Excerpted from Cooking for the Love of the World, Awakening to Our Spirituality Through Cooking and Cooking for and with Children, Preparing for the Life of the Future,
by Anne-Marie Fryer Wiboltt. Anne-Marie is a Waldorf class and
kindergarten teacher, biodynamic farmer, author and nutritional
counselor. She has taught nutritional cooking and counseled for 25
years in her homeland Denmark, Europe and the United States.
"May I please have some more of everything?" is a typical
question asked around our table. Everyday we cook simple, hot delicious
meals which includes a nourishing soup, a variety of whole grains,
locally grown vegetables and seasonal fruit, beans, fish, eggs from
free range chickens, meat from grass fed animals, fermented foods, high
quality oils and fresh local butter.
The nutritional aspects of child development and education are
of greatest importance. A diet of wholesome, seasonal foods supports
clear, open and positive thinking, a healthy inner life of feeling and
strong motivation to fulfill our life's tasks and purposes. During the
years through high school the children grow and develop into young
adults. The opportunities we give the children to be nourished in body
and soul, lay the foundation for becoming healthy, self-motivated,
confident, caring citizens in the world. The future health of humanity
and the earth depends largely upon what we offer our children.
When I cook and make meals for children my wish is to use the very the best quality ingredients within an affordable budget.
Life Forces of Food
What determines the quality of
various foods is more than what meets the eyes. When we first look at a
carrot we usually only notice the outer manifestations of matter. In
reality what we see is the physical outcome of what has been created by
invisible life forces. The carrot is in itself an activity that is
constantly changing and metamorphosing,
In order to see the activity of a carrot plant and the
creative life forces forming it, imagine a tiny seed sprouting and
growing into a lovely vermilion red, sweet, crisp carrot with green
tops. Observe first the root of the carrot growing downward vertically
around its center. Compared with its leaves it is dense with matter.
The carrot tops on the other hand are drawn upwards towards the
periphery, spreading out horizontally. They are lighter and slender
with an almost lacy look. Already we notice two opposite, yet
complementary, forces at work that qualitatively are completely
different. One is the downward spiraling centripetal force which is
often referred to as gravity and the other is the upward spiraling
centrifugal force known as levity. Whereas the force of gravity is
connected with the earth so is the force of levity connected with the
To really understand the essence of nutrition requires the
courage to re-imagine the world and bring to our consciousness a view
other than the purely material. The quality of our food, and especially
life forces of the meal we eat, is of greatest importance in the light
of healthy child development.
Organically Grown Food
Foods that are grown on
farms where pesticides and herbicides have not been used for at least
three years are referred to as organically grown foods. There are other
requirements and regulations that follow specific guidelines (called
NOP). It is a process at present overseen by the USDA and certified
organizations. Organic foods are in high demand and now readily
available in many big supermarkets. This demand has grown so much in
the past decade that a real industry has developed around it. Many
organic foods are today mass produced and grown in places where the
cheapest labor can be found. Fortunately there are still a lot of
local, small organic farmers who offer excellent quality foods.
Biodynamically Grown Food
The most outstanding quality of food that I am familiar with is called
biodynamic. Biodynamic grapes have won nation wide popularity for their
excellent taste and aroma, producing fabulous wines. The quality of
biodynamic is concerned with not only the environment that the food is
grown in, but also with the qualitative processes in which the food is
created. Cultures of the past, and perhaps some of our own
grandparents, were aware that their crops received nourishment from the
earth as well as the cosmos; the rhythmical cycles of the moon, sun and
the stars. They worked the land according to their observations of
these cycles and treated their animals, plants and soil in a way that
reflected this relationship. Biodynamic gardeners and farmers of today
keep building on this respectful relationship.
Biodynamic farmers experience their farms as individual,
self-sustaining, living organisms that live and breathe with the earth
in a sea of cosmic life forces. Everything is alive for the biodynamic
farmer or gardener and maintains connection to the spiritual cosmic
world. The farmer or gardener sees it as his or her responsibility to
cultivate this connection. S/he prepares the soil in such a way that it
enables plants to take up the cosmic influences necessary for their
growth, using special biodynamic preparations.
Scientist, artist and philosopher, Rudolf Steiner, inspired
the use of these biodynamic preparations, which are made and used with
the understanding of how the earthly and cosmic forces interact
throughout the year. He recognized that the cosmic forces stream into
the earth through the living nature of the elements as well as the
soil, and its minerals. These cosmic forces support the plants in their
growth. The quality and life forces of the plant we eat highly
influences the quality of our thinking, feeling and interaction with
people and nature. Our thinking, feeling and way of interacting create
the future condition of our society and the world. Rudolf Steiner was
aware that a renewal of agriculture is today necessary in order to
reestablish the relationship between the cosmos and humanity, for the
What distinguishes biodynamic farming from other healthy
farming practices such as permaculture and organic farming is that
biodynamic farmers consciously think and work in a practical way with
these earthly and cosmic forces and rhythms. Sowing and harvesting are
carefully done at the most favorable times in relationship to the sun,
moon and planetary rhythms. In addition to working with the cosmic
rhythms, applying biodynamic preparations and composted cow manure,
these farmers also maintain healthy soil by rotating crops,
incorporating plenty of organic matter and other holistic agricultural
Biodynamic farming practices are also regulated by certified
organizations. In many areas of the world scientific research is
carried out to develop a better understanding of the quality of
biodynamic foods. Ideas are implemented, observations made, comparative
testing done and elaborate evaluations made in search of future
agriculture practices in harmony with the living world filled with
Seasonal, Locally Harvested Foods
possible I use organic or biodynamic foods that are locally produced.
Seasonal, locally grown foods harmonize with the environment we live in
and resonate with the life forces and seasonal changes around us.
Eating seasonally and locally is traditionally what people all over the
world have practiced. It is only recently that we have been able to
ship foods around the world at any time of the year. Cooking with
seasonal foods encourages a healthy relationship with nature and life
An Affordable Budget
I always strive to get
the highest quality food when cooking for children while at the same
time keeping the cost affordable. I instinctively know that smaller
amounts of nutritious food are much healthier than large amounts of
'empty' food with no life. I base my menus on whole foods, which are
cheaper to produce than processed, refined foods. Although many
organically or biodynamically grown foods are more expensive than
conventional foods I do not mind paying a little more for higher
quality food. We gladly place our money in the hands of farmers who
care for the health of the earth and humanity. Buying locally ensures a
minimum of shipping and packaging, since food does not have to be
transported long distances across the country. I like to support a
healthier local economy where the funds stay in the community. In the
long run buying high quality whole foods locally, seems to be more
affordable and sustaining for everyone.
Healthy Relationship with the World
a diet of wholesome foods encourages a wholesome relationship with the
world we live in. This is perhaps the most important aspect of healthy
nutrition for children. Whole foods ensure superior quality and at the
same time nourish respect and appreciation for the mystery of life.
When I cut an apple around the middle so that a star appears, I hear a
sigh of wonder and awe from the children. Inwardly I marvel at the
wisdom that created this magnificent fruit. Small gestures like this
completely change our relationship with the world and create the
deepest reverence for all life.
When working in the kitchen or nature enter this mood of
wonder. Take your children to visit a farm or grow a few plants at home
in the garden or in flower box. Herbs and quick growing lettuces do
well in a sunny windowsill. Whenever I plant a seed in the ground I am
in awe of the plant cycle that I experience; the transformation from
seed to leaf to bud, blossom, fruit and back to seed. I am amazed that
a sunflower seed blossoms within weeks into a sunflower, greeting the
sun on its journey across the sky. Only a sunflower will grow from that
seed, not a squash or anything else! What a miracle! My assistance in
this process is humble. I nurture the plant with rich compost and make
sure it has water. Then I watch the plant with the utmost interest and
attention. When it is time to harvest, it is with the deepest respect
and appreciation that I reach out in joy to pick the food.
We live in a world of constant
changes. Day transforms into night and summer into winter. Every
morning a new day is birthed and every evening it dies away for the
night to be born. The moon becomes full, wanes and disappears for three
days before it reappears anew. The seasons flow into each other, each
giving way for the next. Blessed with these changes, no two days are
As human beings we are intimately connected with these
rhythms. Rhythm is strengthening and very essential for the development
of a healthy life no matter what age we are. Young children thrive and
feel safe when the world around them flows rhythmical and is
predictable. Everyday we eat lunch and dinner at the same time. We have
the same 'meal rituals'; lighting a candle and singing a grace. A
healthy rhythm of sound sleep, various nourishing activities and
wholesome meals is a treasure for any child.
important aspect of healthy nourishment for children is immersing them
in nourishing activities. It is wonderful for children if they can
participate in family and domestic activities like gardening, cooking
and setting the table. In addition when children are responsible for
age appropriate chores they develop a sense of purpose in the world.
Oral story telling, painting, drawing, modeling, music making,
imaginative play and other artistic activities nourish active inner
creativity, healthy social skills, complete brain development and
strong bodily coordination as well as self-motivation and confidence.
When children are allowed to play out of doors they exercise, climb,
run, jump, walk and explore the changing world on their own accord.
Besides enriching their whole being and laying the foundation for
academic learning these activities also promote a strong appetite and
The Mood in which We Eat
wherein the meal is shared is part of healthy nutrition as well. When
the mood is relaxed, warm and light-filled we can fully digest the
meal. A calm, joyous feeling around the table encourages respect for
one another and nature from which we receive our food. Children grow
and develop healthily in a warm, safe and loving environment.
Children of all ages blossom and
flourish when they are warm. If they are cold they have to use their
inner activity to stay warm instead of developing in body and soul. A
loving warm environment, warm clothing as well as warming foods and
cooking styles are fundamental for the growing and evolving child.
Starting the day with a hot bowl of oatmeal drizzled with oil or butter
is very different from a serving of cold cereal with milk and fruits.
Developing a Taste for Natural Foods
is a gift for children if they can develop a taste for natural foods.
It may take some time to change old habits. After an active morning
outside climbing trees, running in the field and digging in the ground
the appetite is high. Almost everything tastes great when the children
are really hungry. When children also are involved in some of the
processes of growing and preparing food they are much more likely to
appreciate the meal in front of them with joy. Most often they will try
anything that they helped prepare. I always ask the children to eat a
'polite bite' so that they have a chance to cultivate a liking for new
flavors and textures. The most supportive I think, to help children
learn to like new foods, is when their friends or family around the
table eat the meal with the greatest delight.
Children delight in simple, beautiful meals. Younger children most
often prefer a little piece of broccoli, perhaps with a light dressing
and a beautifully cut orange carrot flower, over an exotic vegetable
pate. Of course older children, especially in the teenage years, desire
a lot more zest and creativity in cooking as well as in their lives in
general. A simple, beautifully prepared meal allows our senses to feast
on a variety of colors, textures, flavors and aromas and is a
significant aspect of nourishing foods.
Creating Balanced Meals
When I create a family meal I generally include a nourishing soup,
whole grains, protein rich foods, vegetables - especially leafy greens
vegetables, high quality oils or fats as well as small amounts of
fermented foods. I cook simple, wholesome and beautiful dishes with a
wide selection of foods using a variety of different cooking styles.
Everyone at the table eats the same meal. For younger children I may
set a little food aside before using any seasoning. Because children
are growing and developing I make sure to serve rich, highly nutritious
dishes with buoyancy and lightness. The amount I serve of grains,
vegetables, animal foods, oils and fats, desserts etc. vary with
everyone's needs, the activities of the day as well as the season.
Everything is always changing. Life is dynamic.
Soups are a wonderful and satisfying
entrance for the meal. I create light, refreshing and cooling soups for
spring and summer or when the rest of the meal is substantial.
Heartier, warming soups, emphasizing round and root vegetables are
nourishing for the fall and winter days. I use rich soup stocks cooked
on bones of beef, chicken, fish (including heads and tails) or sea
vegetables like kombu and wakame. Some soups are a meal in itself
served with fresh sourdough bread and butter or olive oil.
Whole Grains and Breads
Grains are very
special seeds, indeed little golden gems, ripened in the abundance of
light and warmth of several seasons. Hidden within the sheath of each
grain is an ordered little cosmos of its own, totally independent of
its mother plant, capable of producing thousands of new grains in years
to come! There is nothing like the wholeness of grains.
These lovely grains, when prepared well, have a delicious,
sweet flavor. Explore cooking with a wide variety of grains like wheat,
rice, oats, millet, rye, barley and corn. For better digestion soak
whole grains in water for at least 6 hours with an added dash of liquid
from natural fermented foods, such as whey or vinegar. Dry cereals are
processed in such a way that they are not healthy to eat. When baking
bread, use sourdough and freshly milled flour. Yeasted and chemically
leavened (baking powder and baking soda) breads are lighter and quicker
to make occasionally but no comparison in quality and digestibility.
Served as part of a meal and chewed well, whole grains are a very
essential part of a child's diet.
Seasonal Vegetables and Fruits
When cooking a main meal, I make several side dishes of freshly cooked,
seasonal vegetables. I pick a wide selection of roots, leafy greens,
fruits and seeds in appropriate proportions, using a variety of cutting
and cooking styles. Qualitatively all parts of the plants are
different. The root has its life in the moist soil. It hugs the earth
and penetrates into its dark, cool, watery mineral rich realm. Leafy
vegetables on the other hand have, compared to roots, a closer
relationship to the cosmos. The cosmic forces lift the plant out of its
earthly gravity into an expansive upward movement creating a wealth of
lighter, less substantial beautiful leaves. A variety of seasonal
green, round and root vegetables as well as colorful fruits, cooked in
a variety of ways are essential in a healthy diet.
Animal Foods, Dairy and Beans
I serve at
least one protein-rich dish at every meal. These include beans
(lentils, chickpeas etc), bean products (tofu and tempeh), fresh or
frozen fish (preferably wild or farm raised organically), free ranged
poultry, eggs, meat from grass-pastured animals, or unprocessed,
unhomogenized milk and cultured dairy product, like yogurt and raw
cheese. I rarely cook with dairy products, except for butter, since the
pasteurization completely changes the quality and makes them difficult
Fresh, unprocessed or cultured dairy, fish or animal foods
have been part of many different cultures dietary heritage. To either
exclude or include animal foods and dairy in the diet and to decide the
appropriate proportion is a personal choice that must be seriously
considered. If you choose to omit animal foods from your child's diet
make sure to include high quality oils and unprocessed, cultured dairy
along with dishes that include sturdy downward growing roots and
strengthening cooking methods. When including animal foods in the diet
choose meat from animals that have been free-ranged and pasture-fed
(healthy fish need wild sea grasses as well). Soybeans are best only
eaten in the form of miso, tempeh and occasionally tofu seasoned with
Oils, Seeds and Nuts
Before many plants wither and decay they develop mature seeds. Seeds
embody the life of the next generation. They are the culmination of the
beginning and the end. These small, rich and oily gems are highly
concentrated and full of potential vitality.
Healthy oils and fats are very important in a child's diet.
Most plant oils go rancid quickly after being pressed. Therefore I
choose only unrefined, cold pressed extra virgin olive, freshly pressed
dark sesame oil, freshly ground peanut butter, freshly churned butter
and high quality animal fats. I complement one meal a day with a small
amount of cod liver oil as well as fish oil, seasoned with lemon
essential oil. I often sprinkle freshly ground flax seeds, roasted
sesame seeds, sunflower seeds or various freshly shelled nuts on
grains, salads and desserts.
When cooking for children I season the meals lightly using mainly
herbs. In my garden I grow a variety of herbs like rosemary and thyme.
All winter I pick many of the same herbs fresh from plants growing in
pots on my enclosed sun-bathed porch. Other natural seasonings that I
use regularly are naturally fermented apple cider, rice or balsamic
vinegars, fresh cold pressed olive oil, dark roasted sesame oil,
cultured butter, fresh ground nut butters, zesty mustards, sun dried
unrefined sea salt, and traditionally fermented and aged tamari and
tamari soy sauce (shoyo), miso, umeboshi plums and umeboshi vinegars. I
add small amounts of sea vegetables, like kombu as a bean tenderizer
and natural flavor enhancer. The ways in which I prepare vegetables and
grains bring out their natural sweetness. The whole meal itself is
naturally sweet. The other major flavors, salty, pungent, sour and
bitter, are present without dominating the delicate flavors found in
Cultured and Fermented Foods
Serving small amounts of fermented, cultured or raw food with each meal
is pivotal in creating a well-balanced nutritious meal. They especially
increase the appetite, stimulate the digestion and make any simple meal
festive and satisfying. When I began serving sauerkraut I didn't
anticipate how much the children liked it or rather naturally craved
it. People of all cultures enjoy fermented and cultured foods. The
Greeks pickle olives, Germans turn cabbages into appetizing sauerkraut
and the Japanese transform green, immature plums into the tasty
medicinal umeboshi plums. Grains and beans are cultured in the Far East
creating the now well-known nutritious miso and tamari soy sauce. In
Indonesia many families culture soybeans to create tempeh. All over the
world people ferment grains or fruit into vine, beer or vinegars. From
Scandinavia and Russia came the tasty drinks kvass and kombucha, which
kept young and old healthy, and satisfied the need for fresh foods
throughout the long winters. Nearly everyone in our society is familiar
with cultured yogurt, butter, kefir and cheese.
Most of the time I create a
balanced meal that is complete and satisfying without a dessert. A
balanced meal in itself is naturally sweet, colorful, and flavorful and
includes a variety of textures, cooking styles and cutting techniques.
Adding fermented foods to the meal bring all the dishes to a unified
whole, and aids in digestion.
Although a balanced meal is complete and satisfying by itself
it is important from time to time to make healthy, rich and nourishing
treats and beverages for children. Sweeteners are very concentrated
(forty quarts of maple sap make one quart of syrup) so I use them in
small amounts. My favorite natural sweeteners are maple syrup, sorghum,
barley malt, rice syrup, raw or cooked fruit and fruit juices or
concentrate. I use raw, unpasteurized honey in dressings and dishes
that do not need to be heated.
The Life of the Future
in creating a healthy relationship with nutritious foods is one of the
most important relationships a child can make. It is the foundation
from which they build the rest of their lives.
Here biodynamic association info from references