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Grit and Resilience (and an Apple Muffin to Die For)

I’ve come across these terms, and a good TEDx talk about it too, quite a bit this past month. Are we doing enough to ensure our kids are growing up with some of this? It’s a topic that I’m sure my mom didn’t contemplate as she was trying to figure out how to make ends meet after my dad left. Her concerns were more about making sure we had a “normal” childhood. But, and I’m sure you’ve asked yourself this question also, what’s normal? Generational comparisons are pretty pointless. Times change, humans adapt, definitions are sometimes malleable.

My kids don’t eat fast food. Does this mean they’re not normal? I don’t let them eat sugar willy nilly whenever they feel like it either. Does this mean they’re deprived? (They're certainly disappointed about this one, but that's too bad.) Their parents are happy and together and we're lucky to lead a lovely, simple life. Does this mean they won't be resilient, won't have grit? Frankly, it depends on who you ask. But if you’re asking yourself any of these questions about grit, resilience or normalcy or if you’re wondering how to navigate the season of sweetness that is upon us, then my suggestion to you is; get in the kitchen. Together.

In the kitchen you will find grit and resilience in every tablespoon. There is great courage in a child trying a new food. There is persistence and flexibility in a kid who keeps trying to bake the perfect brownie or flip the perfect omelette or just try, try, try to spread butter on bread (anyone with toddlers knows this). Give a kid a task and let him experiment with flavor, texture, and color and watch as confidence and resolve grow. Let your kids explore and play in the kitchen, and let them use the same kitchen equipment you do, just teach them how first. Let them make a mess, and let them clean it up. Use the kitchen as another place where kids can be kids but also learn essential life skills. You'll all be grateful in the long-run.

We can even point out to our kids the grit and resilience we see in our vegetables and our fruit. Have you seen those hardy greens growing out of the snow? We can compare over-sized carrots from conventional farming to their skinnier (and much more colorful) counterparts at the farmers markets. We can express just how amazing that tiny, mighty carrot was for choosing and working to grow strong, albeit smaller than everyone else, when it could have just withered. In culinary school we used to talk about the integrity of food, the wholeness of it, the inherent strength in it. Integrity. It’s another word that goes well with grit and resilience. I believe they all come together nicely through connection. Perhaps that’s what’s missing most and what worries parents about the qualities and values their kids are growing up with in this super-fast, tech-driven world we find ourselves in. No one can argue that there is a lack of true connection these days but I know one place you can find it; in the kitchen. (Shopping, growing, picking, harvesting your own food would be other great places, too.)

These words swirling around came in handy this month. My work on the RED book (short for Anise Loves RED Food) has been stalled both by my graduate studies and my search for a new illustrator. I was hoping for a December release date and I am just not going to meet that. I’ve been disappointed but also trying to be more understanding and accepting. Life is what happens, right? And, I’ve seen the silver lining. No need to rush it because it’s going to be fantastic. So, my apologies to the contestants of the recipe contest and the readers awaiting RED. It’s coming. Just not when or even how I thought it would.

Lastly, Edible Rainbow Project is making an appearance at the Ripe Market in Dubai starting next month. I’m excited to be selling some kitchen goodies along with Anise Loves GREEN Food and talking to parents and kids about the deliciousness and nutritious benefits of green foods. So, if you’re in Dubai and want to chat about food and recipes and kids, come on over and pay us a visit. Till next month, family. Wishing you much joy this autumn season, which will be all the more enjoyable with these amazing Apple Rye Muffins. I promise ;) In good health, Nathalie

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