I posted before about taking the opportunity to use cooking as a teaching opportunity. But today has especially been full of perfect moments to share with the children about food.
We started off the day visiting our local farmer’s market – where the boys were treated like royalty, raking free goodies from the local butcher, the melon farmer and even the organic baker. Finian took advantage of a giant “sample” of watermelon and plums.
Since last week was my first back at work, the boys and I spent the majority of the day together. While yard sale-ing we found a a Scooby Doo video that we ended up watching during an afternoon snuggle. When it was over we decided it was a great to have ice cream – so, we made some. Elana’s Cherry Strawberry ice cream, specifically.
Even though there’s no dairy, gluten or sugar (or any other chemical crap) in the ice cream we make at home, the boys still lick the inside of their bowls. Knowing it’s fresh, healthful and made by their own hands makes it even that much more delicious for them.
After the ice cream was hardening in the freezer, we made (using up the last of our nitrate free bacon) the planned bacon wrapped scallop kabobs.
The boys LOVE making kabobs! Who doesn’t? For them they’re able to make a choice about what they get to eat for dinner, rather than being told what’s on the table is your only choice. In particular, they don’t have to pick onions out of their food, since they’re able to simply not add it to their skewer.
- 20 sea scallops
- 20 slices of bacon
- 1 whole pineapple, cubed
- 3 bell peppers, cut into 1" pieces
- 2 medium onions, cut into eighths
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes
- 10 skewers, soaked in water 20 minutes
- Wrap each scallop in a bacon slice
- Skewer each item onto skewers, taking care not to repeat items
- Grill on medium about 15 minutes, flipping halfway
When the kabobs were ready the boys ran to their spots and demanded immediate eating. After consuming his kabob, Cole requested his usual portion of salad and his “favorite dressing.” “Is salad healthy for you?” he asks. “Oh yes, salad is very healthful. It’s got lots of vitamins and fiber to help you grow strong and healthy.” “Ok, I want more then, please.”
After years of including the children in the cooking process and being clear about when things are “special” and not to be eaten every day (even Cookie Monster’s admitting it), they’ve come to understand and accept that salad is something we eat almost every night. They love their fruits and veggies. There are certain meals they claim as “favorite” which we make regularly, for them. These meals aren’t chicken nuggets. Or french fries. Or Cheerios. They like spicy seafood (shrimp, mussels, clams) curries. Even roast chicken, ribs and meatloaf get claps as they are put on the table.
Each one of their favorite meals they love to help. They both love to mix the meat, eggs, and spices with his hands to create a meatloaf. Cole loves peeling tails and skin off shrimp and beards off of mussels. As often and as best you can, take the time to be honest and straightforward about food. I really wish I’d had the opportunity to learn how important certain foods were in my diet and how detrimental some could be at an early age.
Feeding my children well and educating them about food is a gift I take pride in giving to my boys – each year I feel like Matt and I become better at ensuring they are getting the best opportunity for healthful awareness. Did we have Dairy Queen on Friday as a super special treat? Yes. But because it’s not something we regularly do, I will remember the day and the joy they had in choosing their dessert at the counter. And how special they felt.
If you’re looking for a place to start, I would say first and foremost the thing to do is breastfeed. Beyond the hundreds of reasons to breastfeed your baby, I feel strongly that the reason my children are such wonderful eaters is the approach we took to starting solids. They had been exposed to the flavors in my breastmilk already; they learned how to self-regulate their own intake. And, with child led weaning (or infant self-feeding) and avoidance of filler “cereals” the boys experienced a wide variety of flavors and foods through my breastmilk and were ultimately more interested in them being presented from the table at a pace which they were comfortable with.
But where does it all take us? Years later, it takes us to a Paleolithic way of eating and to ice cream, of course! After healthful kabobs and salad, ‘twas a nice, cool way to end our day of bonding.
Poor Wesley never gets any fun, you say.
Pish posh, we say – he loved hanging outside with us!