What Are You Feeding Your Kids?

Are you as sick of the food that’s pushed on our kids as I am? How often are you cooking from scratch? And what indulgences do you allow?
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Are you as sick of the food that’s pushed on our kids as I am?

I'm not talking about fast food and restaurants, I'm talking about what you buy at the grocery store--weird processed foods that are advertised for every meal, or for every snack.

Look, I’m a realist. My kids eat hot dogs. They love the occasional chicken nuggets. Even though I make delicious homemade macaroni and cheese, they are no stranger to the blue box.

I might wince when they eat a hot dog, but I hope I’m also setting them up for a lifetime of eating choices: most of the time I cook healthy, from scratch meals with fresh vegetables. They give me grief about it, but I don’t care. So what if the ratatouille served over stone-ground polenta with an herbed grilled chicken breast elicits groans. Yes, I make them eat their vegetables. I even make concessions: serving more raw veggies, which they prefer, over cooked or steamed. They might have a blue box night, but they’ll also have carrots, celery, and bell pepper sticks to dip in a vinagrette on the side. I don’t withhold “kid” foods from them completely because I think that can back fire.

Once I served whole romaine leaves and called it "Giant Salad." They loved it. Easy to dip and novel.

Once I served whole romaine leaves and called it "Giant Salad." They loved it. Easy to dip and novel.

They ask for stuff all the time that I don’t give to them: strange, artificially colored foods are out. Sugary yogurts, out. Almost anything with a cartoon on it? Out. Sugar cereals, no way. Soda? Not on my watch. Juice? Rare. If it’s in a box, has a litany of ingredients, I question whether it should come into my home. If my grandmother wouldn’t recognize it, why should I feed it to my children? (That’s one of the big turn-offs to extreme couponing for me--most of that stuff isn’t healthy and I don’t want it in my house--call me when the quinoa and squash have coupons.)

Someday they’ll grow into their tastebuds, preferring real food over processed. I hope they grow to learn how their bodies feel after a healthy meal, and after a meal that sinks like a rock. I’ll keep serving them colorful, whole foods, with a balance of proteins and plants, even when they fight me. How else would I have found out that they’re crazy for salmon? It’s worth it. They’re worth it.

I worry that since so many families my age don’t cook, we’re raising another generation of kids who can’t cook--perpetuating a vicious cycle of dependence on processed foods.

So let me ask, how often are you making meals from scratch for the kids? I’ll volunteer that we’re at about 80% scratch, with 20% short cuts.

What types of healthy foods have you tried with your family that you were surprised that they accepted? Where do you draw the line? What are the indulgences you allow?

And stay tuned this week for ideas on quick and healthy foods!

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