Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Paleo for kids

By Kate Yoak

After reading about the dangers of protein to kids at the PerfectHealthDiet, I understood why I have been struggling in feeding my kids meat. I was already coming to the conclusion that there need to be a variety of vegetables on the tables for kids to choose from in order to have a happy and peaceful family meal. Now I understand why.

In brief, breast milk is composed of 7% of protein. Increasing protein to even as much as 9% in formula leads to problems. Cordain recommends limiting protein to no more than 20-25% of caloric intake for pregnant women.

So how much is exactly right for kids? There isn't enough evidence to suggest a specific number, but it is clear that they should not eat any more than they are willing and happy to do. This means, no brow-beating them into finishing their meat or clearing their plate. Presented with healthy options, they should naturally gravitate toward a good balance. This means, plenty of dishes to choose from at every meal and lots of choices among different types of calories: protein, fat, carbohydrates.

Truthfully, it's not so hard to do. I often start meals with a veggie dip appetizer: A ranch dip with carrots, cauliflower, celery. (While I normally buy the ranch dip at the store, having run out I was delighted with this incredibly easy home-made ranch alternative. If made for kids, wait to add garlic & onion powder, adding a little at a time to taste. Otherwise it's deliciously spicy for adult palate, but I had to quadruple the recipe to get it back to tolerable for kids!)

I often slice tomatoes and bell peppers to serve on the side of any meal. They are our family favorites!

A cup of tomato soup or home-made beef/chicken stock garnished with bacon bits & cheese is a very popular option.

Salads are time-consuming, but these easy veggifiers create a splendid-looking table and guarantee that they won't leave hungry. In the meantime I am also increasing the amount of fat present in all of our meals, using the tips I worked out earlier for myself.

Finally, I am beginning to experiment with super-energy deserts.

In a food processor, mix heavy cream or coconut milk with any frozen fruit or berry and you have instant ice cream. The whole family can work together to prepare - then to enjoy. I like adding shredded coconut to mine, but the texture is too much for the kids. For them, melted dark chocolate does so much more! Making ice cream right on the dinner table with a food processor is a fun after-dinner activity and eating it right after is a tasty bonus.

I blog about Paleo at CaveKitchen.com. For more ideas on paleo kids as well as a list of paleo parent resources, please visit my Paleo Kids page.

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