So we plunged headlong into eating Paleo that Monday. Surprisingly, for myself and Chris, it was not too difficult a transition. We didn’t have any grains or dairy around to tempt us; we just ate what we had at home. Plus, I had drawn up the detailed meal plan for the week which pretty much mapped out everything we would be eating and when we would be eating it. Well, this is going better than I envisioned, I thought to myself.
Enter the children. Children who have been used to bowls of cereal with milk and peanut butter toast for breakfast. Children who voraciously ate string cheese and crackers and pretzels and popcorn for snacks. Children whose favorite dinners involved fluffy pancakes or creamy macaroni and cheese. Yes, the transition for these children was not going to be easy.
The kids ate the eggs I made for breakfast and snacked on fruit and veggies throughout the morning. There was no shortage of questions asking when will we be able to eat crackers again and what’s wrong with cereal anyway and seriously can we just have some cheese, Mom? It was a little discouraging, but I had to remind myself that this was a big change for them and that it would take time.
Also, I had to immediately google “helping kids transition to paleo” as everyone knows that Google has the answers to everything. If that didn’t work, we were all going to run outside to the backyard and jump on the trampoline while I figured out what in the world we were going to do next. Thankfully, Google pulled through. With articles like this one on Paleo Leap and this one by Sarah Fragoso of Everyday Paleo, I quickly learned that it was advised NOT to take it all away at once but rather ease them into it a little at a time. Oops. I had already packed up all the non-Paleo food and given it away. No, the little minions reminded me. There’s still a bunch of string cheese from Costco in the fridge. Well then, it was string cheeses all around and everyone looked a little relieved and dare I say it, happy.
Another helpful suggestion was to try to make their favorite foods, only Paleo-style. Apparently there are recipes for Paleo chicken nuggets and Paleo pancakes and Paleo waffles and Paleo crackers and pretty much anything your child could ever want. I immediately made a Pinterest board for all the recipes that sounded like my kids might actually eat them. I decided to work on finding a good Paleo pancake recipe first. We tried a few different recipes throughout the week, none of which were favorably received. Finally, I tried Sarah Fragoso’s Paleo Pal Pancakes. Although Gabi proclaimed them “still not as good as the ones you used to make”, all the kids enthusiastically ate theirs and asked for seconds. That’s a win in my book.
And speaking of books, I found that recipe by googling “books about Paleo for kids” and discovering that Sarah Fragoso had written a children’s book about Paleo a few years ago called Jimmy and the Carrot Rocket Ship. A quick check at our local library later that day led to us bringing the book home as well as Sarah’s Paleo family cookbook. The kids read and re-read the book. They pored over the recipes in the back and begged to try several of them. It was a cute way for them to learn a little more about the “whys” of eating Paleo.
Next, I figured if they were helping me in the kitchen more, they might actually be more inclined to try the food we made. I promised that there would be lots of knife action, and all the kids clamored to be the first to help. We made a schedule – Gabi helps me Monday nights, David Tuesdays, Michael Wednesdays, and Hosanna Thursdays. There is a lot of fervent vegetable chopping and meat sizzling going on around here. I give them my meal plan but allow them to make some changes if they want (for example, switch out the carrots for green beans or mash the cauliflower instead of roasting it.) Not only are they learning valuable kitchen skills (hello homeschooling!), but they are eager to try new things.
Each day, I saw a little more of the resistance fade away. I’ve tried to make special treats too to make this whole thing a little easier. One favorite is Kitchen Stewardship’s Easy Grain-free Coconut Muffins. It’s easy to whip up a batch of these to take to Grandma’s or have with some fruit after dinner. But the family’s favorite Paleo treat so far? Grain-free chocolate chip cookie bars. You can find the recipe here on Tasty Yummies. They are incredibly fluffy, not too sweet, and just perfect for a tasty snack.
The last thing I did to help the kids embrace Paleo a little more was open the kitchen. In our dining room, I have a long buffet table that holds baskets of bananas, apples, oranges, pears, and tomatoes. In the cabinets, the kids can find containers full of cashews and almonds, a bag of pumpkin seeds, a bag of raisins, and some beef jerky. In the fridge, I always have a dozen or so hard-boiled eggs, baby carrots, sliced cucumbers, celery sticks, leftover meat, nitrate-free lunch meat, grapes, and sometimes berries. I told the kids with great fanfare that they would no longer have to ask me for a snack. If they were hungry, they could help themselves to any of these foods at any time. My oldest is especially happy about this change. She really thinks about the choices she’s making, and just the other day I saw her put a banana back and choose carrot sticks instead while she worked on an art project.
So no more pouting. We are a Paleo family!