low carb/paleo kids

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One of my most focused goals for the past 4 months--and increasing in concentrated focus and seriousness this new year--is to experiment and find a new and exciting way to feed my children the way Bobby and I feel passionate about: low carb.  (Read here to learn more of how we eat.)

If we had no children, living out the remainder of our days on a plentiful low-carb diet wouldn't be difficult at all.  At all.  I can say that with full confidence. Breakfasts, lunches, dinners, snacks, and desserts have left me totally satisfied, loving eating, and totally fascinated with this new side to eating.  I have no regrets of turning my back on all grains, starches (with a few exceptions on rare occasions), and most sweeteners (except for natural sugar-free sweeteners).

And then there's adding children in the picture.  My lovely children.   Typical picky eaters over this and that.  Some like this.  Others don't.  Some like casserole-like dishes.  Others don't.  Some like soup.  Others don't.  Some like nuts to snack on.  Others don't.  Some like nut butters.  Others don't.  And on and on....

Does this sound familiar??  

Children, with their specific maturity and growing/changing tastes, can be challenging even on a mainstream diet.  My challenge is to cook and bake and feed my children so there is excitement and nutrition and variety in their meals and snacks from pulling a few food groups out of their diet.  It is a new mania for me.  I get ideas in the middle of the night and add them to my running list.  I research a lot, experiment in the kitchen a lot, and have tasted good and awful things in that same experimental kitchen.

Being low carb-minded for our family doesn't mean just finding equal alternatives to grainy, starchy favorites and just subbing in those and life goes on normally.  It doesn't work that way.  Eating grain-free pancakes for breakfast and grain-free bread for lunch and grain-free cookies for snack and a grain-free roll for dinner in one day would not only fill you up way more than grains, it's expensive (since you'd be usually using almond and coconut flours), and would not give your family the other more important nutrients they would need. So there has to be a switch in terms of how you look at food--especially for your children--since fats are your best friends for your brain, body, growth, and satiety.

What I've learned from transitioning my children to a low carb/paleo lifestyle:

  1. Variety is everything.  They will never be OK with all of the egg breakfast variations that Bobby and I love.  Thus, we've made slight changes as a family to change up breakfasts so we can eat the same breakfast each morning.  Sometimes it may be eggs, berry smoothies, grain-free granola, a yogurt bar (you pick the toppings), and so on.  Kids need the variety to maintain optimism for the major change in their diet.
  2. It takes time.  My natural inclination was to rid the house of everything that resembled our old way of eating.  That would be fine for us adults, but the kids needed a more gradual approach.  While we don't bake with any grains anymore they have been finishing up our last few boxes of Cheerios in food storage.  They've know that once they are finished, we will replace that particular breakfast (and oatmeal) with something comparable.  (Homemade granola and porridge are the new "cereal" replacements.)
  3. Pinpoint the favorite foods that your children have in common.  This a great starting point to build a variety of snacks/meals based on those food groups or particular foods that most of your children enjoy.
  4. Be patient with yourself.   I won't lie.  I've cried over this life-changing transition for myself and with hopes, for my children.  It takes research, experimenting, accidently putting 2 cups of precious coconut flour in Christmas morning's biscuits instead of almond flour, and other heartbreaking mishaps to teach you and transform you.  It can be done and boy, are there unbelievable resources out there.
  5. Be patient with your children.  My children now try new things somethings with reservation, waiting for the first bite before I reveal to them that what they are eating is really ____.  The more I've experimented the more wonderful recipes we've discovered.  And thankfully, when a good recipe is discovered, (like these real-deal chocolate chip cookies yesterday), absolutely everyone cheers and stuffs their faces.  (I even had each daughter chant "Grain-free cookies are great!" before they could take a second cookie off the tray.)
  6. They will eat non-low carb foods outside our home.  That's life.  There will be birthday parties, family gatherings, and trips.  It is OK.  Their sweet tooth will inevitability become less prominent after being in our home and they will recognize how they feel after eating foods they aren't accustomed to.  They will learn to listen to their bodies and eat what feels right when they are out in the world.
  7. It takes creative planning and working smarter to feed a whole family low carb.  There will be basic ingredients and snacks you buy at the store and others that you make at home.  It doesn't have to be overwhelming to find new options of snacks if you work smarter, not harder.  (Our approach to "batching" and freezing, especially for larger families is to come.)
  8. Presentation is key.  Would you believe me if I told you that most of our lunches are presented on my nice white porcelain platter?  I've pulled out our parfait glasses, punch glasses, and other infrequently used dinnerware to present the kids' new snacking/eating exciting and more functional.  Feeding the kids has definitely become a more beautiful experience which we both have enjoyed.
  9. Let kids be kids.  I have to have different expectations for my children than expecting them to eat what Bobby and I eat all day.  The exciting kid-friendly recipes I've come up with for my children specifically have more fruit, may include more grain-free flours, and resemble some of the things they might have enjoyed previously.  They are learning that snacks mean eating foods from other food groups as well like vegetables.  Keeping it kid-friendly is the most important step in our process of a total shift as a family.

Low Carb/Paleo Kids is a new series on The Sleepy Time Gal where I'll share our successful, delicious low carb recipes with you for you and your family.  Here are some sneak-peek glimpses of what is to come...

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{breakfasts--giving eggs a break.  no pun intended.}

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 {the wonders of gelatin and how it makes children happy and healthy.}

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{ideas for lunch and snack platters}

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{yogurt becomes spotlight to many kids' recipes}

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{packaging low carb snacks for kids on-the-go}

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 {finding substitutes for the kids' favorite grain snacks from time to time}

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 {dips, dips, and more dips!}

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{turning un-kid-friendly recipes into kid-friendly, excitable foods}

See you back in this space tomorrow for the first of the Low Carb/Paleo Kids recipes.

UPDATED:

Low Carb/Paleo Kids recipes:

Low Carb/Paleo Kids: Vegetable Dip & Sticks in a Cup

the sleepy time gal