Before I begin on my whimsical journey into a mother’s right to eat healthy + feed her kids healthy food. I just want to note the passing of Haddasa Chalmers described to me by a friend as ‘a dynamic, incredible person’. She was a mother of three little girls and she died yesterday of a very rare stomach cancer.

I know it’s very, very sad, and I couldn’t write my blog today without noting her as a mother whom I didn’t know but a lot of people did as my friend also said, ‘I just figured that everyone must know her.’ What to do with sadness and tragedy? Hold your loved ones closer, and do more good, bring more light…we only have one life.

And talking about life I wanted to write about healthy food. Especially giving our kids healthy food. The other day I innocently asked my 2 1/2-year-old Prince, ‘What do you want for breakfast?’ He replied with a big shiny smile, ‘I want marshmallows, chocolate, lollipops and chips.’ Where am I going wrong???

He didn’t to his utter astonishment get that for breakfast. He got cereal and yoghurt.

The question is how do we feed our kids healthy food? How do we get them to ask for fruit and adore their vegetables? Okay how about this question – How many of us ‘Adults’ love our fruit and adore vegetables? Some yes, but I think a lot of us, moi included wouldn’t mind a chocolate bar for breakfast some time. We wouldn’t push away a serving of Haagen Daz (especially Belgian Chocolate) for lunch time and for supper why not have cheese cake??? YUM.

I’ve had to teach myself to eat properly and to ignore my unhealthy foody fiends. The truth is I did grow up in a home of salad and rice and soup and a square meal, which is very Baghdadi. I’m very grateful for it. I don’t shy away from my vegies. I don’t pucker my face in disgust at garlic, and to me there’s nothing better than a parsley, coriander salad. It’s the way I was brought up.

However I was also denied sweets and chocolate a lot of the time. So anything junky became my forbidden refuge. How we love what’s forbidden especially if it’s sweet.

Now with my kids. Guess what? I’m repeating the same pattern. I give them interesting veggies which they end up eating. (Last night I whipped up a meal of scrambled eggs, tomato/cucumber/pepper salad and cut carrots, celery and avocado, for which my innovative 7-year-old made salt water for. Yes he loved it so much at Pesach.) They eat baked fish in cornflake crumbs. Sushi (full of lovely omega 3 oils with all that salmon), soups and they love their broccoli. But if there’s roast potatoes, they eat that rather than the rest of their meal. If there’s a hint of a sweet anywhere they go gaga. They scoff down the chips at shul. Fill their pockets at parties. And each of them have developed their own stash of chocolates. I found one such soccer tin box filled with decadent Cadbury choccies just yesterday.

So what’s a mother to do?  As I write this I’m thinking aloud. Maybe the thing to do is eat healthy ourselves. Learn to relate to food as a feeding of self and spirit, rather than trying to fill up emptiness. (Get ‘Women, Food and God’ by Geneen Roth – she speaks about the emptiness, the critical voice and all that we have that makes us EAT. Very holistic and easy read.) If we love our greens it does pass down. I’m living proof. However don’t forbid the sweets so that they don’t become this mystical, seductive must have to kids. (And that applies to us moms as well, saying a complete ‘no’ to any food is a recipe for becoming a food addict or a very unhappy person.)

Should we give our children carte blanche into a well stocked sweets cupboard? Well there are people who say if you do this and the kids eat themselves silly they’ll soon get sick of junk and move into balanced eating. I like that thinking. It reminds me of when we were kids we had chips and homemade cake everyday for school. Guess who used to swap chips and cake for cookies and sweets (things we didn’t get at home)?

However I tried this open junk food cupboard theory out – and lets just say, as my kids eyes grew wide like saucers and their little mouths went to work, my panic levels rose to out of space proportions and I had to stop. Much to their disappointment and chagrin.

So now they have Saturday – eat what you like – day. And the rest of the time I’m a sergeant major (although a very lax one because there are parties and grannies and erev Shabbat treats etc etc.)

So even as it stands I am worried about my kids nutrition in this processed, sugared, chemical 21st Century world that we live in. To avoid it takes work, energy and consciousness. More often than not we mother’s are too tired. It’s so much easier to just serve pasta and cheese. I know. But it’s worth it and I’m going to give it another bash in my kitchen.

I’m going to try out a talk on Tuesday by One thing I am going to try out is to go hear Talya Goldgraber this Tuesday at 8pm, speak about healthy eating. She’s going to give some suggestions about healthy school lunches and meals that I hope will be easy and tasty. If you want to go you can contact Talya 0716029780. I’ll report back!

Meanwhile here’s a very easy recipe learnt from my dear mother in law for tasty chicken breasts. (Easy is definitely a theme for my recipes!) I use this when we want a healthy meal in minutes. The trick is not to over or under cook.

Paprika Chicken Breasts

To be prepared a few hours before cooking so it can soak in the baste.

Ingredients

Chicken Breasts

Olive Oil

Salt

Pepper

Paprika

Method

1. Prepare breasts (as many as you need). If you like your breasts thinner, bang them out with those fun wooden hammers (well I find them fun).

2. Baste breasts in a bit of olive oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper and paprika. Leave in fridge until ready to cook.

3. Heat up skillet until HOT – I love those skillets with those ridges which are so good for steaks (they’re available at Woolworths).

4. Put breasts on hot skillet. Turn over when one side done. It can cook very quickly so watch it. If red in the middle it’s not cooked yet. But don’t over cook!!!!

5. Serve right away. You can eat it with fresh salad, hummus (maybe it’s just me but I love it with hummus), for the kids do mayonnaise, rice, potatoes (although I’ve begun serving potatoes last a bit like dessert so that the kids don’t just guzzle potatoes and nothing else.)

Happy Healthy Eating – filled with love and light with your family!!!!