Friday, July 16, 2010
Yes, last night's dinner was a homerun! Because of its originality? Umm, around here, not really -- there's always lots of pasta going on. Because of its deliciousness? Getting warmer . . . Because the carnivore LOVED it? Bingo! The man loved it so much he didn't speak, mouth full, furrowed brow, pointing at the bowl and nodding. This is very exciting for me. My ideal, like that of the rest of you vegans, is a household full of delicious healthy family meals.
It can be frustrating at times to see loved ones dealing with imbalances, whether the common cold, seasonal allergies, pimples or moodiness. Now that I see how much healthier, how much more at peace I am as a direct result of my clean diet, I am quite certain that many of these imbalances my loved ones suffer could be rectified or lessened if they enjoyed the food I am serving instead of the animal proteins they eat out of habit. So yes, I am thrilled my husband loved the "Rustic Pasta" I made from Alicia Silverstone's The Kind Diet. I had never made this recipe before, because, at first glance, it seemed very much like what I throw together quite often from whatever I have on hand. But upon closer inspection, the sheer amount of veggies in this dish, along with the unusual addition of shoyu, transforms this simple pasta dish into something much more fabulous, "restaurant quality," my husband deemed it, and we go to some good restaurants! With a full larder, I was determined not to run to the store for one ingredient, so instead of a head of cabbage, I used a small head of broccoli plus a julienne of several leaves of collard greens -- cruciferous veggies still represented! My pasta of choice was whole wheat linguine. The effort was beyond worthwhile and I will make it again.
Before I began writing today I was perusing The Kind Life website's discussion boards, which I always find very interesting and educational. Of particular interest to me today was a discussion thread about school lunches/treats/birthday parties. I stepped back and took a look at myself and wondered how it is that I find myself here. Like those commenting, I am frustrated with the lack of sound nutritional choices in the lunches offered in public schools, for my children, but also for some who rely on these lunches and breakfasts as their main sources of food. Unlike others, I am awakening to this issue after my season of authority has passed. This may seem like a copout to you folks with young children.
"Just be a Mom," you may say, "tell them what to eat,"
This is a perfectly reasonable suggestion on the surface. We are the parents, we should be the ones guiding our children. But I would also offer this -- even with teenagers as brilliant, talented and inventive as mine, (not too biased, am I?) a parent must constantly monitor the flow of hormones, moods, outside influences etc. And I do mean constantly -- a pendulum will swing very abruptly and unexpectedly. A parent's influence can at times be as likely to act adversely as conversely. We tread the tightrope of parenthood, trying to balance authority and connectivity. This problem lessens as soon as the child is out of the nest and is more autonomous. But I am not ready for my little birds to fly away just yet. At my kids' ages, I choose my battles, and I realize that with all my suggestions and even mandates, ("You must at least have a spinach salad with that pizza!") part of growing up is becoming adept socially, and finding one's place in a wider world, outside of a cloistered existence. This is where I can only hope my children make the choices I would make for them, and if they don't, it is up to me to bring them back to balance in those hours back in the nest, under my wing for just a little while longer.
About 5 years prior to my vegan transformation, I began learning about the food industry and making small changes for my family's health. I splurged on organic milk, cheese, vegetables and occasionally meats. This is tough on a family's budget, but besides the health benefits, my family noticed the organic food actually tasted better, so it was a directive easily enforced. I realized quite some time ago that my kids' friends saw me as a bit of an odd bird with my organics and whole grains. My kids were embarrassed by their Mom who was unlike the others, and I had flashbacks about my own mother, the only one who didn't serve wonderbread and twinkies. As it turns out, my mother was a woman ahead of her time, and, ironically, as much as the world is changing for the better regarding the information and practice of nutrition, I may still be a woman ahead of my time as well, at least here in the deep south. While I embarrass my kids, let's not forget that's a major job requirement for the mom of a teen, much like it is the job of a teen to be embarrassed. When you reach this stage you will get it, believe me!
As I have said, I do choose my battles, and the dinner table is not one of them. It needs to be a friendly, welcoming, connecting place. I choose vegan, but at this stage of their lives I cannot make them be vegan. I offer many healthy options, and insist upon a scant few, but celebrate my daughter's choice of my homemade mashed potatoes, for instance, over french fries, or a fresh sliced peach instead of a pop tart. I also celebrate the fact that my son sees an improvement in his acne when he eats more spinach. Very soon my kids will be in complete control over their food choices, and I can only hope my influence will benefit them the way that my own mother's influence has benefitted me.