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One of my biggest challenges as a mom is staying fit and healthy. Eating well is extremely difficult with two picky eaters protesting half of what I put on the table. Take last night. I was craving Mexican food, so I decided to prepare Bean and Green Enchiladas from my new favorite cookbook Real Food for Healthy Kids by Tracey Seaman and Tanya Wenman Steel. I figured there was a good chance the girls would at least eat some of the meal. I chopped the spinach extra small so it was less conspicuous. What's more, the dish had plenty of components they usually enjoy: beans, cheese, and a mild flavor. I prepared some without the green salsa topping for Julia's more delicate pallet. I served Elise some with the salsa since she likes a little bit of spice. In the end, though, they both turned up their noses and just ate yellow rice with cheese and sour cream. And I ended up eating more than the recommended adult serving after I finished eating what the girls had left on their plates.
When all was said and done, I wondered why I bothered preparing a healthy, homemade meal when I was the only one who enjoyed it. I could have just popped in a frozen dinner and served rice to the girls. Of course, I know why I stay the course even though it often feels like such an effort. I believe the girls will eventually develop a taste for healthier food. And at least the baby benefits from all the hard work (without protesting for the time being, anyway). I actually managed to avoid anemia this time around thanks to my craving for lots of spinach and lean red meat. What's more, my commitment to serve healthy food has seen some success. Julia, who is the pickiest of all, has shown some steady improvement. We push her to try a bite of something at each meal and very often she ends up liking the item enough to eat a reasonable portion. In that way, I feel my efforts are worth it.
Even though I have my vices (like chocolate and pancakes), no matter what I eat I try to avoid processed foods. That's why we try to stick with fresh and local. Last week, Nelson and I took the girls clamming. Not only was it fun to dig for clams, they were sweet and tasty. Unfortunately, we botched our clam chowder by soaking the clams in salted water for too long, but Nelson's Clam and Shrimp Fra Diavolo came out perfectly.
We also try to make it to our local farm as often as possible. Yesterday we picked three pints of blackberries and afterwards Julia enjoyed making up a batch of fresh blackberry jam. Sure, we used five cups of sugar since I accidentally bought the regular pectin instead of the low-sugar kind, but I still figure I'm teaching her about the importance of eating natural foods (not that I'm against the occasional bag of Oreos).
What's more, I just feel better when I'm eating healthily. I can always tell when my diet has taken a turn for the worse. I get cranky and low energy especially when I'm pregnant (and nursing too). The girls also show behavior signs. I don't care what studies show, sugary treats do hype up children (at least mine). I also notice other behavior changes. Julia gets moody and difficult to be around. That's why I pulled off a reasonable healthy lunch today--even though we splurged on scones and jam for breakfast. The girls had wholegrain pasta and parmesan cheese with cherry tomatoes, and I enjoyed those leftover enchiladas. Not bad for an impromptu lunch. It may be a challenge to eat well, but the pay off is worth it. After all, as my fellow Fit Pregnancy blogger Zoe Singer writes, we really are what we eat!