When I was little, my mom instilled in me that healthy eating is at the core of a healthy body. And when I became a mom, I started doing the same for my kids. Of course it is a bit challenging nowadays. When I was growing up in Armenia, there was no concept of non-organic or processed junk food. Not the case any more! To add to these eating challenges, Alex has lots of limitations and food sensitivities as many children with autism do. I have lost count how many organic soups and purees I’ve made that he’s refused! But I was determined to feed him good nutritious food. I was also afraid to introduce him to junk food so he wouldn’t get used to fried food flavors.
Finally, when Alex was about two, we noticed that he liked pink food that looks, tastes, and has a texture of a strawberry shake. So we got to work on a recipe that could be made of nutritious whole food that would look like, taste like, and feel like a strawberry milkshake. In addition to that, since Alex was not eating much of anything else, I wanted to make sure to sneak in as much of other nutritions as possible, without compromising taste, texture, and appearance, of course.
The ingredients are 2/3 cup of different berries (during summer I use fresh strawberries and blueberries, but during winter I use frozen berries), 1 banana, 1 tsp almond butter, 1/3 cup yogurt, 1/3 cup cottage cheese, 1/3 cup rice pudding for texture and sweetness.
During his toddler years, since Alex wouldn’t eat much else, I would sneak in some tofu for protein, steamed carrots, and even a half a scone or a muffin. Now, I know that many of kids with autism have dietary restrictions, but as it is with cooking in general, all items can be easily substituted.
As years have gone by, and Alex learned to eat a bigger variety of foods, we didn’t need to blend this smoothie any more. But since we would never be able to get him eat a whole banana and a cup of berries every day, we have continued blending it for him daily for the last ten years. Yikes! And we’ve gone through a few blenders too! But teaching him to taste good food and consume good nutrition, was really important to me. And now, since it is good for Alex to spend time in the kitchen as possible, he sometimes helps with the preparation process.
Do you struggle with feeding your kids healthy foods? How do you deal with healthy eating challenges?
♡ Zuma A.