Rockin’ Women Wednesdays – Kay Richardson
In the world of polarised food messages for kids, Kay Richardson is a beacon of light and authenticity for parents who scratch their heads in confusion as they attempt to decipher the mixed media messages that surround children and nutrition. Kay is a champion of cutting the path and providing a conduit so kids can be heard and fed. Meet Kay.
Kay’s “back to school” message for parents.
As a food educator, I’ve had some awesome conversations with kids whilst we cook and eat together. They share their food stories and quite often share their food secrets too. Lovely right? But no, not when I see their little faces crumple and they burst into tears of worry. “But mum says sugar is a drug so will we die from eating ice-cream?” “If obesity is an epidemic like Ebola, will food infect us?” “My friend drinks milk that comes from cows so I say her mum is bad.” “Teachers won’t let us play till we eat first so I stuff my mouthful and spew it up later.” Sigh…. it is not lovely when food itself controls you, becomes something to be scared of, to be ashamed of or to fight over.
“I remember being really scared on my first day of school and I cried at lunch time because mum put new stuff in there that I never ate before.” Just imagine how stressful it is when you start school. Sent away from your home, separated from your parents, faced with a gazillion new things to remember AND your lunchbox is full of stuff you have never seen before! I’d cry too.
We seem to have hit peak healthy lunchbox and it could well tip our kids toward making some unhealthy choices when the opportunity presents and they rebel (as they do). Lunchbox food should make your kids feel happy and loved. Food they enjoy, food they recognise, which is easy to eat quickly.
Save the food challenges for home or on the weekends when everyone is more relaxed. Cook together and introduce new foods gently, with loads of positive encouragement. Let kids have a say about what they’d like to eat. If you have no junk food options in the cupboard, then how can they go wrong? Help them learn how to negotiate with you. Concede and let them have chicken, lettuce and cheese rolls every day, for the whole year, if they help do their chores and promise to taste your next batch of Klackers (https://www.foodhealthwealth.com/spicy-kaffir-lime-pepita-klackers)
Albeit an important element, feeding our kids nourishing food should be a ‘normal’ part of our daily lives, loves and rituals. Sure food and eating can have a ton of fantastic meaning and memories attached, but the tasks involved with growing, selecting, buying and cooking a bunch of raw ingredients are not special per se. They have great potential to bring joy, but too much of a good thing might also lead to sadness (or obsessive orthorexia).
It’s time to make the notion of food and make it ‘ordinary’ again. Show them how to have fun, give back and live well in all aspects of their lives. Surround them with love and the best role models you can find. Relax and be grateful every day.
About Kay Richardson
In the pursuit of her altruistic passions, Kay withdrew from her corporate career and in 2003 she became an inaugural recipient of a Master of Arts (Gastronomy) awarded by Adelaide University and Le Cordon Bleu; the major focus of her Master’s Dissertation was children’s food education.
Kay established The Children’s Food Education Foundation, a charity on a mission to reduce the incidence and risk of diet related diseases by providing young Australians with the knowledge & skills to make mindful food choices.
The Foundation’s social strategy is holistic; presenting children and young people with various food concepts that address their health, culture, technology, media, politics, environment, wealth and community; to show how food connects to their lives (physical, cognitive, emotional, social and spiritual). Educators are urged to place food in a psychosocial and business context in order to make it fun and relevant, rather than leading with nutrition or dietetics.
As well as auspicing the good food deeds of others, the Foundation created it’s own “brands” aimed at specific age groups:
The Big Feed engages young people through food education, food enterprise and social innovation. It has a fledgling social enterprise that has begun selling healthy snacks in order to provide learning opportunities for those who are marginalised, isolated, homeless, teen mums and youth workers.
Snack Habitat “the home of healthy habits”, is a long-term initiative for children aged 6-12yrs. Supported by a very cool and colourful food van, kids are encouraged to think of their body as a habitat that deserves conservation and care.
Good coffee (and I mean really good) is my early morning friend. When travelling to regional remote towns, I take my trusty stovetop espresso maker and some Red Seal Black Adder Liquorice tea (the aroma and flavour is so unique and because I associate it with work, just the smell of it seems to get my mind in the groove). As for food, I’m a big fan of eggs, from happy hens livin’ it large and free on a range someplace local. They pack such a big nutritional punch and are so versatile – soft/hard boiled, scrambled with loads of fresh herbs, fetta cheese omelette, poached alongside mushrooms and wilted greens – yum.
Healthy go-to comfort food
Slow cooked bolognaise sauce over, or in, anything – pasta, steamed vegies, campfire waffles. Our family recipe is the best (of course) and it’s been a Sunday night dinner ritual since the kids were little munchers. It was the only dish my husband could cook when we met and the first ‘proper’ food the kids learnt how to make on their own. These days there’s a subtle competition to see who serves up the tastiest version with a fancy salad too! (The added love in the making continues to sustain my soul.)
Camping – no phones, no computer, by a river.
Throwing myself (with abandon) into the surf.
Reminding myself that what I do adds value to the lives of others and that I should be grateful, every day.
Most obscure rider / request
I’ve been blessed to work alongside the folks from CanTeen who support young people living with cancer. When preparing for my very first food Q&A session, I got an email from a young girl asking for recipes that would help grow her hair back after chemotherapy. Thank goodness I could shed my tears in private and get my act together before responding in person. I managed to debunk some of the myths around “methylsulfonylmethane” (aka MSM), which is often touted to improve hair growth. As Sam will attest, MSM occurs naturally in most proteins, so all I really had to do was to encourage some mindful choices in a way that was empathic, informative and most of all positive! PS I remain in touch with this beautiful person who remains in remission and whose hair grew back (slowly) to be even more long and glorious that it was before.
A recipe from Kay
Hummus is a great dish (with so much history) and so easy to make! This version has a sweet hit of honey to balance out the flavours and this seems to make it irresistable to kids (go figure). Add a few carrot sticks for dunking and snack time is sorted.
1 can (400 grams) chickpeas (or cook your own)
2 garlic cloves, peeled
1 heaped teaspoon sea salt
2 big tablespoons tahini
1 tablespoon ground cumin
Juice from 2 lemons
1 tablespoon honey or agave syrup
Water to mix
food processor or blender
Blend all the ingredients in a food processor until you get the consistency you like. Add a little water for a smoother mix.https://vimeo.com/channels/thebigfeed/48122204
To get more juice out of the lemon, press and roll under the palm of your hand on a board or bench-top. It freezes well so make a double batch.