Cooking healthy for your kids

The struggle is real (and that's not my kid by the way but you get the point).  Yes, that's somewhat of an overused phrase right now about everything: parenting, working out, getting up early, you name it, but it really does apply in this case.  It's a continuing, ongoing struggle. Now I understand why my mom blew up at me one day when I was a child and probably for the thousandth time, whined, "Ugggg!  Not the brisket again!"  She simply got tired of her food being maligned by a snot-nosed kid and perhaps in a micro-sense, it hurt her feelings a bit.  My mom would never have admitted that it hurt her feelings, but given that I'm in the same position now as she was, it does rankle a bit when your kids make fake throw-up noises after you've been slaving away in a hot kitchen for an hour. For me, it started last year when I went on the low FODMAP elimination diet after rounds and rounds of medical testing.  I was on lockdown for 6 weeks on gluten-free bread (preferably homemade), homemade flaxseed crackers (which ended up a disaster - I can't crisp anything to save my life), quinoa cakes, and lamb.  I had to stay away from foods that I'd eaten most of my life, and since we had recently moved to Texas from Florida and had gone off the rails as a family acclimating ourselves to our new home and new city (aka eating junk every day), the transition was going to be rough.  After all, my husband and I had actually created a weekly menu for the kids that turned out to be quite the fatty rotation: Mooyahs on Monday, Tacos on Tuesdays, Dickey's BBQ on Wednesdays, Pizza on Thursdays and Fridays and Saturdays, we usually ate out.  Not a sustainable plan, but boy was it delicious while it lasted.  New-found BBQ  and Tex-Mex joints were added to the agenda and we quickly became connoisseurs of the best breakfast places around, comparing the quality of freshly baked donuts or biscuits.  Throw in a few Nothing Bundt Cakes in there and it's really not a surprise that my belly ended up finally saying, "Enough!"

So when I started with the elimination diet, I had neither the desire nor interest to cook two sets of dinners, one for me and the other for my husband and kids.  Sometimes I was forced to: there was no way the boys were eating quinoa salmon cakes, even though I enjoyed them personally.  In fact, a number of the meals were influenced by a New Zealand style of cooking since the food coach lived there were quite pleasing.  I had never really had much lamb before, but dijon mustard lamb chops ended up being amazing.  There were a lot of potatoes too infused in the recipes which I also liked but the kids oddly said no!  I mean, who says no to mashed potatoes?!  Seriously!  I began to think they were just being difficult because they knew that I was "eating healthy" (and yes, my two boys actually used air quotes) and wanted no part of it.  "Mooyahs!  Mooyahs!  Mooyaaaa..." Their chants faded as they realized that mess was over.  Maybe I couldn't make them eat quinoa fusilli, but by God, they were going to eat healthier and veggies and healthier proteins were going to be a part of it.

I did the best I could -- gave them easily accessible baby carrots and offered to cover their broccoli with grated parmesan (or even lemon zest!  That was a fail.).  Sometimes I'd even chop up some peppers and bury it in the meat sauce.  I had no luck with fish unless it had the consistency of a nugget and the shape of an actual fish.  But the thing that really started to burn me, besides their refusal to eat what I made, was all the moans and groans, the throaty avowals of disgust, the epic rolling of the eyes.  At first, I tried to deal with it in good fun... After all, it was, as I said, a transition from pizza, tacos, mac 'n' cheese and PB&Js.  But I was determined to make up for my errant ways turning a blind eye to the junk food tour which had started out for us of convenience, but had morphed into outright laziness.  It is admittedly tough with two parents working full-time: it's just easy to "grab something" on the way home.  But I just decided to make time - our health was too important.  And the gas coming out of my little one was akin to something that I imagined would waft from an ancient scroll released from its Egyptian tomb.

So it had to stop, along with the disrespect.  Finally, I pulled a "mom" and blew up, telling them that their comments were disrespectful and hurtful and that I didn't appreciate their complaints.  I explained that in order for them to grow up healthy and strong (and get that elusive six-pack my older son always talks about), they would need to eat balanced meals that contained protein, good fats, and carbs.  They probably didn't understand a word of it - and frankly, I didn't care, as long as the pre-dinner wailing ritual stopped.  After a few tries and maybe a few times of either me or my husband raising my voice, they stopped, and the healthy bug "took."  They no longer demanded Mooyah's or pizza on a daily basis and no longer whined about wanting to eat out.  They still don't love veggies, but I didn't as a kid either, and never thought I would... and look at me now, eating quinoa and kale salads with beets and arugula.  Seriously!  But the point is for your sake as a parent, and your kids', stick with the healthy cooking and healthy eating. You probably won't see the payoff now or get any "Thank you mommy for putting more green beans on my plate!," but believe me, they'll feel it (and appreciate it) later... when they're my age.