Wants and Needs
How, in a sea of rainbow colored, unicorn themed, cartoon covered kid temptations, do we encourage our children to eat real food whilst also keeping it easy for ourselves too? What could we serve in place of that bowl of sugar-laden cereal before sending them off to school? How can we fill their lunchboxes in the most delish way with food that gets eaten AND know that they are being nourished, leaving them focused rather than distracted by their bodies processing the toxins in “food like substances” that are pushed at kid eye-level in the supermarkets? What about the evenings? How about cutting back on the pasta and serving something that everybody will enjoy AND feel good after eating? And what about snacks that are real food rather than just problem-causing fillers?
In the coming weeks I will be adding a new section to my site to share some kid-inspired (and grown-up approved) recipes and tips. From nutrient dense pancakes or muffins (obviously weekend ideas) to granola that can be made ahead of time for the early morning school-day breakfasts. And lunchbox ideas including noodle or grain jars, nori rice rolls or pitta bread pizzas. Supper ideas like those sweet potato fritters or a “creamy” lemon risotto. And also (obviously!) treats like Raspberry Oaty Bars or Caramel Coconut Slices. All, of course, plant-based and made with a minimum of sweeteners.
"Wants" and "Needs"
For now, I would like to share one little trick we have learned in our house. My daughter, Violet, likes to have a say in what she is eating (...I know, groundbreaking news.) This is great and important and we encourage it, but there comes a point were we have to intervene because nobody will thrive on pasta three times a day, every day. So we devised a simple system which still allows her to have input whilst at the same time ensuring that she is getting what she needs - we have two lists from which she can choose, one comprised of “wants” and one or “needs”, usually made up of two of three items on each side.
The interesting thing is that the “wants” and “needs” sometimes hop between lists. In other words, right now she is OBSESSED with artichokes so I have had to put these in the “wants” list so they aren’t overdone. She is not really into sweet potatoes, but she did eat the sweet potato fritters (along with a bowl of pesto pasta) I had made at supper a few nights ago because it was on the “needs” list. Last night I made her favorite tomato tart and artichokes (wants) and she had it with some sauteed celery root (needs). Now, the celery root was only a taste, but sometimes that is also all I want her to do, to try something different. At breakfast this morning she had toast and pesto (want) and smoothie (containing her vitamins and some nuts, seeds and oats - needs).
If the refrigerator is looking a little sad and empty, the “needs” list is made up of whatever we happen to have available - you know what I mean. And if I feel that Violet needs an extra dose of something in particular it moves into the “needs” list. In other words, it is curated on a regular basis! Your lists will be different than mine, and your list will change just like mine does.
Here is how our list currently looks:-
Wants - pasta, toast, blackberries, artichokes, tofu, mango, marmite, kale salad, snap peas, pesto, fruit smoothies, peanut butter chocolates, lemonade
Needs - green smoothies, broccoli, lentils, beans, tempeh, quinoa, sweet potato, tomatoes, eggplant, oatmeal, toasted seeds, veggie soups, granola (homemade, ie low sugar), water
Does this solve ALL problems at meal times? Does Violet's lunchbox come home totally empty every day? Does she always love trying what I have cooked? NO WAY! But giving Violet more of a say on her food has cut way back on the clashes we used to have, she is much more likely to accept "needs" and try new things. And it allows me to make sure she is getting what she needs...most of the time. Which is all that matters.