Fourteen years ago, I asked my young wife, “What do you think about moving to El Paso?” To say she was shocked was an understatement. El Paso definitely was not on her radar of places to live. At the time, we were living in Houston. I was fresh out of law school and had, thank God, done exceptionally well. I was working at a major law firm downtown, and we had all of the perks that a city like Houston has to offer. The future was bright. But something was missing. In law school, we learned how the law could be used to fight injustice. In my small office on the 17th floor of the Pennzoil building, the only justice being done was for major corporations trying to make more money. I knew very early on in my legal career that I would rather fight for people. But why El Paso? My first memory of El Paso was from a trip I took with my dad to a convention he was attending when I was 11 years old. My dad owned a used car dealership, and the cars he drove were always “unique.” I will never forget the 1960s-era white Cadillac convertible with the red leather interior that we drove from Lubbock to the convention in El Paso. Boss Hogg from “The Dukes of Hazard” would have envied that car! While my dad did his convention, I played in the motel pool. Kids were still allowed to be unsupervised in those days! At night, we went out to great Mexican dinners, the sort of Mexican food that El Paso is famous for. The El Paso trip stood out Why I Love El Pa PART ONE
Do your kids get enough nutrients in their diet? If they’re like most kids, the answer is probably no. You want your children to eat more vegetables and less processed junk, but they certainly don’t make it easy. Even getting the average kid to chow down on a serving of broccoli can be a huge chore. In fact, food manufacturers have built an entire industry that takes advantage of our kids’ penchant for sugary cereal and fast food. However, a diet of highly processed foods can lead to a host of problems. Not only do these poor dietary habits carry over into adulthood, but a poor diet can hinder brain development and may even cause behavioral issues. A study in the American Journal of Public Health found links between poor diet and the development of depression in kids and teens. But how can you encourage your kids to eat healthier? Often, it comes down to presentation. A mound of plain old veggies is not appetizing — not to a 10-year-old and not to a 40-year- old. Instead of presenting vegetables as a boring side dish, think of them as an ingredient. Take lasagna, for instance. This tasty, familiar dish is easy to modify. Instead of using lasagna noodles, use zucchini. Simply slice the zucchini into thin, noodle-like strips, then layer them as you would typical noodles. The same can be done with other pasta dishes, such as spaghetti. Zucchini noodles — or “zoodles” — are delicious in marinara sauce and decadent in Alfredo. If push comes to shove, you can easily hide vegetables in foods your children already know and love. Did you know you can make brownies with avocado and black beans? Slipping in a few healthier ingredients here and there can deliver those nutrients in a pinch, especially during a chaotic school week. But, if you’re hoping to foster long-lasting healthy habits, the best thing you can do is offer your child a choice. Say something like “You can have the cauliflower, or you can have the broccoli. It’s up to you!” Let your child have that control. Psychologists and social scientists, including the famed Dr. Maria Montessori, argue that when kids feel in charge of a decision, they are more likely to embrace one of the options — even if it’s a vegetable. Ultimately, as a parent, you are in charge of your child’s diet. Help them explore new foods and foster a positive culinary environment. Your kids will develop a taste for healthy eating in no time!
SOLUTION PG. 4
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