My 12-year-old daughter often complains about the dinners I cook. She resents my organic, fresh-food, “healthy” way of cooking. If life could go her way, she would have Macaroni and cheese, grilled cheese sandwiches, and a salad completely covered in ranch (let’s make this clear: “regular ranch,” as she would say, “not Mom’s version of ranch”).

So after trying to ignore her abuse concerning food with no success, she became our chef for a full week. She had to provide a protein and vegetable, decide what she would cook, and research the instructions concerning the foods she would cook. The catch was she needed to use either the foods already in the home or she would have to pay for whatever extra ingredients she needed. I’ll have to say she did pretty good. But the message was loud and clear: This isn’t the easiest thing to do.

At first she was enjoying the experience, but as the week went on, the new wore off and she was begging for someone to help her decide what to cook. Everyone stuck to the rules and continued to encourage her in making the right choices on her own.

The chalkboard for the week read:

“The Haven Hawk

presents our guest chef,

Olivia Hawkins.

This week’s menu consists of …

MON: Grilled organic juicy chicken cooked just right, with French cut green beans (out of the can), and sourdough bread with butter.

TUES: Sticky gluten-free organic shell pasta with the least amount of organic hamburger sprinkled and barely covered with organic red sauce, with cut-up organic carrots.

WED: Brown rice with organic kidney beans and served with salsa & cheese on the side.

THUR: Grilled turkey, cheese, and tomato paninis, with organic cream cheese served on organic celery sticks

FRI: Grilled organic chicken with organic steamed broccoli and lumpy mashed potatoes.”

We all decided she deserved an A for her menu and for her work ethic. Now that we are several months past this experience, she actually deserves an A in attitude and gratitude. Come to think of it, I have not heard one complaint from her since.