I am often asked how I feed my boyfriend’s children, ages 4, 8, and 11…
Do I stuff broccoli down their throats?
Or rid the cabinets of every sweet, salty, and savory goodie?
Well… while I did get rid of the majority of dairy products, and I try my best to subtly introduce greens into their diet, we certainly do have a pantry of kid-friendly snacks. I can share my favorite snacks at a later date.
The Sunday before Valentine’s, we had our family Valentine’s dinner with the kids. While I like a challenge, it can be challenging feeding my new family. I am only now having the opportunity to make my mark on their food choices. Fortunately for me, my boyfriend is very excited about eating healthier and has made a conscious effort to make significant dietary changes in his diet, and the kids diet.
I am so grateful that he is interested in nutrition, but try telling a 11 year old, (used to close to a decade of fried chicken, double-bacon-cheeseburgers, pizza, and white pasta, to eat something green… and I get the “YOU MUST BE CRAZY” look.
Yes. I am crazy, but…
Please eat ONE piece of broccoli before dessert.
Two, if you want an extra scoop of ice cream (coconut, ice cream… yes… they love it).
Already there have been significant differences in their behavior, and the kids hate to admit it, but they like the snacks that I have brought into their house… none of which are “health foods,” but all of which are substantially healthier…
Red Hot and Blues over Doritos…?
As I learned with my now 16-year old sister, the “trick” to getting kids to eat greens, is to make them flavorful.
Usually kids are just turned off to anything that looks healthy…
Mix and match. Incorporate greens into their favorite foods, so they get accustomed to them. B’s kids like sauteed spinach, so I will lightly wilt spinach in a small amount of organic butter, and garlic, and serve it as a platform for their chicken (or fish), or on top of their cheese pizza. I throw it in pasta dishes, and put it on buttered garlic bread.
What was their Valentine’s Dinner? (Sorry- about the photo. They were hungry. There was not a lot of time for a photo shoot).
- VitaSpelt Linguine
- 3 zucchini, peeled into linguine-like strips with a serrated peeler
- 2 extra diced, large portobello mushrooms, wrapped in tin foil, and cooked at 400 for 10+ minutes
- Organicville (All Natural) Pasta Sauce
- Topped with a little fresh parmesan
The eldest, at first turned off to the sneaky zucchini, soon discovered that he actually liked him… more or less because he did not even realize they were there. (hence, the phrase “sneaky zucchini”).
My theory is that many kids hate greens because their first few experiences with them were most likely unpleasant.
Think green pea mush– a.k.a. Baby “Food,” or… soggy brussle sprouts, overcooked broccoli, or raw broccoli on an uncool veggie tray placed next to the Sour Cream and Onion potato chips. I mean really? When given the option, and all of the other kids are reaching for the chip bag…
As humans we are predisposed to be drawn to fatty, salty, sweet foods. These are the components of a mother’s milk. Unfortunately, the majority of us are introduced to all the wrong fats, sweets, and salty foods. We “learn” to like fast food, and other junk because the artificial ingredients are hardly nutrient dense, leaving us wanting more, and more to fuel our staggering energy levels, and to feed our low moods. Unnatural foods, like processed fats, and sweets are nothing more than addicting.
B’s beautiful four year old daughter, on the other hand, is intrigued by my food selections… loving apples, broccoli, and she even snacks on raw fennel with me (fennel? now THAT shocked even me). Of course she is still going to want a donut here and there, but I have watched her turn down a few heavy desserts recently, and I am intrigued. Even C, the 8 year old is happy to try a few broccoli and greens these days.
Keeping it fun…
Recently our desserts have consisted of darker chocolate, candies, sweetened with rice bran syrup, coconut and rice based ice creams, spelt sprouted brownies, homemade hot chocolates with Vanilla NuStevia and Coconut Milk, and of course, any fun concoction I test out in the kitchen. (Next up… something like this “cheesecake” recipe from the girls at Pure2Raw).
…and do I get anxiety when cooking for them? ABSOLUTELY!
Food is meant to be enjoyed, savored, to satiate to nourish. It is not meant to hide from, or leave someone begging for a Happy Meal…
So every time they really enjoy something I make, I know I can figure it out- long term.
Valentine’s was a hit.
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What healthy meals do your kids enjoy? How do you incorporate greens? What are your favorite foods to make on a budget?