I'm lucky! Or, so they say. Partially, it has to do with luck - our boys truly do love to eat, and we are grateful they don't have any significant struggles with conditions or disorders that would prevent them from enjoying the food. Other contributing components would also be: I'm a dictator (as you can see from post #1), we've planned and assumed this triumph (it didn't just happen overnight), we keep learning about nutrition and make it a regular topic in our household. It is my fault we talk so much about it since my work incorporates nutrition as a key factor to optimal health and weight management (weight gain, just as much as weight loss). I guess, over a period of time, some of these talks sink in, and the boys are beginning to accept foods they wouldn't touch a year, two, three ago. There are still some foods which I'm not permitted to cook too often. MJ can not stand the sight of chunks of mushrooms but won't mind if I puree them in a soup or sauce, FG is not too keen on beetroot, and my hubby would divorce me if I tricked him into eating pickles. Joking aside, there are things we don't like. So the rest of the family adapts and respects that. Now, having one or two items on your 'do not cook and prepare' list is one thing, but when this list doesn't end, it becomes a nightmare for the one who cooks. Me. And I'm not having it. Sounds cruel, or practical? I mean, who's in the mood to make four separate meals five times a day? Sure, there can be certain accommodations within the meal, but every single meal, every single day? Or, do we just resort to ready meals and fast food? Again, not something we want to compromise on. Sure, kids would love to eat pizzas, meatballs and pasta, or burgers and fries every day, but for us, that's not really an option. I talked about some of the approaches we've used with our boys. Here are some more ideas we've used successfully at incorporating more vegetables and plant-based sources in our meals.
PICNICS Indoor, outdoor, whatever is convenient. We have mats to lay down on the floor, cute colored bowls and plates, and yummy fresh snacks. If you're a stay at home mom and feel like having some company over, call other moms! Explain what you're trying to do, and ask them for help. At our very first picnic, our neighbor brought her two kids. It reduced the tension, my stress levels, the boys were happy they had some company, and we made some progress! Small steps, remember? That first positive experience gave me the confidence to try again. So, we set up blankets on the lawn in front of the apartment and had an outdoor snack. The boys loved it! This time they tried some more of the foods offered, as we talked about what vegetables their friends liked and exchanged impressions. Next step was a picnic with more families. They had a blast! Picnic after visiting a PYO farm (can't beat fresh beets!), picnic by the river, picnic on the beach, picnics, picnics, picnics! We're all about picnics now. Even when they play, they set up picnics for their toys! MOVIE NIGHTS Wow! We love these! We make oil-free, homemade popcorn, slice up veg & fruit, serve hummus, sometimes have a soy yogurt and enjoy the family film. Halfway through the movie the plates and bowls are empty!
SHAKES, JUICES and SMOOTHIES
Since I work with Herbalife products, it's not unusual if you come to our house and get a shake served instead of tea and biscuits. Our boys love our shakes, so it comes as natural to play with the recipes a bit. They know how to make their morning shakes to pour over their cereals/porridge, and often want to do something extra with them. We make the green "Hulk" smoothie, purple smoothie, pink "Wonder Woman" smoothie... We use fruits, vegetables, peanut butter, almond butter, seeds,
nuts, freshly squeezed juice, beans (a tip I got from my Herbalife mentor). We served the "Hulk" and "Wonder Woman" at our celebration a week ago, and they were both a complete success! The children gulped them down! Of course, they first had to help make them, and even tried raw vegetables! Can you imagine the looks on their parent's faces? Priceless! All of a sudden, everyone was pulling their phones out of their back pockets to record this miracle! Haha! That was a fun day!
BAKING If you go online, you will find so many sweet recipes that include spinach, carrots, kale, beetroot, zucchinis, squash, potatoes, sweet potatoes. I'm sure I've left quite a few out! And our boys really love getting their hands dirty! Best messy, sensory play ever!
COOKING Ever let your kid peel carrots? Cut potatoes, olives? Grind, grate, sprinkle, stir and taste? It's a great bonding opportunity, and the more family members join in, the more the fun! Lunch is finished in no time, and the babes are more likely to overload their plates, rather then you struggle to convince them to have a taste of food you worked so hard to cook.
We love going together to our local farmer's markets. We taste cut up fruit samples, pick the best vegetables, feel them in between the fingers, smell, admire the variety of colors. And the kids get to pay. They're learning that even food has a price, that it takes an effort to get to the market, pick the right fruits, and we need to carry them home (or, at least to the car). We've come to the point where the boys will actually pick
random veg and insist on taking them home. The first time they set their minds on Brussels sprouts (I know!), now it's something different every time! Ha!
And although it's not likely many vendors are reading this, I would like to say THANK YOU, you hard working, kind people, who appreciate seeing kids at your stalls, rewarding them with an extra carrot or a plum! This mama appreciates you!
I hope this sparked some ideas! How do you incorporate vegetables into your meals? Do you sneak them in and tell them later, or don't tell them at all? Do you have a little herbivore at home? Please comment below!
Yours in health,