It’s a Spinach Kind of Morning

July 13, 2010

Spinach

by Mark Bishop, Deputy Director

Raising kids and teaching them about healthy food isn't always
easy. In our society, easy options are, well, easy. The other night we
needed a quick meal for a few friends so we ordered pizza. Not a
problem, but this morning when my four-year-old son Henry asked for
leftover pizza for breakfast, that seemed like a problem. So I had to
put my foot down. Nothing unusual in the world of raising a kid.

But
what happened about 30 minutes later cleared the morning pizza battle
from my mind.

We were getting ready to leave, but I
needed something to eat. I grabbed a handful of spinach leaves from a
ready-wash bag for a quick morning snack. (Yes, I know that spinach is
kind of an unusual breakfast — but it's filling, nutritious. . . and at
that moment, it was very easy to grab!). Henry asked what I was eating.

“I'm
eating spinach,” I told him.

He asked, “Why?”

“Well. . .
because it makes me strong and healthy!”

His response warmed my
heart: “Oh. Can I have some?”

Yes! But I didn't want
to give him plain raw spinach because I didn't want to set him up to
potentially dislike this experience. Not everybody naturally loves
spinach leaves for breakfast, after all. So I thought about what I could
do to make this quick, easy and tasty. In the past I've made “spinach tacos” with hummus and
raisins. This time I said, “how about peanut butter and jelly
sandwiches?” He answered with a resounding yes.

I quickly
grabbed a few big leaves, put on tiny globs of peanut butter and
unsweetened fruit spread, and folded them up. Henry grabbed them and
gobbled them down, spinach and all. The whole time, he had a big smile.
And he told me that he was excited to grow strong and healthy.

It's
so easy to forget that when it comes to healthy eating, it's all about
modeling the behaviors and attitudes that we want our kids to have about
food. Sometimes I need a spinach-morning reminder that it works.
Watching my son get excited to eat spinach rather than leftover pizza is
a great way to start the day.

Spinach-PBJ