Liza Huber on Healthy Meals and Happy Kids
Jun 30, 2016 10:45PM
Liza Huber and her four children
Start with Homemade, Organic Baby Food
How did becoming a parent boost your relationship with organic foods and health?
I was raised on a diet of mostly fresh, homemade, food and knew it was something I wanted for my own children. At that point, I knew the basics; that it was healthier and tasted better than store-bought baby food. The more I learned, the more I became fascinated by how switching to an organic diet positively affects our health.
Why is it vital to introduce organic food during a youngster’s early development?
America’s food supply is loaded with more chemicals and GMOs [genetically modified organisms] than ever before. I believe, as many others do, that the rapid rise of food allergies in children is a direct result. Many chemical pesticides and artificial flavors and colors are known to contain carcinogens, suspected hormone disruptors and neurotoxins. It is widely believed that even small doses of these common pesticides can have lasting negative effects on a child’s health. I believe that teaching our kids about the importance of fresh, organic food and the potential dangers of a conventionally processed diet helps set the stage for a lifetime of healthy choices.
How do homemade organics and packaged organics differ?
Store-bought baby food, organic or not, is processed to have a long shelf life of up to two years. So much of the nutrient content is lost during processing that most manufacturers artificially add it back in, but aren’t obligated to inform consumers. The added nutrients are synthetic and aren’t absorbed by the body the same way as naturally occurring nutrients.
The taste, color and aroma of commercial baby food isn’t as appealing. By feeding your baby a steady tasty diet of fresh, homemade, organic baby food, you greatly reduce the risk they’ll grow into a picky eater. Plus, making your own baby food is three to five times less expensive than what is store-bought.
Homemade food has a far smaller impact on the environment compared with commercial manufacturing, transportation and packaging. By the time a baby turns 1, they will have eaten from nearly 700 jars or pouches of store-bought baby food that generally end up in landfills, because little is recycled.
Which favorite foods do you love to make for your babies and why?
I focus on whole foods. Great first foods include bananas, apples, butternut squash, pears, avocados, peas and sweet potatoes. Once a baby has successfully tried a couple of these, start mixing them together. Banana and avocado, apple and butternut squash, and peas and sweet potato are good combos. They’re loaded with nutrients and antioxidants, easy to make and yummy. Avocados’ healthy fat is also essential to brain development.
What key lessons learned from your mother have you carried forward with your young family?
Two lessons really stick with me: “Stay open and leave room for life to surprise you,” and “You can have it all… just not all at the same time.” In my teens and 20s, I was a meticulous planner, disappointed if things didn’t go exactly as I wanted. Amazing things happened after taking Mom’s advice to leave myself open to wonder.
Growing up, I saw my mom have an amazing career, yet also be a fantastic wife and mother. Her secret, and now mine, is to prioritize and focus on one thing at a time, whether it’s work, kids or my husband. This way, everything in your life gets 100 percent of your attention some of the time, rather than trying to do everything at the same time, which rarely works.
What’s the best gift a mother can give her child?
There’s nothing more important to a child’s overall health and well-being than being raised in a loving, warm environment where they feel safe, loved and important. My deep love for my children guides every decision I make for them. A mother’s intuition is a superpower.
Gerry Strauss is a freelance writer in Hamilton, NJ. Connect at [email protected].