In the kitchen

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Wednesday, January 19, 2011

mealtime, overhauled

First, thank you friends for your comments. It has boosted me and inspired me.  (We loved Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution- when we had cable- but I have thought of it as on ongoing resource.)

Last January we put our kids through Food Boot Camp- a self-created masochistic approach to getting our kids to eat more nutritiously and to end the insanity of making double meals (one for us and one for them) every night.  It was RIP to tofu soba noodle stir-fry for the moms and chicken nuggets and applesauce for the kids.

And largely it worked.  When the tears subsided and their culinary repertoire was extended to include salad, pasta with sauce (instead of just butter), fish, non-nugget chicken, green monster smoothies and turkey sandwiches as well as a massive volume increase in fruit consumption....well, I guess maybe there was some laurel resting on our part.  Then summer came and school started and then the holidays and our kids with their tiny appetites soon were just not hungry enough at mealtime to want peas, carrots, broccoli or corn (our go-to vegetables.) 

Mealtimes became tense power struggles with lots of complaining, cajoling and bargaining again.  We would sit down for family meals when Sandi was home and when she was at work, I would try to sit down with the girls but by the time I got my own food ready (usually a salad) they were already bitching about their meal, demanding refills on drinks, needing to go to the bathroom, and any other distraction under the sun.  I found myself short of breath and dangerously irritated with them.  How to win?  Be their mom and sit to eat and be stressed out or be their waitress?

We knew it was time for an overhaul again.  The words of our pediatrician over a year ago rang in my head, "Feed them what you eat.  Don't make separate meals.  They won't starve, I promise you.  They may be hungry for a few days but they will eventually eat."

I have to give credit where credit is due.  I have no problem towing the hard line and being firm.  I can let the kids go to bed hungry. I can be unwavering if need be.  What I kind of suck at is making it fun, appealing and motivating for the kids.  This is where Sandi comes in. 

She started by settling on one key food she wanted the kids to start to eat as part of their diet- brown rice.  From the book "Healing with Whole Foods", Paul Pitchford has this to say about brown rice: "Brown rice, like whole wheat, contains a plethora of nutrients, including magnesium, that all but lost during milling into white rice....In addition to reducing blood sugar levels, rice bran (the coating on unrefined brown rice) is thought to be one of the most nutrient dense substances ever studied. It embodies over 70 antioxidants that can protect against cellular damage and preserve youthfullness."

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And if you are looking for any more inspiration about whole foods (I was) read what else he has to say: " The most vital, bitter-tasting parts of whole foods are the ones refined away, often discarded, put in nutritional supplements, or fed to animals.  Yet the bitter part include magnesium, selenium, antioxidants and dozens of other nutrients that we need in order to avoid the stress and ills inherent in the twenty-first century lifestyle.  Most of the general public fails to realize the protective and rejuvenating benefits they miss and the suffering they incur when eating denatured foods.  But, considering the lack of vitality of many people today, the time is ripe for whole-food awareness to manifest widely.  If a nutrient-starved nation can rediscover the potent value of these grains, a land of excess should soon become a land of moderation and abundant health."

Imagine that.

We've done a ton of (expensive, I will be honest) grocery shopping to basically overhaul most of our food supplies.

Then we did a ton of cooking and juicing (of carrots, cucs, beets, apples and even a garlic clove thrown in to spice it up.)

We also got a stand up freezer for our basement so that recipes could be doubled and dinner sized portions could be immediately frozen (which also serves the added benefit of reducing my stress of making supper when I'm alone with the girls.)

homemade granola:

and granola bars.
(Recipes to follow)

This week I also made tofu meat balls with sweat and sour sauce, cottage cheese pie, an autumn vegetable gratin, tahini/balsalmic dressing and we made an enormous batch of vegetable soup.

So, with a little imagination, firmness, and good old fashioned fingers crossed hope, we set off to introduce new and amazing foods, in their purest form, to our kids.

We let Ella dim the lights for supper, put things in tiny bowls, placed a candle on the table, stopped dessert for a while and brought out our tin box of dinner games- little index sized cards with games you can play at the table with kids their age.

We started holding hands and saying what we are thankful for.  The kids LOVE this part.  Maya always thanks us for whatever is on her plate, which in turn makes her eat it because she has claimed gratitude for it.  (She sounds like a starving person "Thank you for the rice and water." "Thank you for the noddles and water.")She reconvenes grace about 10 times a meal just so she can do the "squeezy" part with everyone's hands at the end.Ella is usually grateful for some event or time spent or person, and sometimes for one item on her plate.  Sandi and I bring in the more abstractly spiritual and it all balances out perfectly.

And the most amazing things are happening. 

Both the girls now LOVE brown rice AND soba (buckwheat) noodles. The other night they ate veggie/lentil barley soup for supper.

They are THRILLED when they get any dessert.  Here is Ella enjoying a vanilla yogurt frozen pop we made from popsicle molds.

The girls are getting really into it.  Here is Maya helping me make vegetable stock.  We take the pulp left from juicing, add some water and boil it on the stove then strain it and push it through the food mill.  It makes the most INCREDIBLE stock (and consequently soup) we've ever had!

Ella asked me just before we started this why I had to boss her around about food so much.  I told her it was because she wasn't making good choices for her body, which was true.  I am also letting her choice more things for herself, but choosing between two acceptable options.  And we still let her get pizza for hot lunch once a week as a treat as long as she eats some (nutritionally compromised) fruits and vegetables. 

I'm not a complete hard ass after all.

But you want to know the most amazing part?  Our girls are HAPPIER.  They are in better moods, overall.  I swear it is true.

1 comment:

Angela said...

Love it!! Especially the "thankful" part. Your brown rice is my quinoa. When my kids eat quinoa (or lentils) for dinner, I feel like all is right in the world :)

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