Since we started going to the zoo, they've made a beautiful African savanna exhibit where the giraffes can wander and nibble on the trees, hippos can wallow in pools, and zebras can strike a pose for the cameras.
The penguin pool has been revamped so that you can see the penguins climb the rocks, dive into the water, swim underwater, and receive their ration of something that smells suspiciously like fish. Actually, I'm pretty sure it's fish. If not, they might want to get their refrigerator checked, because something definitely smells fishy there.
A Northwest trail has been built to showcase wolves, eagles, and other critters from around my neck of the woods. Gorillas now have a large area where they can swing, rolls, play, cuddle, and hang out to groom each other, French braiding their back hair. Otters have their own slip and slide stream. And there is an awesome space for little kids to get in touch with farm animals, seeing how chickens lay eggs, pretend milking a cow, and petting goats and sheep.
The animal exhibits aren't the only thing that's changed at the zoo, though. My daughter pointed out something fascinating. Kids at the zoo have changed.
When my kids were vey little I'd bring along an umbrella stroller (the kind that's lightweight and folds easily), just for them to rest in. But as soon as they were walking, they didn't spend much time in the stroller. They were too eager to run and explore. There were places to climb, things to touch, and, oh yes, animals to see. Why sit still in a stroller when there was all that to experience?
What we saw a ton of at the zoo this week was kids in strollers as big as an SUV. And these kids were strapped in. And they always had snacks in front of them. Once it was pointed out to me, I was shocked. Kids are ALWAYS EATING. Even when they are too big to put in a stroller, they walk with food in their hands.
What are we teaching our children if we take them to the zoo, strapped into what's basically a couch, and put food in front of them? Honestly, you might as well stay at home, put the kids on a real couch, turn on the Discovery channel, let them eat cereal and candy, and save on the gas.
Doing the zoo this way does two things:
1- The kids never engage with the environment. Sure, it's a pain to constantly make sure your kids aren't getting into trouble, but the seemingly easy trade-off for not training your children to obey you is that you get passive, couch potato children. They are not going to be curious, eager learners.
2- They will get fat. No exercise plus food they're not hungry for is a recipe for obese kids. Didn't I hear somewhere that kids these days are getting fatter? Yeah. There might be a reason for that. Parent's are strapping their kids into mobile restraining devices and feeding them unneeded junk. (In my book, even "healthy" whole wheat Cheerios are junk.)
So stroller + snacks = passive and massive. Ugh.
"But," I hear those mothers saying, "my cherub gets so hungry! If I don't bring snacks she whines the whole trip."
Easy solution. Feed that child a nourishing, satisfying, nutrient dense breakfast. Then let them run and play at the zoo. They'll be too busy to even notice that they don't have their snacks in front of them!
Most mornings at my house breakfast is either eggs (fried or scrambled, sometimes with cheese and salsa on top), or smoothies made with bananas, farm eggs (raw), spirulina powder, cacao powder, grass-fed gelatin, homemade raw yogurt and homemade raw milk kefir. On Saturdays, though, I tend to put a little more effort into it.
This is a wonderful coffee cake that I made with freshly picked strawberries. My husband and daughter both asked for scrambled eggs to go with it, as they feared the carb crash that usually follows a coffee cake. Not to worry! Since it has coconut flour and a ton of eggs, it's hearty and satisfying and won't leave you feeling lethargic in a carb coma. Try it and see how much more energy you have for the day!
Strawberry Breakfast Cake
1/4 cup coconut oil or butter, melted
2 Tbsp raw honey (or maple syrup, if you're not on GAPS)
1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup milk of choice (coconut, almond, raw dairy)
1/2 cup coconut flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp sea salt
1-1/2 cups strawberries, diced and divided
1 cup nuts/seeds of choice (I used soaked and dehydrated almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds)
1/2 cup shredded unsweetened coconut flakes
2 Tbsp raw honey
2 Tbsp butter or coconut oil
1 Tbsp cinnamon
pinch of sea salt
1- Preheat oven to 350 deg. F. Lightly grease an 8x8-inch baking pan with coconut oil.
2- In a large bowl mix together the eggs, oil or butter, honey, milk, and vanilla.
3- Add the coconut flour, baking soda, and salt. Stir until combined.
4- Fold in 1 cup of the diced strawberries. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
5- Combine all of the topping ingredients in a small bowl.
6- Spoon the mixture over the top of the batter. Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup strawberries over the top.
7- Bake for 45 minutes, or until the a cake tester poked in the center of the cake comes out clean. If you need to bake longer than 45 minutes and the top is looking browned, cover it with a piece of foil so that the topping doesn't burn.