Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Mediterranean Diet for the Family …. Hip, Hip … Hooray? -- Guest Post by Kellie Rowden-Racette

30 Day Mediterranean Lifestyle Challenge

Kellie is a Print and Online Editor for our ASHA Leader. (Which has been recently redesigned and looks fabulous by the way.) Kellie is married and has two sons. I asked her to share a family perspective on our challenge. Kellie is also a fitness instructor and she has guest blogged here before. Check out her post on Body Rock

“Reed, we’re going on the Mediterranean Diet in March … it’s a workplace thing. Hope you don’t mind.”

(silent stare followed by raised eyebrows)

“What about Nolan?”

Kellie and her son Nolan
Uh, well, maybe. I hadn’t gotten that far yet. The idea that I was putting myself and my husband on a new eating plan isn’t all that newsworthy. Over the past couple of years I’ve been dabbling with clean eating, Paleo, and have just about eliminated refined sugar from our house, so the idea of following the Mediterranean way of eating is just another attempt in a line of many to keep my husband and children eating healthy. I’ve always approached these new plans with an 80 percent success goal. I figure if we can reach that, we’re doing pretty well.  Also, that 20 percent gray area allows me to be, um, “creative.”

My kids are like most – they like to eat but have gone through some picky stages. My oldest, Calvin, was very picky as a toddler, but now at 9 years old will try just about anything, especially if it’s in a paper cup and called a “sample.” He’s not a big vegetable eater, but I’ve learned to hide them in just about everything so I’ve stopped worrying. (Really, if my kids come home and see vegetables missing from the bowl on the counter, they should be very suspicious.)

My 6-year-old, Nolan, however, has been growing increasingly picky over the past three years. From a baby who used eat everything I put in front of him – papaya, avocado, turkey, mango – he has grown into a boy who survives on the following: whole wheat noodles with olive oil and salt, turkey meatballs, whole wheat cheese quesadillas, chicken nuggets, apples, peas, green beans, carrots, corn, orange juice, blueberry waffles, and cheese sticks. For dessert he invariably wants mint chocolate chip ice cream. I’ve tried to add variety to his plate, telling him he only has to try the suspicious new food, only to meet with intense resistance and a withering look.

“What is it? I’ve never had that before. Well, I don’t like it now,” is his usual response, followed by gagging noises and sometimes tears. No amount of reasoning works. I keep telling myself over and over (and over) that his strong will is going to serve him well as an adult.

So last night I talked myself up and waded in. I made turkey meatloaf (with ground up yellow pepper and carrots mixed in), couscous, and green beans. For dessert I had refined-sugar-free applesauce cake and, of course, mint chocolate ice cream. Meatloaf went over big with Reed and Calvin. Green beans were eaten by Reed, rejected by Calvin. The same with the couscous (although Calvin did try it). Nolan spent the first 10 minutes not speaking to any of us. He ate his green beans, and quietly pushed the meatloaf to the edge of his plate. I tried not to look at him while he prodded the couscous. I find that if he knows I’m watching him, he resists more and puts on more of a show. He picked up three couscous grains on his fork and stared at them. Finally after feeling sure that no one was watching him, he put the grains in his mouth. Much to his surprise he didn’t die. I’m not sure what happened next, but the pile of couscous disappeared and didn’t show up on the floor or in his chair. I can only assume he ate it.

“So what did you guys think?” I asked.  Calvin told me he loved the meatloaf, but no more green beans, please; Reed was just happy he didn’t have to cook; and Nolan finally asked me, “What was the fluffy stuff?”

“Couscous. Did you like it?”

“Did I like it before?”


“OK, I like it now, too. But that’s it, mom. No more weird stuff,” he said. “Can I have some ice cream?”

Got it. I can’t wait to try to sell the almond baked tilapia I have in mind for Friday. Served, of course, with couscous on the side and mint ice cream for dessert. Sigh.  


Lady Bud said...

GREAT article! I had to laugh out loud several times. Thanks for the awesome start to the morning (and for the great meal ideas, too)!

Pam L said...

Hey Kellie, The rule in our house growing up was you had to try a little bit of everything. If you didn't like it, fine, don't eat it. Unless you make a big fuss about not liking it...then you had to eat it ALL. I remember a torturous session with three figs that last a couple of hours at the dining room table when I was growing up. Now I love figs, then not so much. My family always says something about it when they see me eating figs. I’m not suggesting you go to extremes but we have done this with our boys, almost 7 & 9, and our neighbor's son when he eats at our house. They have been amazed at what they end up liking.

Anonymous said...

So that is what I have to look forward to, hunh?! Great post, Kellie, and who can blame Nolan - mint chocolate chip ice cream is pretty fabulous, and there is even one called 'Mediterranean Mint' made by Talenti that is outstanding if you can find it...not that I would know, but it is Mediterranean, right??? As for my 18mo old and 3 yr old, they both will try one bite of what I put in front of them, sometimes followed by a less-than-graceful spit out. With both, I have found that the longer they sit there with no tastier alternatives appearing (e.g., I used to cave and get them a yogurt or banana or gawd-forbid mac-n-cheese > but no more!), then the more likely they are to eat what is in front of them. We'll see how organized I am to get meal on table at their dinner time in order to do family dinners....so far it looks like maybe only 4 nights a week may be it for family time at the table!