2

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Just got a live-in childcare job.... how can I implement paleo in the kitchen?

Commented on April 12, 2015
Created August 19, 2011 at 4:15 AM

As the title says, I got a live-in nanny job for a 7 year old girl, single mom situation (saving up to move to california, finish school, and start my own paleo practice yeahhh!) The mom was happy I'm studying nutrition and love to cook, I mentioned I don't eat or cook with processed foods. She said they eat organic and some processed foods but always "natural" and "organic". I am happy that the mom is open to organic and healthy eating, however I have more work to do here than I expected. Come to find out the kid's favorite food is Annie's organic mac and cheese and she has a "sugar addiction" according to the mom's boyfriend.

Kid's typical day (pre-Danielle intervention)

Breakfast: Honey nut cheerios and low-fat organic milk

Lunch: Oscar Mayer processed ham lunch meat sandwich on wheat bread, four different kinds of fruit (sugar!) and no veggies, 3-4 sugary gummy vitamins ("I want her to have as much vitamins as possible"-the mom's boyfriend), and a couple random packaged snack foods (bartering material on the playground, apparently).

Dinner: Whatever I can cook up- frozen breaded chicken nuggets, tuna salad, processed meats, etc

Comments I've heard from the mom and boyfriend while discussing with me what she likes to eat

"I don't like to give her hamburger."

"I'm glad she doesn't like cheese because we don't want her eating so much animal fat."

"She likes her ham sandwich, gives her protein and the bread is whole wheat."

I get to buy my own food, but I cannot get myself to cook sh*tty food for this child. It kills me. If I have to pack a bag of organic fruit gummies so she's not ostracized in the schoolyard, fine, but this child WILL eat a whole foods diet if I have any say in it, and I will be making most of her food. So, what are some tips to ease into a less processed and more whole foods diet with this family without seeming forceful? The mom mentioned in conversation as far as my nutrition knowledge goes that I will "have to teach her some things", so at least she's open and has the right intentions. I already plan on always having bone broth in the house, and I picked up a copy of Nourishing Traditions, so maybe I'll conveniently leave that laying around or offer it to the mom to take a look at. Also, any of your own or links to paleo-friendly kids meals/snacks are appreciated. Everyday paleo always has great stuff but I'm sure there are more out there. Thanks for your suggestions.

65430e39d7e9e9322718d016fe668051

(2944)

on September 07, 2013
at 01:28 AM

What great ideas, especially the cauliflower "mac and cheese" and the kale chips. Thank you!

65430e39d7e9e9322718d016fe668051

(2944)

on August 20, 2011
at 07:31 AM

causing it. I replies with foods that give me headaches, particularly soy and canola oils and mentioned that olive and coconut oils are really healthy. It seems to be going well and I'm going to try out a lot of the suggestions I have received on this post :-)

65430e39d7e9e9322718d016fe668051

(2944)

on August 20, 2011
at 07:30 AM

You bring up some great suggestions! Today she was asking me about nutrition stuff and told me I'll have to help teach them what things they're eating that they think are healthy but really isn't. She asked me if I wanted a sandwich and I said no thanks, and she was asking about bread and heard it's not good cuz of carbs, I briefly mentioned the difference between soaked/traditionally prepare grains (I didn't want to jump in with "grains are poison!") and she seemed interested. She said her daughter gets headaches after eating sometimes so maybe with "my knowledge" I can help determine what's

98bf2ca7f8778c79cd3f6c962011cfdc

(24286)

on August 20, 2011
at 12:57 AM

Excellent post!

306aa57660d911781231f8090c2a5619

(3808)

on August 20, 2011
at 12:04 AM

Also, I just got a copy of The Little House Cookbook (as in Laura Ingalls Wilder) and, while not all recipes are ideal, there are a lot that would work well (either as is, or with adaptations to the sugar/grain ingredients) and which would put paleo foods into a fun context.

65430e39d7e9e9322718d016fe668051

(2944)

on August 19, 2011
at 07:24 PM

I love primal kitchen! I've been thinking about getting her one of those bento boxes.

65430e39d7e9e9322718d016fe668051

(2944)

on August 19, 2011
at 07:23 PM

Where do you guys live Mike?

D30ff86ad2c1f3b43b99aed213bcf461

on August 19, 2011
at 07:19 PM

Thanks, sherpamelissa. Encouraging that PK might help!

510bdda8988ed0d4b0ec0b738b4edb73

(20898)

on August 19, 2011
at 03:40 PM

Too bad you don't live out this way. We're going to be needing a live-in nanny soon and it'd be much easier to have someone who's paleo rather than trying to explain the rules to someone who's not already bought in.

7e746be2f0e550a8cd7df881322ae705

(18701)

on August 19, 2011
at 01:23 PM

You can't get any better school lunch ideas than these from our darling familygrokumentarian: http://primalkitchen.blogspot.com/

65430e39d7e9e9322718d016fe668051

(2944)

on August 19, 2011
at 07:58 AM

I won't throw out all the processed food in the house, but since I'm making the food I plan on just not cooking with the processed food. I think I will go from more of a Nourishing Traditions/ WAPF with them since it's probably more "familiar" (still includes traditionally prepared grains/legumes etc)

65430e39d7e9e9322718d016fe668051

(2944)

on August 19, 2011
at 07:57 AM

I won't throw out all the processed food in the house, but since I'm making the food I'll just not cook with the processed food.

F4d04667059bc682540fdfd8b40f13a7

on August 19, 2011
at 06:14 AM

It's wonderful that this little girl has just had someone so caring come into her life - the start of great things for this family!

1a98a40ba8ffdc5aa28d1324d01c6c9f

(20378)

on August 19, 2011
at 06:05 AM

I have yet to make them. But I want to have the family make them. Someone has posted their favoriter recipes here. I was unable to find them though.... Also cheese and broccolli might be an easy thing for the child to like.

967229edcc94a66580110324524feb49

(688)

on August 19, 2011
at 05:31 AM

Agree - also the paleo life isn't for everyone ( well it could be but most people seem to hate the idea of giving up things) anyhow don't push it. Lead by example and if they decide to come along then help out.

65430e39d7e9e9322718d016fe668051

(2944)

on August 19, 2011
at 05:22 AM

You make some good points, thank you!

65430e39d7e9e9322718d016fe668051

(2944)

on August 19, 2011
at 05:21 AM

yesss! do you have any favorite recipes?

002d074ab094fefc344bf0d1f36091ec

(370)

on August 19, 2011
at 05:01 AM

apple slices with almond butter is another great snack. Veggies with a sour cream and chives dip instead of ranch...

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13 Answers

best answer

2
306aa57660d911781231f8090c2a5619

(3808)

on August 19, 2011
at 11:40 PM

First of all, you need to get on the same page. The mother values the idea of nutrition, feels you have valuable information, and is willing to learn. You don't have to be sneaky about it, leave books lying around, or anything like that. Doing that is devaluing both your own knowledge (which she hired you for!) and her stated willingness to learn.

Right now, when you're just starting, is the absolute best time to have this discussion. Your ideas on what constitutes nutrition differ, and you need to figure out how much she is willing to change and you're willing to compromise in order to make meals that work for everyone.

Give her accessible sources of information. Start with printing out a few good, accessible, summary websites/blog posts. Avoid sources that go too heavy into scientific detail, caveman-talk (the "Me Grok. Me eat real food." type), or conspiracy theory unless you get the impression she's open to that sort of thing (for example, I'd avoid anything extolling anti-vaccination unless she's already on board with that). Don't just point her at the website (which she may or may not actually get around to reading) - give her something that she can look over right then and there so that you can discuss diet from a common ground. Then, if she's interested and open to it, you can point her towards more in-depth sources of information.

You need sources that put paleo into the context of the needs of the developing child. Personally, I'd avoid Nourishing Traditions as a starting point unless you're willing to do soaked grains and legumes. It's a good source of info about the health of fats, but isn't going to validate the no-grains standpoint. Everyday Paleo (blog or book) maybe? I suggest that because it focuses on paleo from a family lifestyle standpoint, not specifically weight loss. Find some good Paleo family blogs to direct her to.

It sounds like the main sticking point for her is the health of animal fats. If that's something she's not open to changing at this point, find things that will work for both of you and focus on those - coconut oil, olive oil (in a non-heat context - use it in salad dressing and dips, don't cook with it), flax seed oil (again, don't heat - use coconut oil for that), avocado, and things like that can be used to up the fat content of the meals while using lean meats. Some sources of animal fat that are likely to be most acceptable are fatty fish and good quality eggs. Most people understand that those are good for brain development and so forth, and that's a good gateway to the idea that fat from pastured meat, with a proper omega-3/omega-6 ratio, is healthy.

Replacing processed foods with fruits and vegetables should be readily acceptable, regardless of her views on grains and fats.

So, in short - don't be sneaky. Respect that, as the mother and your employer, she has the final say and you may need to compromise some, but also respect your own knowledge and her willingness to learn and change. There is common ground, and only open communication is going to help you find it.

306aa57660d911781231f8090c2a5619

(3808)

on August 20, 2011
at 12:04 AM

Also, I just got a copy of The Little House Cookbook (as in Laura Ingalls Wilder) and, while not all recipes are ideal, there are a lot that would work well (either as is, or with adaptations to the sugar/grain ingredients) and which would put paleo foods into a fun context.

best answer

2
6120c989fd5b69f42a0834b69b87955b

(24553)

on August 20, 2011
at 07:11 AM

I've got a starting place for you. You could show the mom the neat trick of killing sugar cravings with a spoonful of coconut oil. I think that will score some points.

Pretty much everyone who isn't deep geek paleo is worried about animal fat, so you might want to start with something like watching the movie Fathead with the family. I've found that to be a much better tool than any book I've recommended, or my own spewing of nutritional ideas to get friends and family to understand where I'm coming from. And maybe print out something explaining how animal fat will grow their daughter's brain and make it easier for her to focus in class.

I've seen studies about what kids eat for breakfast and how they do on tests you could print out. The kids who just had cereal and milk did worse than the kids who didn't have anything. There was also an unpublished study you could share with them where rats were fed cereal or the box the cereal was packaged in, the rats eating the box lived longer (there's a blurb about it in the margins of Nourishing Traditions).

You could also print out one of the paleo food pyramids for a quick visual reference.

It sounds like she's on board if she's excited that you're studying nutrition. I think that will give you some extra street cred when presenting the family with the "new and exciting" research out there. People enjoy feeling like they are in "the know".

Good luck!

65430e39d7e9e9322718d016fe668051

(2944)

on August 20, 2011
at 07:31 AM

causing it. I replies with foods that give me headaches, particularly soy and canola oils and mentioned that olive and coconut oils are really healthy. It seems to be going well and I'm going to try out a lot of the suggestions I have received on this post :-)

65430e39d7e9e9322718d016fe668051

(2944)

on August 20, 2011
at 07:30 AM

You bring up some great suggestions! Today she was asking me about nutrition stuff and told me I'll have to help teach them what things they're eating that they think are healthy but really isn't. She asked me if I wanted a sandwich and I said no thanks, and she was asking about bread and heard it's not good cuz of carbs, I briefly mentioned the difference between soaked/traditionally prepare grains (I didn't want to jump in with "grains are poison!") and she seemed interested. She said her daughter gets headaches after eating sometimes so maybe with "my knowledge" I can help determine what's

13
4498698fa91a620e4ee5b618da71016a

(427)

on August 19, 2011
at 04:51 AM

I've been in the same boat, but there's no way around this simple fact- it's not your kid. It will hurt you to no end because you will always be fighting against the SAD knowledge of the mom and her bf. The best you can do is what you're already doing by acknowledging what's going on. Plus the mom seems to be more on the convenient side of things in terms of food no matter how much "organic" is being eaten.

Leave the books around the house. Veggies with healthy dips for the kid. Fruit is fine cause she's growing and is less evil than the processed, packaged food. Don't run yourself ragged over this. You're already doing your best by caring.

967229edcc94a66580110324524feb49

(688)

on August 19, 2011
at 05:31 AM

Agree - also the paleo life isn't for everyone ( well it could be but most people seem to hate the idea of giving up things) anyhow don't push it. Lead by example and if they decide to come along then help out.

65430e39d7e9e9322718d016fe668051

(2944)

on August 19, 2011
at 05:22 AM

You make some good points, thank you!

8
6da513ec59c25531127912318fbf27d5

on August 19, 2011
at 03:57 PM

Motherhood produces a lot of insecurity in a woman. If you've never been a mom, you could not know the often overwhelming question mark that hangs over a mother's head in regards to raising her child. Every mother is trying to give her child the very best she knows how. I will even say that for the mom's who take their kids out to fast food every meal (she is "treating" them).

Rather than coming in and being the bossy know-it-all nutritionist nanny, I think you would do a lot better introducing some of your special recipes, that is make them for yourself and offer to share some.

A 7 year old is old enough to help out in the kitchen (with Mom's approval and careful supervision). This is a good way to get kids interested in (healthy) food. Get her a cute apron of her own!

Sounds like her mom is time challenged, that is probably the #1 reason someone who wants to eat healthy falls into convenience foods. Once you build some rapport with the Mom, you could approach her with "These --------- have a lot of chemical additives and preservatives that are not really healthy. I know how easy they are to rely on when you are already crunched for time. I would be happy to cook up fresh foods for your daughter." If you make this kind of offer, you may find yourself menu planning or even grocery shopping.

Ultimately, don't try to be a nutritionist until you have had some time to get to know them. And don't create a problem without offering a real solution.

Even if you can't bring them around to paleo, consider this a people watching opportunity to learn about how other people live and understand a bit better why people resort to convenience foods.

Oh and everyday paleo is a good source for family friendly recipes.

8a525a942a37c3faf3d7ee524e64e57d

(30)

on April 12, 2015
at 09:20 AM

I'd second that. I'd tread very cautiously if I were in your shoes. People are very protective about their lifestyle, and want to pass it on to their offspring: I often say that some parents only have children because they haven't managed to become dictators, and their children are the only people they will ever get to rule over!

I had lots of issues when living in houseshares, even though I was not even paleo yet, and was a bit overweight. My housemates and landlords/landladies would come and stare whenever I was in the kitchen (cooking or coming back from the supermarket with whole bags of vegs) and mostly disapproved, even though they were jealous of my (relative) health and absence of weight problems. One landlady (35 year old, obese and on sickness leave for over a year for, alternatively, whiplash and lower back pains, although I think she was actually written off for depression) used to say it was like a 'Supersized v. Superskinny' show (UK TV series). She was a social worker so you can imagine how she would have reacted if one of the families under her care had fed their kids what I was eating.

My colleagues at work also constantly criticize my diet and try to feed me cakes and milk. Last week, they were discussing how children needed 'sugar' and parents who didn't give their children breakfast cereals, bread and cakes were harming them: apparently, one of my colleagues's child has a schoolmate whose parents are paleo, and another has neighbours (with kids) who are paleo, and my colleagues thoroughly disapprove, and feed the kids sweets and crisps and biscuits behind their parents' backs and try to extract confessions that they are 'hungry' and 'feel weak'! I wouldn't be surprised if they got the social services involved...

98bf2ca7f8778c79cd3f6c962011cfdc

(24286)

on August 20, 2011
at 12:57 AM

Excellent post!

5
C2450eb7fa11b37473599caf93b461ef

on August 19, 2011
at 03:33 PM

I have to agree with ImRotu. I have two children and if some well-meaning vegan nanny came in and started feeding them tofu, I'd go ballistic. Stick with quietly introducing paleo type foods, and start adding things that will build up her tastes, as opposed to taking away things that she's very attached to. You might want to check out the discussion boards on mothering.com to talk to like-minded individuals who are specifically looking at feeding children.

At the end of the day, she is NOT your child, and you are an employee. Sorry to be harsh, but that's the reality.

3
1a0976c846702f549ee4df0d811098be

(972)

on August 19, 2011
at 03:51 PM

Lead by example. Eat your paleo foods and talk about how good they make you feel. If you are offered non-paleo foods, politey turn them down with an explanation. "Thank you! That looks good, but I find that when I eat (rice/cheese/grains/sugar), I don't feel as good as if I stick to (meat/veggies/whatever you are eating instead). This is probably the best way to get the mom on board, which is the first step. Radically changing the kid's diet without the permission of the parents is a fast track to unemployment and would show a lack of respect for the mom.

Once the mom is on board with the plan, I found the ONLY way to get my kids to eat vegetables was to eliminate things I didn't want them to eat from the house. Are you in charge of grocery shopping? If you can get the mom to agree, start buying more veggies and skipping the packaged foods. I have found that no matter how delicious and well prepared the veggies are, if they are next to mac and cheese, no one eats them. On the other hand, when I served chicken, broccoli, and brussel sprouts (a new veggie for us) last night, my three year old exclaimed "I love brussel sprouts! They taste just like broccoli!" If he knew mac and cheese were an option, the brussel sprouts never would have made into his mouth in the first place.

3
002d074ab094fefc344bf0d1f36091ec

on August 19, 2011
at 04:55 AM

What an awesome opportunity! I think the easiest way to transition is to find better alternatives to what she is already eating. Instead of Annies mac n cheese, make mashed cauliflower and cheese. Take the bread out of her sandwiches and make lettuce wraps. Simple things like this may seem less aggressive. My daughter loves kale chips. I found the recipe on paleodietlifestyle.com, but essentially you just rub coconut oil on the kale, sprinkle with sea salt/pepper, and bake it. I switched in coconut milk for cows milk, and I make sun-tea instead of buying juice. Those were some big ways of reducing the sugar intake. Best of luck to you! :)

002d074ab094fefc344bf0d1f36091ec

(370)

on August 19, 2011
at 05:01 AM

apple slices with almond butter is another great snack. Veggies with a sour cream and chives dip instead of ranch...

65430e39d7e9e9322718d016fe668051

(2944)

on September 07, 2013
at 01:28 AM

What great ideas, especially the cauliflower "mac and cheese" and the kale chips. Thank you!

2
B14dc4aa1ddefbec3bc09550428ee493

on August 19, 2011
at 07:00 AM

The first thing you need is to get the mom to buy into it. Give her a copy of something about paleo to read. Until she is on board you aren't going to have any support in doing this.

65430e39d7e9e9322718d016fe668051

(2944)

on August 19, 2011
at 07:58 AM

I won't throw out all the processed food in the house, but since I'm making the food I plan on just not cooking with the processed food. I think I will go from more of a Nourishing Traditions/ WAPF with them since it's probably more "familiar" (still includes traditionally prepared grains/legumes etc)

65430e39d7e9e9322718d016fe668051

(2944)

on August 19, 2011
at 07:57 AM

I won't throw out all the processed food in the house, but since I'm making the food I'll just not cook with the processed food.

1
Aa69579f867333b08158c70e25f7daf1

(1826)

on August 19, 2011
at 11:53 PM

I've recently started a blog where I post my paleo crockpot recipes, many of which are kid-friendly. My crockpots are how I survive on a day to day basis, since I have a baby and a husband who is frequently working odd and long hours.

http://mypaleocrockpot.blogspot.com/

1
Cdab4b250d535ed64521e94cb10fc74c

on August 19, 2011
at 05:23 PM

My kids are total sandwich eaters. When we started to cut out processed foods I baked chicken and beef roasts then sliced them thin for lettuce wraps, i also did water packed tuna wraps as well. They don't even miss sandwiches at all!

1
7e746be2f0e550a8cd7df881322ae705

on August 19, 2011
at 02:44 PM

If she will eat eggs, I would do something fun, like egg muffins for breakfast. You can make them ahead if you need to, so breakfast on school days can go quickly. I would make bacon (most kids like bacon, I think) and serve that also. Paleo pancakes should be a treat, like once a week and fresh fruit with her breakfast too. I think kids can handle more fruit than some of us adults that already have issues.

I gave you family groks blog above, you really, really can't get any better ideas for lunches than hers. There are a ton of recipes and ideas there. If you can get her mom to get her an awesome bento lunch box that would help. She doesn't need to eat fruit snacks to fit in. My kid eats the weirdest lunches by her own choice and has never had any issues with the other kids.

Dinners shouldn't be that hard! Ground beef is usually something most kids can handle, I think if you buy grass-fed ground beef, you can probably talk her parents into it. "Tacos" on lettuce, open faced burgers, meatloaf any of that is good. I make a shepard's pie with mashed potatoes on top that is full of veggies too. There are a ton of things you can do with that.

Small steaks go a long way with kids and if you can get her to like fish that would be awesome! There are so many ways to cook fish!

Personally, I would probably make some homemade granola bars (all nuts/honey, we have a recipe floating around here somewhere) and almond butter brownies and that type of stuff to have as "treats". Also, homemade coconut milk ice creams and frozen fruit bars. There are a ton of ideas, especially if the daughter and mom are open to the changes.

1
25f653d9c2581edbafbaabe468bae550

on August 19, 2011
at 01:09 PM

I'm on the same journey with my 6 year old as our family transitions to a healthier paleo + raw dairy diet. Start with pseudo grain baked items, like muffins, gluten-free pancakes. We like these and they freeze well:

Pumpkin Blueberry Pancakes 3 c. gluten free pancake mix (Bob???s Red Mill)

6 eggs

1 can coconut milk

1 can canned pumpkin

1 1/2 c. fresh or frozen blueberries

3 tsp. vanilla

3 tsp. cinnamon

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl and cook in butter or coconut oil in a skillet.

Morning Glory Muffins Ingredients

2 1/2 cups almond flour 1 tablespoon cinnamon 2 teaspoons baking soda 1/2 teaspoon salt 2 cups carrots, peeled and grated 1 large apple, peeled, cored and grated 1 cup shredded coconut 1 cup raisins 3 large eggs 2 tablespoons honey (optional) 1/2 cup coconut oil or melted butter 1 teaspoon vanilla

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and grease a standard-sized muffin pan.
  2. Combine almond flour, cinnamon, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. Add carrot, apple, coconut and raisins and combine well.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk eggs, honey, oil and vanilla extract together.
  4. Pour the wet mixture over the dry ingredients and mix very well. The batter will be very thick.
  5. Spoon the batter out into muffin pan and place on upper or middle rack of your oven for 40-50 minutes.
  6. When a toothpick inserted into the top of a muffin comes out clean, the muffins are done.
  7. Cool muffins in the pan for 8-10 minutes and then remove to a rack to finish cooling.

**If you are looking for variety, sub out currants or chopped dates for the raisins. You can

also add a little orange zest to give them a bit more citrus flavor.

We also like ones made with coconut flour as they always have extra eggs. I try to get my child's fiber intake up and her simple sugar consumption down. Try replacing their "processed" food with Paleo friendly similar foods. Talk to the parents (your real problem) about food quality and suggest that they try more organic foods, like better quality meats. My child likes Applegate farms organic hot dogs (grass fed meat). I skip the bun ("oops. we're out") and offer 2 dogs instead of one + veggies. Offer to do the family food shopping and cooking, then involve her. After she eats "junky" foods & grains etc. ask her how it made her feel. Make her notice what she's doing to her body. Be patient. They'll prefer home made Paleo to processed crap dish by dish. I have noticed that getting my child to eat enough protein and keeping her sweets in check, helps with veggie consumption. She's not quite where I'd like her to be, but she's no where close to where she used to be.

1
1a98a40ba8ffdc5aa28d1324d01c6c9f

(20378)

on August 19, 2011
at 05:20 AM

You can home make Lara Bars...

65430e39d7e9e9322718d016fe668051

(2944)

on August 19, 2011
at 05:21 AM

yesss! do you have any favorite recipes?

1a98a40ba8ffdc5aa28d1324d01c6c9f

(20378)

on August 19, 2011
at 06:05 AM

I have yet to make them. But I want to have the family make them. Someone has posted their favoriter recipes here. I was unable to find them though.... Also cheese and broccolli might be an easy thing for the child to like.

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