I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned on here before just how fussy our children (we have 3 girls aged 3,4 and 7) are when it comes to food. They have all had the very best of starts – I breastfed each of them for 6-9 months depending on when they had had enough of me, I was so pedantic about introducing only the very best organic produce (including a broad range of fruit and vegetables) to them when they were ready to start solids. Yet somewhere along the way, each of them became impossible at meal times.
Having said that I have definitely noticed some recent gains with them and in particular with my 7 year old who is FINALLY becoming more open to accepting the right kinds of food. And considering she was the fussiest of all 3 as a toddler I am going to draw the conclusion that perhaps fussiness in children is a little bit developmental and that taste buds definitely have the ability to evolve. I also think that despite their defiance there is massive benefit to sharing and demonstrating our passion about healthy food with our kids, because as they get older they will become more rational about their food choices and with that comes the choice to be healthy based on what they have learned from their parents.
I wanted to write this blog post to share my daily experiences with my kids and food because I know that I am not alone. The Shrinking Hubby and I eat a wonderful, varied, delicious and highly nutritious diet and our kids see this – yet they refuse to join us! I have been making a concerted effort this year though to try and gain some ground when it comes to their nutrition. So today I wanted to share some of the positive experiences I have had lately. I like to look at my small victories with food as ‘Mummy Wins’ and if I can get 1 or 2 of these ‘Mummy Wins’ in each day then I can sleep well at night knowing that I am making a difference and have made a positive contribution to my children’s health.
I want to stress here that I am very conscious of focussing on nutrition for health reasons rather than body image. It is frightening how conscious most young girls are of their body image from a really young age. Furthermore, our kids know that their father went through a massive body transformation before they were were born so it is definitely something that we talk about from time to time. We make a point of making sure they see us enjoy healthy foods to feed our bodies rather than deprive ourselves of food to lose weight. It is a subtle but important difference and the last thing we want to do is encourage unhealthy body image in our children.
Here are some of the recent Mummy Wins I have had with our kids. I hope that these humble steps towards improving our kids’ nutrition encourage you to keep trying to encourage healthy eating habits in your families.
I’m going to start with ‘The Juice’. You may have read about my new found passion for juicing here, and Little Miss 7 decided that she wanted me to start making her a daily juice too. However she made it very clear that I was NOT to put any green vegetables in her juice. I made her a combination of orange and carrot to start, which she complained about at first (as you can apparently smell the carrot), however wolfed it down each time I made it. She then requested the inclusion of green apple which I happily obliged with because once a tinge of green was included I granted myself a little bit of license and added a cucumber in as well! She loves the new version, and I get so much joy from her asking for her daily juice each day. We were discussing adding vegetables in her juice this morning and believe it or not my stubborn fussy daughter has agreed to try kale in her juice tomorrow! Definitely a Mummy Win!
We recently had a family holiday where they served a decadent breakfast buffet each morning. For my children the highlight of this buffet was the pancake station where they offered not only sweet, white and floury pancakes and waffles but also ice cream, syrup and chocolate sauce to go with it all. My absolute nightmare – and this was for breakfast! Against everything I stand for I admit I allowed my 7 year old to indulge once or twice (after she ate a relatively healthy fruit and weet bix ). When we got home they were begging for pancakes for breakfast and so we made them our healthy version of pancakes (recipe here) with the addition of a tablespoon of chia seeds and I have to say they were just as successful as the ones from the hotel. Now THAT felt like a Mummy Win …
Salmon and miso
This is one of my favourite dinners to feed them and it is so quick and healthy I thought I’d share it here as a Mummy Win. I made this the other night, and instead of fussing and whining, the 3 of them cleaned their plates (even the greens – except for Miss 3!). I boil up about a litre of filtered water and add a couple of tablespoons of organic miso paste. When that is boiling I add a salmon fillet and cook for 2 minutes. Then I add a couple of bunches of organic soba noodles and cook for 2 minutes. Then I add some broccolini and beans and cook for 2 minutes. So once the miso is boiling it is 6 minutes all up. Mummy Win.
Zucchini in the mornay
All 3 of them love tuna mornay (I make a white sauce with some organic butter, spelt flour and raw milk, add a tin of drained tuna and serve with brown rice) however the lack of green bugs me. So I have started peeling an organic zucchini (or 2 if they are little) and grating it (I use the food processor to save time). I sauté the grated zucchini with the butter before making the sauce. They (all 3) wolf it down. This one is a great one to double and freeze half – great for those busy days. Mummy Win.
I know that some might say that blackmail isn’t the way to go, but if the promise of dessert (usually fruit and yoghurt) or a sticker on their star chart can get them to eat a couple of beans or a stick of broccolini I am going to take that as a Mummy Win too. The trick is to be very firm (and consistent). And the feeling of watching them chew down those vegetables whether or not it involved bribery? Mummy Win.
Rolled oats for breakfast
My 7 year old has decided she loves porridge for breakfast because I sprinkle a little bit of brown sugar on the top and it caramelises. I know how bad the sugar is, but if it means that she eats a bowl of organic unstabilised oats with raw milk before a busy day of school I am much happier with that than one of the other processed cereals with much more sugar than that in them. Mummy Win.
Kale in the brownies
I recently discovered that even though they know that there is a whole bunch of blended kale in their chocolate brownies, they will still eat them. If I bake the brownies myself I am in control of the ingredients and I have been playing around with organic dark chocolate, organic butter, sugar substitutes and different flours i.e. no vegetable oil, cane sugar or nasty additives. Mummy Win.
My 4 year old is OBSESSED with mashed potato. I cook up a couple of organic potatoes (peeled and chopped) in a pot of salted boiling water with a head or half a head of chopped organic cauliflower (which I add about halfway through the potatoes boiling) until tender. Then I drain and mash it all up (or even better put it in the blender/food processor so it is silky smooth) with some organic butter and milk and she is none the wiser. Mummy Win.
Pasta and cheese
My kids have all always been obsessed with plain pasta and cheese. I have worked out a way to make this a nutritional win (and send extras to school with them the next day for their lunch in their thermos which they love). I use organic gluten free pasta and when the pasta is cooked I drain, then t0ss it on a low heat with some organic butter, 1-2 free range eggs and a couple of tablespoons of ground white chia seeds (I grind them in a spice grinder). Delicious. Mummy Win.
So as you can see from the above, I am an advocate of hiding veggies into their food, but then I sleep better at night knowing they’ve eaten them. I also make them eat the vegetables in their original form so that they learn to get used to it. By hiding I mean I blitz the raw vegetables (whatever I have on hand but zucchini, cauliflower, broccoli, mushrooms, carrots etc work well) in my food processor before adding to bolognese, sausage rolls, risottos, meatballs etc … Mummy Win.
I am far from perfect but at least I am trying. I would love to know how you get your kids to eat well – please feel free to comment on this article or on my facebook page www.facebook.com/theshrinkinghubby. I look forward to hearing from you. (And if your kids enjoy a varied and healthy diet with little or no opposition towards you then you are very lucky and should embrace it!)