How though, does one get one's family on board, that's what I want to know? (I can't believe I'm writing this as I watch a commercial for a chicken sandwich which includes two fried chicken patties, bacon and cheese...does it make it less or more healthy that there is no bun?). I jumped on the healthy bandwagon first, and considering I do 90% of the shopping and cooking, it's a no brainer. Sure I often have to hit 2 or 3 stores for local produce, sometimes stopping at Whole Foods after school drop-off and before work, but I happen to love grocery shopping and cooking when I have leisure time. The CSA box was always a fun surprise, too, although found myself eating about 75% of the produce myself. Roasted turnips or kale stir-fry anyone? Now onto the family.
I started with my son, shamelessly taking advantage of his desire to please his mommy. No more than five ingredients on the label, I instructed him, and you must be able to pronounce all the words. It was as simple as that, sort of. Since he was a precocious 6 year old, he got it immediately, and probably for our next 2, maybe 3 shopping adventures he diligently checked labels. I do try to remind him occasionally (see failed attempts below to influence dad's shopping), but shockingly reading labels is even less fun for kids than adults. He's not a big dessert man, though, and usually eager willing (with a dramatic sigh) to try new foods, which helps in my health quest. He's also thankfully not a real fan of the school lunches, and will pretty much inhale most veggies with ketchup or ranch dressing.
Son number two is a little more difficult, what with his sugar addiction, intense love of macaroni and cheese and the ability to do a complete 360 on what he likes from one day to the next. For fruit, we're now reduced to a single type of red grapes, bananas and very small green apple pieces what with the loose tooth and all. He is not a dip man, so that little trick flew out the window. I had something up my sleeve, though, the kid seems to have a real affinity for cookbooks, and just loves reading out loud, which is so adorable. He has become my sous chef, and the deal is when he's 10 I will be his assistant. We've made fruit kabobs and homemade fish sticks, and chicken soup with dumplings was our latest concoction. It's so true people tend to eat more of what they make, as in this case the dumplings with whole wheat flour was a total fail, and my pickiest eater was the only one to eat them. His favorite part of any cooking class in our house is cracking the eggs. We make a lot of quiche. He still rejects much of what I make, but I at least can get him to take a miniscule taste.
Guess who the most difficult convert is? Sadly my husband hates cooking, and will resort to grilled cheese or fried egg sandwiches when left to his own devices. It's not for lack of skill, just bad childhood memories. Grocery shopping ranks right there between cooking and scrubbing toilets, but he will head out for a gallon of milk or bananas, two critical staples in our household. For some reason, though, the man refuses to drive the extra mile or make two stops for local produce or hormone-free milk. Oddly he prefers to get home at a reasonable hour. I know, I know, everything in moderation, but get a load of the latest haul: cookies and cream pudding (which I am expected to make), shark gummies for school snacks, and "the kids really wanted frosted flakes and were good so I got them each a bag of cookies." It's like for six months my rants about high fructose corn syrup and blue dye have gone in one ear and out the other. In my annoyingly passive aggressive way I query Keegan as to the number of recognizable ingredients, but how can my organic gummy bears and homemade granola bars compete? Thank goodness they all love oatmeal, at least every 5th day in Donovan's case.
It it wrong that I hid the cereal and stuffed the easter eggs with the gummy sharks? As the little red hen says, if they aren't going to help, they have to eat what I serve. (It's quite possible that quote is wrong.)
Original Silicon Valley Moms Blog post published April 18, 2010