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Stephanie chats with Misha Collins from the hit TV show Supernatural and his wife, journalist, and historian Vicki Collins about their new book, The Adventurous Eater’s Club. They discuss how grounding family meals are for kids, struggles many parents face when trying to introduce healthy food and provide practical tips to reduce mealtime battles. They share how to welcome kids into the kitchen by inviting them to become adventurous cooks and lifelong food lovers.
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Misha Collins 0:03
If I had just dumped a bunch of rosemary onto their plates or onto their pasta, they would probably have balked at it. But when they’re involved in the process, and when it’s their own curiosity that’s leading, they’re so much more willing to try and so much more willing to be proud of what comes out in the process.
Stephanie Greunke 0:24
Welcome back to the Whole Mama’s Podcast. We’re here to give you tools, resources and evidence based information so you can make the best decisions for yourself and your family. Whether you’re trying to conceive or navigating life with a toddler or a teenager, we’ve got you covered. I’m Stephanie Greunke, registered dietitian and Program Director for Whole MamasCclub. I’m also the co-creator of Whole Mamas Pregnancy Program, where I teach families how to navigate the endless decisions around pregnancy. And my co-host is Dr. Elena Roumell, pediatric naturopathic doctor and creator of Med chool for Moms – an online resource where she teaches moms how to safely be a doctor mom.
Today I’m excited to bring Misha Collins from the hit TV The show Supernatural and his wife Vicki on the show to talk about their new book The Adventurous Eaters Club. They discuss how grounding family meals are for kids, struggles many parents face when trying to introduce healthy food, and they provide practical tips to reduce mealtime battles. They’ll share how to welcome kids into the kitchen by inviting them to become adventurous cooks and lifelong food lovers. This is a really fun episode and I know you’ll feel inspired to get creative in the kitchen with your littles in your life.
And speaking of vegetables before we begin, I’d like to thank our podcast partner Vital Farms for bringing you this week’s episode. Do you remember your parents trying to convince you to eat plain steamed overcooked vegetables as a kid? I know I did. It’s no wonder I resisted them. We’re hard wired to enjoy salty fatty foods in ghee especially with a touch of Himalayan salt is a fantastic way to help your kids learn to love their veggies. Pack and delicious that’s like pasteurized butter and ghee like what vital farms offers is even great for convincing that edgy rejecting partner in your life to take a bite and to like it. If you’re not sure what it is it’s butter that’s cooked down to remove the water and milk solids. What’s left is a creamy lactose and casein free, versatile buttery spread that’s perfect for high heat cooking. pasteurize ghee isn’t just delicious and vegetables does it has a high smoke point it’s great for various cooking needs. You can swap it for other cooking oils in your kitchen and enjoy the health promoting benefits that you won’t find in other fats such as CLA and butyrate and fat soluble vitamins A D and K. By swapping healthy fats with pasteurized butter or ghee, or other highly processed vegetable oils like soy and canola fuel help reduce inflammation throughout your body, which we now know includes your mental health. I’m always looking for shortcuts in the kitchen. So when I saw that vital farms has a squeezable ghee I was super excited to try it. You know the story babies on your hip or your toddlers hanging on to your legs as you’re trying to get dinner on the table as quick as you can, when you realize you have to open a can or a lid. You take a moment to put baby down and grab a spoon. Hopefully you have a clean one and use both your hands to open a jar while hurrying to finish the meal before so it breaks down crying because they’re starving. But if you had a healthy fat option as convenient as a salt shaker near your oven so you can literally flip the top open and squeeze with one hand. You shouldn’t have to sacrifice quality for convenience in the kitchen. And that’s why vital farms is the first ever ghee in a squeeze bottle. The complex goodness of ghee is even more convenient and ready to dispense no spoon required. I feel like vital farms really gets what new moms need and this is why I’m so excited about the new squeezable ghee products. And if you’re focusing on cleaning up your diet in this new year, give it a shot and see if it helps you eat more veggies. Look for Vital Farms ghee in a squeeze bottle exclusively at Whole Foods Market and original and Himalayan pink salt and visit vitalfarms.com/ghee for a chance to win a year supply of ghee for free!
All right now onto the show. All right Welcome to the show Misha and Vicki. Now I’m sure you may have heard about Misha from the TV show Supernatural and Vicki, you are a powerhouse. You have a PhD in US history and a background in journalism. So you guys have so much to share. And I can’t wait to hop into your new book, the adventurous eaters cloud which has easily become one of my favorites, kids cookbooks. But before we begin, we want to hear how you guys take care of yourself as busy parents. So can you share one thing that you have done today or one thing that you’re planning on doing today to nourish yourself?
Misha Collins 4:43
I can share briefly actually today is like a very self nourishing morning for me because I don’t actually have to be at work until 4:30 in the afternoon today. So that gives me a spacious morning to we both and we meditated together. I went to the gym. I think a good self care thing that I did was after 40 minutes of my one hour CrossFit workout, I said, you know what, I’m going home guys, I’m tired. I left the workout early. And one other really good self care thing that we decided to do this morning was we let our seven year old sleep and even though that meant rushing her to get out the door, but it was a much more peaceful morning lunch, school lunch preparation with her still in bed. So that was I would say a self care act as well. That’s a lot you ask for one. I think I gave you four. So I apologize for that you can cut you can cut three of those out. I love that
Stephanie Greunke 5:42
You’re taking such good care of yourself.
Vicki Collins 5:45
And I would add that I am going to go to a mais exercise class which involves wielding an ancient weapon and it’s a class that really makes me laugh and sweat bullets. I’ve never heard of that before. What did you call it? It’s called steel mace.
Misha Collins 6:04
Okay. Hmm. I’m gonna go those things that you swing around on a on a chain spikes on it that you whack the.
Vicki Collins 6:12
But there’s no Ching
Misha Collins 6:14
I know. But that’s that’s what it’s based on. Okay, yeah.
Stephanie Greunke 6:17
Well Vicki, we have never had that answer before so you win as the most unique nurse yourself. But I’m going to kind of share something random. I have a 30 minute drive to my kids school in the morning with him. And so we have a lot of interesting conversations actually. And one of the drivers I gave him your cookbook and I had them pick out a recipe we went to make together but this morning on the drive to school, we talked about Christmas and the presents and I thought for sure he was going to start talking about what he wanted. But he had the conversation focused on what he wanted to give to his cousins who are coming to visit next week and how he’s so excited to get her flowers and he was thinking about what color flowers were would be her favorite and how he wanted to wrap them up. And so just hearing him think about the holiday is like what can I give versus what am I going to receive just warmed my heart as a mom.
Misha Collins 7:04
That’s very sweet. Yeah,
Stephanie Greunke 7:07
All right now before we dig into your book, because I want to ask you just so many questions about how we can make healthy eating realistic as parents, I want to start by hearing about your story. Misha, I know a lot of people may see you as a celebrity you have tons of money, like how can you possibly relate to the struggles with financial security and and we’re on food or how you can create healthy meals by I recently, read an article that you posted in the New York Times and the title of the episode was, “even without a home, we always had a family meal.” And it was such a moving article and it really helped me see how you can relate to so many families and so many different situations regarding food security and creating these healthy family meals. So can you share about your childhood experiences and how food was like for you growing up?
Misha Collins 7:58
Well, I can share that, you know, we have resources now we, you know, we have the money to pay for a babysitter, we don’t have to worry about the cost of groceries, and that’s incredible luxury. But even with the resources that we have, a lot of times we’ll find that we don’t feel like we have time to cook a meal or sit down for a meal with the kids. And it can feel stressful, putting together family meal time. I have this have this touchstone of my childhood, which is that my mother, even when we had no money, even when we were getting our groceries from by lining up at a soup kitchen, where they’d hand out three bags of groceries, even when we didn’t have a stove to cook on- we were homeless at times, she always managed to find the time and the food to sit us down and have a meal. That is serves as a constant reminder to me that because as a child that was incredibly important to me, it was really grounding in a childhood that was otherwise often very ungrounded there was this thing that I felt like I could count on. And that made me feel safe and loved. And so when I feel like I don’t have the resources, whether it’s time or energy to put together a family meal, I remind myself, wait a minute, you’re your mother was making sure that you and your brother sat down for family dinner, even when we were homeless. So you can make this work. And still, sometimes I fail. Well, but at least I have that reminder.
Stephanie Greunke 9:29
Yeah, and I think it brings home the point that a lot of the moms think that family mealtimes have to be so elaborate and have these fancy recipes or fancy ingredients. But what you remember is that security and that’s like sense of comfort and that coziness of being around the table or no table, just having that family meal together. And I think that’s so important to understand that family meals can be a place of feeling grounded, they don’t have to be perfect.
Vicki Collins 9:55
I think we’re we’re also faced with so many Instagram images, pretty foods and and families that look perfect. And there’s really something to letting it be imperfect and sometimes really messy as it often is in our family.
Misha Collins 10:18
Messy or simple? Yeah, no. I mean, you can sit down for a family meal of oatmeal, and it can be it can be incredibly comforting food. It doesn’t have to be something that’s elaborate. But if it’s, you know, if it’s served with patience, and love, kids feel it.
Stephanie Greunke 10:36
Yeah, absolutely. Well, thank you so much for sharing that story. I think it’s a great place to start as we dig into some of the specifics with picky eating and how we can make this work as busy parents. And speaking of being busy I mean, without a doubt, creating a book is a labor intensive passion project. So especially as something as comprehensive as what you guys created with the adventurous eaters club. So where did this idea come? come from I know you talked about family meals being such an important part of your growing up. But what led you to go from creating TV shows to creating a cookbook?
Misha Collins 11:14
Well, it was very much a collaboration between the two of us we had the experience of being blindsided by child rearing, we thought the process was going to be much easier and much more extemporaneous, spontaneous, fun and unencumbered than it actually was. We thought our children would cooperate with us every step of the way. We had all these very unrealistic expectations of how how raising kids would unfold. And one of those things was that we thought that the kids would just naturally automatically happily eat whatever it was that we were eating, and that there would be no contention. And we found that mealtime ended up being really a source of anxiety, and stress for us early on. Our kids weren’t readily instantly eating whatever we serve, they were our sunwest would throw thing throw food at us. And it felt like an act of war. We responded in kind with anger and punishment, and then he would be hungry and we when he got hungry, he would be absolutely uncontrollable. It just sort of felt like it was spiraling out of control. And then we have this moment of Kismet where I took him to the grocery store, really because it was easier to carry the groceries hanging from the hooks on the stroller. Then it was to carry them by hand on the sidewalk back and I was like, I’ll bring this roller he might as well come and then when I got back from the grocery store, noticed that there were all these groceries in the bags that I hadn’t put into the shopping cart and he evidently had just been throwing stuff in the cart and I must have been on my phone while we were checking out because I didn’t notice at all and then got home and I was like wait what Is this what do I do with a Jerusalem artichoke? Wess, who was just a toddler at the time said, I’ll show you. And I was like, oh, okay, will you will you really show me how to prepare Jerusalem artichoke, and he got out a rolling pin. And he smashed them with a rolling pin. And then he had me fry them in a pan and then covered them with peanut butter, which is, by the way, a very unconventional preparation, artichokes. He devoured them and he had him here to forbidden this incredibly picky eater who wasn’t eating anything but like plain pasta with butter, and now he was eating Jerusalem artichokes and loving them and being clearly proud of what he had made. That sort of set off a light bulb for us. And we realized, wait a minute, if we let the kids be a part of the process and give them some ownership over the process of cooking, they’re much more invested. They’re much more curious. They’re much more willing to try things. And that sort of opened a crack for us and then Vicki peered her nerdy nose through the crack and doing all kinds of research about, you know, best practices in terms of getting kids to engage in healthy whole-food eating. It turns out that there’s actually a tremendous amount of peer reviewed literature out there about how to get kids to eat healthy food, and also how to make mealtime harmonious and how to make it a bonding time for the family. And there are really truly simple practices that can help bring you and your family down that road. And we kind of started using our, our family as a laboratory and trying these things out and finding that they work and then sharing that with other families and our kids schools and seeing that they were having breakthroughs. And then that so that was sort of the beginning of coalescing a cookbook and, and feeling like wow, we actually found some stuff that really legitimately seems to be working for us. It’s not failsafe. We still have tears at dinnertime occasionally, but it’s so much better than it was before
Vicki Collins 15:02
It’s just more fun for us and very funny
Misha Collins 15:07
-To watch with the kids.
Right. But it’s also not all about you know, having the kids conduct experiments in the kitchen. There’s a lot of really simple practices that that make the whole process more harmonious and healthy. I mean, if you think about it, don’t you think that like we now have mealtime actually feels like it flows in a way that I could not have conceived of five years ago. Yeah. And maybe that’s you know, partly that we’ve given up partly because the kids have gotten older, but but it’s also partly that this stuff that we’re implementing it has been effective.
Stephanie Greunke 15:43
You know, it’s interesting and I feel like so many of us can relate to this as you kind of go on autopilot when it comes to family meals for a while like it may be working. It may not be working at all, but you just kind of feel like this is how it is and then a moment pops up where you’re going grocery shopping and you find all these ingredients in the cart and your little one on some makeup and recipe or whatever it is for that family that you’re like, oh, things could be different and we could have a more harmonious family meal together. So I’m curious Vicki, what kind of things were you seeing? Like what were some of the cracks that you wanted to fix when it came to family meals with your family?
Vicki Collins 16:17
Well, I guess the pattern that we fell into was basically squeezing those organic fruit packs into the kids mouths constantly and we were just so focused on getting calories into them instead of the joy of getting to know food and having it be a moment of connection and getting them exposed to different fruits and vegetables and this sort of Yeah, the the, the joy of that process and experience. So there are a couple of things I think like,
Misha Collins 16:54
Practically speaking, they were you to stop about autopilot, right one of the autopilot Things that I think we were doing as parents and a lot of other parents that we know we’ve watched too, is saying things like my kid doesn’t eat. My kid won’t touch. Broccoli. By the truth is it often takes children somewhere between five and 15 exposures to a new food before they’re they feel like it’s safe to eat. And those exposures can be as simple as putting broccoli on the plate, allowing them to smell it, see it feel the texture. Feel it is feel the texture with their fingers, where it where it is a hat or brooch. But like if they can actually have tactile experiences with that food over time, they will and then they watched their parents eating it, they grow to trust it and feel like it’s safe (this is something that’s ingrained in us biologically like we have to the kids need to make sure food is safe) and then they start eating it. But are rushed and we’re impatient and we see them not eat broccoli the first time or make a grimace when they try it the first time. Then we just give up and we say, my kid doesn’t eat broccoli. So that’s one sort of autopilot thing that we, we subverted and we started to, you know, try, like, All right, we’ll just put it on the plate over and over again until Oh, I sure enough, they start eating.
Vicki Collins 18:14
Yeah, I think another piece of that is parental frustration. Like I remember being like, this is healthy, you should be eating this, that kind of thing and trying to coerce them into eating something. And that is so not fun as a parent. And one of the things we learned is that that approach, trying to get that get kids to eat something is not helpful at all for developing a lifelong happy and healthy relationship with food or good connection.
Misha Collins 18:52
Right? As it turns out, if Yeah, if you say to a child, if you eat your broccoli will give you ice cream. Mm hmm. It turns out That that actually in a child’s brain as it’s developing, gets the child to prefer ice cream even more. And to think broccoli is even grosser than they did before. So that is not a very productive thing. But it’s something that we all do we get involved in these negotiations with kids, instead of allowing and Vicki was mentioning this a moment ago, like we were squeezing packs into their mouths, or, you know, or feeding them crackers, you know, all day long, because we didn’t want them to get hungry. But actually, hunger is also an incredibly useful tool for children because when they’re hungry, they’re willing to try new things. So we fell into the pattern, the automatic pattern of sort of snacking our children out of being curious about any new foods because frankly, they weren’t hungry. So we would sit down for dinner, and they would be not interested in trying something new because their stomach wasn’t sending them any signals that it was time to eat because we just fed them fruit packs and crackers. So they had a much more varied diet.
Stephanie Greunke 20:04
Yeah, no, those points are spot on. And I think and just to add another one too, and it’s our perception of what kids will eat and kind of labeling things as kids foods versus adult foods. And in the book, you explain this concept of that kids eat, what they’re taught to eat, and how cultures all around the world demonstrate that kids can be taught to eat a wide range of foods. So those examples in the book were really powerful. Would you be able to kind of explain maybe one or two of the cultures and just how we tend to approach food in the US of like, well, the kids meal has the chicken tenders, and the pizza and the cheeseburger and that’s what kids eat, versus how other cultures throughout the world see it?
Vicki Collins 20:43
Well, for example, in France, teachers, pediatricians, parents are all really on board with teaching children to savor their food and they consider it as important as learning to read or learning math and put a lot of effort into that training process. And yeah, that’s sort of an incorrect that, for us was a real surprise. They call it training, right? Taste training training.
Misha Collins 21:17
Right. And in, in French public schools, they sit children down to elaborate meals where they will feed them everything from the fresh vegetables to blah, blah. And it’s considered a part of their education. Whereas in the United States, I mean, I remember working in the cafeteria at my school, and we opened up a package one day from the walk in refrigerator of grade e beef. Like it was literally, it was, it must have been like, I don’t know, should we send this package to the dog food plant or? No, it was like the low it’s the worst food, but it’s also the bland is the most processed. And there’s there’s a very little thought in our education system that goes into teaching people about teaching kids about healthy food and also opening their palates to new foods. It’s just not a part of our culture. And that’s reinforced when we go to restaurants buy what parents are presented with, they’re given an adult menu, and they’re given a kid’s menu. That’s an American phenomenon. It’s an American phenomenon that developed for some bizarre reason during prohibition, because restaurants lost revenue because they were no longer selling alcohol. So they said, well maybe we can bring families in and make up for that by introducing the kids menu. So that brief window in American history when alcohol was prohibited, gave birth to the kids menu, which stayed as a as a feature of American restaurants from the late 1920s until now. As time went on, it evolved to be this incredibly processed and precious. Billy bland kids menu, where it really is. It’s chicken tenders. It’s a cheeseburger. It’s pizza, it’s pasta, it’s french fries. If it’s a very progressive restaurant, you might have carrot sticks. It’s a very limited and it’s very processed, and it’s frankly very unhealthy food that the kids are presented with. And then parents and kids are both being trained. This is what children eat. Yeah,
Stephanie Greunke 23:25
yeah, absolutely. And, and without offering those foods. I mean, sometimes I’m so surprised what my kids will eat too. I’ll be eating something. They’re like, let me try that and I’m like, I would have never thought to give you sardines, I would have never got to give you sauerkraut because we’re trying that like kids will just naturally not like that food instead of giving them the chance and not showing them a reaction. That means we’re super happy about it or super sad about it or frustrated. Just kind of having a neutral reaction is something we talked about a lot on our show. But what I love about your book is it’s not pushing or persuading kids to eat something if they don’t want to eat it. It’s about welcoming them into the kitchen with you and inviting them to be adventurous cooks. I love this because it takes a lot of the pressure off of parents to have these tight reins on food and make it a battlefield, which, like we mentioned, it takes the joy out of mealtime completely.
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I’m kind of curious, you know, when you decided to change how meals were in your household, what was that process like? I mean, was there a lot of battles when it because we have some families where maybe their kids have always grown up with natural Whole Foods, and then we have families who are starting this new adventure. So like, what words of advice do you have for them? What are some things that you found that did and didn’t work for you?
Vicki Collins 25:43
Well, I guess one thing I noticed is there were a few things we talked to the kids about. For example, their role versus our role and our role as parents is to choose what foods comes in the house. And generally what served for dinner and the kids get to choose if they eat anything. They’re served, how much they could eat nothing if they want to. And that was really once we got clear on that, and communicated to our kids about that it was really fun because whenever I overstepped, my son would say, Oh my gosh, you’re not allowed to force me to eat anything. I saw that and that was fun.
Misha Collins 26:31
Yeah. And as you as as we were branching into that, because we were, you know, we were going from coercing our kids and also feeding them the bland beige foods that we knew that they were going to eat, as we transitioned to introducing them to whole healthy foods. We use rich foods, which is, for example, we could make a pizza but we could put on the pizza foods that were new for them to try. So if they hadn’t sardines before we could make a pizza, and then on half of it, we could put some sardines. And we found that it’s most effective if you give children something that is familiar on their plate along with something that is new that they’re being introduced to, because it really isn’t a fair expectation to simply serve your children, a bowl of cold sardines with a sprig of parsley on top and expect them to eat it out of the gate. But if you put a sardine next to a plate of pasta, and they have the chance to experiment with it in small quantities, it’s a much safer, easier way for them to be ingratiate into an included. I totally
Stephanie Greunke 27:40
I agree with what you’re saying though. It’s it’s having realistic expectations too. Regarding introducing new foods, they’re probably not going to chow down on the sardines or the anchovies or the kale that you’re showing to them. But you can you can offer that that food and let them explore with it and you can find really creative ways to incorporate that food into the recipes like some of the ones that you have in the book like you do sushi with kale in it or you help kids understand where food comes from by taking them to the grocery store with you and making butter, which was the recipe that my kid really wanted to try. So you have this recipe in the book where you take heavy cream, and you put it in a mason jar, and you jump and you shake it up, and you really put that energy into it and you create this food. And I think involving kids in the process so that it makes butter basically you’re shaking a heavy cream until it becomes butter or you can shake it, we shake we should one of them to whipping cream like not all the way to butter and then the other one to butter my involving them in the process. So it’s not as scary. So it’s a combination of letting them touch, feel taste, put the food on their head as a hat and seeing where it comes from. So it’s a new experience. And I love that!
Misha Collins 28:55
Another thing that we have found to be very effective is when they’re a part of the process we can make, we can give invitations to them in the kitchen. So when we’re making butter, and they love making butter, then at the end, we say now which spices would you like to add to the butter? So the butter serves as the bridge food butter is a fairly familiar food to most kids buy a lot of spices are things that they haven’t tried yet. So they can open the spice store and they can unscrew the tops, and they can give the spices a sniff, and they can think you know what I would like to try a little bit of rosemary on this one. And that might be their first time really tasting rosemary. And if I had just dumped a bunch of rosemary onto their plates or onto their pasta, they would probably have balked at it. But when they’re involved in the process, and when it’s their own curiosity that’s leading, they’re so much more willing to try and so much more willing to be proud of what comes out in the process and that sometimes goes to places that I wouldn’t. I have to bite my tongue. We had our neighbor over miles who was a kid who really doesn’t eat salad and I invited miles and our sunwest to make salad. We were having a potluck dinner. And they threw everything green in the refrigerator into a bowl. And then they mashed it with a dressing that they had concocted that was very bitter and not salty enough. And then they went out into the yard and picked a bunch of lavender, which I find to be a very overpowering flavor. Then they mashed that with their hands into the sound of these potato maybe we’re using a potato masher.Then miles inspired Do you cook salad and I very gently said not usually, you know and then and then we all sat down for the potluck and the kids all devoured this. salad. The grown ups really didn’t have the palette for it. It was like this overpowering lavender mash. Bu I think that really exemplifies like when you when you give them license to experiment, they all there, they want to continue that experiment all the way up through eating. So I won’t happen every doesn’t happen every time and sometimes they there they, you know, they turn their nose up at what they make. And sometimes in the process of writing this cookbook, we we have one recipe in the cookbook, which is mix and match chicken. It’s also designed to introduce kids to new flavors. And so it’s basically a very simple fried chicken bvut the coating is different flavors. And the car kids were like, We asked what you know, we had two coatings, one was paprika. One was parsley on one was paprika. One was parsley. Then we said What should we do for the next one? And our daughter said, How about cinnamon? And I thought, Oh, that’s not a great idea. But I said okay, great. Let’s Try it. Everyone loves the cinnamon, fried chicken the best. It’s actually really delicious. And so it actually has been some occasionally, you know, expanding for our own palates as well allowing the kids to take the reins.
Oh, that’s so fun. I love how you just let them play right? And don’t make them wrong or don’t tell them ahead of time, like, Oh, I don’t know, if that’s gonna work. You’re like, Okay, let’s do it because you never know what you’re going to end up with. It’s so important that they feel like they have some control. And since they don’t have control over so many other things in their life.
Yes. And we also often have to bite our tongues. And there are times also when we are in too much of a hurry to allow them to make a catastrophic mess in the kitchen. So a lot of times when it’s, you know, their opportunity to really experiment is times when we have more space and time and we know that we have an extra half hour to clean up afterwards because it is going to get messy. So it’s not we’re not suggesting that every They’ll be something that is child LED. But all the recipes that are in the adventurous eaters club are recipes that the kids can participate in, in some way, even if it means they’ve just been set to the task of grading the cheese, there’s something that they can do in each meal preparation.
Stephanie Greunke 33:16
And I love that you lay that out, you actually say, this is what your kids can help with, like, this is a kid’s task for the recipe because sometimes we may have a hard time we don’t know if they can help or how they can help but you lay that clearly out in the recipes. And I think you I think I love where you’re taking us, which is the time factor because maybe we are excited about getting kids to try new recipes. We love the tips that you talked about with letting them be involved and make the food and choose the spices but how in a you know, realistic day to day we’re running to where we have limited time to make dinner. We’re doing it all over again the next day, like how do we involve kids in this process? If we’re busy parents, great question.
Misha Collins 34:00
Well, to be honest with you, I actually think that, if you if we say to the kids, Hey, would you like to make a cake and let them make up the recipe and do the entire thing from scratch, that’s going to eat up a lot of your day, and getting batter off the ceiling. Yeah, but if I’m making egg and cheese, breakfast muffins, which is one of the recipes in the book, and I said, Mason to grading the cheese for that, and I said, Wess to making the bread circles with the glass, it actually buys me some time to finish making the breakfast and get their lunches ready because they’re occupied and they’re not attacking each other. So the hop and shake butter, which is making butter and a mason jar is something that will actually keep them occupied for 5 to 10 minutes. And they they’re happy and they’re engaged and it really doesn’t take any extra I mean that the only time that it takes me is pouring, you know, pouring the cream into the mason jar and screwing on the lid and making sure it’s on all the way to mistake I have made before, make sure the lid is on. But then they’re set to that task and they’re engaged and everything seems to flow more smoothly. So there are ways I think to incorporate kids into the cooking process that doesn’t feel like the wheels are coming off the bus and you’re adding additional labor.
Vicki Collins 35:28
And most of the recipes in the book are pretty quick, like 20 to 30 minutes to make- fairly simple.
Stephanie Greunke 35:36
Yeah and I think also to its its practice. So the first time you make that recipe with the cheesy eggs, and the toast is going to take a longer time because they’ve never done it before. So they’re gonna have questions about all the steps and the recipe. But once I do it once or twice and you can they kind of know the rhythm and it takes much less time. So I agree with that. And I also you know, something we do in our families when my kids are going to help me creating food. It’s usually in on like the weekend. So we have our morning breakfast where we have like a slower time, or we can make that longer recipe or it’s at night, you know, when I’m making dinner, I have them sit up on the counter with me. And we do a quick 30 minute recipe, like you said, I know a lot of the recipes in your book are 30 minutes. So I think it’s jus, finding where there is that extra space in your day because you don’t want it to be stressful, where you’re rushing to get this recipe done. You’re maybe yelling at them about creating it. That’s not a peaceful environment either. So yeah, I definitely think so. I mean, it’s not, I think what you’re saying is that it’s not going to be every single meal, you’re creating these recipes with your kids. It’s just getting them into the kitchen with you when it makes sense for your family.
Misha Collins 36:44
Yeah, and I mean, I think it’s important to note that the adventurous eaters club is a cookbook, but it’s also a field guide to creating a healthy, healthy, happy, dynamic around meal time for your family. And so yeah, Those those recipes serve as examples of how to incorporate that. But we have lots and lots of tips about, you know, bridge foods, and about not coercing your children, and about setting guidelines for what the children’s responsibilities at mealtimes are, what the grown ups responsibilities at mealtimes are. And all of it works together to hopefully create a better dynamic around mealtime or your family.
Stephanie Greunke 37:27
Yeah, you share your family food guidelines and a couple of things that have really worked for your family. And then you you offer to the listener or the reader of your book to create their own family food guidelines. So you’re looking at what the research says you’re looking at the practices that you’ve used, that have worked in your family, and then you’re encouraging them to figure out what blend is going to work for them. You have so many unique creative recipes, and I know they’re so unique because your kids helped you make them. For example, you have like a salad popsicle and things that you probably wouldn’t have thought of But they thought what were a good idea and it worked for them. So what are three of your favorite recipes from the book or maybe three recipes that you have raving reviews about? The salad popsicles make me laugh!
Vicki Collins 38:13
Because that that was truly Mason’s idea. And our first version of that was basically throwing big chunks of veggies into water and freezing them and make them actually felt weird late, but we’ve improved them.
Misha Collins 38:29
It’s actually kind of remarkable if you just add, I mean, if it’s frozen, and it’s in the, you know, popsicle mold, and it’s in the form of a popsicle, the children will be like, That’s delicious. I love popsicles. I’ll eat that and all of the neighborhood children were over eating the salad popsicles that had chunks of cucumber in them, and they all were snowed by, by the format into thinking that this was a delicious dessert that actually salad popsicles is a really good example. It’s a recipe that we love because you know, as we fine tuned it and took the chunks of cauliflower out, it became something that is sweet and refreshing but also full of whole fresh foods that the kids and the neighbors are they all love like this. They run to the freezer and they grab the salad popsicles. And it was led, like the cast came up with that idea. And so it’s something that we really I think that’s probably a favorite. When we gave Mason we we have a game that we play occasionally, which is let’s make a breakfast that no one has ever made before. And Mason having fresh off the high of the success of her salad popsicles said how about breakfast popsicles? And I said well that’s great idea. We have orange juice, and she said and eggs and bacon and my face just dropped it was like um, I don’t know how this is going to go my friend. So we put eggs and bacon and orange juice and toast in the blender and then frozen and the kids do Howard them as if they were absolutely delicious treats and I literally I was the kid in the equation where I was like, and then spinning it in the same taking the same and so they’re not all that or they’re not all screaming successes from an adult standpoint. But there are other recipes that we love in the book.
Vicki Collins 40:24
I like that half rainbow swap. It’s a very simple salad and kids get control of it. Because each vegetable is separated into a stripe of the rainbow.
Misha Collins 40:38
So excited. It’s grated beats, it’s grated cabbage, it’s grated apple is grated carrot, and it’s all arranged in a rainbow configuration, and it’s very beautiful. And it’s also something that the kids seem to relish
Vicki Collins 40:56
And kale, we obviously love kale.
Misha Collins 40:58
Yeah, but that’s not a recipe. It’s right here stone. True.
Stephanie Greunke 41:05
This is so fun. I mean, I get a lot of kids cookbooks and yours is my favorite. It’s my standout cookbook. And I’m really excited to share this with families in our community. And I’m going to be gifting it to some of my friends as well, because I just love the idea of bringing mealtime back to our busy lifestyle and having kids help and not having these food battles that so many of us can relate to. But outside of the book being really incredible. What I think you’re doing is you’re giving 100% of the profits to charities that provide access to healthy food in the arts. So can you talk a little bit about why you made the decision to do this and who you’re giving the profits to?
Vicki Collins 41:47
I think the decision partly came out of Misha has history with food insecurity and just our awareness that there are many families is now that are still facing food insecurity and, and feeling really passionate about healthy food being something that should be a right for all children rather than a privilege. And so we’re really excited to be able to support the Edible Schoolyard which is an incredible organization as well as the garden school Foundation, which basically helps children at Title One schools in LA garden and learn about recipes and, you know, starts lifelong relationships with healthy food in that way.
Misha Collins 42:43
And there are a lot of places in the United States where families do not have access to grocery stores, which is something that is kind of hard to fathom for most of us, but there are places where you know, you have working parents who don’t have a car and who don’t have this time to take a bus to go buy groceries. And so they go to the nearest place where they can get food. And that’s often a convenience store or liquor store. And there you are simply not going to have access to fresh vegetables, you’re not going to have fresh Whole Foods, you’re going to be feeding kids cross highly processed junk foods, which is lead, you know, leading to a pandemic of obesity, diabetes in the United States. And it’s absolutely tragic. And so these organizations are doing things like giving, bringing, you know, taking over vacant lots and inner cities and turning them into gardens where kids can come until the soil and actually pick fresh vegetables out of the ground and eat them I’m Vicki went down to look at what they were doing down there. And some of these kids had never seen kale before, and they were eating kale salad for the first time and that may be establishing a relation kinship for them that lasts for the rest of their lives. It’s really critical. And we wrote this book, not because we wanted to get rich, although getting rich, sounds great. But we we wrote this book because we felt like it could help make families happier and help make children healthier. And so donating the profits from the book to causes that, you know, to organizations that advance those causes. Feels like a moral imperative.
Stephanie Greunke 44:29
Yeah, I think it’s beautiful that you’re doing it. And I think also just sharing who these organizations are, is is really important spreading the message so that we can also donate to them as we can, in addition to having the proceeds from your book. So thank you so much for for doing that. And I know you guys actually physically go and do some work with these charities and have that in person connection to support what they’re doing. So thank you so much for that. So if we are curious, which I’m sure we are by now to get your book. Where would we find it? At any independent bookstore, Amazon, Barnes and Noble. We also have a website, the adventurous eaters club. com, which has the book, unless we should have the book and also some kids cooking supplies and all the profits from that also go to be organizations we talked about. Awesome. All right.
I want to just finish up with one last question. So if you guys could create a billboard and just scream something to families that you want them to know about raising adventurous eaters and bringing mealtime back to the table, what would you say? What’s your word of advice for parents? Well, I would say, believe it or not, healthy Whole Foods can lead to stronger family bonds and harmonious happy meal times.
Vicki Collins 45:53
And you can do it in a way that is joyful, as a parent and joyful for the Kids, it doesn’t have to be this austere, painful thing. It can be a celebration of food.
Misha Collins 46:09
Yeah, for us it was such and I know that this is not going to fit on a billboard, but felt like such an epiphany to discover that we no longer had to fight with our children to have healthy Whole Foods be the cornerstone of their diet. And in fact, it could be a source of like play and joy and like family bonding
Vicki Collins 46:32
Our kids eat kale salad now is like a comfort food.
Misha Collins 46:38
Yeah. And they also will sneak into their Halloween candy behind their backs and gorge until there’s their stomachs are distended, so they’re still children. But, but they are very willing to explore new foods.
Stephanie Greunke 46:55
Yeah, I like to say expect the unexpected when it comes to feeding your kid you never know every day is that Different every meal is going to be different. And so you just have to like what you said, Vicki, just serve them the food, let them come to the table and make it fun and see what happens.
Unknown Speaker 47:11
Great talking to you. Thank you.
Stephanie Greunke 47:15
We hope you enjoyed today’s episode and Elena, and I cannot thank you enough for your support and for listening to this podcast and we’d like to ask you a quick favor. If you’ve been enjoying the podcast, we love your help sharing the podcast with your community. The two best ways to do that are taking a screenshot of this episode and sharing it on social media tagging us at home moms club or leaving us a quick review on iTunes. This won’t take you more than a few minutes and we read and appreciate every single share and review it buyers will stop to create more episodes and resources to support you on your journey. Thank you so much in advance. And please remember that the views and ideas presented on this podcast are for informational purposes only. All information presented on the podcast is not intended to serve as a substitute for the content. Association diagnosis and or medical treatment of a qualified health care provider. Consult your provider before starting any diet supplement regimen or to determine the appropriateness of the information shared on this podcast or if you have any questions regarding your treatments and now go on Have a great day and nourish and nurture yourself and your family.
- How even without a home, Misha always had a family dinner
- What happened when Misha and Vicki let their kids take the lead with food
- What cooking looks like when young kids take the lead
- The importance of creating your own family food guidelines
- Fun, kid-friendly recipe ideas you can try at home
- What Misha and Vicki want parents to know who are feeling frustrated with mealtime
- Purchase the book, The Adventurous Eaters Club
- Find Misha on Instagram
- The Adventurous Eater’s Club website
- Misha’s NY Times Article
- Lean more about Whole Mamas Pregnancy Program
- Get Our Weekly Pregnancy Emails
- Dr. Elana’s Med School For Moms
- Schedule an appointment with Dr. Elana
- Follow Steph and Elana on Instagram
- Whole Mamas Podcast Archive
This episode's guest
Misha Collins is known for starring in the longest running genre TV show, Supernatural, and his unique activism. His first book, The Adventurous Eaters Club, chronicles his family’s adventures in food and their journey from stressful meals to joyful, healthy food.