Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Raising Kids Outside of the (Happy Meal) Box: Trader Joe's makes it possible!

While I appreciate being referred to as Supermom and Wonder Woman of the 21st Century, I hate to imagine that I'm misleading anyone to believe that I am more perfect than they. My flaws cause me strife daily. My shortcomings interfere almost hourly with my becoming the Mom of Amazement to which I strive. I have even failed in that one area where I seem to have the upper hand... dealing with my kids' food and diet. There have been several incidences lately where they've had a little bit of cheese and more sugar than I care to admit. But in general, I still feel as if our "survival mode diet" has not reduced us to the SAD (Standard American Diet) and for that I am glad. At least I can guarantee that we've not eaten one Kid's meal from one fast food establishment (although upon occasion they are allowed one from Chic-fil-a if their grandparents take them there) since our time of "near crisis mode" went into full swing.

Our success is mostly due to a place called Trader Joe's. Oh how I have sung the praises of that amazing grocery shopping establishment in the Big City of Nashville. Now I'm here to do it again. Thank you Trader Joe's!

Don't get me wrong, growing our own food in the back yard or shopping at the local farmer's market is a much much much better alternative to Trader Joe's. I won't even begin to pretend that frozen entrees from any grocery store are superior in nutrition. But when you are a busy mom of two, on bed rest, with a husband working two full time jobs, healthy frozen food is what I like to call good enough. When you compare it to other fast options, it can't be beat.

So, we pop some stuff in the oven occasionally. I always have something organic and raw to throw on the side of the cooked meal. Like chopped apples with agave and cinnamon, pineapple, a green smoothie (any greens... this week it's kale for us..., frozen bananas, a little all natural sweetener, maybe some rice milk, enough water to make it blend, and, voila, ya got yourself a kid friendly smoothie- well, at least my kids drink it), salad, carrots... you get the picture.

What are some of my favorite things from the frozen food section at Trader Joe's?
Today we discovered that the eggplant parmesan is truly outrageous, much like JEM. We also like the vegan enchiladas, veggie burritos, vegetarian pizza and cheese pizza, veggie eggrolls, soy nuggets, corn dogs (the kids really like these and so we let them have them on rare occasion), and their marinated wild fish. Each of these products have made life significantly easier since we officially went began survival mode around here! Some products that we didn't particularly enjoy were the black truffle pizza, sea food soup, and the shrimp stir fry with noodles. They weren't bad, we just didn't care for them.

Other products at Trader Joe's that make our lives easier include:
raw almond butter, Ezekiel bread and sugar free sandwich breads for under three bucks/loaf, individually packaged raw nuts and raw trail mixes perfect for when you are out and about (sure beats a run for the border), organic apples, salad kits, their organic orange juice which I crave three-four times daily, and Joseph's sugar free cookies.

Sure, I look forward to getting back into the swing of things this spring and summer. I look forward to fresh produce on the table at each meal and being able to depend less on frozen "good enough" meals from the grocery store. But until then, I'm thankful for Trader Joe's, their affordable prices, and foods with ingredients that are, for now, "good enough".

With the help of Trader Joe's, you too can begin to improve your family's eating habits and start that move away from the box. It only takes a little bit of planning and forethought to kick that habit of the drive-through window. Your health will thank you and, believe it or not, your wallet will thank you as well!

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