It’s been a long time since my last post, but I have not stopped trying to improve the healthy intake of food by children around me. But I may be a bit less obvious about it. My kids are growing… eldest now 14 and youngest 9! When I started this I had a three-year-old. So, their food choices are overall healthy, but of course, they’re kids, so when given a chance, they’ll eat the junk. But I’m so proud that my kids overall shun McDonald’s and the like. I’ve always tried to be open to the occasional unhealthy foods/snacks/candy so that my kids had a healthy attitude with food. They don’t hoard food and don’t overindulge when given the chance to eat candy and other unhealthy stuff. And my eldest knows that if he has more than one soda at a meal, he’ll feel ill, so he has one and done. It’s the balance that I’m proud of. They will eat a large variety of fruits and vegetables and they like spicy foods, international foods, fish, meats, etc. I do still wish they’d eat more combinations of vegetarian options. My middle son still steers clear of most foods combined in one dish besides some pasta dishes and chili. He likes things separated on a plate with distinct tastes for each item.
One of the reasons I’ve been remiss in writing is that I’ve been busy. Really, really, busy. Growing boys have sports, scouts, Odyssey of the Mind, plays, camps, school, music lessons, play dates, etc. And now year-end shows, parties, concerts… I’ve also just gotten a new job and no longer working as an investment advisor. I was laid off from my company when it went a little more corporate and got rid of its smaller producers who worked from home. You’d think that would’ve given me more time to write then, but another reason is that I stopped writing is that I felt we were in a pattern food-wise and I didn’t have much to share. I’m certain I’ve created recipes, but when I did, it was probably at a busy time, and I just didn’t get it on here.
Before I got my new job I was working as a cafe supervisor at my son’s elementary school. I loved working there with all the children. The woman who was my coworker felt that many of the kids were being “bad” if they were talking to friends at other tables and she didn’t exactly do things the same way as I did. But after some time, she tolerated my “let’s make this fun, not punitive” attitude with dealing with the kids. (They’re just babes really, 5-10 year olds.) One of the changes I made was in encouraging the students to eat more fruits and vegetables. I’d done that as a parent volunteer, but this was different, and more challenging, as an employee. I felt it necessary when I’d see what the kids ate every day. Like the boy who for his lunch had white bread and butter, cheese slices, blue jello, blue cotton candy, chocolate and no vegetables. He did have grapes but refused to eat them, because he ‘tried them once and didn’t like them.”
At first I brought in an apple slicer. So many of this age group are dealing with loose baby teeth and gaps until their adult teeth come in, so they’d shy away from whole apples. Slicing them was easy and it increased the number of kids who’d eat apples. Some told me that when I wasn’t there, they wouldn’t buy apples because they’d only eat them sliced. And since I’ve gone, apparently they’re not eating them anymore. 🙁
I also piggybacked onto the reward system the school used in classrooms and hallways… for respecting self, others, environment. So, if the kids brought in from home or chose from cafeteria 3 or more fruits and veggies, they’d get a reward. The reward would be put in a bin and at lunch we’d choose 4 winners to pick friends to sit with at the reward table or pick a prize from prize box. It was amazing how quickly those kids would rush back into the lunch line to grab more fruits and vegetables or tell their parents to pack more. Then if there were some kids who never ate any (and I mean never) then I’d offer them a reward for just getting 1 or 2. And they found they liked more than they’d ever realized.
Mostly what I found was the kids were willing to try new things and eat more if they felt there was an immediate reward for it, it was fun, or it was just easier to eat. I hope that some it stuck and since I’m gone they’re doing it at home or school. It’s not always that hard, and they are all good kids.
Here’s a link to my summery grilled peach & ricotta toast which will be perfect for the upcoming season.