The Most Restrictive Vegans in the World – My Children

By all measures I am a lazy parent.  I have no idea how to set up and maintain a schedule and I honestly wouldn’t even want one.  Who in their right mind wants to be forced into a frenzy to get home in time for the kids’ noon nap? Children are always developing and forcing a ridged nap time on them is not something I ever was interested in doing.  That is not to say that my children don’t or never napped.

My oldest son would nap twice a day until he was a year old, then slowly he started once a day until a year and a half when he no longer napped. My middle child never slept at all.  This is not an exaggeration, he literally would stay up all day and night unless my husband held him and even then he barely slept.  By 1.5 he was diagnosed with epilepsy and his AEDs finally afforded him rest – they slowed his brain down enough to sleep I guess. He naps at school everyday at 2 pm for an hour or so.

My youngest daughter does nap about once a day somewhere between 11am- 1pm depending on when she woke up and how much excitement she is experiencing.  And that, dear readers, is the point to me.  If you provide your children with enough stimulation they will need to nap and will go to bed at a reasonable time, their minds and bodies need time to process all of the information they have taken in.

Now enter meal times.  We are a grazing family.  I keep cut up fruit in class containers, bananas and oranges on the counter and other healthy foods at hand. We don’t have soda in the house and have limited 100% juices.  I have a cheap wooden mug rack on the counter so even my 4 year old can grab himself a cup when he wants a sip of water. During the school year my husband and I attempt to prepare breakfasts – whole grain pancakes with agave, whole grain cereal – but sometimes the boys just aren’t hungry after waking.  Their school, Joliet Montessori, does allow them to snack when needed which is a policy I greatly appreciate.  I want my children to develop a healthy relationship with eating and learn to listen to their bodies for hunger and satiation cues.IMG_0973

I came from a family of big eaters like many of my friends from Jewish (and what I hear Italian) families.  Food is equated directly to love, comfort and caring.  The bigger the meal, the more you care.  The more you nag about eating, the more you care. You get the picture.  Needless to say I was an overweight child and teen, I did deal with eating disorders and body image issues.  My goal as a parent has been to avoid that for my children so I rarely press them to eat and I never make them “clean their plates”.

My younger son still breastfeeds, if he could he would eat this way exclusively I believe, and although I am getting a little worn down by it I truly believe that nothing comes even close to breast milk for optimum nutrition. Breast milk contains stem cells and if there is even a fraction of a chance that this golden liquid can help repair any damage seizures have caused or keep him functioning optimally then so be it, we breastfeed. I do however want to make sure that all of my children eat a diverse range of food.

In the past I have recounted how my older son went on pancake benders – times when all he would eat where pancakes.  We added vitamin and protein powders to them, and still do to this day. My younger son takes his cues from his older brother, and my daughter – she just eats anything.  This makes my goal getting the oldest to eat. He has become what we refer to as “the most restrictive vegan” in the world.  He will only eat pasta plain, with a little salt. If he eats tofu – it has to be cold with a little bit of salt.  Rice – has to be white with a little salt. He does eat wheat pasta and wheat bread but will only eat soynut butter (my husband has a peanut allergy and as a youngster my son convinced himself he had the same allergy refusing to eat other nut butters). What he does enjoy is cooking and when in a good mood (he’s a tween and a little angsty) will help me with new creations which I find he is more receptive to eating.  His favorite creations are recipes from Gino D’campo that we convert to vegan friendly.

This afternoon we all woke up very late, since school is on break our “schedule” is even looser. I decided to make brunch.

Green Brunch Noodles

  • avocado oil
  • wheat soba noodles
  • 1 package firm tofu – lightly mashed
  • 1 large Zucchini diced
  • 1 large yellow pepper diced
  • medium bunch cilantro chopped
  • 1 lb bag spinach
  • Arizona dreaming spice mix from Penzey’s

I sautéed the tofu, added the veggies and sprinkled with seasoning, once the veggies started cooking and there was some juice I added the noodles. I purchase the Annie Chung pouch noodles which are precooked and only need a few minutes to loosen up.

I also served a large mixed greens, broccoli sprout, orange pepper, radish and carrot salad and a bowl of chopped cantaloupe and pineapple.

Needless to say the older son refused to eat almost anything and claimed to feel ill after finding out the “Carrot” he thought he was eating was actually an orange pepper. That translated into the younger son refusing to eat – all of this while my daughter sat happily on my lap, sucking up soba noodles from my plate.  Children are definitely a trip. I hope we fare better at dinner tonight.

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