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Happy-Gourmand

Food. It's a superhero thing

We all want kids to be healthy, and part of that is making sure they eat their vegetables. Maybe pop culture can help us out. 

Kids love things that are popular and hip, and what could be more popular and hip than superheroes? We have a heap of them to choose from lately - they all seem to have reappeared from the pages of comics to the big screen, more powerful and healthy than ever. 

What do they eat, pray tell? There doesn't seem to be any evidence that superheroes eat superfoods, but there is precedent to suggest they eat well. 

Popeye, although not technically a superhero, demonstrated that his power was in part due to his consumption of spinach. 

You don't see Batman eat, but Bruce Wayne eats all kinds of delectable meals at banquets and fancy restaurants, and I can't imagine that Alfred feeds him anything less than a perfectly balanced diet. 

Tony Stark has some bad habits, but his girlfriend Pepper is often reminding him to eat properly. 

Back as far as the 1990's, the Avengers and other Marvel superheroes advertised their support of a healthy beverage in a series of “Got milk?" television ads. 

Even the Incredibles sat down to a family dinner of meatloaf, veggies and potatoes. How much more convincing do we need?

You may think I'm getting my tongue too far into my cheek, but how about this research? A team at Cornell University did a study specifically targeting superheroes as role models for kids. They had children choose between french fries (fried potatoes) and apple fries (slices cut in the same shape, but not fried - i.e. more healthy). One group of kids was asked, without any reference, which food they would prefer, and a second group was asked after they were given the question, "What would a superhero eat?" 

Guess what? 45% of the group with the superhero reference chose apple fries, versus only 9% in the group with no reference. Aha, so there! 

Part of why I like this way of getting children to eat well is that it's based on positive reinforcement. Instead of saying, "You can't have dessert until you finish your broccoli", you're letting them know that their chances of being strong are better if they eat more broccoli versus more dessert. And, it doesn't have to be an either/or proposition - the reference is there all the time, so kids can use it as part of their decision-making process.

Just as adults will look to a healthy role model to motivate them into eating better or exercising more, kids will take the same reference point. We have known all along that superheroes are good guys, defending Good from Evil. Healthy eating falls into that same category. A note: Using this logic, I can add that there are exceptions, like Deadpool. He's not a superhero for kids, as the movie rating shows. Many of his habits are not to be encouraged. It's still a movie worth seeing, if you enjoy adult satire.

With the kids out of school on their spring break, this may be a good time to play the superhero card. If they are making their own lunches at home, or if you're out at a restaurant, the consideration for what Superman or Batman might choose could help steer them on a healthy path.

Here is a recipe that I adapted from the Mighty Marvel Superheroes Cookbook from the 1970's:

Iron Man's Hip & Trendy Salad Bites 

8 Romaine lettuce leaves
1 cup chopped ham or chicken (or substitute 1 can of drained tuna)
1 tomato, chopped - or 16 cherry tomatoes
1 large cucumber, sliced
1 cup of another veggie (chopped pepper, broccoli, asparagus, grated carrot, etc.)
1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese (or crumbled feta if you're feeling adventurous)
2 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and sliced
8 tbsp salad dressing (or make with olive oil and balsamic vinegar and no sugar)
salt & pepper, to taste

Directions

Boil eggs for 5 minutes. Drain and fill pot with cold water to cool. Peel and slice. 

Chop all veggies and meat, grate or crumble cheese, and make your dressing if needed.

Assemble lettuce leaves on plates and add other ingredients as you like (getting kids to try one new thing is a good idea, your taste buds grow just like the rest of you). Finish with dressing on top, season with salt and pepper as much as you like. 

Enjoy!

For you adults who want to set a good example, there's no reason you can't jump on this bandwagon. In case you're in need of inspiration, there is a DC Superhero Cookbook out there as well. If you aren't a superhero fan, you can try the Star Trek cookbook (or Star Wars if you prefer - includes a recipe for Wookie Cookies). There is also a Lord of the Rings cookbook (learn how to make Elvish bread) and an unofficial Harry Potter cookbook too. 

As Batman said, "Sometimes people deserve to have their faith rewarded . . .” I'm sure he meant, "with good food."

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About the Author

Kristin Peturson-Laprise is a customer experience specialist by trade, which means she is someone passionate about people having a good time. 

Her company, Wow Service Mentor, helps businesses enhance their customer experience through hands-on training, service programs, and special event coordination.

Kristin enjoys her own experiences too, and that is what she writes about in this column. She and her husband Martin Laprise (also known as Chef Martin, of The Chef Instead) love to share their passion for food and entertaining.  

Kristin says:

"Wikipedia lists a gourmand as a person who takes great pleasure in food. I have taken the concept of gourmandise, or enjoying something to the fullest, in all parts of my life. I love to grow and cook food, and I loved wine enough to become a Sommelier. I call a meal a success when I can convey that 'sense of place' from where the food has come . . . the French call that terroir, but I just call it the full experience. It might mean tasting the flavours of my own garden, or transporting everyone at the table to a faraway place, reminiscent of travels or dreams we have had."

 

E-mail Kristin at:  [email protected]

Check out her website here:  www.wowservicementor.com

 



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The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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