Getting enough veggie sourced protein into my husband is becoming a full-time job for me. I'm having a lot of trouble because he does not like beans, legumes, and hardly likes lentils. He will tolerate them served in different ways but how many times a day can you have lentils? He likes nuts which are good protein source, but he cannot eat handfuls of nuts all day. Although veggie shake protein powder is processed, I thought I would give it a try see if he could at least get 15 to 20 g protein in the morning and would not have to worry as much over the course of the day. I had been putting Chia in his shakes, but an ounce of Chia has 9 g of fat and only 5g of protein so I need to find something more purely protein. I whipped up this lovely strawberry banana shake and added the veggie protein and with one sip I looked at him and held my breath. With husband, it is pretty much the same as with kids, you don't want to act like it is a big deal so you casually hand over a shake, and in this case you get to see his whole face scrunch up and then hear "this is disgusting." Ugh. I tried 3 more types and he hated them all.
He deemed it too gritty to get down. Granted there is some grit in most veggie protein powder sources. I looked into other ways to get protein like protein bars but they are mostly filled with isolated soy protein which is not a great vegan protein source as it is highly processed and controversial. I had high hopes for this shake so it was a bummer when he couldn't get more than one sip down. I am going to try a couple of other brands, but I have tried lots of them and they all taste pretty similar. This was the one that I thought he would tolerate best.
Honestly I was pretty mad and frustrated!!! He isn't feeling great because he is only getting 25-30 gms of protein in a day and that is too little and not OK. To meet his 10% requirement he should have about 50gms of protein. He won't eat leafy greens unless I make them, and does not want them every night. He will eat tofu once in a while, but doesn't love it. I throw edamame on what I can and have sought out seeds like pumpkin seeds with higher protein content, but I noticed that when I look at his finished plate a lot of the seeds have been moved off to the side. I am so frustrated and so is he, but he is not willing to do a lot to try things. He just says, "I don't like it" and the case is closed. I am going to try a black bean burger tomorrow night. Wish me luck!!!
And I will not give up on the protein powder. Will keep trying. Argh.
I'm realizing that I need to try to make dishes many different way before I can assume that someone in my family doesn't like them. When I was cooking meat it was the same way… they didn't always love every dish that I made. I worked to find favorites. I'm doing the same with whole food plant-based cooking. I made lentil soup and JD and Duncan didn't like it then I decided to bring out my immersion blender and blend it the next night and they both loved it. Go figure. This lentil on lettuce with red peppers and tomato, with red wine vinegar and evoo has become a favorite of Duncan. He came home from school today and asked if I would make them again after having had them 2 days in a row already. Music to my ears! I didn't want to act too excited because you know with kids when you act too excited over something it becomes uncool so I casually said "yeah, sure, I guess." Funny how excited I can get over my kids requesting something healthy to eat. I just know that we're creating habits that will last and that IS exciting!!
Disease Proof Your Child is a fantastic book by one of the doctors that I highly respect for all of his work in nutrition and diet. He like many of the other doctors who started researching more about nutrition and health had been seeing so many sick patients and was so tired of handing out medication and instead turned towards what we put in our bodies on a daily basis, or food, to heal us. It that talks about forming good eating habits early in a child's life, how food can heal a lot of childhood illnesses and diagnoses, and also about what good food choices are. Here is an excerpt from the book which I pulled from his website. Disease Proof Your Child.
Cooper, my 13 year old is having a hard time with the lack of steak being grilled up for JD, him and Dunc right now. He tried to rally JD and Dunc tonight with a meat based rant. Part of it made me sad, but I know that I am doing the right thing. I am not an insane crazy mom trying to torture my kids. I just want them eating healthier and building habits NOW. I read an article by Dr Greger (LOVE him and his Nutritionfacts.org). It related that MANY well done studies indicate that food choices, especially food choices early in life are the primary cause of most chronic diseases and premature death. It is a short powerful read, please check it out: http://www.healthyschoolfood.org/docs/NYCHSF-Nutrition-101-Update-2012.pdf.
The boys still have a turkey sandwich for lunch some days and still have pizza here and there, but when they do, we have a veggie based dinner and instead of eggs for breakfast they have a whole grain cereal and fruit. If I serve up a dinner that includes chicken, it is 4 oz of thinly sliced chicken accompanied by lots of veggies and fruit and maybe some quinoa and a salad. When we go out they eat what they want. I support that. I am educating them, and someday they will make a choice to do whatever they want to do. They are growing and will not do a plant based diet correctly now and I get that. But the junk food is gone and that was a huge hurdle that seems to be crossed.
Coop gravitates to meat every time and though he always eats veggies, he would not call himself a veggie lover. I am willing to guess that most 13 years olds aren't going to deem themselves Mr. or Miss veggie. There seems to be a peer pressure around eating crap like Hot Cheetos and somehow it is not as cool to eat healthy food. Kids ultimately do what you do though, and if you eat more veggies, so will they. People always ask me how I get my kids to eat so many fruit and vegetables and my answer is it's easy, WE eat them. When I ask back, "do you guys eat lots of vegetables and healthy foods" the answer is usually "we do not cook" or "no, we don't eat a lot of veg unless you consider ketchup a vegetable." Um, no, not quite.
Here are some idea of how to get your kids to eat more fruits and veggies:
1. Keep introducing foods over and over. Don't give up! My husband says I am relentless but it works. Except for on him, but that is teaching an old dog new tricks and I am not giving up on that either. They say that kids must try something up to 8 - 10 times before it is acceptable. I'm thinking with husbands that number may be double.
2. Make the food look attractive. For years I would put food out that quite honestly did not look all that appetizing. I started playing around with how I was serving things and lo and behold, the kids were eating more good food.
3. For little kids, call the food cute names. As soon as I started calling carrots "bunny carrots" the kids would eat them.
4. Offer the veggies first. My kids love the idea of an appetizer and honestly they don't really care what it is when they are hungry so broccoli is just fine with them. If there is slightly less on their dinner plate because they already had a big bowl of broccoli so be it.
5. Get chopping and learning. It does take some effort to put out a platter of raw veggies, at least more then pouring out a bag of chips but you get so much in return. While I chop I learn. I pick a TEDx video or 2 and play them on my laptop while I chop. Check out Dr Greger. He has a new health and diet related video out every day. Watch a few of he keynote talks. They are a wealth of research based knowledge and will have you reaching for those whole plant based foods http://nutritionfacts.org
6. Blend the fruit. If you do not have a Vitamix make the investment. My mom got me mine when my 1st son was 1 year old and that thing has been spinning up nutrition for 12 years now. It will liquify anything!!! My older son has a smoothie a few days a week and no matter whether it is strawberry banana, blueberry orange or mango banana it always has a couple of tablespoons of whole flax seeds and some walnuts thrown in and they are undetectable. My younger guy likes sorbet so we make that almost every night. It is super easy to clean which is key when you do so much blending!
7. Make the after school snack fruit and veggies. Kids are ravenous when they get out of school so a plate of fruit and veggies goes over great. Serve with some crunchy whole grain pretzels or crackers and hummus and they will be good until dinner.
8. Take the kids shopping with you and let them pick out their own vegetables to try. Go to a famers market or farm stand and pick the freshest ones as they will taste even better.
9. Don't be afraid to serve the same few veggies if that is all your child likes. Cooper ate only broccoli, carrots and green beans for years and he would have one or all of them every night with dinner. As we kept trying new ones his horizon expanded to red peppers, brussels, roasted kale, lettuce, and we are still going! Dunc has always liked everything and I think that is in part to him cooking with me very early on and being interested in the nutrition.