Food Matters

The Peaceful Housewife

As I have written before, I am passionate about whole foods and healthy eating. Before I got married, I dreamed of settling down with a fellow veggie like me and raising a brood of veggie kids. Dinners would be variations of tofu flavored with seasonings from around the world...Morocco tonight, India tomorrow, Mexico somewhere in between...Our kids would not only eat kale they would ask for more! Homemade granola for breakfast and raw coconut-carob balls for snack. Aaah, yes, we would be a family of adventurous, healthy, vegetarians!

Then I met my carnivorous husband and fell in love. (He claims to have an extra set of canine teeth!) And then we had a son who refused (and still does refuse) to eat anything beyond peanut butter and chicken. My veggie vision went out the window!

I must admit that Mo is very open about food. I cook through the week and it is always vegetarian. He cooks on the weekend and he will often make himself and Shine a meat dish, but he will also grill me up a mean jerk tofu! And I cannot keep homemade granola bars in stock. The pan is gone in a matter of hours! He has even complimented my homemade rice milk which he happily eats on his cereal each morning. So, I am very grateful.

Shine's picky-ness has gone through cycles. Sometimes he is willing to try something new and sometimes not. I try really hard not to let it bother me and to remind myself that I was a picky eater as a child. But it does bother me...a lot. Especially when it comes to snacking. I will spend the morning in the kitchen whipping up homemade, wholesome goodness which he completely passes over. Then I go to pick him up from the neighbor's apartment and find him covered in florescent orange cheesy poof crumbs! He then declares that he is sooo full from cheesy poofs that he is unable to fit even the tiniest bite of carrot into his tummy for dinner.

In Brooklyn, I never had to worry about picking Shine up from a play date covered in neon orange "cheese". It was sometimes annoying the extent Brooklyn parents went to ensure their children had no artificial coloring, highfructose corn syrup, processed sugar or un-organic non-food of any kind. Really, I once was part of a conversation on the play ground where a mother was concerned about how many carrots her daughter was eating because carrots have an unusually high sugar content for a vegetable!! Seriously?? I do a happy dance whenever Shine asks for carrots. He likes to eat them (with peanut butter) as an "appetizer". I would feed the kid 10 or 20 carrots if he would eat that many!!

People here eat healthy, don't get me wrong. There are tons of vegetarians and raw food eaters.
But when it comes to kid nutrition, there is this feeling that healthy eating is not the way kids's a grown up thing. The logic is totally backwards to me.

I am participating in an upcoming Earth Day event and at a meeting where food was being discussed the idea of having vendors selling organic food came up. The overwhelming response from the other committee members was, "That's nice. But what are the school children going to eat?" The discussion then turned to a hot dog vendor who serves his dogs on whole wheat buns and a popcorn vendor who uses vegetable oil to pop the corn. I was dumbfounded.

For me, healthy eating habits start in childhood. If your body is programed to crave fresh fruit as a snack for in between meals, then there will be no "re-training" process that will have to happen later in life. It just makes sense to teach healthy eating from the very start.

As Easter is just around the corner and the mountains of chocolate and Easter candy fill the store shelves, I have been thinking about what will be in Shine's Easter basket Sunday morning. In the past, I have filled his plastic eggs with raisins and dried apricots. In his basket would be one bar of organic dark chocolate along with some homemade trail mix. This year we are off to a retreat in a resort on the North Coast. With all the excitement of the beach and swimming pool, the Easter basket may just contain muffins from the hotel restaurant...

Anyway, how do you deal with picky eaters? What are your tips for dealing with grown ups who feed children junk food? What will be in your child's Easter basket?


Heather said…
ha! I feel the same way C. I try to shove the veggies in the faces of my husband and daughter. They'd rather have a side of beef. J eats fruit a lot though, so I'm lucky. I don't allow a lot of snacky yuckines. Jack, well, he just doesn't eat period! :)

Easter baskets...never candy. Usually a small toy instead. I hate all that candy bit (although, I am quite fond of jelly beans myself...shhhhh!)
elissa said…
Well, you know that we're all vegan over here... It started with me becoming vegetarian at age 9, meeting a wonderful fellow vegetarian and marrying him, and then BOTH becoming vegan once I became pregnant with our son, who is now 3. We also have a beautiful 10 1/2 month old daughter... and both children have been vegan since in utero. Maybe I'm in the minority, but Finn eats an amazing assortment of fruits and veggies. His favorite foods are broccolini and kale. He even has a special "tofu dance" that he does when I make it for dinner! Snacks? He loves the carbs, just like any kidlet, but I've just always made sure his choices are whole-grain and healthy. Fresh-popped popcorn, spelt cakes, homemade granola bars, etc. He has a wicked sweet-tooth, and occasionally we bake awesome vegan treats together. Cookies? Check. Brownies? Check. Vegan ice cream? Double check. He's in preschool, and has come in contact with a lot of "standard" fare for kids -- those brightly colored goldfish come to mind. He's totally drawn to them... Does he whine for them? Absolutely. But we discuss why we eat the way we do - constantly. He's starting to get it. Even at age 3, he'll declare "I don't eat animals" proudly. It helps that he has two friends who are also vegan (although not in school with him) as well as a group of adults who are fantastic role models. The fact that both my husband and I are on the same page is crucial. But I also think we got really lucky with Finn's palate. Maeve is following in his path, too -- so I definitely count our blessings.

I know how super-healthy you are, Rae. I remember you snacking on carrots and peanut butter, too!!! :) Your kidlets are going to be just fine with you and Mo as role models.

As for Easter, I did order some vegan organic chocolate for Finn's basket -- just one bunny and some vegan jelly beans. We make homemade chocolate-peanut butter eggs and coconut eggs, so he'll have a couple of those. His favorite treat of all time is Annie's bunny snacks, so those will make an appearance as well. And to round out the basket I'll throw in a new Curious George book and Thomas train. Nothing crazy, but definitely sweet-centric. Funny thing is, he won't go nuts over it -- he'll take one bite of the bunny and request the Annie's bunny snacks. Tim and I will partake in the rest!!

Anyway, that's the deal over here. I'm sure there are hard times ahead as Finn and Maeve grow older and come into contact with more and more "standard" fare. I'm just determined to be armed with tasty alternatives as well as explanations. At some point they will make their own choice as to whether or not they want to remain vegan, but while they remain in my care I will continue to give them the healthiest, tastiest start to life possible.

Love to you all in JA!!!
Rae said…
Thanks, ladies! I feel like I have read a gazillion books on picky eaters and I've tried all the tricks, but none of them have worked. The boy is sooo willful that he would rather go hungry than eat something that is not peanut butter, chicken, bread, egg or sugar of course! He will eat tofu and seitan if both are not overly "seasoned". He is even picky about fruit! He even says no to most carbs...except bread. No potatoes, sweet potatoes, yam, dumpling (which are super popular here and eaten with everything). He will eat the granola bars I make but not if they have anything beyond raisins and dried cranberries in them. The one thing I have got him really hooked on are raw carob balls! Hooray!!! I would do back flips, if I could!!