Call me crazy, but I'm getting ready to launch yet another book this year.
This book, titled Make Nutrition Fun: End Food Fights and Find Family Peace in Just 30 Days, is definitely a work of love.
I structured the book to follow a 30 day process, and I organized the chapters into a fun A-Z format (26 letters/days with 4 days for reflection and organization).
Since the book starts with A, I kick off the first chapter with the story of the Ant Attack.
Enjoy your preview below! 🙂
PS- I posted a few of the early cover concepts for the book on Facebook, and I got nearly 100 comments! I think that getting early feedback on a writing project is absolutely critical, and I can tell you that the folks that piped in really changed the direction that I was going in on the cover. So thank you so much! 🙂
Day One: A is for Ant Attack
Around the time that my younger child, Alexander, was three, ants attacked my kitchen. Well, not exactly.
We were invited to a birthday party for my dear friend, Julia. We were in charge of bringing a cake and, given that Julia was one of the most accomplished cooks I knew, I felt pressured to find a recipe that would have a wow factor. My friend Chase had recently invited us over for dinner and, for dessert, had served a Bundt cake with a delicious chocolate glaze in a beautiful pattern dripping down the sides. Chase had five kids, so I knew she didn’t mess around with complicated recipes.
“Just melt some dark chocolate and add a tiny bit of olive oil to give it a smooth texture,” Chase said. “Then drip it down the cake in a pretty pattern. It is sure to impress!”
On the day of the party, 30 minutes before we had to leave, I was in the kitchen following Chase’s instructions. I had the help and full attention of Alexander as we poured the dark chocolate over the cake.
“Great job, Alexander!” I said, as we finished the glaze. It was just starting to harden, and I did think that it would look beautiful.
“I am just going to go upstairs to take a quick shower before we go to the birthday party,” I told Alexander. He nodded solemnly, pretending to go off to the playroom to busy himself.
About 15 minutes later, I came downstairs to find a boy with wide eyes and a huge ring of chocolate around his mouth.
“Mama. The ants. They came. And ate the cake!”
Very seriously, he led me to the kitchen, where the cake stood, yellow and pockmarked. There was not a morsel of chocolate to be found.
“Look, mama. See? The ants!”
I looked at my darling son, with his huge ring of chocolate around his mouth, and remembered the DO NOT EAT signs my stepmother used to hang on jars of chocolate chips. As a teenager, I had felt a lot of shame and guilt taking chocolate chips from those containers. I didn’t want him to feel that same way.
“The ants did like that cake, didn’t they?” I said with a smile. “Let’s go wash your face, okay?”
I got on the phone with Julia and gave her the quick story, which elicited huge giggles.
“Okay, I’m good with the half-eaten cake … Let’s go with it.” Julia was not only a superb cook, she was also a great sport.
We arrived at Julia’s birthday with the cake, and all enjoyed a lovely meal. Our mealtime stories included the mystery of the ant attack on the cake. As the meal progressed, I noticed that Alexander was wobbling in his chair with half-closed eyes. I think he was stuffed full and hitting the sugar low at the same time. I refrained from chuckling, and no one scolded or judged. That day, Alexander learned his own, very personal and memorable lesson about how what you eat translates into how you feel. Now a teenager himself, Alexander must make his own decisions about what to eat, based on how the foods actually make him feel.
Identify if you have any shame about food. Your feelings could stem from a childhood experience or might be something more current.
Now, go to that shameful feeling or moment and fully embrace it for what it’s worth – an opportunity for you to make the best of a difficult situation. Forgive yourself and others for anything shameful that you might have previously associated with food. Remember that food is fuel, not bad or sinful.
Now, can you even laugh about that shameful feeling or experience?
Let go of shame and bring a little playfulness into your relationship with food. That is when you can really make nutrition fun.
If you’d like to learn more how to avoid shame when talking about food with kids, I’d love to invite you to listen to an interview I hosted with Holistic Health Coach Kami Miller.
Note: The moment that I fell deeply in love with my husband, Jeff, was when he first visited the home I lived in as a teenager. After being very gracious and socializing with my dad and stepmom, the two of us retreated alone to the kitchen. He saw the (same!?) jar of chocolate chips with the (same!?) DO NOT EAT sign, and he almost doubled over with laughter as he chuckled, “That’s ridiculous”. He walked directly over to the jar, opened it, reached in for a huge fistful, threw back his head, and dumped the entire handful into his mouth. I was hooked.
Recipe: Ant Cake (Bundt Cake with Chocolate Glaze)
1 ½ cups butter, softened
1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
3 cups sugar
1 ½ teaspoon vanilla
3 cups flour (our adaptation was to divide between whole wheat and white flours)
Spray and flour Bundt pan. Do not pre-heat oven. Blend butter and cream cheese until fluffy. Add sugar and vanilla. Alternate adding flour and eggs. Pour batter into pan. Place in a cold oven and heat it to 300 degrees. Bake for 1 hour and 35 minutes or until it cracks a bit on top. Cool.
6 ounces high-quality chocolate chips
2 tablespoons mild tasting extra virgin olive oil
Melt the chocolate the easiest way you can. We put it in a microwave-safe bowl and heat for 30 seconds at a time, stirring with a fork in between, until it is just melted. You can also melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. (The latter method was too high maintenance for me when my kids were small).
Once the chocolate is melted, stir in the olive oil until well blended and the glaze is smooth. While it is still liquid, pour the chocolate over the cooled Bundt cake in a pretty pattern, so that it drips down the side. Allow the chocolate to set at room temperature for about 15 minutes, then refrigerate.
Caution: This recipe may attract ants.