can instruct your subject to “look happy!” but as we know, a truly happy moment is something that can’t be produced on command. It must be captured. Sneakily. And really, those shots where someone is being a stinker or otherwise not performing up to par, those are the ones people like to see on Facebook and Instagram.

The first day of school, for many, offers a wide range of emotions: excitement, trepidation, frustration, panic, relief. (My children could be described as “grumpy,” largely due to my photo efforts.) Which moments will be preserved in your photos?

– Wendy MacKenzie is a mother of four, Parenting Program volunteer, and a champion at annoying everyone on the first day of school.

4 back-to-school tips

boy with textbook

I’m not sure where the summer went, but when I see school supplies at Target, I know our lazy days are coming to an end.

For me, this means getting ready: the kids and me.

Rise and shine!

Last year was kindergarten, so I’m hoping first grade won’t be so much of a shock. However, that doesn’t mean I’m not going to start getting the kids out of bed in the morning earlier and tucking them in before the sun goes down.

It’s a huge help for us to get back into the wake-up routine before the first day of school. That first week or two, getting them up is easy because they’re excited, it’s new and fun. But that wears off fast and it’s a nice buffer to not have to pull them out of bed every day.


I get my kids as involved as possible in making or choosing their lunch. My daughter loves hot lunch at school and has very few days where she wants to bring a lunch. If your school has a lunch app, I highly recommend downloading it. They love asking what’s for first choice, second choice and all the sides that being served the next day.

When it comes to packing lunches, last year, I burst out the gate. I made sandwiches that looked like snails and drew turkeys on the baggies if they had a turkey sandwich. By the end of the year, the choices were PB&J with grape or strawberry jam. I was over it. So, prep lunches as much as possible the night before. That way, you just have to throw stuff in their lunchboxes before running to the bus.

Getting there

Y’all, seriously. That drop-off line is as bad as they say. Plan for it. You will be sitting there for 10 minutes while kids pile out of cars safely. You will be honked at by someone late for a meeting or someone who didn’t get their coffee. Bad words occasionally get exchanged. Don’t fall down that rabbit hole and please don’t lash out at the people directing traffic.

Park far away from the door and walk your kid up. Or park on a side street near your school and walk. We walk to school every day. When it rains, we all have boots and umbrellas. In the cold, snow pants and scarves. It really helps relieve some of the morning stress, plus, my daily step count skyrockets.

Papers are coming

Prepare yourself for the tidal wave of papers coming home in the first week. Cub Scouts, Girl Scouts, Drama Club, fundraisers, class rosters, community events—you name it. And, logically, the more kids you have the more papers you get at home.

That first week or two, get organized. Have a spot for schedules, forms you need to sign and return, and forms with dates you need to put on your calendar.

And my last bit of advice, you can’t fully prepare for everything, so don’t try. Just have the kids lay out their clothes the night before, pack their snacks in their backpacks, have their water bottles ready to fill and turn the coffee pot on. Only 180 days to go!

– Rebecca Calappi is a freelance writer, adoptive mom to twins and past Parenting Program participant. Surprisingly, she’s mostly sane.


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