Thursday, March 22, 2007

Eating Right from the Start

Salome and I have entered a new phase of nursing. She’s almost a year and a half, now, and when she feels like nursing she walks up to me and lifts my shirt up. She hasn’t yelled across the grocery store yet, “Mommy! Nummies!” but I sense it’s coming.

In the meantime, she continues to broaden her food horizons. This is the child that generally eschewed baby food, homemade or store bought, but would eat baba ghanoush like nobody’s business. She has always liked garlic, possibly because I eat a lot of garlic and it passes through breast milk. I used to wonder how children in India could eat such hot, highly spiced food. Then I realized-they literally get it in their mother’s milk. Anyway, despite all evidence to the contrary, Salome won’t be breastfeeding forever, which leads us to ponder the question that so many parents fret over. What do you feed them?

Our oldest daughter proclaimed herself a vegetarian at age eleven. Really, she was more like a potato-tarian, since it didn’t seem like she ate anything else. We’re keeping the baby a vegetarian for now, too, and we ourselves eat very little meat. One thing we have done to increase what the teenager eats is to get her cooking. We bought her a vegetarian cookbook geared toward kids and let her pick out recipes. Spinach lasagna roll-ups and stuffed peppers are two of her favorites. Since the baby’s been born we’ve made a concerted effort to cut back on processed food and cook more of what we eat, so we know what’s in it. It’s a lot easier than it sounds. We make double batches and freeze stuff and just try to keep it simple. When we do buy store bought, we look for a short list of ingredients. No long list of things you can’t pronounce and definitely no high fructose corn syrup. But that’s another article. In addition, we’ve been eating more whole grains, fruits and vegetables. The teen helps cook and we just cut it up small for the baby. She pretty much eats what we’re eating with few, small adjustments-like nothing really spicy and nothing that’s a choking hazard. We keep a loose leaf binder of the recipes we like and soon our favorites become second nature to make.

So what are we eating? Well, this morning hubby made grits. Never have I eaten grits this good. These weren’t the pale, watery grits I’m used to. He made them with stone ground cornmeal, available at the co-op, and just enough cheese for flavoring. The result was a thick, golden porridge perfect for a cold, rainy morning. We’ve also been eating more oatmeal and brown rice. One quick meal that the teenager loves is our homemade version of the tortilla-less burrito. Rice, black beans,(refried or whole), salsa and cheese. It’s easy, cheap and healthy. Making your own also allows you to substitute in whole wheat flour and other healthy ingredients. My husband loves to cook and has started expanding his repertoire. This week he made his own cashew butter and last week it was home made English muffins. Almost every week we make a batch of our own granola and it lasts all week, low in fat and sugar. Do I even have to mention that all of this is cheaper than eating out? If we can learn to churn butter and make our own wine, I may never leave the house.

The other benefit to eating like this is that I feel better. After giving up caffeine, I think it’s the best thing I’ve ever done for my health. I have more energy and I just feel good. Imagine how you feel after eating a breakfast sandwich from a fast food chain and a super large coffee. Now think how good you’d feel after eating home made granola with yoghurt and berries. There’s no comparison.