Thursday, 11 August 2011

You Are What You Eat

When Chi-Chi was just a little wee one, beginning to eat solid foods, I became a mommy on a mission! My goal was to ensure that sweet, pure, innocent little boy was going to be fed the most wholesome and healthiest foods possible. It spent a great deal of time and energy both sourcing and preparing his homemade baby food. From fresh forest fiddleheads, to organic beef stew, that little boy would gobble up anything placed in front of him. I would drive 40km round-trip into the city, just to get the organic items I needed to make his food.

Time has marched on and that chubby, giggling baby has grown into a strong, energetic 6 year old with the same big appetite....and a brother who is not far behind. I still spend a huge amount of my time sourcing and preparing healthy food for our family. I can only imagine the shear quantity of food my two sweeties will be consuming at the age of fifteen and sixteen! I've certainly relaxed a bit since those days. Not every single item in my cupboards is organic or would be considered "wholesome". I certainly purchase local and organic when I can, but I'm not perfect and do not really strive to be. There are "no-no's" that I will likely not bend on, but we allow treats both inside and outside our home. I love the story of the time I went on a getaway weekend with a girlfriend. Hubby served up hamburgers and Ruffles potato chips - something the boys had never tasted. Apparently they could not stop munching on those chips. Chi-Chi exclaimed with great enthusiasm, "These potato crackers are the best thing I've ever tasted!" Chi-Chi once went to a birthday party where the only beverage served was orange pop. Although I don't serve this at home, I was not going to tell him he could not have it in this particular social setting. He spent most of the party sipping on orange pop with wide eyes, ignoring the other children and the events going on around him!

"You are what you eat". This is an expression I'm using a lot around our household these days, as the boys and I discuss and contemplate food choices. As a parent who wants her children to grow up on healthy food, it's not easy to navigate the ship at times. Since Chi-Chi started grade Primary in a public school, I've noticed the number of questions and requests have increased. In once sense, this is positive, as it brings about discussion and an opportunity for learning. In another sense, it is difficult and frustrating as he compares notes on what others have packed in their lunch boxes, or what the cafeteria is offering. Since wee ones often speak their mind with an unfiltered voice, we've also had some discussions on good manners! I can't tell you how many people my little Muffy has looked straight in the eye and asked, "Why are you smoking?". (I wonder if his honesty had an impact on any of those people??)

On this rainy morning, I find myself in the kitchen, baking up a huge batch of homemade granola. It's the breakfast of choice these days, served with a helping of my homemade yogurt and a drizzle of delicious Nova Scotia maple syrup. A couple of weeks ago I placed a bulk order from Speerville, through the Grainery in Halifax. With all the granola munching that's been going on, I really needed that 8kg bag of oatmeal. I don't have a recipe and enjoy sprinkling in whatever might be on hand in the pantry. Today this included:

Kamut flakes
barley flakes
quinoa flakes
poppy seeds
sunflower seeds
pumpkin seeds
flax seeds
sesame seeds
drizzling of canola oil and maple syrup

I bake it in the oven at 325 Celsius until golden brown. It doesn't last long around here! Come fall, I will do up a nut-free batch for Chi-Chi and Muffy's lunch boxes at school.

I have also been making an effort to get the boys more involved in meal preparation. With all the greens we've been both harvesting and receiving from our CSA box, I've discovered that the mealtime salad is the simplest area to request assistance. They are always so eager to help and it can often get VERY tricky with "too many cooks in the kitchen". Sometimes, I'm just too tired and not up for it. Other days I put out a help wanted call. I'm loving this plastic lettuce knife I picked up online at Vesey's Seeds. Ok, so I personally don't use a knife to cut lettuce, but it's great work for the kids. It's not only wonderful for lettuce, but tomatoes, cukes...etc. It does the job, but is really quite dull and fairly harmless (but supervised use just the same!!)

I'm starting to realize that all those garden beans may in fact be the source of some crazy behaviour around here. After all, I keep telling them "You are what you eat" and Chi-Chi and Muffy are most certainly full of beans (:

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