My whole foods, grain-free, sugar-free baby
We have made huge strides in our food and nutrition journey as a family. If we would’ve had our son Ethan five years ago, I would be feeding him whole grain Cheerios, sugary yogurt and lots of fruit juices. Instead he enjoyed making a mess this morning as he ate his breakfast of oven-roasted butternut squash and sweet potatoes, avocado sautéed in coconut oil, homemade almond flour teething biscuits and coconut milk. Not your average baby breakfast.
Friends and relatives ask why Ethan isn’t eating breads, cereals, cookies and pasta. Many have strong opinions and even take offense when I don’t offer our child baby cereals, crackers and juice. But reading books like Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon, reading articles from Mark’s Daily Apple and listening to podcasts from Ben Greenfield Fitness have helped shape my view of nutrition and guided us to improve our diet based on what science and long-held traditions tell us are best for our bodies, guts and brains.
Just a couple years ago I was all for conventional “health food” staples such as whole wheat bread and low-fat dairy. Now we choose organic whole milk, antibiotic- and hormone-free local meats, pastured eggs and organic produce. These were relatively easy to swap out one at a time. It’s really been a process. When I learn something new, we make a change. One step at a time. Now we eat more saturated fat, moderate protein and lower carbs most of the time. When we do have grains, nuts, beans and legumes, we soak or ferment them so they become easier to digest.
I really enjoy simple whole food cooking and tend to just make it up as I go along. I’m not really big on meal planning or following a recipe. Breakfast for our little guy is typically applesauce with probiotics mixed in and meat (he loves sausage!) or scrambled eggs. Lunches and dinners usually include meat and veggies (roasted green beans, carrots and sweet potatoes are favorites). Ethan’s favorite snacks are pears, dried apples and frozen coconut milk pops. I enjoy providing nutritious food for my family, even if it takes extra time or extra preparation. Knowing that our guts are healthy, our bodies are nourished and that we’re investing in our long-term health is very satisfying.
Am I a health food helicopter mom that forbids my husband to sneak Ethan a small taste of ice cream after dinner? Or keeps my son from snack time during play group because of the dreaded Teddy Grahams? No. Life can’t be lived in a bubble and I’m not naive enough to think that I can keep every trace of sugar and conventional grain product from ever gracing his lips. But I do make an effort to keep most of his food intake as natural as possible. I enjoy making nutritional food that Ethan likes. I love it when he gulps down my homemade coconut milk and eats guacamole and squash by the spoonful, or little fistful.
It’s delightful to see him enjoy healthy food. It makes it much easier to see him eat a cookie at grandma’s house or the occasional Teddy Graham at play group when I know he’s eating well a majority of the time. I’m sure as he gets older he’ll come home from grandma’s house having had ice cream, candy and cookies, but I won’t have to cringe too much because I know we’ll be having broccoli with dinner.
Ashlee is a wife and stay-at-home mom from Elkhart, IN. She loves cooking and reading about all things related to food, nutrition and wellness. When she’s not eating, cooking or reading about food, she can probably be found doing a crazy kettlebell workout, chasing her toddler around the house or choosing paint colors for her family’s fixer-upper home. In high school, Ashlee, our friend Lindsay and I were a weird little crew, calling ourselves the girl version of the guys who throw stuff at each other. I once gifted Ashlee a pair of undies on which I had written “firm to the end” — a bit of Matthew 24:13 — on the bum.