Monday, January 9, 2012

Getting the kids & hubby on the "clean" train

When I first changed my diet from one that was processed and convenient to one that is clean and whole, it was only I who was eating that way. As I slowly began to toss out the "bad" food from the pantry and fridge, everyone in my family became acutely aware, this was the way we were going to be eating from now on.
My husband has the luxury of spending 3/4 of his day at work and he eats breakfast and lunch out, when he doesn't pack leftovers. He feels that since he's not the one cooking, he will eat what is given to him. But I know when I've had an epic fail and he goes for some chips and salsa or a bowl of cereal after dinner. He does acknowledge that we are eating healthier than we were years ago, but does he care to learn about the intricacies of high fructose corn syrup or why partially hydrogenated oils are bad? No, he could care less. He just wants good food on the table - oh, the pressure!!

Now the kids were a whole different ball game. My girls are 4 and 6 now. I thought I was giving them the healthiest foods. I used to cut up tons of berries, tofu, Nursery water, Gerber baby oatmeal - everything that mainstream parents do for their kids. I wasn't aware of the dangers of soy and the pesticides that were infused into each and every berry I fed my baby. Makes me mad that this knowledge and info isn't out there and it makes want to scream from the highest mountain to help every parent learn what's in our food.
I'll admit I took some shortcuts. I fed them frozen chicken nuggets and fish sticks. I was a short order cook - making 2 meals every night for dinner. I mean, is a two-year old really going to eat tilapia or pork tenderloin? Well, as it turns out, they might!

We finally ditched the nuggets and fish sticks well over two years ago now and my girls don't even remember them or ask for them. In fact, if they eat "nuggets," they are homemade chicken nuggets and pan-seared tilapia. The hardest thing for me to get them to ditch was juice. They always drank 100% juice that was watered down. My oldest actually prefers water, so she was easier, but my youngest has a sweet tooth like none you've ever seen. She finally learned to go with my plan when I just flat out stopped buying juice. We started adding crunchy ice and made it fun for her to get her own cup and fill it up at the fridge - I empowered her to "make" her own drink.
A couple of other tricks helped in getting them to try new things. I started to involve them in the shopping and cooking process. Painful at first because I love to shop by myself - I call it my spa time.
I let my little one look at all the veggies in the produce section. She picked out brussel sprouts. Adventurous! So, we roasted them in the oven one night. She ate one, didn't like it, but my oldest did. That's fine, she tried it and that's all I can ask. The veggie experiment continued with different vegetables on each shopping trip. We tried bok choy one night and even experimented with growing our own mung bean sprouts for Pad Thai night!
Involving the girls in the cooking process has really excited them and they are eager to learn and watch and stir and create. Although they were visibly more excited to make Christmas cookies than they were to watch me make collard greens last week, but it's a start.
So, if you're trying to convert your little one or your big one, give it time, take baby steps and involve them in the process. My oldest also helps me at the store with reading labels. I've taught her to look for the Bad 3: high fructose corn syrup, partially hydrogenated oils and msg (gives me headaches).

Here's a simple way to make Homemade Chicken Nuggets:

Cut up a few chicken breasts into 3 inch pieces
You could dip them in an egg wash or for a little zip (for older kids), mine like Dijon mustard. Sprinkle with sea salt and pepper.
Then coat in Organic breadcrumbs (read the label, most have junk in them) or make your own.
You can either pan fry them in a little bit of cold-pressed olive oil for a crunchier texture or bake them for a healthier version. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 min. on foil-lined cookie sheet. You can also spray the tops with an Organic oil to give them a crunchy top.
Serve with HFCS-free ketchup, honey mustard, or ketchup mixed with Sriracha (for the grown-ups)
I bake up a sheet of extras and freeze them for nights when we are on the go.

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