Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Getting kids to eat right

I just read an article on the kidshealth website about Kids and Food:
Kids and Food: 10 Tips for Parents

There are ten things parents can do to help their kids eat right and maintain a healthy weight. I wish I had learned these lessons earlier. When H was little I made all the classic mistakes. She was picky, so I fed her whatever she would eat. For several years I played the part of short order cook...Meat and potatoes for J, salad for me, and the "White Diet" for H. You know the white diet: Cheese pizza, plain pasta, bread, macaroni and cheese, applesauce (the one semi-healthy approximation of food that she would eat, and still eats to this day), apple juice, scrambled eggs, toast. Just goes to show you that kids really don't need that much nutrition to grow when they're little. The problem is, bad habits become entrenched and get harder and harder to break. Most of my friends' kids ate the same things, so I didn't realize the problem. We could eat out anywhere, because restaurants always had plain noodles, or peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. I could go about my life like I always had and five minutes before dinner think, "Oh, I didn't make anything for H! No problem...the most difficult thing she ate was scrambled eggs and that took, what?...five minutes? Dinner's on the table!

I can now say that H will eat almost anything at least once. The turning point for us came on a dream vacation. We had chartered a sailboat with a captain and chef. They sent us a long questionnaire about our food likes and dislikes. J and I filled ours out completely, and all we put for H was that as long as they had peanut butter and jelly she would be fine. The first day we boarded our beautiful boat in Tortola, sailed out for half an hour to a beautiful, white sand cove, with turquoise water and blue skies and sat down for an incredible lunch of a homemade quiche (**blue cheese, almonds and cranberries, recipe below), salad, and fresh fruit. H immediately asked for PB&J. After lunch I took her aside and pointed out that Chante, our chef, (who we all fell in love with) had worked very hard on lunch and that H should at least try whatever she made so as not to hurt her feelings. Being the sensitive (although picky) child that she is, H agreed. From that point on she never asked for another PJ&J sandwich, and proceeded to eat and enjoy lobster, lamb, red snapper, tuna, butternut squash, quiche, omelettes, egg tarts, and even salad!!! I don't know why, but for some reason her palate was ready for new foods, and she became a different type of eater.

J and I try to eat healthy, but do enjoy good foods. What works for us, most importantly is PORTION CONTROL. We limit the amount of fat we cook with, try to include a variety of vegetables, and have tried to reset the portion scale that can send most diets over the top. I don't believe in eliminating foods that you love, just because they're "unhealthy". We try to fill up on dense, low calorie foods, and still eat small portions of the foods we enjoy.

Recipe for Cranberry, Almond and Blue Cheese Quiche

1 pie crust -- baked
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large diced onion
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup cranberries -- fresh or frozen
1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/3 cups slivered almonds
2 teaspoons fresh thyme
2 eggs
1 cup heavy cream
2 ounces chunky blue cheese

Preheat oven to 350.

Saute onion with salt in olive oil until clear and caramelized, about 10
minutes. Add berries & sugar, stir in nuts and thyme, set aside.

Combine eggs and cream with whisk. Sprinkle the nut mixture into baked
crust, sprinkle blue cheese on top, then top with egg mixture. Bake 20
minutes.