• Hana Kovac

The Most Important Skill You Can Teach Your Kids

I was born in a country where communism ruled for 50 years. We had to stand in a queue in order to buy bananas and oranges. Soup in a bag? Lunch in a box? Non-existent. Every meal was made from scratch. When iron curtain fell, we were stunned by how many products we could buy. We stuffed ourselves (ok, not everyone, but I definitely did) with ready made soups, bolognese sauce from a can or grated cheese from a bag (I don't even know if there was actual cheese in it).

It was not until few years ago when I found out, that these types of products wreaked havoc in my body and I still must bear the consequences of my foolish behaviour. Alas, the majority of people don't recognize the actual cost of ready made meals. Ever wondered which shop is the fullest before Christmas? Toy store? Well, yes, but a frozen food chain is close behind. I just stand in awe behind a lady who shops for ready cooked appetizers! Sure, they look amazing and people are often fooled by nice colours and a pretty box. As one food journalist noted, the ready-meal world is highly organised and intensely secretive.

What is Hidden In Ready Meals?

We all know that high fructose corn syrup, too many flavourings, additives and so called E-s are bad for our health. Savvy customers search for clean labels and the industry knows it. In order to create 'clean labels' they rely nowadays on futuristic ingredients such as enzymes, 'orange cells', (used to make cartons of diluted and pasteurised orange concentrate look as if they contained freshly squeezed juice), or potato protein isolate.

Tips How to Avoid Hidden Ingredients

1. Shop for real food on farmer's markets and learn how to cook and teach your kids this important skill. There are many cooking videos available nowadays, so learning how to cook is indeed easy as a pie.

2. Offer a cooking lesson as a gift to someone you care about.

3. Looking for a new year's resolution? Learn how to cook! It is definitely more important than buying a fitness club card. Health starts in your kitchen.

4. Do not dine at a restaurant very often. You never know what type of oils or products restaurants use. Honestly, even french restaurants use many frozen, ready cooked meals. After many years on a real food diet, my body knows exactly after visiting a restaurant, that this food was not fresh. The day after, I feel sluggish and everything hurts.

5. Frozen veggies and fruit in organic quality are perfect for a day when you are not in a mood to cook. For a quick meal (when 4 kids come home from a ballet lesson hungry as a bear), stir fry frozen veggies with plain tomato sauce (which only ingredients should be tomatoes and maybe salt) with quinoa or whole rice pasta.

6. Slow cookers and pressure cookers are a healthy way to prepare stews (with meat or beans) and delicious soups. When you come home from work, you just need to reheat the meal.

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