Why We Need To Stop Rewarding Our Kids With Junk Food

It’s amazing, when you become a parent, what gets you all riled up and what leaves you completely un-phased. I was at a recent school induction where the parents were up in flaming and flailing arms about teacher reshuffling, play vs. work ratio and school diaries. The one mom even wept through a sob story about how she had to take a weeks leave to assist her child to deal with the trauma of getting a new teacher. As I sat there, eyeballs wedged firmly in brain, I was brought back to reality when the topic of school lunches came up.

For some reason, children and vegetables brings out the demonic mother in me. I am genuinely so fatigued from hearing about how we have to disguise veggies in meals, about sneaky chock chip cookies made with – gasp – chickpeas! And about seeing kids menus at restaurants look like a future diabetes diagnosis. The other day I  saw this video doing the rounds on facebook and I felt genuinely sad

Parents are using junk food as a reward for eating healthy food, and we have to stop.

Remember the first time little Johnny used the word ‘fuck‘? Guess where he learnt it from? YOU. These kids are sponges and will mimic everything they see around them – so if your little sunshine gags at the sight of anything green on his plate, chances are that he has learnt that from someone else.

I have been in an environment with a family member who makes disparaging comments about vegetables in front of my children, and I have told that person that I will not let them be around my child if it carries on.

Look, I realise that some kids are just fussy eaters – and I also realise that I am hashtag blessed with my children when it comes to food. They will eat, literally, anything. My son and I fight over gherkins and olives and I have to cook double portions of my dinner every-night as he inhales fish and veg off of my plate like a wedding crasher at an open bar. Without actually licking my own arsehole, a lot of what they eat has got to do with the fact that I have never made food a big deal in my house. I love salads and veg and my kids have watched me munch my way through steaming mounds of broccoli as dessert. On the flip side, they’ve also watched me smash my fat beak in a party pack of cheese curls and finish it off with a spoon of cheesespread out the jar. And whatever I eat, I offer it to them. So to them, there’s no good and bad food, there is food that is more healthy and food that is less healthy and they (my son atleast) understands about moderation, but that’s it. he doesn’t associate baby marrow as the start of a painful journey to an ice cream end. He loves baby marrow becasue it’s delicious, and he picks it out the garden and helps me chop it and prep it. He has grown up sitting on the counter assisting with dinner and being a part if the whole process. When he visits my folks he dines on tongue and tripe and giant glossy apples from the fruit bowl. At birthday parties he eats his body weight in flings and Oros but knows that it’s a treat. Not a treat because he ate a salad. A treat full stop.

I realise just how revoltingly high and mighty I am sounding right now. I’m not, I promise, I just feel so strongly about not making my food issues, their food issues. I haven’t eaten meat in over 23 years – t I cook meat for my kids and encourage them to try and taste and get involved. My meat issues are not their issues.

A few weeks ago I was so hungover that the thought of prepping food for anyone in the house felt like actual torture. So I bought a Woolies meal for the baby and asked my son if he wanted to get a Happy Meal. The delight on his face as he clutched that red little box all the way home was too cute. I may have munched my way through a large friend on that trip as well.

It’s all about balance.

You ant your kid to eat better? You eat better. Do it as naturally as you would driving to work, turning on the TV or making conversation.

We need to stop rewarding kids with food. Because guess what, they will turn into adults who reward themselves with food. Trust me, you’re looking at someone who has spent the better part of 10 years trying to stop the bad cycle of bad day = wine/chips/cheese.

Right, rant over. It’s lunch time 😉

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Jamie Oliver Home Cooker and Chopper

It’s hard think that just 2 weekends ago I was dressed in boots, scarves and a jacket. Sitting at my desk now its a muggy 30 degrees, the air is thick with heat and Jozi is in desperate need of some rain.

This post, therefore may leave you terrorized as it involves hot and spicy food – not exactly appropriate for the heatwave we are experiencing!

As you may now, I love cooking. As you may not know, I despise cooking prep – chopping, peeling, dicing and slicing. I always have. Then, like an answer to my prayers I was sent the most incredible tool (cue the sounds of angels singing) – The Jamie Oliver Home Cooker and Chopper – a device which promises to take the stress and admin out of home-cooking. Sounds too good to be true, right?

I thought I would give it a true test a few weeks ago on a particularly cold Saturday. Currently on a Paleo detox and craving comfort food I though that making something yummy on my Jamie Oliver Home-cooker would be the perfect experiment. 

Ooh, shiny.

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This thing looks daunting – like a big silver cooking machine. Turns out, it couldn’t be simpler. You simply adjust the turny-thingy, chuck in your food, adjust the temperature, pop the lid on and then use your free time to do something worthwhile (In my case it was catching up on The Kardashians, don’t judge). It also chops, peels grates and all that time-consuming stuff.

I’ve now made several dishes on this bad boy (including soup, stew and a rather delectable lemon risotto). The most recent meal I made was this spicy (Paleo friendly) vegetable curry.

Step 1: Plug in your Jamie Oliver Home Cooker and Chopper

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Step 2: Pick and choose a variety of vegetables and seasoning. I use fresh Indian spices and grind them in a pestle and mortar. 

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Step 3: Admire your chopped vegetables. 

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Step 4: Add onions, spices and coconut oil to your Cooker

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Step 5: Add ingredients, set the timer, pop on the lid

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Step 6: Go do something constructive while your food cooks itself

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I ate the entire batch before I remembered I needed to take a photo. if I remember correctly the result went something like this: 

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Thanks for turning me into a mini-Masterchef, Jamie!

The Jamie Oliver Home Cooker and Chopper (from Philips) is available at all good retailers as well as YuppieChef. It retails for around R4,595.

Happy Cooking!

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An Ethiopian Experience

One of the main reasons I love my friends is for their adventurous tastes and the fact that they are willing to try anything new, atleast once. My friend Lauren recently celebrated her birthday and we joined her for dinner at a very quaint, tucked away Ethiopian spot in Bedofrdview called Abysinnia. Practically a hole in the wall, this place oozes charm, and I can imagine that this is what a local eatery would look like of we had to be visiting their country in the horn of Africa.

The decor is minimalistic, rustic and quaint, and the 10 of squeezed around 3 small round tables. Faux clouds are painted on the ceiling, the ladies bathrooms are a bright fuchsia and dated soapies play on the TVs dotted around the restaurant. It truly was delightfully kitsch.

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The host was such a charming man and convinced us that we would be better off if he brought us platters of all their food and we shared amongst us. After warning him we had a few vegetarians in the group, he assured us there would be enough food for us. He even promised free seconds for any dish we loved. Bad move, especially when I’m around!

When he did bring the food, in 3 very large silver trays my jaw dropped. I was convinced that it had all been dished out onto thick linen napkins, so was very relieved to be told that the napkins were actually an Ethiopian bread, to be used as our utensils.

We waringly eyed the plates before digging in using our fingers as forks and the breads to mop up the sauces. I can only speak for the vegetarian items but they were delicious. Lots of curry infused legumes, cabbages, tomato and potato. The meat dishes consisted of chicken, mince, eggs, raw meat in a dish as well as a curdled cheese.

I ordered a few more portions of the curried lentils, although no-one else seemd as enthusiastic about those as me. After dinner we were served traditional ethiopian coffee. Delicious

If you are into different food, willing to take a bit of a drive and eating with your hands then this is for you. Make sure to enquiry about their coffee ceremonies over the weekends.

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Expect to pay around R100 per person including drinks.

Abysinnia is on the corner of Langer,an drive and Queen street Kensington.

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