Being a parent is tough. From the time that little bundle of joy takes his or her first breath, we parents try our best to guide, teach, cajole, and, yes, even bribe them to follow a healthy and productive path. But I’m afraid I have done my kids a disservice. I’ve long since held the belief that exercise and healthy eating (like this amazing Quinoa Salad) should be a way of life. I’m not a fanatic by any stretch of the imagination (let’s not forget, I use lard in my pie crust and I’m not afraid of an evening cocktail. And I didn’t even know how to pronounce Quinoa a few years ago), but I do subscribe to a basic healthy living philosophy.
Ever since my kids were young, I’ve tried to get them interested in running with me. I can’t tell you how many times I dragged them outside (nearly kicking and screaming) for a modest couple mile run. It felt like punishment. Punishment for them, and punishment for me. After years of this routine I finally gave up, figuring there’s no hope.
Likewise for healthy food. Balance is key. Our family meals nearly always have a protein, a veggie, and a starch. I don’t really stock snack food in the house. And trips to the ice cream parlor were few and far between. I’ve come to learn that all this did was cause them to eat junk food every chance they could get. I finally gave up on that one too. (Five kids will wear you out!) Again, no hope.
But guess what? There actually is hope! We started a bit of a family tradition a few years ago. We run the 5K Turkey Trot early Thanksgiving morning. While we do highly encourage all the kids to join in, we don’t force them. But over the last couple of years we’ve noticed that more and more of the kids are choosing to participate (no bribing necessary). Our entire family was particularly well represented this year, including kids ranging from 23 years old down to 14. We all gathered together that chilly Thanksgiving morning (along with more than 1000 other participants) and waited for the kick off gun to fire. My husband took off like a bullet (he does that), and I charged next, leaving the kids far behind. Then an amazing thing happened about a mile into the race. One by one, my kids passed me! There they were, chugging right along, huffing and puffing like the rest of us, cheeks pink from the cold, earbuds in to listen to God knows what on their phones, and passing me. It was awesome. In that moment I realized that it was not all for naught! They were exercising by their own free will! Those years long ago, when it felt like nothing I said mattered, finally paid off.
Then it happened again. I served this flavor-packed, colorful, light and healthy Quinoa Salad for dinner. Expecting a bit of eye-rolling and fork-picking behavior, I was shocked when I looked around and saw everyone had pretty much cleared their plates. There were even races back to the kitchen for seconds! I guess the flavorful and filling combination of hearty quinoa, crisp cucumbers, sweet, ripe tomatoes, , peppery radishes, a bit of green onion for some kick, and a tangy, herb-y dressing did the trick. What the heck has happened to my children? First, exercising, now happily scarfing down what is perhaps one of the healthiest meals around..? Go figure. All I can say is that all of that guiding, teaching, cajoling, and probably some of the bribing, does eventually pay off! Don’t give up… It’s worth it all in the end! But if you’re struggling to get healthy food down your kids’ throats, I suggest you give this Quinoa Salad a try. It worked for me!