The truth about our plant-based-ish family

This past March I came across “Forks Over Knives,” (referred to hereafter as FOK) a documentary promoting a “whole foods plants based” (vegan) diet. I convinced my husband to watch it and asked if he would try it with me for one month. At the end of the month we could do one of three things; decide that was the most horrible decision we’d ever made as a couple, use the recipes and lifestyle as a good resource for a well-balanced diet, but include some meats and dairy, or become tee-totalers and go all-out vegan. 

To my surprise, he agreed to try it. 

We were amazed at how much better we felt within the first two weeks. However, we did not push our children (7, 4, and minus 1 at the time) to try it. What I did do was fix things I knew they enjoyed with every meal and then require that they try at least a taste of every dish. 

The trial month passed and we felt so good and enjoyed the new recipes so much we just kept rolling with it.  We did, however, choose the middle option above of using the recipes and lifestyle as a good resource for a well-balanced diet, but do include occasional meats and dairy. 

Many of the recipes in the FOK Plan book, FOK recipe book, and other resources I had ordered made execellent contributions to our dinner table whether they were the main course or a side dish paired with meat or dessert. This experience has also exposed our family to many new flavors. While we are not purist tee-totalers, these recipes have definitely set our family on a better track to health and wellness. 

At my August birthday, my mom wondered what I wanted for a present. I requested a pre-order of the FOK Family cookbook. I was certain this would be the key component to getting our children on board. I envisioned glowing healthy children happily eating copious amounts of leafy greens and vegetable dishes. It was a warm fuzzy mental picture, to be sure.

Fast  forward to the cookbook’s release date this past weekend. I received the email saying the order had been shipped and would arrive Tuesday. Oh the delight! 

I put off creating dinner menus until the book arrived, convinced it would offer solutions to all the hang-ups we’d had so far. I watched for the mail delivery truck like a child expecting Santa Claus. 

Finally, late afternoon, the truck arrived with the coveted present in tow. I ripped open the box and devoured the recipes on each page, wondering which ones to try first. 

I chose the Samosa Muffin Cups, a cornmeal-based muffin stuffed with seasoned cooked potatoes and onions, and a Kale/Israeli Couscous salad. The children love couscous so this was sure to be a hit. 

The husband and I enjoyed both recipes, but the children picked at the muffins with little to no interest. The boy doesn’t like onions, so I told him he could pick them out. Still to no avail. No amount of coaxing was going to impress their palates. 

On to the kale and couscous salad. The girl (now 5 years old) ate the salad under obligatory measures, saying she liked the couscous but not the rest of the ingredients. 

The boy (who turns 8 today) took one spoonful and began making guttural cave-man sounds. I took this as a sign of pleasure and started beaming with delight, but my ecstasy was short-lived when his face turned bright red, then an odd shade of green. 

We were in trouble.

“Run!” I said. “Run outside and spit it in the yard!” The grunting and other-worldly sounds were now accompanied by  closed-mouth dry heaves, like a cat trying to cough up a hair ball. “Run!” I repeated. 

The incident ended with dinner alternatives for the children and a delicious double-dark-mostly-plant-based chocolate cake to celebrate the boy’s birthday. 

The truth is, all I want is for us as a family to be as healthy as possible without becoming so legalistic and rigid that mealtimes become a chore. We choose to eat as a family around the table as often as possible and we use that time to build conversation skills and our family. If that means that sometimes those conversations happen around meat and dairy, so be it. One thing for certain, the “family-friendly” kale and couscous salad will be reserved for days when I pack lunch for myself. 

Onward and upward, dear friends. May the kale be with you. 

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