Golly gee, it’s happened to me! My son, E, age 7, has turned into a pasta-craving picky eater. Fruits are fine, but bread products are preferred. Vegetables look to him like 4-inch hypodermic needles poised to pierce his skin. And everywhere we go, he notices the desserts. Life has become a never-ending negotiation about how much of this he has to eat before he gets some of that.
I tell you this not to brag (yeah, right), but so you will think, "Ha! Howie goes telling everyone else how to feed their kids and here he can’t even do it right in his own home. What a fraud!"
No, wait. That’s not right either. I’m revealing this phase in my family’s life to show how dynamic the FitFam concept has to be. Just when you think you’ve nailed it, your kids change. You change. Your environment changes. And you’re back to square one. Or if you’re lucky, square two or three or seventeen.
I was reading a bit of Kabbalah yesterday, and the main point that got through my 6am half-awake brain was that the purpose of pain is to make us question its meaning. Only by increasing our consciousness can we grow from the inevitable slings and cupcakes of life. So I’m electing to grow, in two ways:
1. By recognizing that my son’s food urges aren’t about me, they’re about him.
As much as I want to "look good" by being the model father, that egoistic attitude is itself a mark of failure. My son’s for himself, not for me. If he grows up into a frightened vegan, always wanting to please Daddy, I’ve failed in more profound ways than if he drinks, smokes, eats like Henry VIII, yet lives an independent and fulfilling life.
2. By finding new recipes
Truth is, I’ve gotten a little stale in what I’ve been serving. You hit a routine, have some success, and then put that part of your life on autopilot so you can attend to the other nine burning buildings (or burning bushes). Yet when anything in my life is on autopilot, it starts crying out for attention. So I’ve begun to put more consciousness into finding foods that satisfy E’s cravings and my nutritional standards.
So the culmination of this deep and mystical screed is… four recipes! They’re quick, easy, and have made feeding my son a whole lot easier this past week. Enjoy!
1. Carrot Apple Salad
1 apple, peeled
1 carrot, peeled
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon shredded unsweetened coconut
Grate the apple and carrot into a bowl. Add the remaining ingredients and mix. Serve.
This dish makes a fine salad, main course, dessert, snack, etc. This amount will serve one or two. Play with the amounts – I didn’t actually measure when I put this together – just threw ingredients in until it looked right.
Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) is a wonder-grain; high in protein and minerals. It’s got more calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, iron, copper, manganese, and zinc than wheat, barley, or corn. It’s gluten-free, and best of all, it cooks in 5 minutes and tastes great. You can find it at health food stores, specialty shops, and online.
1 cup dry quinoa
1 cup chopped onion
2 cups water
2 tablespoons Vogue VegeBase or Dr Fuhrman’s VegeZest
Add all ingredients to a 2-quart pot and bring to a boil. Turn down heat to low, cover, and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. (Expert chef’s note: you need to remove the lid to stir :).
The quinoa should be moist and flavorful, the onion should be mild and almost unnoticeable, and the grains should be distinct but stick together slightly. We cooked this recipe for a community dinner on Sunday, and got a lot of positive comments from folks who had never tried quinoa before. Serve this the way you would any grain: as a base for vegetables, as a side for soup, or just on its own garnished with some parsley or cilantro.
3. Fruit Nut Bar
1 cup raw almonds
1 cup raisins
1 cup dried and pitted medjool dates (not packed too tightly)
zest from one lemon (use a vegetable peeler to remove the shiny outer skin of the lemon)
1/4 cup ground flax seeds (flax meal) – grind your own in a coffee or spice grinder from whole flax seeds
1/2 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
Put the almonds, raisins, dates, lemon zest and ground flax seeds in a food processor and process for about 3 minutes, or until the whole mixture sticks together and the almond pieces almost disappear.
Spread the shredded coconut on a plate or tray and put the fruit/nut mix on top, pressing it into a flat bar about half an inch thick. You can put more coconut on top to keep your hands from sticking.
Refrigerate for an hour and then cut into squares. You can store them in a ziploc bag, or just leave them out – they’re be gone soon!
4. Sweet Potato Mush
1 large or 2 small sweet potatoes
1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon tamari soy sauce or Bragg amino acids
Peel and chop sweet potatoes. Toss them a pot of cold water and bring to a boil. Cook until potatoes are soft enough to mush with a fork.
Drain the water, put sweet potatoes in a bowl and mush them with the olive oil and tamari. My kids enjoy this with a dollop (alright, a huge blob) of Annie’s catsup, or any brand that doesn’t have corn syrup in it. Good cold in a lunchbox as well.
Drop me a line (in the comments box below) when you try one of these recipes.
Be well and happy!