Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Healthy Eating

Typical meal here - apple cider watered down, salad, rice, stirfried chicken....it'll get topped with "Asian sauce" a sauce I make that changes according to what I have in the kitchen - basic ingredients - hoisin sauce, honey, rice vinegar, tamari, garlic ginger - this nights had the rice vinegar supplemented with the juice of a few limes, it gets mixed into the salad and on the chicken and rice. a fork'll be used to eat the rice, but the salad got eaten with fingers piece by piece, and so did the chicken. Picture contains one very tired out Wild Thing too.

First off the way to RUIN a kids taste for healthy foods is not by giving them sugar - breastmilk is deliciously sweet and there's nothing wrong with craving sweet. We ruin them by getting them hooked on very salty food which is unfortunately most processed foods. Next, high fructose corn syrup is completely unnaturally sweet, and the only way our bodies can even tolerate it is in conjunction with acidic counterparts - so NO SODA POP!

But I want to focus on how to get them to like real food, healthy food.

Get primal

Go out in the lawn and wildcraft together - chickweed, sorrel, lambs ears, clover, dandelions, violets, plantain, oatstraw...the list goes on!

Eat them raw, add them to a simple salad, learn to cook with wild plants.

Grow a garden with your kids and let them eat everything raw.

Raw veggies and dip are the best kid foods going. Make fresh dips. If you do dairy, blend together a fresh cheese - cottage cheese or the like - with freshly picked herbs from the garden add a touch of salt or braggs aminos, a well minced garlic clove. If you don't do dairy pick a bean your kids like and mash it up with herbs, a bit of olive oil (or grapeseed oil if they are adverse to strong flavours), maybe some lemon or apple juice and dip away! Almond butter and a touch of braggs or honey is another yummy dip. Temper hot spicy flavours with dairy or a fat - it protects the mouth and children have a lot more taste buds than the rest of us! If your kids are REALLY adverse to veggies make sweet dips from honey and yogurt or fruited yogurt or marmelade and lime juice.

Greens are easy to get kids to eat if you serve them raw and minced fine in dips or mixed in with other simple foods. Mix up greens and fruit, the reason kids are often adverse to greens is that they are often a little bitter, and bitter tells kids that it *might* be poisonous - they activate the gag relex and children need to LEARN which bitter foods are good food medicine and which are bad for them. Milkweed is poisonous, early dandelion greens are rich in vitamins. Old spent dandelions taste remarkably like milkweed.

RELAX about the greens, make them available all the time and in simple minced up forms and let your child develop a taste for them. Focus your real efforts on the seasonally available tender greens, lovingly cooked with that bit of dairy to cut any bitterness - baby spinach, nettles (in soup or tea!) early tender dandelion greens, sweet beet greens. Drink the cooking water - either in soup or keep it for your vegetable stock. The tougher greens - kale etc will grow on your children over time but they can be hard for adults to take too! I like them minced, cooked in water then with some oil added and a bit of salt and I personally like the kick of roasted garlic and hot sauce but your kids might prefer them without the heat

Let them learn through example that food is easy to take enjoyable medicine. Do something fun with them like gathering spruce tips and make syrup with it (I'll be posting about doing this with the kids on my child care blog btw), or gather raspberry leaves and dry them for tea all year round.

Don't allow your child to become a carbohydrate junkie - switch up the grains in your house. In Waldorf circles there is a different grain featured each day and this encourages children to have a varied diet and not one based on wheat. Introduce your children to sweet potatoes before white potatoes. Always serve potatoes with their skins, even if they won't eat the skins, cooking to potato in the skin retains more vitamins and keep that cooking water to add to soups and breads!

Allow your kids treats regularly. Just adjust your concept of treat. Rice cooked in coconut milk with chopped fruit, a squeeze of lime, cinnamon and the smallest pinch of sugar for show and my kids are in heaven - not just MY kids, but my daycare kids were talking about that snack for DAYS - and it was LEFTOVERS and it was HEALTHY!

Include nuts and seeds in your diet - avoid nonorganic ones, go for the less popular varieties, but give your kids a variety of protein sources even if you are an omnivore. We have a rule of only having meat - if at all - with dinner. Snacks, breakfast, lunch are all vegetarian.

Cook onions well, slowly so that they release their sugars and caramelize, then mince them up so they aren't a big slimy mass and mix into favorites like mashed potatoes, rice, burgers, etc.

The big thing to me though...is to lead by example and relax. I have one child - Dark Mirror who has always had serious food aversions - mainly textural. I learned early that I couldn't have meal time revolve around him and he always had the opportunity to make himself a peanut butter sandwich if nothing I made appealed to him. He's overcome a lot and I think being relaxed helped with that.

Oh yeah, and remember kids are kids, come birthday and special event dinners, my kids want Papa Pan cooking, he fries stuff for them!


sandra said...

I want to share a great place where I always shop for organic and gluten free products. WholeAndNatural.com. They have lots of great stuff.

anthromama said...

Oh yes, it's really not that hard! I'm always marveling at what good eaters my kids are, because I see how the average kid is: cereal and milk, peanut butter and jelly, and spaghetti with tomato sauce is their main diet! My kids eat their vegetables gladly, will try unusual and new foods gamely, and love pretty much anything I make, because that's how we all are around here. Modeling is the key. Plus the good old Waldorf method of saying, "Here is your food," and not asking if they want it! :)