There can be a lot of debate and criticism over food choices, but please don’t run away thinking this is going to be a finger pointing, food-shaming blog!
I don’t lecture others about how they should live the way we do, or eat like us, etc.
YOU should follow your own body and what feels right for you and your family. You should ask questions, listen to what your body is telling you, and be attentive. Some of my statements have annotations after them to peer-reviewed sources, I encourage you to read them!
Right now my family and I are whole foods based vegetarians, (this means primarily fruits, vegetables, whole grains, tubers, and legumes, and avoiding many processed items) this is my story with food and my families journey to what we eat now!
Growing up I had home cooked meals and quite healthy food, I ate as an omnivore all the way till the end of high school. When I was younger I wanted to eat out more and have more processed snack-y store foods, more white bread, and so on. Now, (like with other ways my parents raised me) I can look back and see the great thinking on my parents part.
Healthy eating and habits in childhood makes for healthy decisions into adulthood1 & 4.
Towards the end of high school I wanted to become a vegetarian, and luckily I had a good foundation in my early years so I didn’t just turn into a “pasta and potato chips” vegetarian. Over the past 9 years, my growing family’s sentiment of how we eat has changed and evolved many times, but the root of it has always been centered on what we see is best for us and our children.
Healthy choices and whole foods have been the driving force behind our lifestyle with food.
I say “lifestyle” because that is how we view the way we eat, we eat a certain way for the long term (of course tweaking things as we go).
“Diet” is not a word in our vocabulary, a diet in my mind is temporary changes, or a planned time frame of eating differently then you normally would or do. When my family adds or subtracts things from what we eat we do so with forethought and decide based on how we feel, and how the food feeds our bodies and mindset.
I became a vegetarian originally for the animal cruelty reasons.
As time went on, however, I researched, explored, and adopted many more reasons for the change, including; health, environmental impact, agricultural, cleaner eating, and more. I was a learning vegetarian for 3+ years before I decided to take my clean eating a step further and made the transition to vegan. No animal products or animal byproducts at all. This was a harder transition then going vegetarian for me, because I was a dairy fan! I loved cheese, and still do! However, I felt absolutely amazing, after about 6 months into veganism. The change cleared out my body, I felt my digestion process improve, and felt so clear and light.
It is very hard to explain the body and health transformation that happens after switching to a vegan lifestyle. I look back fondly at the years my family and I were vegan.
I think veganism is great as long as you stay mindful and make sure you are eating well and getting all the nutrients you need. There is a big difference between pasta and soy-only vegans and whole-foods plant-based vegans.
Our transition back to vegetarian happened 3 years later when we moved to Europe the first time in 2012.
We saw all the free range animals, cows, sheep, and goats that would be herded straight through the towns to the hilly fields everyday. We started incorporating some dairy back into our diets, enjoying Bulgarian cheeses and goats milk, and local eggs! Since then we have stayed mainly vegetarian, though we have also incorporated seafood on occasion when the urge has hit us.
Ultimately whether living as a vegan, vegetarian, pescetarian, or even omnivore, we have found that the key is clean, conscious, eating.
Limiting processed foods, and getting the bulk of our nutrients from whole foods, and colorful living foods! The variety of nutrients and protein that you can get from veg, fruit, legumes, grains, etc. (I believe) is very highly underestimated in the processed, box food, meat oriented culture of the west. You can even get naturally occurring probiotics from fermented teas, and fermented veggies, no dairy needed!
We hear this question a lot; “What do you guys eat all the time? Salad?”… Actually, some of our favorite family meals are:
- veggie stir fries,
- rice and beans,
- veggie and legume stuffed burritos,
- potato and veggie fries,
- hummus/bean dips,
- tomato or spinach soup,
- homemade vegetable/legume burgers,
- dolmas (sarmale in foi de vita de post),
- TVP sloppy joes,
- colorful salads, and more!
Anything pickled is a huge hit as well!!
I make all of our favorites a little different each time. Experimenting with different veggies, or spices, different colors and tastes in familiar dishes, this is a challenge at times, but very rewarding. My kids have had me as their chef for all of their lives (along with my husband), so they have quite a wide palette, and I have seen nothing but good come from this!
There are, of course, foods my kids dislike and have an aversion to. Zucchini and eggplant are two things that each of my kids has rejected. HOWEVER, this doesn’t mean I don’t test them out every once in awhile!
The younger the better to start your child’s healthy eating habits and diversification. Even before a child is born, they are beginning to develop their flavor profile1 & 3!! If you are interested in diversifying your food, having kids can make it more difficult and stressful than if you are only cooking for yourself. Picky eaters are out there, and even though keeping the palette and menu the same is easier, and less of a fight, the benefits are well worth the changes. Starting small is the first step.
Try one new thing a month, or think about some of your families favorite meals, and see if there is an additional veggie, legume, or fruit you could add to it. If you feel like your fridge and cupboards are dominated by boxes, cans, jars, and bottles, I challenge you to switch one out with a produce item, or homemade replicates!
Variety is a wonderful thing for children, and for their food2. What is the saying?… “Variety is the spice of life.”…
“Diversity makes life interesting.” In terms of the kitchen, many tastes, textures, colors, and smells make food fun and add a healthy life-long advantage for your kids! It might take a while and be a slow process 2 & 3, but your kids gut and health will thank you!
I could write so much about what we eat, what I make, the benefits of healthy-eating and recipes galore, because it is a main part of my job as a mom! I will save that for some other time, maybe. BUT one thing I do like to do is have a versatile staples – that can be used for multiple dishes, or snacks. Right at the moment my all time favorite thing to make and use is homemade – lard-free tortillas!! You can use them in so many different ways, play with the flour you use, or even add sesame seeds, chia seeds, garlic and so on!
Everything tastes better wrapped in a tortilla!
Keep your eye out for the next post, where I will share the best tortilla recipe I have found so far!!
photos: personal archive, Pixabay.com
I am Caitlyn, a constantly moving mom of four kids. Ages, 6.5, 5, 2.5, and 5 mo. old. Since the amount of kids exceeds the amount of hands I have, my reality is doing 5-6-or more things at the same time. I am finally coming to terms with the fact that I cannot slow down time or add hours to a day. I can’t do the million and one things I want to do or that I feel need to get done.
Helpful scholar links – footnotes: