“I wish for everyone to help create a strong, sustainable movement to educate every child about food, inspire families to cook again and empower people everywhere to fight obesity.”  – Jamie Oliver

I’ve had many comments over the years about how amazing it is that I cook healthy meals consistently. This actually kind of surprises me because I don’t think I’m doing anything that remarkable. But then I also know that so many families, just here where I live, don’t own pots, pans, dishes or even cutlery. They don’t stock their fridge with anything but pop and pizza night is every night. Their kids will literally have an everyday diet of pop, chips and pizza. So I share this video and my thoughts in honour of all those disconnected from healthy living and lacking fundamental life skills.

Jamie talks about how children should be taught in schools about food and learn at least 10 recipes. Preferably these recipes would be cheap and easy to make, getting a person through recessions, raising young families and into old age. I thought I would share 10 of my own staple recipes that I rely on when I’m broke or am out of time with a hungry family on my heels.

Please consider writing your own post with shared recipes in an effort to spread the word and support this movement. At the very least, please teach your own children about food.

14 Responses to Please Teach Your Children About Food

  1. Krista says:

    I love what you do with food, Annie. No, it shouldn’t be considered remarkable, but it is. I’ve been watching so many sad docs on the National Film Board of Canada site lately that have illustrated poverty on all levels in many cultures and my gratitude is once again renewed for the choices and ease that we have around taking care of ourselves and providing great food for our families. I’m stuck in the picky eaters category and it really gets me down a lot of the time, but I am still grateful that they can get themselves a tall glass of clean, safe water, a piece of fruit and a peanut butter and jelly sandwich any time they please. And hopefully, if I just keep cooking the good food, they’ll come to their senses eventually and start eating that, too :) Thanks for sharing your wonderful meal plans as often as you do, I love them!

  2. Magda says:

    Oh, my…. Thank you Annie. Food is one of my biggest struggles. I do cook every day, we don’t do processed, we don’t do fast foods – but it’s still a struggle. My dp is a non-reformable exclusive meat eater, my child has several serious food allergies AND is a super-picky eater, which can be a really depressing combination at times. I have a choice of cooking some very plain and repetitive meals for my daughter or cooking something fun which no one will want to eat (I’m not a bad cook! but neither dp nor dd will even look at it). It really gets me down at times.
    But at least dd enjoys a lot of raw fruit and veggies – that’s my life saver!
    Thanks for sharing your recipes! They all sound yum – even if I were to make them just for myself. :)

  3. Rea says:

    I also find it shocking how disconected we are from not only our food sources, but the pleasure of eating. There is nothing more fun than the family creating together in the kitchen, then enjoying the results. Good food is a celebration and good health is a precious gift. I think the missing link for many is time and energy. People spend their vital energy making money and leave little to enjoy caring for themselves through good food and good times in the kitchen.

  4. Shannon says:

    I am in the same boat. It SHOCKS me that people do not think it is important to feed ourselves and our families healthy/homeade food on a regular basis. I’ve had people tell me I was a mean mom because I didn’t feed them candy and pre-packaged “snacks.” My favorite recipe when it is just the kids and I is simply to warm up a home-canned jar of salmon, steam some brocolli and put on a pot of brown rice. No one can tell me that is difficult or time-consuming. Plus my (also picky) kids love it and it tastes simple and great! I agree that if I continually cook healthy, great tasting food, my kids will come around too!

  5. Debbie says:

    We must have been on the same wavelength last night Annie…as I posted the same thing. Although it was after 11pm here in Ontario I so I wasn’t quite as elloquent as you. :)
    I love what you and said about not thinking you are doing anything remarkable. It’s so true. Eating healthy is a lifestyle and really it’s common sense. It’s so sad that so much of the worlds population has been brainwashed by giant corporations to think that eating out of a box is a healthy option. I was so impressed with J.O.’s talk. It was brilliant. Made me cry. Thanks for this…and for all your mealplans. I refer to them often.

  6. Annie says:

    Ahhh, coconut quinoa?! I must make that soon. A lot of these recipes look really good.

    Food is a hard one for us. Thankfully things have improved over the years. When we got married the only vegetable my husband would eat were green beans, and these days probably half of our dinners are vegetarian just because we like them. Unfortunately my son seems to have inherited his father’s eating habits, and it is not a learning by example thing since DH has been eating veggies since my son was very young.

    Anyway, my son likes his foods separate and very plain. It’s hard because it takes a lot for me to get the energy up to cook meals for the family these days, and to have to do things separately for him is difficult with a lot of meals (not to mention I don’t want to eat plain chicken or plain spaghetti noodles, or just bananas for every meal!). Many times he just refuses dinner altogether and there are only a handful of things I can depend on for him to eat just about any time. It always feels like a victory if he eats even a few bites of a vegetable.

    The one thing that has really worked for us is soups. He likes them (especially with bread or crackers for dipping) and in the last few weeks has even started picking out some of the veggies to eat instead of just drinking spoonfuls of broth. Plus I can make a huge pot of soup and it really isn’t extra work to just make more of it. Then I freeze the leftovers so the nights I don’t feel up to cooking I can just pull one out and have a healthy meal.

    Anyway, I can definitely relate to those comments about thinking it is amazing that you cook like this consistently. I think that when my kiddos are a bit older things will get easier (they were getting easier until our new baby arrived). It seems like the late afternoon/evening is just when everyone is getting cranky and I’m tired and it is hard to find the energy to cook meals at that point. For now we just try to get buy and eat whole fresh foods as much as we can, and keeping a freezer stash of meals for the other nights.

    soooo….do you have any tips on how to make the whole cooking/meals thing easier?

  7. Justine says:

    I loved the video. Steve and I were astonished at how the kids in the video couldn’t identify even the basic vegetables. Another critical part of the equation for us is growing a vegetable garden. Kids who see their food seeded and tended and watered and harvested and then, finally, cooked have an even better understanding of the nature of good food. I’m grateful that our family has the land to do that (though even a tiny urban garden or a pot on a balcony can provide some of the same experience).

    I love people that love food! You know that many of your stand-by recipes have become our family favourites too! Thanks for sharing.

  8. Annie says:

    Thank you all for the great comments.

    It can be so hard to cook for one and it can feel that way when you have a family that doesn’t want to eat the food you want to. I’m lucky that my husband likes nearly everything and believes in eating the way we do. That said, he doesn’t want to have to plan or actually be responsible for cooking any of the meals but at least I am cooking for a willing audience, right.

    I’m not willing to make a different meal for each person in my family. Sometimes I add a side dish to the meal if I know that someone isn’t fond of the main part of the food but I do so without comment or explanation. For me it’s about finding a way for my family to eat good healthy food without coercion. Eating is something we do to live but it’s also something that hopeful tastes awesome and make us feel good to. I really don’t want to create food issues for anyone in my family and like a lot of parenting stuff, I think this is another area we could talk less at our kids about and model the healthy habits we believe in.

    I don’t think that kids will starve and will start eating what you make if it becomes the norm. My children have always eaten spicy and flavourful food because it’s what I’ve always made. When I notice that bread is eaten more than the soup it was supposed to go with, I stop making bread available during the future soup meals. I don’t withhold but I just don’t have it around and the soup is eaten and enjoyed. I never buy packaged snack food so the options outside of main meals are fresh food or something we make ourselves. I buy or make food that I’d be fine with my children eating as much as they want at anytime. I never buy the kind of food that would cause conflict for me.

    What’s crucial for me is making a weekly meal plan. That may mean I plan for 4 days or 8- it’s whatever I feel like in the moment. I usually have a couple easier/quick meals and a couple more involved. I write the meals on the back side of my shopping list and only buy what I need to make those meals. I don’t assign meals for certain nights and I always count on leftovers (fresh or frozen) for lunches. I decide that day what I’m going to make (or the night before if I need to soak beans for a meal) and base my choice on how the day’s going. If we go for a big hike, I might plan an easier meal or if it’s a slow day around the house it’s no trouble to start a more involved meal at my leisure. The kids help or not as they choose. Leif’s more fond of helping cook, whereas Lily’s more fond of helping with baking.

    I’m sorry to have just gone on and on here!

    Shannon- be careful. I’m not sure I could stop Cam from coming and staying permanently if you keep talking about all these things he loves… home canned salmon… he’s crazy for it.

    Annie- I wonder how you can increase your energy in the later part of the day? Do you get enough fresh air/exercise? You have to use energy to get energy, right? Something that helps me is drinking tea in the day. I sometimes drink combined fresh dried herbal teas like burdock root, yarrow, marshmallow root, nettle…. There are a lot of important nutrients in these herbs. Since starting to drink tea on a regular basis, I have more energy and just generally feel better than I used to. My kids love drinking these teas too.

    Justine- so many of my meals are inspired by you and Steve. I don’t think there is anyone I love to eat with more than you guys.

  9. Jennifer says:

    Thank you so much for these recipes! My daughter loves to help me in the kitchen and each of these will be perfect for my little sous-chef to assist me with. Next month I’m taking on a challenge to reduce as much processed foods as possible and I hope to be able to use some of these for our menu!

  10. Kyrie says:

    Annie, I snagged that recipe for squash and bean saute from you as soon as you posted it and it has become quite the staple for us too. We still have home-grown dried beans (kidney, orca, and a pole variety) and even a few squash left, so it costs us next to nothing to make when we serve it with brown rice.

    I should mention that I’ve also stolen your meal plan idea. Saves me a lot of unnecessary compost ;p and expense.

    I have been making all our meals from scratch for so long now that I forget it is so unusual. My sister and her partner were here last night and were about to go ‘get dinner’ but couldn’t think of what to have because they had eaten most ‘kinds’ of food recently – they eat 5-7 times a week! I don’t understand how they afford it.

    I make nearly everything now, including crackers, pasta, bread, sweets. We grow tons of our own food too. I hope my kids grow up to appreciate it.

  11. Kyrie says:

    Haha, that should read ‘they eat OUT 5-7 times a week’.

  12. greenteacher says:

    Wow! such great comments! This issue is so so dear to my heart…When I was teaching, we would plant seeds to grow tomatoes, squash, beans, and so on and I found it truly made a difference in the children’s interest in food when they became involved in the process of growing or cooking it. My slightly OCD self created a grocery/meal sheet I use every week, so there is no wondering what we will eat or extra drives to the store to get an ingredient or two. It also saves us money! Anyway, you’re right Annie, good food is so tremendously important. My battery is dying in the laptop but I will post some of my go-to vegan favorites later.

  13. Kate says:

    We’ve just had a huge food discussion on our local unschoolers’ list. It’s a touchy issue!

    Your blog and flickr stream have inspired me so much! thanks for that.

  14. Jen says:

    Thank you for posting this video- it was wonderful. Definitely something I needed to hear- I’m one of the awful ones- and I’m having a hard time with this topic-even though I’ve read Omnivore’s Dilemma and Barbara Kingsolver’s bk too. I grew up on junk food and lots of poor food choices- I’m having a devil of a time getting even myself to change my taste preferences and teaching myself how to cook. But I need shots in the arm like this video to re-energize myself and get myself to keep trying. Thank you so much.

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