Welcome to A Magical Life Podcast. Today we’re talking about nutritional choices for families. Now this includes what to do with fussy eaters, with people with varying diets: vegetarian, vegan, carnivorous or omnivorous and how to balance meals that suit everybody without making five or six different meals every single night.
For those of us with fussy children, now my hands are up (I’ve got two of them) it’s quite daunting each night, how to make a meal that everyone will eat without spending hours in the kitchen. After all, your time as a parent is valuable as well. Now, no matter how old your children are, whether they’re very young, or whether they’re older teenagers or young adults, involving them in nutritional choices is key.
How to feed a fussy family and making the correct nutritional choices, is to involve everyone.
My family sits down every Sunday night with a little chalkboard. We all have input into what meals we would like. I use OneNote on my phone to make notes as we go along and if there’s a menu request that I don’t think I could get the shopping done for that week (so this is happening Sunday night, Monday morning is my shopping morning) then I will put it in my OneNote under menu requests.
If there’s something I’m pretty sure the local shopping centre will have, then I will put it on the chalkboard, open my OneNote to my shopping lists, where I have my weekly shopping list (as I said the menu requests are under that) and any items that I might need to source (goes under that from the menu requests). So I open my OneNote and I type in my shopping list for that week. As we have gone through the seven days on the chalkboard, I have got my shopping list there.
Now that’s okay if you are cooking one meal for everyone, but I don’t. In fact, my family have very varied tastes. And I say that with a sigh because I am plant based. My two kids are not. We have an elderly cat who has to have a particular diet of fresh food as well and so I need to make sure that we’re all catered for.
Now, one child has a couple of allergies, so certain things I can’t make. But the other child loves those things. So, for example, barramundi. My youngest son eats barramundi. My eldest son is allergic to all seafood or fish. And of course, I can’t stand the smell of it anyway. So, on a barbecue night, my older one might have a steak or something on the barbecue. I will have veggies on the barbecue. And the younger one will have his barramundi on the barbecue. In cooking it outside, I don’t have to deal with the smell. In fact, he cooks it so I don’t have to deal with it at all. I cut up some lemon to put on my veggies so I can saute my veggies without oil. He uses the lemon on his fish. The steak gets done first, so it doesn’t touch anything else, and we all have some of the veggies. So this is what I mean about everyone’s having different things, but we’re cooking one meal at one time using one appliance.
Now, cooking inside is a little more challenging than the joy of a barbecue. So for a meal inside, the younger one might want chicken meatloaf. The older one might want – oh I don’t know, what does he normally have on chicken meatloaf night? He normally has pasta, which he cooks himself, and I will have veggies. Now everyone has the veggies. So again, we’re not cooking for hours and hours. The meatloaf gets prepared, it gets put in the oven, it’s cooking away while everyone else’s food is getting done. So that’s another example.
And once a fortnight we have takeaway night and sure enough, no one can ever agree on takeaways. Why would they? It makes it too easy. So on takeaway night I will order them say, a parmigiana and chips with salad on the side. I know my younger one doesn’t like any dressing on his salad. And every time I’ve asked for no dressing, it comes with dressing. So I know I’m going to have his salad. My older one, sometimes like veggies on the side. So we order a side of veggies. Again, anything leftover, I will have it because it’s the veggies. So we’re all catered for. It’s just a matter of some pre thought and some pre planning.
So tip number one was involve everyone. Sit down for a lunchtime or dinner time and just spend a little bit of time with a whiteboard or chalkboard or OneNote on your phone and just plan those meals. Now this helps with budgeting for meals also. When you have the plan written down, you’re not running up to the shops every day for a few things. I make sure I shop once a week. I also buy extras each week. If something doesn’t turn out right in the kitchen and we do a lot of experimental cooking (and sometimes it’s just not good), I know I’ve got extras of things.
For example, pizza. We have pizza once a week, we don’t buy pizza, we make pizza, and we cook it in our pizza oven on our barbecue. So I will make dough on the Monday. It takes about four days to prove and rise and stick it in the fridge and then we’ve worked out the longer we leave it, the better it is.
So make it on the Monday, aiming for pizza on Saturday. When I do that, I will make our own pizza sauce. So again, I will make enough to last me the week. Now, the thing with the pizza sauce is it’s also a great pasta base. It’s also, because we put some chili flakes in it a really good baste for vegetables.
So I will make something at the start of the week in a large quantity that I know will help with a few different meals. When I make sauces, when I make marinades or bastes or doughs, I always make sure I’ve got extra. Now if I don’t use it, I don’t use it. But in my experience, I’ll find a way to use it because it’s already there. Again, I want to cut down my time in the kitchen. My younger son does a lot of the cooking now, and I don’t want him chained to the stove either. So varying tastes.
Less shopping, more preparation.
Alright, tip number two. Always have some meals to interchange. Now I mentioned chicken meat loaf night. No one else likes a chicken meatloaf so I make a mini chicken meatloaf – I’m not going to waste the produce. My oldest son has pasta that night. So the chicken meats that I use for the meatloaf, I will also saute some of that off with some herbs and some spices and mix that through the pasta. So again, not wasting, using the same ingredients but different meals.
Now to recap. Tip number one, create your menu plan, involve everyone. Tip number two, less shopping more preparation.
Prepare the meals at the start of the day for the whole day.
Now, at the moment, everyone’s home, and that’s great. We love spending more time with each other. We’ve made sure that our meal times are family times, that we discuss things and that we have no phones at the table. You know, we’re debriefing each other on our day, we’re asking questions of each other. That includes lunchtimes. Now, my family doesn’t do breakfast. In the morning, I get up and I feed the cat. And while I’m in the kitchen, I prepare for our meals.
I use glass for everything. This is a side note – glass keeps food longer, keeps food fresher and does not leach chemicals like plastic does into your food. So I line up my glass dishes. As the cat’s eating his breakfast, I start chopping up what I need for the day.
Now if there’s a mix of veggies or a mix of salad, it is made by 7am. It is in the fridge in glass so it’s nice and fresh, it’s not sweating, it’s not going off, it’s just there, waiting. I portion out the meats that I need for that night for the kids. Anything that they might want during the day for snacks, I prepare and I portion and put it in the fridge or the cupboard, depending on what it is. And I know the whole day’s food is there.
Why do I do that? Things happen during the day. I’ll get asked to do a zoom meeting with someone. I might decide I want to go on a date. The kids might decide they want to play a game with people. I don’t know what they call them, these multiplayer games like LAN games or something. Anyway, so we might have things pop up. The kids might have some uni homework that, you know, their instructors tell them during the day and they’re a bit pushed for time. But things will pop up in our day. We don’t let changes in our calendar change the meals and the menus for that night. Because I, in the morning first thing, I’ve prepared everything. I’ve portioned it, it’s there to go.
When my younger son does the cooking, I make sure that he has, on his phone, the full recipe with step by step instructions, I make them easy, and if something pops up during the day, the food is ready. Now again, this minimizes waste, it minimizes takeaway. We’re lucky enough to live in the country where there actually isn’t a lot of takeaway options. But we love making our things. As I said, I make the pizza dough for every week. I make all of our breads, I make all of their cookies, their cakes, their treats, but I make them in a healthier way.
Preparation is the key. Do it first thing in the morning for the whole day. Do that each day. Because I’ve actually found if you do it once or twice a week, things can start to turn a little bit. Now why does that happen? Another side note things turn, is because you have overpacked your fridge. Do not over pack your fridge. The cold air in the fridge needs to circulate. Now, what I found also using glass containers was that things last longer. But, the cold air has to circulate and cool the glass to keep things fresh. So don’t over pack your fridge.
Right, now the recap. Tip number one, menus, get everyone involved. Tip number two was the shopping. You’ve also got to make sure that you prepare once a day first thing in the morning to avoid, excuse my language but it’s the CBF day. Because you will, you will have days where you don’t feel like preparing food for everyone for the evening. You just CBF for want of the better explanation. If you have the food ready in the morning, all it’s going to take is 10 to 20 minutes in the evening to do the meal.
Now bribery and corruption with kids works a treat, no matter what age they are. If you can give them a reward towards helping, they learn that helping others helps them and that’s how kids work and that’s okay. You’re actually teaching them the value of money, the concept of helping, the concept of self respect, because they worked for something and they didn’t just get it given to them.
So on your CBF days, make sure that you already have your recipe written out or texted to them, simplified as much as you can. And when you have the produce ready to go, they can help. But the first thing that children will ask is what’s in it for me, so be prepared for that.
Now nutritional choices. Sometimes it’s really easy to give in to budgeting constraints to give in to media influences, to give into fussiness. And by doing this, we often make poor nutritional choices. So how do you make the right nutritional choices?
Making the right nutritional choices for your family is as easy as three steps.
The First Step: Eat a Colour Rainbow- Veggies & Fruits
The first is to eat a colour rainbow. The whole premise of animals and plants existing in a food chain is based on the senses. Animals are attracted to certain plants because of the colour, the vividness of sight. They’re attracted to the smell or the aroma. They’re attracted to the feel, the touch of it. Of course, they’re attracted to the taste, it might be bitter, it might be sweet, and so on. So with your family, you know there’s an expression ‘eat with your eyes’. Make sure things are colourful that you have the colour rainbow there.
Now, this isn’t just for stimulation of the senses. Nature has provided different colours in foods, particularly vegetables that provide different nutrient spectrums. So different vitamins are found in different coloured foods, different minerals are found in different coloured foods. So, to make correct nutritional choices, choose a colour rainbow.
The Second Step: Choosing Meats & Eggs
Now when it comes to meats, I’m quite fussy what I allow my children to eat. Here in Australia, it took me quite a while to find good food for them, or food that I knew wouldn’t harm them as much. So when I can’t get to a farmers market, which at the moment, you can’t, you can’t get organic meats as easily. When I come to that, I get meat products that have no extra hormones or antibiotics in them. Organic meats that are not solely grass fed.
Why? Grass is treated with glyphosate. Glyphosate is Roundup, and it is incredibly dangerous for every living thing. I make sure that the meat I buy for my children was not grass fed at all. I make sure it has no extra hormones. I make sure it has not been fed antibiotics. Now if it is feedlot fed, it will be full of hormones, full of antibiotics, and full of chemicals. I make sure it is organic.
When I buy them white meat now, they eat chicken. Again, no antibiotics. Must be organic. Must have been fed natural foods. We used to have some other family members that were our backyard chickens. I don’t actually recommend keeping backyard chickens. They’re not the easiest of pets to have in a family. Yes, it was great having them as members of the family. We loved each and everyone, but they don’t live for very long though, certainly not ours. We kept getting rescued chickens that are rescued from horrible farming situations, and so we lost a few to cancer. While they were with us, they were healthy and happy though.
If you have backyard chickens, they are fun. They are great pets. But again, you need to make sure that you feed them all organic foods, because the eggs that they produce, your family will eat, and you want to know what is in those eggs. So when we had the girls in our backyard, they would eat all of our organic veggies and fruit scraps. They would get a seed mix which was organic, also and vegetarian. They would get some pellets that were vegetarian and organic. So I knew what was going into them to produce these eggs. So I was okay with my kids eating those eggs.
If you’re going to buy eggs from the supermarket, I highly suggest an app called CluckAR. This will tell you if the hens that produce the eggs that you’re about to buy are happy hens. When we say happy hens, they need to have enough space to roam. They actually do need to roam and peck. Chickens are foragers – their whole day should be spent foraging for food. It’s enrichment for their minds, it’s exercise for their bodies. And that’s what they once did before we developed them into what we see today. So the CluckAR app, you scan over the egg carton and it will tell you if they’re happy hens. Never buy caged eggs. Never, never, never buy caged eggs. Eggs are not a great nutritional choice for anyone. Eggs feed viruses.
Now we’ve talked in this podcast a little bit about health and in future episodes we will be talking about health and stealth infections a lot more. But for now, I will tell you a virus is a stealth infection: once it is activated in your body, it is very hard to deactivate. Eating eggs feeds viruses. If you’re going to feed eggs to your family, they need to be healthy, happy eggs.
The Third Step: Choosing Milks
Now other nutritional choices, we’ve looked at veggies and fruits, we’ve looked at meats and eggs. My next one is milk. I’m plant based, as I said, and one of my very good friends is a dairy farmer. Go figure. I am totally against the use of cow milk in the human diet. Cow milk is for baby cows. Why? Cow’s milk actually leeches calcium from your bones when you consume it.
No, it is not a calcium booster like we’ve been told over many years, that’s just really glossy, expensive marketing from the meat and dairy board. It actually leeches calcium from your bones. If you don’t believe me on that one, and it’s, it’s quite possible that you don’t believe me because you’ve heard over the years that you must drink milk to increase your calcium to have healthy bones. But I put it to you that there are plenty of medical journals, plenty of peer reviewed studies that they showed that the increase of osteoporosis is linked in the same timing (in the same timeline) to the increase of cow milk consumption.
Don’t have soy milk. I’d rather you have cow’s milk. Soy is a GMO plant. Soy is full of that glyphosate, that roundup that we were talking about just before. Soy promotes estrogen dominance. The development and the popularity of soy lattes also coincides with the man boob. Come on. We’ve all seen it. We’ve seen men going from lanky and lean to muffin top and moobs. Why? Because the soy latte became so popular full of its fake estrogens the body cannot deal with. So stay away from the soy.
Nut milks are great if they’re not full of chemicals. There are only a few brands out there that are good for you. Almond milk in particular – there are hundreds of brands of almond milk but there are quite a few that you need to stay away from. No matter what you are eating, my suggestion is read the label before you buy it.
Almond milk and nut milks are actually very easy to make at home. But you want to make them in small quantities because they do not have preservatives in them, and therefore they won’t last. So we make almond milk at home, I add some hazelnut to it, gives it a bit of a marshmallowy flavour, and I will make enough for two days. And that’s not much. So again, it’s something that you can do with the family. It’s very easy to do just google how to make almond milk.
There are a few things that you can do to change the flavour. As I said, if you add hazelnuts to the mix, it becomes a bit marshmallowy. If you add a couple of cashews, it becomes a lot more creamy. If you add Brazil nuts, it gets quite a nutty taste. So there’s a lot of things that you can do. The nuts that you use must be raw, unsalted, preferably organic.
Now, what do you do to make nut milk? Well, first thing is you put the nuts in the freezer. Why? It solidifies the oils within them. From the freezer, you put them into filtered water for a couple of days. And you let them activate in the water. And from there you can get the recipe and make your nut milk again. Only make it for a couple of days. It doesn’t need any sugars added to it. It won’t need anything added to it. It’s a very easy thing to do, something you can involve children of all ages, husbands, housemates, everyone to make, and it’s fun.
So nutritional choices. You just need to know that what you’re putting into your family’s body, into your own body, is good for you. We’ve become so used to convenience foods, things in packets, things that get delivered to our door, things we can buy from our car window. We really have lost the idea of nutrition.
Nutrition for pets
Well let’s talk about this one in a little bit of depth (she says looking at her old cat looking at her). Pets were once wild animals. Now your household cat thinks he’s a tiger or a lion, or a bobcat or leopard. He still has the same mentality. He still needs to hunt his food.
We see so many overweight household cats. Why? All cats, all felids, are apex predators. They need to hunt and catch their food. It’s part of the food chain. So your household cat is no different. Do I say go and let him outside and let him catch his own food? Hell no. All cats must be kept inside. All pet cats must be kept inside. But, you can create little things for him or her to hunt their food.
One thing I do is I make sure that when I’m preparing the food for the day for my children who are meat eaters, I also prepare some for my cat. Now, how do I do this? I will buy paper towel. I buy bamboo paper towel so that’s better for the environment, I clean my benches with it so that I’m not cross contaminating (more on that another day). When I get the roll at the bottom of the paper towel when it’s all finished, I make some little holes in it. Now I will dry in my dehydrator, meat, little off cuts of the chicken or the steak or whatever the kids are having. Things that might be, you know, a bit too grisly for my kids.
I will dry them into a jerky, cut up into little bits and put inside the paper towel roll. And my cat will play with it for hours getting healthy treats out to eat. Now he’s getting exercise while he’s doing this. He’s having fun, he’s getting enrichment, and he’s getting the food he needs. My cat’s a little bit strange. He actually likes fruit and vegetables. What’s strange about that? Well we know that felids are carnivores. They are actually omnivores. So omnivores eat both meat and plant. They will go for the meat first but if they can’t, they will eat the plant. Now he quite likes a bit of papaya here and there. He loves red capsicum for some strange reason. And I will make sure he gets a little bit of that every now and then.
The dog. Dogs are descended from wolves. All domestic dogs are descended from wolves. Now, wolves or canids of all types actually, in the wild are opportunistic feeders. They eat eggs out of nests, shell and all. They will find carrion or dead animals and they will scavenge on that. They will hunt and kill for fresh food and they will eat the meat, they will chew some of the skin. They’ll use the ligaments and tendons, kind of like a dental floss to clean between their canines, they eat a number of foods. They will eat plants as well.
So, your domestic dog, your family puppy, is also an opportunistic feeder. Make sure they get a little bit of everything. When you buy your healthy eggs, you’ve got to account for maybe one a week to go to the dog, shell and all. It’s actually enrichment when they try and work out how to break into it to get the egg out. And if they need calcium, they will eat the shell. They will need meat and they will need vegetables. Not so much fruit. Canids, do not generally feed on fruits.
So, you fed your kids, you fed your partner, your housemate, you fed your cat, you fed your dog, you’ve looked at maybe some backyard chickens and what to feed them. Making correct nutritional choices is a matter of a broad spectrum of vitamins and minerals. Not buying into the, “I need calcium from milk” farce. Let’s just say it’s a farce, because you actually get enough calcium in your diet from healthier foods.
So that’s all for today with nutritional choices. I hope that you’ve learned some more about how to feed your fussy family, how to involve everybody, how to deal with varying tastes and diet, how to look after your pet’s nutritional choices, that actually came from one of our lovely listeners, that topic, and I do suggest you pop over on Facebook to A Magical Life Podcast. If there’s something that you would like to learn more about, leave us a message and we will talk about in a podcast.
That was Episode 11. On Episode 12, I’m discussing eating disorders and relationship with self. And soon we will have some eating disorder experts coming on to talk to you as well. We hope you enjoyed this podcast episode on Nutritional Choices For Families.
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