I never thought I would be a GRG, a grandparent raising grandkids. But three months ago my twin grandkids, who just turned 16, moved in with us. The adjustment has been hard on me, my husband, and my grandkids. Fixing meals for our family turned out to be a challenge.
My husband and I eat a healthy -- lots of fresh fruit, lots of veggies, whole grains, lean meat (and less of it), fish twice a week, and occasional desserts. Our diet is low in fat, sugar, and salt. We want to continue this diet, but the kids don't like it. I needed more information, so I logged onto the US Government Web site mypyramid. According to the site, teens need to eat lots of calcium for growing bones. They also need to get vitamins from fruits and vegetables, and eat whole grains. For more information on whole grains I printed out the "Get on the Grain Train" brochure.
The brochure says whole grains are important because they contain vitamins, minerals, and complex carbohydrates. Whole grains also contain fiber, which is necessary for good health and may protect the body against chronic disease. Could I fix healthy meals for my grandkids and us? I decided I was up to the challenge. The twins eat more than we do and I needed a system to fix healthy meals. Here's my system.
I MAKE OUT MENUS. The twins' schedule is erratic and, since I never know how many of us are going to be home for dinner, I make out menus for four days only. I cook extra food because the twins may have invited a friend for dinner.
I SHOP OFTEN. Minnesotans crave fresh produce in the winter, but it gets picked over quickly. To get fresh produce I shop late on Monday morning, after the trucks have delivered produce. Because I read food labels (which takes time) I shop every other day. I buy milk in bags at a local gas station.
I PUSH FRUITS AND VEGGIES. After I discovered the twins love fruit I put it in every dinner menu. I serve slightly warm, unsweetened applesauce with chunks of fresh apples in it, and a little cinnamon. I serve refrigerated pink grapefruit or grapefruit and orange sections. Refrigerated fruit is pricey, but worth the money. The kids also love green pears and grapes.
I TALK ABOUT SERVING SIZES. According to the US Government brochure, "How much are you eating?" a serving of spaghetti is only half a cup. Many servings are smaller than we think. I give the twins a cup of spaghetti (a double serving) and point this out to them. I also tell them to stop eating the instant they feel full.
I EMPHASIZE NUTRITION. Fats, oils, and sweets are at the top of the food pyramid. In other words, they should be eaten sparingly. The kids know I buy low-sugar, low-sat, and low-fat foods. They also
know I read food labels and are starting to read them, too.
Cooking for two generations is a challenge and I welcome it. Part of my job as a GRG is to feed my grandkids healthy, balanced, tasty meals. Every meal has a secret ingredient. That ingredient is love.
Copyright 2008 by Harriet Hodgson
Harriet Hodgson has been a freelance nonfiction writer for 29 years. She is a member of the Association of Health Care Journalists and th Association for Death Education and Counseling. Her 24th book, "Smiling Through Your Tears: Anticipating Grief," written with Lois Krahn, MD, is available from http://www.amazon.com - A five-star review of the book is posted on Amazon. You will find other reviews on the American Hospice Foundation Web site and the Health Ministries Association Web site.
Please visit Harriet Hodgson's Web site and learn more about this busy author and grandmother.