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  • The Healthy Dad

Feeding Our Children

Updated: Apr 19

Father cooking healthy food for his family

I see myself as a warrior at the forefront of a battle to raise healthy children. I am a conscientious objector in a society that has laid down tradition and health because it pursued the almighty dollar and ever more convenience. Dual-income households are the norm, leaving little to no opportunity for parents to wage war with the beast that is our food system. The real victims in this war are not us but the children who continue to be punished by a machine that would rather sell one more sugary yogurt smoothie than relinquish one single penny in the pursuit of providing proper nutrition for our children.

The biggest challenge to raising healthy children in the U.S. is that the school systems have proven incapable of providing decent food. In countries where cultural food heritage is passed down, and food quality is valued above convenience, school lunches are formidable meals prepared with traditional recipes and techniques. They provide children with everything they need to get through the day, and the incredible burden of preparing this essential meal for children is lifted from the shoulders of the parents.

I have encountered two explicit examples of this: France and Brazil. Still, countless other countries with a rich cultural food heritage prioritize feeding their children through the school system in this way.

When I consider what life would be like if I were able to send my children to school without having to scratch make and pack everything they eat, a bitter tear of regret wells in my eye because I don't think we will ever get there in the U.S. Our food system is so far down in a hole, for so many reasons, and on so many fronts, that it feels impossible to get out.

The possibility of completely overhauling our food system is beyond even debating, as there is no cultural food heritage to fall back on in America that would serve as the backbone for a grassroots movement to make the necessary changes.

Instead of considering how to make large-scale changes, I focus on what I can control and shoulder the responsibility of scratch-making, overseeing, and serving all the food my children eat. This is a rebellious approach to solving a seemingly insurmountable problem, but I do not see any other way.

That said, learning how to make all the foods children eat and committing to getting it done is where the metaphorical rubber meets the road. I am deeply motivated to share the incredible amount of information and techniques I have acquired to meet the demands of making everything my kids eat. This proposition can easily overwhelm even the most committed parent, but it can be done. One must cultivate some basic staple routines and kitchen behaviors, but as with anything else, it just takes getting used to. Your reading of this blog post indicates that the seed has already been sowed for you to wage your battle against the industrial food machine.

At the heart of scratch-making food for children requires learning how to prepare grains properly. Many portable lunch foods, snack foods, and breakfast foods children eat are variations of grain-based recipes. Examples are bread, crackers, oatmeal, pancakes, etc. Learning how to make these foods with traditional techniques is the most significant change parents must make. This change requires specific behaviors like maintaining a sourdough starter, grinding fresh flour, and rolling oats. Many other necessary changes require making better choices at the grocery store or seeking a local farmer for produce, dairy, and meats.

Proper grain preparation takes forethought and careful planning in the busy lives of modern parents. Parents must re-prioritize their free time to accommodate these new, time-consuming routines. Instead of going to Saturday morning soccer practice and going out for a day of shopping and restaurant dining, you stay home and bake sourdough bread or make sourdough crackers. Or, before going to bed, you take a few minutes to roll some oats and soak them overnight. The examples go on and on, but the theme remains the same. At the core of this issue is where the children's health falls on your list of priorities.

Parents who want to control their children's health must consciously put their health above convenience. Assuming this is the case, the following steps are getting organized with proper supplies, writing a weekly food prep schedule, and learning the recipes.

Regarding supplies, some tools are essential, while others are considered luxuries and can be acquired over time. I have always valued and spent the most resources on items or tools I will use frequently. Examples are the VitaMix blender, KitchenAid mixer, an oat roller, and a great chef's knife and cutting board. Many other items I use are lovely and make life easier in the traditional food kitchen, but they can be marginalized if needed.

A written weekly food prep schedule is also essential to scratch-making meals. This is especially true for the novice home chef, as mentally walking through recipes and prep steps helps form the habits and routines that will enable you to make these foods. Some recipes can take two to three days, from grocery shopping to chopping, cleaning, cooking, and washing. Without proper planning, these routines quickly fall by the wayside when confronted with a busy workweek.

Once you have the basic supplies and a written system to stay on track, the next step is learning the recipes. This will entail a fair amount of trial and error, dependent to some degree on your previous knowledge of food preparation. I have found that the minimum number of attempts needed to master a new recipe or technique is three, and sometimes a great deal more. Through the videos and resources I provide on my site, I can significantly reduce the learning curve for those who adopt these routines.

In summary, we eat food every day; it is a pillar upon which our bodies and minds are formed, and it is paramount for parents to do anything necessary to ensure their children are getting the food they need. Taking control of the food your family eats is a considerable commitment. It takes bravery, dedication, and a willingness to try something new and unusual. I sincerely hope that you join me in stepping up to the challenge because the future of our world depends on our ability to raise healthy and productive children.

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