I once read something that made me chuckle on a community forum where people looking to relocate to Germany could ask natives questions about living in the country. The topic of homeschooling had come up and in a country where this practice is still illegal to this day, one forum member had shared his or her view that the only reason people would want to homeschool their children was to brain wash them with their own religious beliefs! I had to laugh at the irony of that, considering – to the best of my knowledge, it was Hitler’s doing in the Third Reich that further tightened the schooling laws in Germany by adding criminal penalties to ensure all children attended an approved education institution where he could indoctrinate his Hitler Youth!
As we enjoyed the associated activities I planned for our recent Healthy Living Lesson, I was again quietly amused when this comment sprang to mind. Food really is a ‘religion’ as such in our family and as I tailored this lesson to create fun and informative activities for Chilli that are inline with our food beliefs I thought – “well, I guess I really am brain washing her with my own religious beliefs!” 😉
The Oak Meadow homeschooling program has a wonderful Health curriculum called ‘Healthy Living from the Start :: A Health Curriculum for Grades K-3’. I honestly cannot speak highly enough of this program. I have read mixed reviews on various forums about Oak Meadow’s former Health Program ‘Growing, Growing, Strong’, but I have heard so many glowing reports of people’s experiences in their homeschooling with this new program, and we are really enjoying the lessons it brings. Just like Oak Meadow’s Grade curriculums, the program has 36 lessons to progress through in the school year. In the Healthy Living program, each lesson has 4 levels; Kindergarten, Grade 1, Grade 2 and then Grade 3. Each level explores that topic in a little more detail and depth than the previous year. There is much to love about this Healthy Living program, but one of the things as a parent that I love about it, is the comfort in knowing that the program has been developed in a very mindful way that honours age appropriate discussions and lessons on certain topics. As a parent – homeschooling or not – it can be difficult to know at what age to discuss certain topics with children regarding; health, life and safety. And then there’s the consideration of how much detail is appropriate around particular topics at certain ages – it’s a fine line to find that balance between; raising informed and aware children – and ensuring that we aren’t counterproductive in these teachings with our children and scare, cause unnecessary concern or anxiety within them. Oak Meadow is very generous in providing with their preview of this program, a full index so parents and educators can see the topics and various depths these themes are explored in through the years. There is also a sample lesson in the preview so one can view the way these ‘levels’ are presented through the years on various topics.
We are currently working on Lesson 14 regarding ‘Food Choices’. It’s perfect timing as we’ve recently had a little ‘getting back on track’ with our eating values and goals as well as adjusting slightly some of the things we do eat. The Bulletproof Diet and That Sugar Film have been quite influential to us of late. Chilli has also recently been very interested in helping out more and more in the kitchen as well as being very interested in helping in a bigger capacity with grocery shopping and meal planning. Recently we bought her The Nourishing Traditions for Children Cookbook. While not all of the recipes in here are ‘Bulletproof’ – they’re still very similar to a lot of these eating values.
The Kindergarten level of the Food Choices meal presents the activity of ‘mix and match meal cards’. I loved this idea and decided to take it one step further in exploring a little deeper our food values and the balance of what creates an optimal meal.
I used the concept of a rainbow. We took 6 pieces of coloured construction paper; red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple. Chilli and I spoke about what red was on the rainbow. It is the top colour and the largest arc – therefore the foods that were on the red cards should comprise the largest amount of our meals. We worked down through the rainbow, discussing each colour and associating it with a food category. The category and colour partners we came up with are;
- Red – Vegetables (NOTE – this just says ‘vegetables’ not fruits and vegetables!)
- Orange – Proteins
- Yellow – Starches
- Green – Oils and Fats
- Blue – Fruits and Sugars
- Purple – Spices and Flavourings
Just as a small note here, ‘starches’ are not a ‘big’ part as such of the Bulletproof Diet, they are something you eat minimally and with mindfulness, however when looking at ‘The Rainbow’ in a ‘quantity’ way on our meal plate, you’d most likely have a bigger ‘quantity’ as such of say rice than you would butter or coconut oil or whatever healthy fats are in the meal. This concept was to give Chilli a really powerful ‘visual’ as such for the ‘balance’ of a meal when she looks at the final dished up plate.
I pasted our construction paper to some card we had and we cut the 20x20cm square into 8 20x5cm cards. On the reverse side where the plain card was showing, Chilli wrote the food category in the related coloured pencil. Then on the colour paper side, she used a gold pencil to write some foods that are in this category. I was impressed with her knowledge of foods we eat from each of these categories, but we did need to still work through quite a few ingredients together with me giving her clues and discussing certain meals etc. I tried to empower her as much as possible to think for herself of the ingredient rather than just telling her the food item. We covered each little card with contact, leaving a border pressed together around the edges – this makes them ‘kitchen friendly’. I then quickly sewed together a little pouch, using up a bunch of ‘patchwork squares’ she’d set about entertaining herself with cutting out through the holidays! The pouch has pockets for each set of cards and a little flap that folds down to encase the cards before folding the wrap up and tying. These cards live close by her NT book and she can use them to create meals, or check the ‘balance’ of meals she is thinking of.
The foods we listed on each colour card are as follows;
- Red; Greens, Zucchini, Cauliflower, Broccoli, Brussel Sprouts, Cucumber, Celery, Artichokes.
- Orange; Grass-fed Beef, Grass-fed Lamb, Grass-fed Pork, Grass-fed Chicken, Wild-caught Fish/Salmon, Pasture-raised Eggs, Collagen/Whey/Gelatin, Avocado (which normally would be in fruits, but Bulletproof uses avocados extensively and we use them as a protein food)
- Yellow; Pumpkin, Carrots/Parsnips, Beetroot, Sweet Potato, Onion, Rice, Banana, Tapioca/Arrowroot.
- Green; Grass-fed Butter, Olive oil, Coconut oil, Cacao butter, MCT oil, Nuts/Seeds/Nut Butter, Egg yolks, Lard/Suet/Grease.
- Blue; Raw honey, Stevia, Xylitol, Berries, Citrus, Apples, Olives, Coconut/Maple Sugar/Syrup (not Bulletproof, but something we use minimally on occasion)
- Purple; Apple cider vinegar, Mustard, Ginger/Turmeric, Earthy spices, Fresh/Dried Herbs, Coffee/Cacao, Vanilla, Himalayan Salt.
In the coming week, I’ll be encouraging Chilli to put together many of our meals using her cards and recipe book. She’ll also be keeping a food log through the week so she can reflect back at the end of the week to see how the ‘rainbow’ spanned through her overall week’s food consumption.
While the ‘Food Group Faces’ suggestions in the Food Choices lesson (#14) weren’t appropriate for our food values, we’d recently made ‘egg faces’ one morning for breakfast and the children really enjoyed those. For lunch on lesson day, I prepared a plate of garnishes and made ‘devilled eggs’ using a mix of the Bulletproof mayonnaise and honey mustard sauce to blend into the cooked egg yolks before spooning the mix back into the cooked egg white ‘bowls’. Here’s some of the creations our family came up with and then checked against the ‘rainbow food balancing’ idea.
Over the years we’ve journeyed through many different eating values and ideas, but they have always focussed around whole, organic foods. I like the Bulletproof Diet, because I think it is a really lovely blend of Paleo and Nourishing Traditions and has the mindfulness of the foods impact/reaction within the body, akin to ER4YT.
How would you ‘phrase’ your family’s eating philosophy and what fun activities are you doing in your homeschooling to educate your children with good food values?