Chef Maire Byrne, founder of Thyme Café & Market in Santa Monica (www.thymecafeandmarket.com), grew up in L.A. in a home with five brothers and sisters, so she’s no stranger to mixing food and family. Now the mom of two daughters, she was happy to share her favorite tips about healthy family fare.
What is your approach to healthy eating for your family?
At home, we eat pretty clean. We have simple dinners with ingredients that we pick up weekly at the farmers market. We eat a lot of vegetables and salad, and my kids love grains. We always have fresh fruit in the house, and they are quick to grab an apple, orange, mango slices or a handful of berries. My kids are definitely snackers, and believe me, they love themselves some Goldfish, but I try to steer them towards the fresh, non-processed snack options.
What, to you, is the difference between “kid food” and “grown-up food”?
I wish that I could say that my kids eat everything we eat, but they don’t. I serve them what we are eating, although I present it in a more simple way, separating all of the food groups. I always ask my children to try at least one bite and, if they don’t like what is served, that is fine.
Do you cook with your kids? What types of things do you make together?
My kids are little, 2 and 3, and we have started cooking together. They love to crack eggs for breakfast and whisk them for scrambled eggs. They love to help bake, and of course they want to lick the spatula with the cookie dough. They can also tear herbs easily. I pick them up and show them what I am stirring in a pot, and tell them about the different ingredients. I believe the more children are taught about food, and the more they are involved in the process, the more adventurous and healthy eaters they will become.
What foods do you keep on hand in case you need to whip up a healthy snack?
We always have peanut butter, crackers, fresh fruit, baby carrots, raisins and nuts. I even try to keep something in my purse or diaper bag at all times, because you never know!