Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Why I Threw Away My Kids Halloween Candy, A Manifesto To Feeding Kids Right

It's National Eat Crap week here in America (otherwise known as the week after Halloween) and the question on so many parents' minds is "How do I raise kids to make healthy food choices in the face of all this crap?" So I thought I'd start off by showing you an image of all of the Halloween candy I threw out. No, this wasn't the candy from this year. This was last year's candy! I discovered a little ant trail going across our basement wall and followed it to a cupboard where I found several pounds of last year's candy just hanging out. The kids had forgotten about it. Yep, you read that right. So I threw it out. I'll probably do the same with this year's hoard at some point (hopefully before the sugar ants discover it).

See, I'm of the mind that if you raise your kids to eat right 99% of the time, then a few days of candy overload really won't kill them. And chances are, if they know what it feels like to feel healthy, they won't like how they feel when they eat too much candy, and they might just forget about that stash after awhile.

Wouldn't it be nice if kids came with an instruction manual, and maybe some of those little packets of food like those Sea Monkeys I ordered from the back of a comic book when I was 10? Just sprinkle some in, and they're good to go. And wouldn't it be great if there wasn't a little Sea Monkey 7-11 around every corner just brimming with crap, not to mention all the TV ads for crap food, the crap aisle in the store and the crap dispensers right next to the cash register so your kids can pester the crap out of you begging for crap when you're trying to pay for groceries (aka Real Food)?

So what's a health conscious adult to do when it comes to feeding their kids?

The two key things I've discovered about raising healthy kids are:

1) Be a Role Model. You can't expect your kids to do it if you don't. If you eat like crap and don't exercise, chances are they will too.

2) Cook real food. That means meals, cooked from scratch. I know that's anathema to a lot of folks, and far too many of us have forgotten what an actual homecooked meal looks like. But it doesn't take near as much time as you think it might once you get in the groove.

So that's all fine and dandy, but what do you actually feed the little sea monkeys? Trimama Laurel sent me an email earlier this week asking what types of paleo foods my kids like to eat. Now my kids aren't 100% on the paleo bandwagon, but they do eat gluten free, and only local raw goat's milk for dairy. And since I eat paleo, that's what they eat by default most of the time, unless they talk me into cooking something special for them.

A lot of our meals are very simple and look like this:

Some form of meat, a lot of veggies, and a piece of fruit. The meat might be roasted chicken, a hamburger, some steak done up fajita-style, or some tuna fish. The veggies might be salad or carrot sticks or some kale chips. And this time of year the fruit is likely to be an apple or pear apple off of one of our trees. In the winter, the kids like frozen berries that we picked in the summer for a snack.

Other meals might involve a few more combined ingredients. Some of my kids' favorites:

Omelettes or scrambled eggs
Sloppy Joes without the buns
Veggie/Chicken Shisk-A-Bobs
Taco salad night
Chicken Curry (I usually throw in zucchini, onions, carrots, and any other veggies I have lying around)
Smoothies of many varieties
Teriyaki Chicken
Bacon, bacon, and bacon
Cauliflower "pasta" with meat sauce

Special things I will cook for my kids are: "Paleo-ized" waffles, pancakes, or crepes. I basically take the ol' Betty Crocker recipe and substitute my own mix of almond meal, coconut flour, ground flax seeds, chia seeds, and tapioca flour, throw in a couple of extra eggs and some coconut milk, and these make up some tasty and protein-dense waffles (or pancakes). Often, the kids use these as snacks through the day, and I like them for pre-workout snacks.

The most non-paleo meal I will cook for the kids would be gluten-free macaroni and cheese. I use rice pasta and I make up a white sauce myself using tapioca flour, grass-fed butter, and raw milk. I mix in some sheep's milk Romano cheese and some raw goat's cheddar. Voila, a rainy-day comfort food.

But really, most of the time it just comes down to meats, eggs, veggies, and some fruits. Keep it simple, eat and model healthy behavior (including when it comes to chowing on that Halloween candy), and that's all there is to it!


Beth said...

Ive really been neglecting this area as of late due to a divorce. But now things have settled and I needed a reminder (ie. a-kick-in-the-pants) to get back on track with my babes and our eating habits.
thanks for the kick-in-the-pants.

Jenn said...

Love your thoughts Robin... we throw a lot of junk out in this house too... it just gets forgotten. And, I'm totally fine with that!