We have a unique piece of furniture in the middle of our kitchen that we lovingly refer to as “the butcher block”. My amazing husband surprised me with it when we moved into our house fifteen years ago.
It’s the center of activity in our home.
My friends sit nearby it on a stool and visit while I chop, stir and toss lunch. We leave notes for each other on it. Some of our best conversations are had leaning against it.
When our kids were young, they climbed on an adjusting stool called the Learning Tower to be able to reach it.
Appetizers are served on it when guests come for dinner.
Birthday candles are blown out on it.
Science experiments are conducted on it.
So, so, so many interactions happen around the butcher block.
And the thing every member of my family knows about this focal point is that whatever is on the butcher block is available to be eaten. If there’s a colander of fresh blueberries sitting there, pop a few in your mouth. If there are sliced bell peppers, grab a handful as you walk by. If there’s a cinnamon roll from Bubba’s Chicken, fork off a bite and enjoy. If there’s something you want to save for later, don’t leave it on the butcher block because it will get eaten!
The Rhythm of Our Home
Every home has a rhythm, and the butcher block has been the platform for our family to establish a rhythm of eating healthy food. Something my kids often hear me say is “Eat what’s on the butcher block before you eat anything else.” Translation: I’ve put things on the butcher block you may not otherwise have chosen. Eat the healthy food that’s there first, then you can have the chips and crackers you would have reached for. It’s fun to hear them divide and negotiate who will eat what so they can move on to other foods. The fruit always goes first.
Eat Real Food
So, what’s on the butcher block? It could be any number of things from my refrigerator. Sometimes it’s red, orange or yellow bell peppers and nuts. There are often cherry tomatoes, bananas, apples, or cucumbers. Celery, carrots, grapes, berries or avocados can also make an appearance. All types of plant-based nutrition find their way to our kitchen's butcher block.
When grocery shopping, I always choose non-organic produce. Growing up with farmers and continuing to visit with them about their current farming methods that are safer than ever, gives this consumer confidence! I'm no longer confused or afraid of buying non-organic produce.
Just because my kids eat a variety of produce doesn't mean they would choose it every time. Our bodies have a predisposition to crave sugary foods, so it’s hard work to stay away from them. And we certainly don’t always. We try to keep a balance in our home of routinely eating a variety of food around our table together, and that includes enjoying treats together. By encouraging them to develop a broad palate, we hope our kids will mature into adults who enjoy the value of a healthy lifestyle.
What's Your Rhythm?
When my husband brought this fun piece home, we had no idea our butcher block would provide the creative avenue for our family to learn to eat food we wouldn’t naturally choose. You might even say that this piece of furniture is teaching us to make healthier food choices. Hopefully some of the experiences will stay with them as they begin making their own nutritional decisions. At least for now, they are ordering lots of veggies on their Subway sandwiches. That's a good start! What’s your rhythm? How do you train yourself and your family to eat real food?