Mom tells how good food makes healthy kids

  • Fri Jul 27th, 2012 5:28pm
  • Life

By Wendy Donahue Chicago Tribune

The first time Erica Reid covered her son’s aching ear with a steamed white onion, her music mogul husband, Antonio “L.A.” Reid, worried more about her health than the boy’s.

“He was giving me the cuckoo look, like it was voodoo or something,” she said, laughing.

But the ache went away and stayed away. She continued to experiment with homeopathic treatments while shifting her son and daughter away from a typical meal of chicken fingers, pasta and peas to turkey burgers, brown rice and kale.

A litany of allergies, asthma and infections — one of which landed her son in emergency surgery when he was 3 — eased. Months of steadily improving health led to years.

“My kids were sick all the time; they were on antibiotics all the time,” she said. “Now, this summer, it will be six years that my children have had no medications. No Tylenol, no Motrin, no Advil. My refrigerator is my medicine cabinet, and our kitchen is our pharmacy. I just turned to food.”

Though Reid went on to write “The Thriving Child: Parenting Successfully Through Allergies, Asthma and Other Common Challenges” ($19.99), she professes no professional credentials. For each chapter in her book, covering a range of topics from food allergies to discipline, she combines her own experience with perspective from experts.

She views her layman status as an asset in inspiring other parents to do their best for their children, but she stops short of zealotry.

“Do my kids eat junk food? Absolutely. Do they eat processed food? Absolutely. Do they eat that way 90 percent of the time? No,” she said. “I stopped bringing junk food home. If we’re going to have it, let’s have it out of the home. I try to make the home where we eat a certain way 90 percent of the time.”

The book includes kid-friendly recipes at the back. Some feature uncommon ingredients such as the seasoning Sea Veg ( but are generally simple, such as the kale chips recipe.

Kale chips

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Remove stems from 1 bunch kale; tear leaves into big pieces. Soak in cold water with 1 tablespoon sea salt. Rinse well, strain and pat dry. Drizzle 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil and ¼ teaspoon Sea Veg on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Add kale; toss. Bake, 10 minutes. Sprinkle with 1 ½ tablespoons fresh lemon juice; toss. Return to oven; bake until crispy, 10 to 15 minutes.

Adapted from “The Thriving Child”