Last Friday I took my two youngest sons in for their annual physicals. Now that they are in their teens, I wait out in the waiting room for them so they can have some privacy and speak candidly with their doctor without mom putting in her two cents. (It's hard... I usually have about 25 cents.;-)) On this particular visit, their doctor actually came out to the waiting room and said, "Mrs. Delmonico, may I have a word with you in back please?" Uh oh...
He led me into an exam room and I wish you could have seen the look on his face (and probably on mine as well). He said, "Your son Eric tells me that you have been eating more healthy in your household and I just need to verify that's actually true?" I burst out laughing. I couldn't help it... it was such a relief. I walked in there thinking something was really wrong and realized quickly that we were about to have an interesting conversation about my latest views on the psychology of eating.
After assuring him that indeed, Eric was being truthful, I explained to him how at the beginning of summer, I had made the decision that I would no longer bring processed foods full of additives and chemicals I cannot pronounce into our home. I told him that I was focusing on feeding them primarily whole foods, with little or no ingredients lists, and that I made a deal with my children that I would make sure they had three square meals a day and some good quality snacks and that if they wanted junk after that, I wouldn't harp on them about it but they would have to buy it with their own money and convince their older brother to drive them wherever they needed to go to get it.
In the beginning, it wasn't easy. For the first three weeks, they experienced a lot of the same withdrawal symptoms I had when I was in my "Kill all the things" phase. They were going to the store up the street every other day for ice cream and potato chips. I tried to keep my frustration in check and just kept putting healthy meals in front of them, giving them choices, hoping for change and did my best to model good behaviors myself. I had a learning curve too and what finally worked in the end was this. I started focusing on taste. How we have forgotten this beautiful gift we've been given. Taste is such an amazing, wonderful, joyful, exceptional gift! We are designed to linger over and savor our food. And I am working hard on finding and creating meals that actually make the people I love best in all the world, really want to do that. Taste. Linger. Savor.
So what was the very unexpected result of all this effort? My youngest son lost 6 pounds of body fat in just under 4 months and is leaner and more muscular going into this football season, than he has ever been. My middle son, maintained his weight for the entire year and has clearer skin than he did last year at this time. Both are in perfect health. Their doctor said, "I need you to understand... I called you back here because this never happens. Whatever you're doing, keep doing it!" Teenage boys losing weight is often a sign for alarm. But teenage boys losing body fat and gaining muscle due to a healthy diet void of processed, empty calories is not something he sees every day. That was a huge eye opener for both of us and is incredibly motivating for me to keep at it with my boys. I left there on Friday wanting to dance. It's working!
Every night, we sit down together as a family and share a meal. We've always done that because it is something that has been important to both my husband and myself for their whole lives. We connect so well as a family during this time. We laugh, tell stories, talk about our day and the latest news, and share concerns... feeding our spirits and nurturing our connection to each other, while nourishing our bodies. Without a doubt it is my favorite time of the day. It's even better these days. Whole food tastes so good!
A few fun things about our table: (*No affiliate links here, just sharing some favorite things). First, the recipe for the meatballs and sauce. This one is paleo friendly and came from Cindy's Table. It's been a summer favorite in our house. SO so so delicious! The beef came from Abbott Farms, right here in Baldwinsville; the pork, from WW Longhorn Ranch. The zucchini was fresh picked from my son's garden an hour before dinner and we used a spiralizer to make noodles out of them. Really fun, and a tasty way to use excess zucchini in the garden. It doesn't replace good quality pasta in our house - I serve it in addition to. I am married to an Italian after all.;-) More often than not, the boys will choose both pasta and zucchini! There are two different kinds of bread, fresh from our local Farmer's Market: a Manakish za'atar and a round European Peasant loaf that each have ingredients easily pronounced and recognizable. I made the salad dressing in less than a minute using a stick blender (This is one tool I avoided for the longest time thinking I had no need of one - silly me!) Start with a cup of olive oil, throw in some thyme, a teaspoon or so of dijon mustard, a dash of salt and pepper and some strawberry or raspberry vinegar to taste and whiz with a stick blender. Super simple, super yummy. (One note, use a light tasting olive oil. If you make your salad dressing with full bodied olive oil, your kids will likely turn up their noses. Don't ask me how I know.:))The salad base is a really wonderful mild red Boston Bibb I've fallen in love with this summer, tossed with grapes, apples, bits of raw cheddar cheese and some absolutely wonderful spiced almonds I just discovered from the folks at Our Daily Eats, based right here in upstate New York! And as always... we use a freshly grated parmesan. (My mother in law taught me that and I've never looked back!)
Food photography is challenging in my house because food gets eaten faster than I can photograph it. It is consistently disappearing before I can adequately work with it, but you know, I think I'm ok with that.:) Bon appetit, my beautiful family. I am so happy to feed you well!