Switching from a meat central to a plant central plate can be tricky when you have kids. Especially if you make this change when your kids are old enough to be “used to” your cooking. As an adult, we make a conscious (or sometimes doctor prescribed) decision to eat the way we do. Kids have little say in the matter though.
For most people, change can be hard.
Choices however… Choices can be your savior!
As a Mom of 3 growing boys, it took a bit of trial and error before I figured out what they wanted. They never avoided vegetables, grains, beans or fruit. However, these items were not the center of our plate. They were simply a side-dish. It didn’t matter how large their new plant-based portions were. Once we stopped making meat our main focus, our kids were left asking me, “But… What is for dinner?”.
What our kids were missing was simple. They wanted a choice.
When most folks serve meat, they also put out condiments, barbeque sauces and toppings. In simple terms… You build something. Instead of me serving up dinner, what could they build with plants?
I started offering them Build Your Own bars.
These days, I put their salad on their plate and let them choose their toppings. Tomatoes, cucumbers, pepitas, sunflower seeds and beans are usually ready and waiting. Sometimes, even diced up fruit.
Every couple of months we have baked potato night. I bake and cut open the potatoes, they create their masterpiece. Dairy-free sour cream, broccoli, beans, olives, spinach and any leftovers in the fridge that they dream of putting on a potato! Yes, I have even cooked up a few free-range eggs for them to use!
Twice a month I give them some sort of taco or burrito night. I usually load mine up on a salad, or as a taco bowl. My husband and kids enjoy their wraps. Always read your ingredients, there ARE healthy wraps out there! Beans, corn, quinoa, brown rice, greens, carrots, mango and sometimes a splash of red hot end up on the counter waiting for them. For those of you who do a majority of the cooking… This is a great time for leftovers!
I am not a parenting expert. Yet, if there is one thing I have always believed about children it is the idea that there are few things in the world they get to control. Letting them have a choice is sometimes all they are craving. They don’t crave sugar and meat. They crave having a CHOICE about walnuts vs. pepitas or mango vs. pomegranate seeds!
Freedom of choice can go a long way for many of us. Hopefully, by teaching them to make healthy choices now, they will continue to make those choices when they leave the nest someday!
A Mom can dream, right?!