Food is our source of fuel, but it’s dramatically changed in the last 30 years. Things were different when I was growing up, for the most part food was nourishing.
Today, we’re eating more, while receiving less nutrients. Our children are overweight, but malnourished. Although childhood obesity has leveled off, it’s more than tripled in the last three decades. We’re seeing children with adult-type diseases such as high blood pressure, heart disease, and strokes.
In 1957, when I was ten, a restaurant hamburger had 210 calories. If we were lucky, we ate out once a month. Today, that burger is bigger and has 618 calories. What’s worse is that 33 percent of kids eat fast food every day! Today, 25 percent of the vegetables eaten in the U.S. are French fries (which really aren’t vegetables). The French fry is many times a baby’s first food and 21 percent of toddlers eat French Fries everyday. You can be sure these French fries aren’t homemade, but purchased in a fast food restaurant. They’re loaded with salt and MSG and cooked in an altered fat.
•70 percent of kids ages 6 to 8 think fast food is better for them than home cooking.
•42 percent of children eat dinner while watching TV, but if the child is obese the number jumps to 50 percent .
•Kids see 10,000 ads for junk foods in one year. And by time a child graduates high school, she’s spent more time watching TV than attending school.
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out what’s changed. It’s the processed food we eat. The answer is really simple. Cook whole foods at home. We need to stop making excuses. Cooking is only as hard as you make it out to be.
The key to preparing whole foods is to find easy-to-prepare recipes your family likes and are easy to make. It stands to reason, that your family will not love every new dish you try out. I had an understanding with my kids when they were young. I loved to experiment with new recipes. When giving a new recipe a try, we’d all eat it. Then we’d get a family consensus on whether we liked it well enough to make again. If we didn’t care for it, of course, that recipe would be round-filled.
Sometimes it took a little convincing to get my children to eat a new food. One day I found an interesting recipe for a casserole made with hamburger and spinach. I don’t remember what it was called, but we ended up calling it “Green Meat Casserole.”
I was surprised the finished product wasn’t too appetizing to look at. The spinach gave the meat a greenish tinge. My girls were in grade school at the time. I’ll admit, I wasn’t too excited about eating it myself, but I had a pound of hamburger, 8 ounces of spinach, and three eggs invested in the dish. I wasn’t about to throw it out.
I did a little fast-talking. I reminded my kids that this was a new recipe and we only had to eat it once. If we didn’t like it, that’d be the last time we ever saw it. My hesitation only proved that I was in the same boat as they were, after all the meat looked green. I really thought I’d never make it again.
I served it over noodles, and we all timidly ate the green meat casserole. To my surprise, everyone loved it. In fact, it became a favorite for the girls. So you never know what you’ll really love, until you try it. Remember what Try Rannosaurus, a character in my book Baby Bites, loves to say, “Green food is yummy!”
Perhaps you’ll want to first make the Green Meat Casserole recipe in a themed dinner with everything being green: celery and cream cheese appetizers, green napkins, and kiwi for dessert. Or on Saint Patrick’s Day when green is the expected color of the day. Another idea is to make a running color theme. One evening make a red dinner (spaghetti sauce) and another night make Green Meat Casserole, perhaps a third might be purple and serve an eggplant dish. If your kids think it’s fun, they’ll be more inclined to follow your lead and eat a new recipe.
Click on the Recipe Section on the right side of this page to find my Green Meat Casserole recipe.