I recently read “What Should Food Bloggers Write About?” by Lindsay at Pinch of Yum and it made me realize that I don’t have to write exclusively about my illusions of culinary ninja skills. Starting life.unlabeled. was a result of my personal desires to have an outlet for creativity and to share what I know about real food and real health from life, research, and formal studies. But ultimately I do what I do every breakfast, lunch, and dinner not so that I can write about it but so that I can take the best care of the sweet little bodies I’ve been given the privilege of caring for. It is my hope and prayer that someday what I have to offer will also benefit someone outside my little world. But for now, I am quite happy serving my family. All that to say, “you’ve been warned.” If you’re following my posts, it could get personal…
In case you’ve ever wondered how to get little people to eat vegetables, here’s a little nugget of wisdom: you win some and you lose some. Do your best to maintain your composure when you lose (unfortunately, I think it’s pretty safe to say that I have not yet mastered the art of maintaining my composure…but I’m only 35…I’m still growing up 😉 ). The most helpful thing I’ve found, in this and other behavioral areas, is to treat them like intelligible human beings. They do actually understand when we explain to them why certain foods are good for them and why other foods are not. Sometimes they don’t care. But more often, they do. Involving them in the “whys” of eating as well as the preparation of meals empowers them to make good choices for themselves. Case in point: after writing about carrots the other day, I shared a few fun facts with the boys. The next day, #2 asked if he could make a snack for everyone. He got out a carrot, the vegetable peeler, and a little bowl and made “carrot strips” for everyone to share. But of course he staged his shot and posed for the camera before serving the food, because “that’s what mom does” 🙂 .
Kid-approved food does not have to be shaped like cartoon characters, fried in fat, and smothered in ketchup. They will eat other things. Sometimes they have to try a new food several times before admitting/deciding that they like it. Sometimes good foods just need to be incorporated into a familiar dish to help them grow accustomed to the flavor or texture. Some foods may always need to be cleverly disguised properly prepared in order for anyone in your family to willingly consume them (in our family that designation goes to broccoli…they eat it more often than they know!). Sometimes no matter how hard you try, you may be rewarded for your efforts with looks (and sounds) of horror when presenting your masterpiece. Seriously, some nights you’d think I was serving up a nice dish of roaches with a side of brussel sprouts (I know, some people say they are good, but I have never eaten one I enjoyed…brussel sprouts…not roaches…I’ve never tried those…). Nonetheless, keep trying, you’ll find what works for your family! Don’t settle for unhealthy because it’s easy. Define a healthy lifestyle for your family and make it work for you.
One classic kid-friendly favorite is the grilled cheese sandwich. Next time you need a quick sandwich, try these grilled un-cheese sandwiches instead. My kids love them. Tons of tender crisp veggies swimming in soft and savory hummus and guacamole. Who needs cheese?
I do make one “not fresh food” exception for the green chilies in this recipe as I have never been brave enough to try a fresh pepper for fear it might be too hot. I guess I need to give that a try. Anyone have a favorite mild chili pepper? We don’t do spicy around here 😉 . UPDATE: Not sure why I didn’t just look this up in the first place, but I found out most often the chili peppers in canned mild green chilies are Anaheim chilies. So anytime I would have used a can of green chilies, I now water saute one Anaheim chili with the onions.
- 1 red onion, chopped
- 1 Anaheim chili pepper, chopped
- 1 red pepper, chopped
- 1 carrot, shredded
- 1 zucchini, shredded
- ½ cup mushrooms, chopped
- 1 tsp salt
- 12 slices bread
- ½ - 1 cup guacamole
- 2 cups cooked garbanzo beans
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- ½ tsp salt
- 2 tsp cumin
- water to reach desired consistency (2-4 tbsp)
- Water saute onions and chili pepper until onions are translucent, then add remaining veggies and cook until tender crisp.
- Puree all ingredients in a food processor.
- Assemble sandwiches by spreading one piece of bread with hummus and one piece of bread with guacamole.
- Top one side with prepared veggies and cover with the other prepared piece of bread.
- Grill in a panini press or on a regular griddle until bread is browned and crispy (about 5 minutes in panini press or 5 minutes each side on griddle).