Jay and I have several young grandchildren, and what we feed them when they visit is a conversation we have often. You see, we try to base our meals on fresh veggies, maybe a few fruits, pasture raised meats, and healthy fats such as butter from pasture raised cows, olive oil, coconut oil or even fat rendered from the meats we cook. Sadly, three of our four kids don’t eat like that, which means their children don’t eat like that. This leaves a “kid food” dilemma. What to do? We don’t want food wars, and we also don’t want to compromise our nutritional values and feed our grandkids things we wouldn’t eat. Here is how we solve it.
To begin with, these are our grandkids and we want visits with them to be fun, not a fight at the table. Simply insisting that they eat it doesn’t work. Instead, we carefully inventory the healthy items that they like. Then we are sure to include at least one or two of those items in the meal, and they can have all they want. For example, our oldest granddaughter, Sydney, is five and loves fruit and steak and chicken. When she is here, we are sure to prepare pasture raised steak or chicken, along with whatever fruit is in season. Then we also prepare a few other veggies that she may not have ever eaten or declares that she doesn’t like. We don’t make her eat these things, but encourage her to at least try a bite. Some things have been a big success done like that. For example, she loves broccoli dipped in our homemade cultured fresh butter. Actually, I really love that too (who wouldn’t)! She also likes green beans and cherry tomatoes sliced in half. She likes to pick carrots from the garden and eat them raw, and she likes to grab handfuls of cilantro. All in all, she may not eat everything we eat, but I’m happy with the things she is willing to eat, and there are no food wars at the table. We really get to enjoy the time we spend with her.
Our youngest grandson is Grant and he is 8 months old. We are lucky that Grant likes to eat just about anything! We just chop up whatever we are eating into tiny pieces, and he goes to town. We keep no “kid foods” in our house, so there are no Cheerios, goldfish, pink yogurt, or any other processed foods marketed to kids. I don’t think Grant misses it. He seems to shovel handfuls of healthy food into his mouth. When Grant gets older and pickier about what he likes, I hope he will still enjoy healthy food, so we can fix his favorites, like we do with Sydney.
Here are a few other tips. There is an old Italian proverb that says “Hunger is the best sauce”, and I believe it is totally true. If we sit down to a meal, and there have been no between-meal-snacks, you can bet the kids will eat a good meal. They like food a lot better when they are hungry! For this reason, we keep a pretty regular schedule of three solid meals and nothing in between, other than water. Don’t worry, the three meals are pretty substantial. We haven’t starved any kids yet. We simply don’t allow them to constantly graze through the kitchen. We also allow time for outdoor play and quiet naps. A kid who has had a full morning of outdoor play hits the table hungry and ready to eat about anything! Then a good nap with a full belly to keep everyone in good cheer.
I hope the grandchildren’s memories of Nana and Pop include delicious meals. I know my memories of my grandparents include big meals around a huge round table. I knew that NOBODY cooked as good as my MaMa, and she absolutely never served up any processed or packaged junk. I didn’t miss it, and couldn’t wait to have dinner at her house. I knew the table would be covered in seasonal vegetables from their garden, maybe some cornbread, and likely a desert made from seasonal fruit. I hope I can do things half as well as she did.
Eat your veggies, kids!