The other night for dinner, I made a salad (with pan-fried Parmesan chicken). The ingredients for the salad included: kale*, romaine, beet greens*, Swiss chard*, orange bell pepper*, cherry tomatoes, grated beets*, goat cheese, homemade croutons (out of wheat bread ends), corn, and Italian dressing.
Another night last week, I made a coleslaw to go along with grilled steaks that was made out of kale*, Swiss chard*, and beets* (mixed with red wine vinegar, mayo, and garlic and onion powders).
My kids scarfed them down, telling me how amazing they thought it was. Seriously.
Now, I don’t say this to brag (okay, maybe I do a little bit!). But it did get me thinking about what we feed our kids, in general, in the US, and trying to figure out why my kids will eat so healthily (especially since a year or two ago, there was not a chance that it would have crossed their mouths).
I think it comes down to two things (with my kids, at least).
First, the food that I make from scratch is good. Not always (I made a summer squash with ricotta cheese dish on Sunday that, while not abhorrent, wasn’t amazing). But in general, I make food that is pretty darned good, and I do it with healthy ingredients. And I’m not a phenomenal cook with all this talent or whatever. I’m just someone who follows recipes and then when I get comfortable with a recipe I like, I slightly alter it depending on what I have. And I don’t cook a healthy meal every night! We bring home pizza from our favorite pizza joint at least once a week. But, getting back to my point, it’s a lot easier to feed healthy food to your kids if it is delicious.
Second, and more importantly, they don’t have a choice about it. On the weekends, we all eat together, and they eat what we eat… or they don’t eat. They can go to bed hungry, but we will not tolerate whining about being hungry later or first thing in the morning. They get a ‘too darn bad’ from me, because they had the opportunity to eat and chose not to. They aren’t allowed to scream about not liking food at the table because it’s rude. And they have to try everything that we give them.
Of course, they didn’t adjust to this easily—I’d say it probably takes two hard weeks of making them toe the line and standing your ground as a parent. I can out-stubborn most people, and that helps too. And we’ve had conversations where I ask them how they would feel if they spent all day making an art project for me, and making it something that I would think was beautiful, and when I saw it I said it was gross and that I hated it and never wanted to look at it… it turns out, those are hurtful things to say, and while my feelings aren’t actually hurt by my kids acting like kids, they are hurtful things to say to someone and my kids should know it.
Last night I made a ‘beetza’ for the kids. I made a homemade pizza (with a homemade white wheat crust that’s super easy!), sauce, thinly sliced beets, mozzarella, cheddar, and jack cheese, and halved cherry tomatoes. Both kids ate two slices.
*-all items with a star were organic, and most of them were local