The Best Meal WE Can Give Our Children

Yes, I’m a mom. No, I aint perfect. In fact, I relish in the fact that I am far from perfect. I’m me. I try my best to be a mama who is kind, makes healthy snacks, plans fun events, plays, laughs, throws random dance parties, shows and lives what love is through example. Yet, I sometimes react in ways that aren’t ideal. Sometimes…I loose it. I get grumpy when I’m tired, I get really grumpy when I’m hungry and hide your cat when I’m tired and hungry. Yikes. I wish I could take back those moments when I lost my cool over spilled milk, or didn’t answer that sweet question because I was too busy texting a friend some nonsense, but I can’t. To be honest, I think my flaws make me more human and someday my children will look at me as a person they can relate to rather than a robot they feed rubber carrots to only on holidays.

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Lately I’ve been into eavesdropping on conversations between parents and their children. I’ve been hoping to learn some new tricks, and I’m nosey  curious. I have found more often than not, people talk to their children like they are dog poo. I get it, mamas and papas, I’m stressed beyond stress too and heck if you were to hear me sometimes I might sound like a bit** on a broomstick also. However, I’ve been thinking… All this talk about what we feed our kids, how much T.V. they watch, if we breast feed or not, and I still think all those topics are important, but what’s more important is how we talk to them, especially in public. Let’s take a deep breath before going for the public rip down. Let’s close our eyes for a second, take a long breath, and pause for a second before totally loosing it over a lost bathing suit or spilled goldfish. Because at the end of the day, we will erase all of our efforts in giving our children great foods and a healthy upbringing if we verbally poo on their heads. For those of you reading that don’t yet have little stinkers grabbing cheese sticks out of your shopping carts, you take a breather before judging us, please. You try having your 5 dogs in your shopping cart and ordering a half a pound of honey turkey from the deli then we’ll talk. Perhaps, instead of your  best death glare, go over to that stressed parent and give them a your best loving smile? Maybe that bit of support will spread like melted butter and make the world a happier place? I don’t know, but I’d like to be a part of that cause. Because I think the best meal we can feed ourselves, our children and others is respect with a side of kindness.

 

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I’ll follow my own advise.

 

Food. Travel. Babies. Oh MY.

I have embarked on a courageous summer-long journey with my kids, solo. SOLO. I know, I’m insane. In the midst of beautiful evergreen trees and fresh water lakes, with a side of crazy, I have been beyond grateful for my friend Lilli’s words of wisodom. This is the first post of a series of guest posts this summer. I hope you Enjoy…

 

Travel can be an amazing opportunity for growth.  Whether we travel alone for business/pleasure or with others on vacation the opportunity for exciting new experiences enriches our lives.  The same holds true for our children.  Travel can enrich the lives of our children but only if we make a point nurture the travel bug that lies somewhere within us all.   I write this post to encourage you travel the world with your children and to find the very best of nature’s bounty.  Travel far and wide to seek food gems.  Let them taste the Boston lobster, Mexican batidos (a smoothie of sorts made with milk and fresh fruit) and exotic fruits.
(photo credit: Future expat)
Food can be the most memorable part of the travel experience. I was five the first time I visited Mexico City and my strongest memory of that trip is tied to food.  I can still smell the roasting pumpkin seeds that my cousins bought for me from the cart on the corner. I also vividly remember the cream and cheese and soups that accompanied every savory meal.  I ate things I had never tried before and I long to enjoy some of those meals again.
Our senses are the fastest connection to our memory.  A song can transport us to another time or another place.  A smell can bring back memories of times and places in our lives.  When it comes to travel and our children we can enhance their experience by allowing them to soak in as much of the area’s sounds, smells, and flavors.
When my husband and I started traveling with our first child we tried to make the food of the region part of that experience.  The avocados and mangoes in Monterrey, Mexico are a particularly memorable example.  The season had peaked and my daughter seemed to know she was getting that beautiful fruit at its very best.  We mashed the avocados and tore up tiny pieces of the soft margarita bread. She loved those tasty morsels.
(photo credit:Flickr )
“But my child won’t eat anything except cereal for breakfast “
We underestimate children.  If given an opportunity they might really surprise you.  The fact that they are in a different environment and probably with different people when you travel will set the stage for them to try new flavors.  Of course if they won’t try it don’t stress.  And if they do experiment with new food tell them how proud you are!  Lead by example and try something different yourself.  Let them see you eating differently than you do at home.
The only time I ever eat roasted nuts is when I buy them from a street vendor in NYC.  My daughter and I have a tradition of sharing a bag every time we go to the big city.  Simple things like drinking carrot juice instead of orange juice for breakfast or eating fruit instead of bread or cereal are typical in other countries and can make your child’s travel experience that much more memorable and meaningful.
Here are 5 quick tips to help you incorporate great regional foods into your family’s meals while traveling:
  • Do a little research online before you go and find out what the “typical” foods of that area are.  Learn about the ingredients so you can prep your child with friendly reminders.
    • Make a list and bring it with you to make it a point to try some or all of them with your family.
    • Visit a local market once you arrive. It will fully transport your mind body and spirit to the new environment.
    • Snack foods are an easy friendly place to start experimenting.
  • Try foreign versions of familiar favorites.  A Nutella sandwich instead of Peanut butter sandwich.  Carrot juice instead of Orange.
  • Savor the flavors
    • Romans eat gelato, but more importantly, they stroll or sit in a square enjoying the sights and sounds while doing so.  Make the food experience part of the travel experience.  Although slowing down to take in life is not typically American remember that you are on holiday and what better time to live a little differently and a little slower.
  • Forget about the kids menu.
    • In North America there very well might be a kids menu, but try to avoid these options.  Share your plate with your little one or order something for them from the adult menu to encourage a different mindset.
    • If you are in another foreign country kids menus may not be common.  Many restaurants are very accommodating though so don’t be afraid to ask if you need them to give you single ingredients or modified dishes.  As long as you are polite and enlist their help most establishments will try to work with you.
  • Don’t be afraid to try new foods.
    • Don’t worry, I’m not talking about “bizarre foods” just new to you or prepared differently. If you’ll try it your child might also.
More than once we have been surprised by my daughter’s taste.  She’s not really a picky eater as much as an unpredictable one.  One day she’ll eat mushrooms the next she picks them off the plate.  So we just never know but we always offer and let her try things.  We were very surprised to learn that our toddler liked calamari and Kalamata olives as well as fish. We have learned that her taste is often tied to her mood and we try to never assume what she will or will not eat.
Now that you’re prepared for your trip don’t forget to make food a central part of your adventure.  It will strengthen memories for you and your children transporting you all to that time and place with each future bite.
 (Photo credit : my tots travel)
Lilliana Gonzalez is a wife, mother, employee, & entrepreneur balances her responsibilities with her love of travel.   Motivated by the sight of new parents traveling with a new baby she started www.mytotstravel.com that spotlights family travel.  Visitors of her site can also rent baby equipment in San Antonio.  Join her as she learns to parent on the road of life.