Kids can grow a handy container of organic salad greens by the door to pick for dinner as lettuces like some shade. A secret to making great salads is less is more. Too many ingredients muddle the flavors and not all ingredients go together. First wash all the greens in a salad spiner, a plastic strainer kids can use to spin the leaves dry. Kids can taste each leaf to decide which type of greens will be the bases of their salad. Some lettuces and greens have complementary flavors and a mix of greens adds texture and visual appeal. Kids can add one or a variety of veggies that are especially yummy in salad, such as, radishes, carrots, broccoli, peas, celery, corn, or asparagus. Kids can slice or grate raw veggies, tasting each ingredient to make sure it doesn’t become too busy. Kids can also roast or grill veggies for their salad. For texture and protein, kids can add nuts, seeds, croutons, beans, or chickpeas. For sweetness, fresh or dried fruits can be added. Capers and olives add saltiness, pickles add sharpness, and peppers add spice. Just before serving, kids can dress the salad sparingly, as overdressing drowns the leaves and masks their delightful flavors. For delicate greens, kids can dress it lightly with organic vinegar or lemon and extra virgin olive oil. For sturdier greens or cabbage, kids can use a richer and thicker dressing with tahini or soy yogurt. Kids can toss the salad in a large bowl, making sure all of the leaves are coated very lightly with dressing and sprinkle sea salt from above to distribute it evenly. There are so many choices; kids can make a different salad every day with what is in season in the garden.
Kids in India have loved kitchari for centuries; the ingredients vary with the region, but always include rice, lentils, and lots of spices. In the Ayurvedic tradition, kitchari is used in a popular cleanse. Kitchari is a one bowl completely balanced meal rich in protein, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Purifying and comforting, the beet greens in this dish boost its nutritional factor even more. In a small bowl mix the organic spices: ½ tsp coriander, ½ tsp turmeric, ½ tsp cumin, ½ tsp curry powder, and ¼ tsp red pepper flakes. Kids can peal 1 inch piece of fresh organic ginger and grate it finely. Rinse 1/3 cup organic brown basmati rice and ¼ cup organic red lentils and ¼ cup organic green lentils in a strainer. In a medium pot, heat 1 tbsp organic virgin coconut oil, add the spices and grated ginger, and stirring constantly toast them two minutes. Add the rice and lentils to the pot, coating them with the spices. Add 2 ¼ cups of water, stir, bring to a boil, and simmer uncovered for 20 minutes. Chop 1 organic carrot, ¼ cup organic red bell pepper, and 4 organic crimini mushrooms, stir into the pot, and continue to cook uncovered 10 minutes. Add 2 ounces of chopped organic beet greens and cook 20 more minutes, stirring occasionally, scraping the bottom of the pan. Add ½ tsp sea salt. Total cooking time is 50 minutes.
How we experience food in our homes and environment, changes our bodies and our metabolic process. Modern hectic lifestyle has eroded family meal traditions. Recent research shows that the family meal can uplift the mental and physical wellness of parents and kids. Families eat healthier, communicate better, and become closer. Healthy habits for a lifetime can be created for kids while enjoying a nutritious meal with loved ones. Family mealtime can be made special by including the kids in the family meal planning. Kids can help planning a menu, making a shopping list, and preparing a dish. Depending on their age, they can measure, pour, and stir ingredients for the meal. Kids that grow an organic veggie garden can pick their produce at the height of freshness and add it to the menu. Proud of their offering, they learn to wash their hands, clean the produce, set the table, and keep the kitchen cleaner than when they started. Parents can discover what is happening in their child’s life at school and play, as kids will want to communicate. Family mealtime can bring beauty, value, and meaning to everyday life for both parents and kids.
Table manners help create that special environment for parents and kids to show gratitude and respect for the meal. Kids can swallow their food before talking and use their napkin to wipe sticky hands or to cover their mouth when coughing. Kids can speak kindly at the table: “Please pass the bread,” “I’m sorry for bumping the table,” “Excuse me for spilling,” “Thank you for the mashed potatoes”. When parents set the example of using good manners to enjoy healthy homemade food, kids will too. The wonderful aromas of home cooking and the laughter around the dinner table are the making of happy kids and fond memories.
Tropical avocado trees grow well in large containers or half whisky barrels on a sunny patio or deck, especially dwarf cultivars. Their bushy evergreen foliage makes a welcome ornamental addition to the patio. Originally from Mexico, kids can grow avocado trees outside in Southern California with regular water, organic biologically rich soil, and full sun. In cold climates, kids can put the container for the avocado tree on a wheeled pot caddy and move it indoors for the winter. Kids can start an attractive houseplant from an avocado pit, but such plants rarely fruit or produce fruit after growing eight to ten years, unless grafted. Avocados are self-fruitful, but some trees have flowers that are ready to receive pollen in the morning, with pollen that isn’t released until the afternoon. Other avocados display the opposite pattern, with flowers ready in the afternoon and pollen released the following morning. Planting both types of trees guarantees good pollination and more fruit. Thousands of flowers bloom on the tree between January and March and a tenth will develop into dark green fruit dangling on long stalks that mature on the tree for three to six months. Avocados are heart healthy with omega-3 oil and cancer fighting antioxidants, and kids love yummy guacamole with chips.
When kids grow their own veggies, they want to eat what they have grown. Even small kids can help tidy the dining area, set the table, or create a centerpiece of flowers, leaves, or fruit from the garden. When kids invest in the growing, planning, and cooking of the meal, they want to enjoy the meal peacefully and eat mindfully, without electronic devises, excited to have their family enjoy what they have done.
However, some kids come to the table complaining about their food. Whatever dish has been prepared, they start crying for something else, throwing the food, and pushing it away. They whine about the meal as they play with the toy car, driving it over the fruit platter on the table. They hit their sibling with the banana. Refusing to eat what was their favorite dish in the past, they scream for their video game until they get a phone, tablet, or computer to continue their play, while some other dish they demanded is being prepared. Some kids will only eat quietly while watching cartoons. Many families with busy schedules eat at separate times and places, while the dining room table remains cluttered with stuff.
Being thankful, polite, and kind at the dinner table is the beginning of Mindful Eating. Kids can begin the meal with a song of gratitude for the abundant harvest. They can thank the many farmers, truckers, food processors, grocers, and their folks who have worked to bring this food to the table. Kids can have a taste test, like the boy in the picture above, to try new foods and compare the salty, sweet, spicy, and sour tastes of foods. Or the taste test can be to guess the ingredients in a dish. Kids can play a game to see how many chews they can have with one bite of food. Twenty-five to thirty chews per bite helps to digest the food and get the most nutrients into their system to build healthy bodies. Kids can find peaceful music to play during a dinner where everyone eats silently. Mindful Eating is kids being peaceful and present in the moment, appreciating every mouthful, especially the delicious organic produce they have helped to grow and prepare.
Korma is a comforting, creamy curry. This ancient vegan, gluten free dish originally comes from India, has traveled around the world, and gained different vegetables and spices in the mix. The healthy secret to preparing yummy korma is the order of the ingredients added into a large stainless steel pot with a lid, which keeps all the vegetable nutrients in the simmer sauce. Sauté ½ cup chopped organic red onion in 2 tbsp coconut oil, add 1 minced organic garlic clove, 2 tsp grated fresh ginger, cook 1 minute. Stir in ¼ tsp organic ground cardamom, ¼ tsp organic dried red pepper chili, ½ tsp curry powder, ¼ tsp turmeric, and sauté 1 minute. Add ¾ cup water, 1 chopped organic potato, 1 sliced organic carrot, ½ cup chopped organic cauliflower, 1 cup chopped organic eggplant, ½ tsp sea salt, and bring to a simmer and cook 12 minutes. Add ½ cup chopped organic zucchini, 1/3 cup organic peas, and ¾ cup coconut milk and simmer 12 more minutes. The sauce should be thick and creamy and pale yellow. Korma is traditionally served with rice.
In 1899, a new synthetic compound was created and patented from salicylic acid and called Bayer Aspirin. It has survived unchanged into the 21st Century, maintaining enviable sales as a heart medication. Salicylic acid derived from willow tree bark has been used for thousands of years to reduce fever, pain, and inflammation, with the side effects of nausea, tinnitus, and gastric irritation. With the development of television in the 1950’s, people heard the commercials and started taking Aspirin for every little thing. All Big Pharma companies today have a quest to develop better pain relievers. Most of these pain projects focus on blocking some type of ion channel in neurons involved with the transmission of painful stimuli. Hence the immense commercial successes of opiates, which are both psychologically and physiologically addictive, induce drowsiness and constipation, and can halt breathing, causing death.
Organic compounds produced by plants are extremely complex and difficult to manipulate in a laboratory. Other synthetic compounds were created from salicylic acid to compete with Bayer Aspirin, such as the over the counter analgesics, Tylenol, Advil, and Motrin. Most people consider them totally benign and take them frequently with little awareness of their risks. The main adverse side effects of these so called safe products are gastrointestinal ulceration, kidney damage, and excessive bleeding.
Kids should take these salicylic acid products sparingly, only for real illness, fever, injury, or as prescribed by the doctor. For a headache or minor pains, kids can have a relaxing bath, a cold pack, a cup of chamomile tea, and a nap.