Feeding Little Monsters, I Mean Toddlers
In the mind of my toddlers, they have all the power. Little do they know, Mommy has some tricks up her sleeve when it comes to getting this dynamic duo to eat a good meal. When I was a kid, I remember my mother doing her best to sneak in vegetables wherever she could, in spite of my incessant complaints. Occasionally this resulted in some odd concoctions that didn’t get saved as left-overs. Now that I am the chef, with a partner who eats as many or fewer vegetables than my toddlers, even buying produce can be daunting because I don’t want it to go to waste. What a lovely guilty conscious to have, right? Then you add in that I myself am still learning what eating healthy means to me and, well honestly, all that guilt adds up to me binging on sweets at 11 o’clock at night.
I would love to blame the big companies who make their living on selling crap food, but I can admit it’s more about self-control. The self-control I don’t have in growing my own garden and hunting my own game; and the self-control I do have in at least satisfying my guilty conscious a good 60-70% of the time by following in my mother’s ways of shredding up the zucchini before I put it in my spaghetti sauce. The kids, and even sometimes Daddy, don’t know the difference.
What helps me get through this never-ending battle you ask? In classic nerd fashion, I look to books! Cook books! Books older than myself like Whole foods for Whole families, written by the La Leche League. I even have a diabetes recipe book that gives me inspiration. I may not have diabetes, but I feel like it’s sound logic to go by recipes that keep your blood sugar low as a form of prevention. But you know what never fails to find yummy (and nutritious) recipes? Pinterest! That little app icon is like a circus announcer: “Come one, come all, witness the amazing!” I made a cheesy cauliflower rice once off of Pinterest and then figured out that I had made a box dinner without the box, but better for you. It was a hit too. Boy, did I feel good about that. Also, snacks are where it’s at! Keeping “grab-n-go” foods like cheese sticks, pistachios, trail mix, dried fruit and berries—this is a skill I have mastered. I never go anywhere without snacks and water.
It really does make me feel good as a mother to cook a good meal—it’s the ultimate bragging rights. Both of the twins love to help make a meal and now that they are big enough, I let go of that OCD a little and enjoy their joy of learning. It’s entertaining to hear them go on about stirring the pot and pouring the ingredients, about what foods they like and what foods they want to hold on to while out shopping. One time at the Safeway I frequent, my check lady said to me, “You always have stuff for home-made meals, and I hardly see you shopping without your kids in tow. It’s cool to see someone so young, making choices like that.” When the neighbor kids ask to come over for dinner, and when Daddy is telling his friends that “Celina’s making her quinoa patties tonight, you should come over, they’re bomb,” that’s when I know I’m doing something right. Leading, or in this case eating, by example is how I am teaching my kids, as I learn what is healthy. Next step, making time in my schedule to exercise more. Hopefully I get to that before summer ends!
Celina Gray (Blackfeet and Little Shell Chippewa) is a student at Salish Kootenai College studying wildlife and fisheries.