Outside The Box

We walked into the library the other day as we do at least twice a week. One small five year old darted over to the return table, gently dropped his books on the cart and headed to the beloved movie children’s section, to select today’s four new take-homes. And, truth be told between the one year old who takes pleasure in removing books from their shelved homes and the five year old asking the title of each hard cover he gently pulls slightly from it’s resting point, I don’t usually take the time to seek something more age appropriate for myself.

Don’t get me wrong, I love a good Franklin or Bereinstein Bears but a chapter or two would be lovely, once in awhile.

This visit however, welcomed me. A white cover bordered by green caught my eye. It was crisp and clean hardcover. (Am I the only one who gets a bit grossed out at the thought of how very many hands, fingers, germs have infested touched these pages? While I understand the nostalgia found in cracking a spine or smelling the paper pages, e-readers have definitely got a niche for so many reasons.) There’s something just a little more clean about a hardcover to me, and upon opening the cover I found that it had been published as of only a couple months previous.


What truly caught my eye, aside from the pristine white cover was the title. Big bold letters affirmed my belief and passion that it truly is possible (and the capitalized words would lead me to believe it is actually better!!) to feed our insatiably hungry ankle biters off-spring simply with real food that is not contained by a plastic wrapper or confined to four small cardboard walls commonly referred to as a box.

So I checked it out. And, as I flipped through and allowed the words, sentences, chapters, to permeate and confirm most of what I already knew, I found some sort of comfort in knowing that all this effort put forth in cooking and baking well; all this time spent teaching our children that iron is found in broccoli and red meat and not because the box of cereal claims it, is it better.

She also reminded me of what I fear daily in regards to Makeda’s arrival here: If we buy from the shelves (the ones found in the middle of the grocery store – where food is mainly long life and boxed and usually partially made for us – we lose the essence of our roots. We easily forget (and therefore are unable to teach our children) about our cultural background, our traditions become Stove Top instead of stovetop. Inevitably, ancestries and a generation (this is no exaggeration as I learned from my reading) of knowledge is lost. If we aren’t teaching our children how to cook or bake or make from scratch and share with them what was passed down to us (by using – that’s right – real food), how will they then pass tradition along?

The author (a Torontonian – which makes her even more likeable doesn’t it – a Canadian!!) has done her research. She shares interviews with big wigs like PepsiCo topguns and the like. Companies like Nestle are doing their best to (unsuccessfully) keep sales up by continually bombarding the (seeming) qualitative values and “healthy” ingredient list. The old “go-to’s” like junk cookies aren’t enough to keep sales in an ever growing state. Mrs Marshall deconstructs assumptions that purchasing packaged food with probiotics, a half day’s iron requirements, calcium – enough to satisfy the day’s requirements within only one serving, folic acid, whole grains, etc, is not (not!!) better than your produce department’s broccoli, beef, spinach, almonds, greek yogurt, and the list continues. (I will spare you.)

The other aspect I appreciate from this author’s endeavours (and she really did her research throughout Canada, the USA, and Italy – where she lives with her child and husband) is the reality that we shouldn’t need to hide the green stuff from our little people. Absolutely, there is a time and place (such as spinach burgers!) during which we may want to boost their iron intake. And chickpea cookies are fun and such a simple way to add fibre to their day. However, they need to know what they are eating. They aren’t simply children after all…these are little people. People. Little Human Beings. Do your homework and you may cry at the fact that there are literally thousands of children (not toddlers…we’re talking school aged) who don’t actually know that french fries in their original form, come from potatoes. No kidding.

So, if you’re wondering if you should purchase the yogurt with added fruit because your child won’t eat the plain (greek!) stuff but the plastic container promises increased probiotics, added doses of calcium and lower sugar, go buy the plain (greek!) stuff and add…FRUIT.

And then, I would highly recommend you go find this book!

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3 Responses to Outside The Box

  1. Jacquie says:

    Thank you for sharing this book! I’m definitely going to check it out.
    On a side note, I noticed that you kept mentioning greek yogurt, have you switched from Balkan? If so why? is it just a preference or are there different health benefits?

  2. Ashleigh says:

    hope you find it! it was a good, quick read. very down to earth!
    still mainly use balkan…greek is just a nice twist to add sometimes. greek is very creamy with a higher % of fat – great for the kids, since they burn it off and it’s good fat. the process to get to each yogurt’s end result is a bit different. balkan is thicker (and the probiotic content is fantastic!) so it was perfect to use in my tzahiki last night for a bit of tang. 🙂

  3. I hope there’s an e-book of this so i can read it when I get home. It’s so true, here our babies (up to 3 years old) eat something called sukamawiki. It’s steamed Kale with spices…they love it and eat it 4 times a week, i think it’s one of their main sources of nutrition as the rest of their diet is corn! They have just grown up with it, I didn’t like it at first, but when it’s all you have to eat and when you eat it 5 nights a week you start to like it and look forward to it (after 3 months) . I don’t know many kids in America who sit down to a bowl of steamed Kale, but when your kids see you eat it every night and with constant exposer they like it. All our kids here also think a tomato, carrot or pepper is a HUGE treat! This reminds me of your kids, when they loved eating a chunk of cucumber! I thought about it and so much I really think a huge part of it is the example the adults set. Kids need to see us cooking on the “stovetop” as you’ve said and eating, family meals together are so important. Our kids have never known food to come from a package and think anything wrapped is a toy and are scared to try eating it!

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