MAMA TALK: AN INTERVIEW WITH JENNIFER
Kids Versus Healthy Snacks
Jennifer is Katey Lou’s mom. Katey is age 6, loves to sing and dance, just adopted a puppy with the ever so original name “Buddy,” and lives in Fort Worth, Texas where rodeos, cattle barons and crazy hot summers run amuck. Katey is Biltong Baron’s NUMBER ONE favorite six-year old, and that’s not just because she’s the only kid that age that we know. She’s precious and precocious, kind, funny and one seriously beautiful little soul.
Jennifer’s ok too. She’s our favorite mama of our favorite six-year old. She also is one heck of a parent, gold star worthy, and we recently had a chat about nutrition for kids and the challenges of finding the ideal quick and easy snack.
BB: What is your philosophy on snack food for little ones?
Jen: I don’t keep snacks that have a 20-year shelf life. We’re not living on a space station or planning for a zombie apocalypse. You’re not going to find boxed cookies and fake fruit snacks in my pantry, not that my daughter wouldn't be thrilled if I did a better job stocking junk and sugary treats. It’s just that if it’s in the house, I don’t want to worry about her digging through the options and choosing something unhealthy. For her school lunches, I’m always looking for protein without sugar.
BB: When you shop, what are you particularly interested in on the nutrition label?
Jen: I look for sugar content first because I can’t always decipher the sneaky names for the “junk” ingredients. Then I look for high fructose corn syrup because that one is easy to spot, naughty little devil, then I look for a short list of ingredients hoping that means less crap and more natural nutrients. The longer the list, the quicker I put it back on the shelf. I personally find it negligent how many products are out there making claims such as “all natural” when that’s entirely not the case. It forces the consumer to educate themselves with nearly a food science degree just to decipher what’s marketing and what's the truth. It’s the most aggravating thing and it builds a case for shopping at Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s and Central Market (HEB) where you trust that the buyers have done some level of vetting already on the quality of the brands they carry. It’s more costly to shop that way, but she’s my little girl and my entire goal in life is to set her up for a very bright and healthy future.
BB: What are KL's favorite foods?
Jen: She loves just about anything except avocados and zucchini. I keep telling her we live in Texas, the land of TexMex and guacamole, and she’s seriously missing out on something very special by shunning the glorious avocado. Zucchini I get, it’s a bit like a soggy cucumber with no discernible flavor. But come on kiddo, avos?! Anyway, she’ll always choose beef over chicken and calls anything grilled on the BBQ “meat candy.” We live in Fort Worth, the cattle capital of Texas. We’re definitely accustomed to seriously great steakhouses and high quality beef, and I always make sure the portion is off-set with a ton of vegetables and some fruit. If she was left unsupervised, would she eat ice cream and cupcakes day in and day out? She’s SIX-years old, of course she would. But without those options very often, she honestly does enjoy (and ask for) lean protein snacks like biltong. She’s more than happy to eat that as a school snack, before a dance class or on a road trip.
BB: Where do you get your latest and greatest intel on modern parenting strategies and kid nutrition?
Jen: I’m not one to follow trends or bounce back and forth on strategies. It has to be consistent and simple or I’m out. It’s a miracle every day that I get the kid dressed with two shoes on her feet, out the door on time, with brushed teeth and something other than a rat’s nest hairdo. When you have kids, it feels like 24-hours in a day just went to 2.4-hours in a day. So I primarily listen to audio books on the big parenting strategies for overall wellness and long-term happiness. I also look online for specific info about nutrition and the impact of foods on the brain, concentration, etc. When my daughter started preschool, I was shocked to see the sodium level in all frozen or packaged snacks. One serving would have the equivalent of a week’s worth of sodium for a kid. So time constraints aside, I just never started giving her the easy packaged foods. She loves fresh food without added salt because her pallet isn’t conditioned to the high sodium content. Her classmates still tease her about her “stinky” pasta lunch in the 2nd grade (pasta with fresh basil pesto). But the net result of that is I’ve officially raised a little girl who rarely ever turns her nose up at healthy food, not to mention she’s a globetrotter with her taste buds. Thai, Vietnamese, BBQ, Mexican Food, Korean Food, Sushi…she’s an international food lovin’ champ!
In closing, we can’t be more proud to watch Katey Lou chow down on a bag of biltong, and we really do appreciate your insight. We’ve heard from parents who have the same perspective on the length and integrity of food labels and ingredient lists. We also spoke with a mom who has a son with a severe nut allergy and that seems to be an issue as well - the challenge in true transparency over whether or not a product is manufactured in a nut-free facility, or whether or not there is potential for cross contamination. We recognize how important that kind of transparency is. Anyway, Jen, we thank you!
Signing off for now,
The Biltong Baron.