It just occurred to me, that my kids have been into raw foods since they were babies. My son loved to suck on apples, water melon and pears as some of his first foods. He hated the standard “baby slop” (rice cereal and mushed up cooked veggies or fruit) I used to mix up for him. The girls have enjoyed similar raw foods to their brother when first learning about solid food too. It has not been uncommon for my kids to eat raw green beans, peas, corn and they have even asked to try eating raw sweet potatoes. And who has stood there in the past and declared: “you cant eat that it’s not cooked”? Me! Oh dear…..Sometimes it is us adults that need to unlearn rather than “learn” our kids isn’t it.
So, in the name of unlearning and trying new things, here are some ways I have found have helped me to change my mindset surrounding food and encouraged my lot to try a few new things 🙂
Eating together, literally! Any parent knows that there is nothing more enticing to a child than the food that ISN’T on their plate! When I stopped eating cereals for breakfast, I tried Mimi Kirk’s “Hearty Breakfast”. One morning, I piled it in to a bowl and went outside to eat. Alone. Well it never takes kids long to find mum when she’s trying to have a quiet moment to eat something she doesn’t want to share! They tasted it and to my surprise liked it! It now makes it into our brekky menu on a regular basis. Check out my version here!
Reverse Physiology: When I first started green juicing, I offered it to my children to try. “Nooo! Yuck!” Came the reply. “Fine then.” I thought. “I’ll enjoy my lufferly green juice and you can have your plain ol’ OJ then” 😛 And I did. And they did. After some months of this reverse psychology……a little voice said, “Mum, can I have a taste of yours? Pleease!” Bingo!! 😀
Grow It: Kids like to dig holes and plant things. Yes, the Little Ones might keep digging up the poor old seed everyday to see if it is has grown yet, but if gets them interested in their food from a different angle, it’s worth it. I am not a great gardener, but I do my best and I imagine my beautiful veggie garden loaded with produce surrounded by fruit trees……but it’s not. It reality, it needs weeding and the possums keep helping themselves. However, it has introduced my son to lettuce, my fussiest daughter to zucchini and the other two to tomatoes and how potatoes grow. They all enjoy picking herbs to add to dishes and love to pull up and wash carrots so they can eat them straight away. At the present all we have growing is a pot of broccoli, planted by Miss 5. It isn’t grand, but if it gets them eating it, my job is done 🙂
Baby Steps: I have to admit it, I don’t like raw zucchini pasta that much and neither do the kids, but we’re working on it and here’s how. The kids and I love pesto (check out my Hey Pesto recipe). So, when I make our pesto pasta, I make “spaghetti” out of the zucchini. For the kids, I mix half cooked organic spaghetti and half raw zucchini “spaghetti” with the pesto and they gobble it down. I will gradually adjust the ratio to tip in favour of the raw and eventually this should be a 100% raw dish for our family. For myself? I’m being tough and going cold turkey on this one. Lead by example I say! 😉
Smooth-me! My kids love a smoothie and I love that they drink them! A good smoothie, with heaps of yummy raw foods is a true meal and packs a awesome nutritional punch. It also takes the stress out of those meals when the kids aren’t so keen on eating what’s on their plates. I know if they have had their smoothie, they’re covered.
If it’s not in the house, they cant eat it: Dah!! It’s is so obvious, but so easy to forget when being bedazzled at the supermarket by all the colourful packaging (with a hungry tummy), not to mention the pestering little people at your feet. There are isles at the supermarket I don’t even go down. The chip & soft drink isle and the one with all the lollies, sweets and chocolates. If I don’t buy it, it’s not in the cupboard and therefore can’t be asked for, nagged about or eaten in secret by any member of the house. Our fridge constantly has fresh fruit and veggies in it. It is pleasantly surprising how many apples, carrots and bananas (just to name a few) the kids will eat when that’s all there is.
Yes, take them shopping! I know that taking kids shopping can be a huge pain. They touch everything, talk loudly and want to run up and down the isles. You have to park your shopping trolley at special angles or the mini person sitting in it will grab every thing within reach. They scream and need to go to the toilet when you’re only halfway through. People frown at you and offer unsolicited advice. And then suddenly some one will give you a knowing smile and tell you how cute they all are and suddenly it was worth it….well, kinda.
I actually like to take mine shopping. I don’t love it, but we get through and they are learning something (I hope!) Kids get bombarded with advertising as much as we do and I believe kids need to learn how shop smart, so they can avoid becoming complete victims of marketing campaigns when they are older. Showing them how to read labels and explaining why we do or don’t buy certain items is really a life skill. I love to take them to the fruit and veggie section and let them choose something new to try. Pomegranates, persimmons and star fruit have been some of the “new” things we have brought home recently. And they do get used to being told “no” and have even started telling me which items are junk food and why we shouldn’t eat them!
Dips and tricks: Most kids love a dip. Cutting up carrot sticks, celery, cucumber, broccoli, green beans, snow peas, plonking them on a plate with a Raw Cashew Cheese, hummus or a simple guacamole and setting in the middle of the table…..gone in minutes around here!
Deserts, Deserts, Deserts: One can never go wrong with a raw desert. So far my repertoire is very modest, with only 3 items on the menu – Chewy Chocolate Bars, Chocolate Iced Desert, Raw Chocolate Mousse. (That’s a lot of chocolate lol!) I promise to expand my deserts in the very near future!
So don’t, argue, force or cajole. You can take a child to the table, but you can’t make her/him eat. Gentle encouragement, leading by example, a healthy fridge and pantry and lots of raw deserts will get them there in the end….. hopefully 😉