Mealtime is one of our greatest joys, whether we realize it or not.Good food creates great memories, and these memories bring us happiness. I’m sure you have fond recollections of a favorite childhood meal (we all do!). Take Gwyneth Paltrow, who recently published her first cookbook  ”My Father’s Daughter” based on her childhood memories of cooking with her food-loving father.How we make a family meal matters as much as the time shared during the meal.  Foods, especially healthy, plant-based foods served at the table surrounded by family, become part of our cultural heritage.They develop into what I call “food memories.” We form them, and carry them with us for the rest of our lives. That’s the beauty and power of food!A healthy diet consists of fruits, vegetables and whole grains with less added sugars, sodium and fats (especially saturated fats). Science has demonstrated that healthy foods can add years to our life span, make us look younger and feel better.

In his 2008 book, “In Defense of Food,” author Michael Pollan advised us to “eat food, not too much, mostly plants.” Yet most of us don’t. Research shows that most people consider themselves to be nutritionally informed, but there is a gaping chasm between our knowledge of making the right choice and our actions of actually doing it.

So, how can we fill this void? And how can I help you do it?Make time to understand food, cooking and the process leading to mealtime. With food knowledge, and basic culinary skills that allow you to make healthy foods taste good, we can greatly increase our ability to stick with a healthy lifestyle.Here’s a quick (and easy) way to start: Making a great green smoothie. Combine one cup each of kale, spinach, green grapes with one ripe Bartlett pear, one fresh peeled orange with pith (and hence bitterness) removed, one ripe banana, one teaspoon chia seed and two cups ice. Blend until smooth and silky.  The ripe fruit will provide natural sweetness without having to add sugar. The cruciferous kale and spinach will be well broken down (chewed) by the blender.Hint for moms: If you call it a “Shrek Shake” even the kids will love it!MORE: Sneak in Beauty-Boosting Vegetables I love my job, and it’s only gotten better over the years. In this column, my aim is to inspire you to cook, create, invent, enjoy and remember marvelous, healthy meals that nourish the mind and our bodies.They’ll add years to your life, and life to your years.