You see, I have always been interested in healthy eating. When I grew up, my mom was probably among the first one to buy tofu dog and starfruit at the grocery store and I was teased at school for my brown bread tuna sandwich, 100% orange juice and oat cookies, instead of white bread-mustard-baloney sandwiches, fruit punch and Joe louis in my lunch box.
When I moved out, I kept experimenting with food and one of my lovely roommate was as crunchy as me and we made carrot-juice with wheat-germ in it and very healthy stuff like that... I was 19.
Fast forward to when we moved to the Yukon and we ate a lot of meat because by then what mattered the most to us was to eat as local a diet as possible and that meant moose meat, salmon, potatoes and root veggies, lots of greens, berries, sauerkraut, lots of sprouts and Brian's goat's milk that we turned into kefir. I wish I had access to my old photos, because I have one of little Mathilde (she must have been 2) eating moose ribs with gusto. She looks like Obelix! This is that same little girl that, at 4 month old, grabbed a hold of a cube of beef curry in my plate and started sucking avidly!
Great vegetarian restaurant in St.Pete's center: Meze. My mom had a salad trio that was really good (a falafel salad, an amazing faux-chicken curry salad and a carrot and golden raisins salad).
When I went into raw food, I was hoping for a smooth transition, but it was demanding and frustrating to cook 2 meals to keep everybody happy, but I wanted to give this a try, because my health was a big priority. Five months into a strict low-fat raw vegan diet, I unfortunately did not reap much benefits (if any) and we were all quite unhappy, so I loosened up. Now, my priority is that each and every one of us feels free to listen to her body and make her own decision. I figure it is not my job to expose my kids to vegan-propaganda videos. I eat what feels right to me and try to let go of control. JF cooks the meat outside of the trailer when possible and I don't comments on what people in my family chose to eat...
Delicious juicy mangoes and homemade green juice (kale, apples and key limes) are still the best choice when it's 36 degrees outside!
The other night we camped in a WalMart parking lot and as soon as they woke up, the girls had a craft project in mind that required some felt, so in we go (see how much I am letting go?! Go me!) and Mathilde spotted the warm ready-to-go chicken (with a very long list of ingredients...) and asked for one (for second breakfast, my little hobbit...). I did not even cringe inside and said yes, sure! She was happy as a clam!
Don't get me wrong: I still think that the world would be a better place if there were more vegans and no Walmarts, but I do not make those beliefs more important than my relationship with my family. Freeing myself of all those beliefs brings more connexion and love into my life. Because, utimately, this is my top priority. This smile. This happiness. This spontaneity.
It feels so good to be invited somewhere and happily eat what we are being served (and digest it well, because when you eat only raw and eat a regular cooked meal, you sure pay the price...). I love to say we are opportunivores now! A great thing we like to do on the road is go to Whole Foods Market (a health food store), do our shopping and go to the salad/hot food bar after. The girls can see and pick the food they want. Mathilde usually goes for the meat and kale salad, while Mara goes for the cesar salad (or rather croutons with a bit of salad and Aïsha likes to sample different things). Good food for a good price.
And it is so freeing to be able to enjoy a nice italian restaurant dinner without the guilt that comes with it, because, yes, when you stick to a diet plan, there is quite a bit of guilt that comes with it if you go off track, especially if you do it for health reason like I did... If I had migraines, I had no clue if it was because of that one time I went off track and would beat myself off for it... Verducci's restaurant in St. Pete's beach has amazing lasagna, margherita pizza and tiramisù, don't miss it! And The Macaroon in St. Petersburgh center has great gelato (try the espresso, the dark chocolate or the raspberry ones).
Another key to our family happiness is to have what Sandra Dodd calls Monkey Platters available pretty much at all time. It makes such a huge difference. The girls are not asking for food, they are not hungry (no low-blood sugar) and everybody is happy!
Food is such a big part of our life. Let's not turn this into a power struggle or into something that we are so focused on that we take the joy out of it and then, we create long-lasting problems in our children's relationship with food. And believe me, with 3 girls, this is the last thing I want.