Today we have a super-awesome entry!! We have three big-name bloggers weighing on what they feed THEIR real-food kids. Let me introduce them to you:
Jenny is a wife and mother with a passion for real food. Together, with her husband, she started and manages one of Colorado’s most progressive farmers markets which serves its community and consistently provides fresh, local and organic foods to residents of her community regardless of income. Jenny blogs at NourishedKitchen.com where she shares wholesome, nutrient-dense recipes and discusses the value of traditional foods and growing your foodshed.
Kelly has been blogging about “politically incorrect” health & nutrition topics on Kelly the Kitchen Kop since January of 2008. She has passionately researched how to eat better and live better since discovering the Weston A. Price Foundation in 2004. Kelly also enjoys the opportunity to speak to groups about these issues, and to help individuals become healthier through one-on-one consultations.
Kelly lives near Grand Rapids, Michigan with her husband of 20 years and 4 children.
Katie Kimball is a former teacher and mom to two kids who both inherited her stubborn temper. She cooks, eats, and blogs in Michigan. And sleeps, sometimes. Find her and her baby steps to balancing food, the environment, time and money through the eyes of faith at www.KitchenStewardship.com.
Let’s see what they had to say about feeding their real-food kids!
1) When did your real food journey begin? How old were your kids?
Jenny: We always valued wholesome, healthy natural foods and, for a long time, my husband and I waffled between vegetarianism and veganism. I became pregnant after really focusing on cleaning up my diet, and about half-way through my pregnancy I began to hear about the traditional foods movement and it’s about this time that I began to integrate a small amount of wild-caught fish into my diet. About a year later, when my son was nine or ten months old, I happened across Sally Fallon Morell’s Nourishing Traditions in an online book swap and fell in love. Suddenly, food just made sense. We began integrating the fundamental aspects of real food into our kitchen: soaked grains, sourdough, fresh milk, pastured- and grass-fed meats as well as plenty of wholesome fats and things began to grow from there.
Kelly: 6 years ago. My oldest was 11, so he’s been the most tricky. The other 3 were either not born yet or very young, and they are OK with most everything, including cod liver oil!
Katie: I’ve always made a lot from scratch, but I started making some of the bigger changes and eradicating all (almost all) processed foods just over a year ago. My daughter was only 6 months, so she’s oblivious, but my son was 3 1/2, so…
2) If you started real food after your kids were older, how did they deal with the transition?
Jenny: My son grew up on real food and while I wish I knew more about the value of traditional foods so that I could have better nourished his developing body during my pregnancy, he was always fed real food: exclusively breastfed until he was about 6 and a half months when we began baby led weaning. So, for him, there was no transition. Real food is all he’s ever known.
Kelly: With lots of complaining! He misses the fast food junk, the pop tarts, the boxed cereals, etc… However, once in a while I get a glimmer of hope, when some junk food he has makes him feel like crap and he realizes why… (he he he)
Katie: …he says things like, “We never have cereal anymore,” and “When are we going to get those little yogurt cups again?” He loves the raw milk and sourdough whole wheat bread with raw honey, and he’s always eaten plain homemade yogurt with no sweetener, but there are things he balks at. Mostly he likes a dessert after every meal, and although I used to think, “Two pieces of candy per day is so much better than all the other kids out there…” now I’m starting to crack down on that, too, much to his dismay!
3) If you started real food before your kids were born, how did you introduce solids to your kids? What were favorite foods in the toddler years?
Jenny: We introduced solids through the baby-led method, after about a week of failed spoon-feeding. It was simple. My son showed classic signs of readiness: he sat on his own, unsupported; he expressed interest in meal time; he’d lost the tongue-thrust reflex. Since we prepared wholesome, natural foods in our home we simply served him a small amount of whatever my husband and I were eating. Sure, most of it ended up on the floor or mashed into his high chair, but it mattered little: the real purpose of solid food in the first year is to expose baby to flavor and texture. The bulk of the nutrients should come from mother’s milk during the first year – even after the introduction of solids. It wasn’t until my son was about a year old or so that he began to eat meals as opposed to enjoying small tastes of food. You can read more about how I nourished my son here.
Kelly: Hardly any jarred baby foods, not many “baby foods” at all actually – I’d puree a few things that we were eating, but mostly he just had finger foods when he was ready and the breast until he was about 14 months. Favorite toddler foods…hmmm, it’s been a while so I have to think…I loved giving him little pieces of eggs knowing how packed with nutrition the yolks are. Or just anything we were having I’d give him a little bit of, it was all very slow and natural and relaxed. Since he was our 4th, I knew he’d get there and didn’t fret over when.
Katie: I did a lot less rice cereal with my daughter and tried the egg yolk thing, but she was not impressed. With both kids plain yogurt was a vital element after 8 months. My daughter loves soaked oatmeal, and beans were always a big thing too. Frozen peas and blueberries have to take the cake as “favorite finger food” though!
4) Did your kids go through a picky phase? How did you handle it and make sure they still got good nutrition?
Jenny: My child is not picky. I attribute this to the fact that I breastfed him thus exposing him to a variety of subtle flavors in my milk during his early infancy and beyond. Then, through taking his lead in weaning onto solid foods and allowing him to experience a multitude of flavors and textures in that first year, he grew accustomed to the variations naturally found in foods. Sure, from time to time he just doesn’t want to eat or he picks at his food. I pay it no mind, I know that by offering nutrient-dense foods he’ll eventually get all the nutrition he needs. The Clara Davis experiments in the late 1930s illustrate that babies and young children, when given only wholesome, nutrient-dense foods, will eventually choose a diet that is well-rounded.
Kelly: Heck yeah, they all do. I never freaked out, because if you do that, they’ll fight it all the more. I’d always remember that if I stayed matter-of-fact about it, they’d come back to liking that food again, and they always did. It was normal for each of them to go through streaks where they wouldn’t take their cod liver oil, or eat eggs, or whatever, but soon they’d be fine again. (Sometimes a few days, sometimes a few weeks.) In the meantime I just kept offering a variety of foods and they always had their raw milk, and they did fine.
Katie: Much to MY dismay, my son who used to make me so proud because he ate everything, even lettuce salad with balsamic vinaigrette dressing as a 3-year-old, is entering deeper and deeper into the picky phase right now. Grrrrrr. It’s mentally harder to regress than if he had just started out this way! I basically trust that he’ll eat when he’s hungry (same for picky toddler daughter) and continue to offer healthy options. No dinner, no dessert, of course. Again the yogurt and raw milk, sourdough bread comes through to ease my mind about nutrition. I slather butter on things when they’re having extra picky days!
5) Today, what is a typical meal in your house? How do your kids like it? What is their favorite meal?
Jenny: A typical supper in our home consists of a small to moderate portion of pasture-raised or grass-fed meat, a big salad of mixed greens, one or two vegetables and a small portion of a naturally fermented vegetable like sauerkraut. If we eat dessert, it is usually fruit or custard. For example, tonight we enjoyed slow-cooked pasture-raised pork ribs in a homemade barbecue sauce, a big green salad with a fresh buttermilk herb dressing, baked yams and sour beets. We had an unsweetened blackberry sorbet (http://nourishedkitchen.com/blackberry-sorbet) for dessert. Breakfast is often eggs served over wilted greens or soaked oatmeal with yogurt and lunch is usually soup brimming with vegetables and served with a big green salad and, occasionally, a slice of sourdough bread and fresh butter or an aged raw milk cheese. My son’s favorite meal, believe it or not, is lamb or beef carpaccio served with arugula, pecorino cheese and plenty of olive oil. He also loves fried chicken livers and homemade sourdough pizza.
Kelly: Hmmm, for breakfast we have soaked waffles or pancakes, smoothies, eggs or yogurt. For lunch the kids usually pack sandwiches with soaked/fermented bread and lunch meats from the farm along with a fruit pack (yes, I buy those store-bought little fruit packs sometimes for lunches…after checking the label over well!), also usually another piece of fresh fruit, and water. Sometimes they’ll pack a yogurt (whole milk of course) and a cheese stick. Some of their favorite dinner meals are “ketchup soup”, burgers (we buy ground beef with ground heart), homemade chicken nuggets, or spaghetti.
Katie: Typical meals are lots of soups this time of year, which is really hit or miss with the kiddos. Sometimes they hardly eat two bites. For breakfast, scrambled eggs or soaked oatmeal are almost 100% successes. I always feel good knowing they started the day off with real food! Their favorites are pizza, tacos, French fries…like any kid, I guess, except that it’s soaked whole wheat pizza dough, homemade tortillas and grass fed beef tacos, and beef tallow French fries. My son actually says his favorite meal is roast chicken, mashed potatoes and peas. He likes to mix them all together!
6) How do you handle being around other kids who don’t eat real foods? Do your kids want what the other kids have? Do you ever let them?
Jenny: In general, we invite people to our homes so we can share the beauty of real food with them, though we’re always good guests too – eating what’s served. We don’t limit what our son eats at birthday parties for example; however, we explain that sugary foods and other processed foods are likely to leave him feeling ill and, with the exception of chocolate, he’ll resist eating junk food on his own which is a tough show of self-restraint for an adult, let alone a four-year-old. He even boos the Coco Cola truck when it passes us on the street.
Kelly: I go by the 80/20 plan. If we do well 80% of the time (usually when we’re at home), I don’t worry so much about the other 20%. It’s not always easy for me to chill out, but I don’t want them to totally rebel when they leave home someday, so when we’re out, I let them have what the others are having.
Katie: Uh, struggle, yes, yes – that’s the struggle, both internal and external. I hate being a mean mom! I have to tell myself that if I don’t let him eat anything fun, he’ll totally rebel when he gets bigger and my husband will disown me for it. This will become a bigger problem when he’s in school eating lunches with other kids daily. I shudder at the thought!
7) Will you share a favorite kid-friendly real-food recipe with us?
Jenny: My molasses custard is teeming with wholesome fats and sweetened only by a touch of molasses, it’s a delicious, nourishing dessert that no child I’ve met can resist. For other ideas, try my post: 10 Healthy Treats for Kids
Kelly: See above. 🙂
Katie: Let them mix their roast chicken with mashed potatoes and peas! Also our fav snacks: One Bowl Pumpkin Bread Muffins , Whole Wheat Crackers, Homemade Chicken Nuggets, Hamburger Helper Substitute, Sausage and Spinach Pasta Toss, Three Bean Soup
8) Any other tips or thoughts on feeding real-food kids?
Jenny: We don’t give our children enough credit. We assume that babies must be raised on strained peas and rice cereal and that our toddlers will like nothing but macaroni and cheese and hot dogs. Nothing could be further from the truth. If there’s one thing I hate, it’s finding a children’s menu with nothing but buttered noodles, chicken fingers and hamburgers. How can our children learn to love real food unless we expose them to real food. We can raise real food enthusiasts by giving them the opportunity to try many foods from the very beginning. You can learn more about my philosophy in this post: Teaching Kids to Enjoy Fruits and Vegetables (http://nourishedkitchen.com/encourage-children-enjoy-fruits-vegetables/).
Kelly: Try not having the junk around the house, then they can’t beg for it! Be patient in getting the kids on board, and keep trying recipes until you get them the way the whole family likes it. It takes time but is so worth it to show them how tasty Real Food can be!
Katie: Don’t stress about it; they can sense that and push back. Try your best to convince grandparents that your way of eating is the best so they don’t introduce all the contraband in the world like my in-laws do! And talk to the kids about things like “growing foods” “super foods” and “fun foods” so that they have some ownership in their eating and understand why you feed them the things you do.
Thanks so much, ladies! Hop on over to their sites, if you haven’t been there, to say hi to them and thank them for participating here! I’ve learned a lot, how about all of you?
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