- Christina, Trevor and Julie Anne Glowac
Julie Anne was not as challenged as her brother by their doctor’s recommendation to avoid refined sugar and gluten. “She's this kid who, instead of eating cookies, wants sauerkraut,” her mom said with a laugh.
Trevor had more typical kid tastes.
Glowac’s creative strategy involved asking her kids to imagine themselves as Lyme “ninjas” who needed ninja foods to power them to health. The tactic worked so well that the licensed clinical social worker decided to write Ninja Foods: Recipes Included to help other youngsters navigate health-related dietary restrictions.
Supported by a successful crowdfunding campaign, the book was published in late March. The family has shipped out 500 copies, including 180 donated to Lyme organizations and St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital.
Glowac spoke with Seven Days about ninja power, keeping it simple and how she created the handful of recipes in the book.
SEVEN DAYS: How did you land on ninjas?CHRISTINA GLOWAC: It was about finding a way that was fun versus stressful to deal with food restrictions. We're really trying to give families a different language to use with younger kiddos that is more fun and empowering, versus “You can't have that.”
My mom's a first-grade teacher, and she read [the book] to her class a couple of weeks ago. When the kids were pulling out their lunches, it was so fun to just hear the conversation, like, “Look, ninja food!” when they pulled out their strawberries.
SD: The book focuses mostly on fruits and vegetables, but kids can’t live on those alone.CG: I was trying to help younger kids understand some of the things that they could be exposed to at daycare or at friends’ houses that are safe for them to eat, like oranges or grapes. If they see things like cupcakes and cookies, there should at least be a pause, like, “Oh, I may not be able to have that.”
Trevor's 8 now, and he knows, but when this all began, he didn't have a concept of what was OK and wasn't OK to eat. So, we really tried to do it with whole foods.
In the book, I talk about how we've figured out how to make all the snacks you want with our ninja foods, so you can eat frozen-fruit pops, chocolate banana cookies, chocolate chip banana cupcakes and the apple bake.
SD: How did you develop those recipes?CG: Lots of trial and error. There were lots of things I baked that [Trevor] would not touch. The recipes we landed on are what we have continued to make.
The first time in kindergarten, [when] he brought the banana chocolate cupcakes to school, he was really nervous because he was so afraid his friends weren't going to like them. I remember him coming home and being like, “They loved them. They ate all of them!”
This interview was edited and condensed for clarity and length.