My Top 2 Tips on Getting Toddlers/Children to Eat Well

I’m sure everyone knows the pregnant mom’s bible What to Expect When Expecting.  I used it throughout my pregnancies, especially when I needed reassurance that everything was normal!  Well they have a website that has tons of data instantly available and also a blog by moms sharing experiences and helpful information as well as funny stories.  I was honored to be asked to write a post for them.  I decided to include my top 2 tips on getting kids (especially toddlers) to eat well. 

I find toddler-hood is a crucial time for developing a child’s taste preferences and whether they’ll eat a variety of foods later.  It is especially an important time to get them to like vegetables.  Not many vegetables are immediately palatable to young ones since they may be bitter.  But with perseverance and these tips, you can be not only successful, but also secure in knowing your child is getting his or her nutrients necessary for a healthy life. 

Find the post here.

New Snack Ideas- Oloves & DipIn

 I was recently sent some packs of Oloves brand olives and DipIn dips. 

Oloves & DipIn

Oloves & DipIn

While we were with friends and their children we broke out the different varieties to taste– 3 Oloves pitted green olive packs: “Tasty Mediterranean” (with basil and garlic), “Lemony Lover” (with lemon and garlic), “Hot Chilli Mama” (with habanero chillies {sic}) and 3 DipIn dips- Black Olive Tapenade, Pepper & Artichoke Brucschetta, and Classic Hummus.   Oloves come in little snack packs that are perfect to stick into lunch bags or to have as a quick, convenient snack. 

The boys (there were 5 boys six to twelve years old) and the parents (except my youngest son who refused to try the olives) liked all the Oloves.  I think the overall favorite was the Hot Chilli Mama which had just enough heat for most of us spice lovers and not too much for my spice-averse middle son.  The second favorite was the Lemony Lover.  The lemon gave the olives a pleasant hint of tartness but didn’t overpower them.  The packs are wonderful to toss into a child’s backpack.  IMG_4791 IMG_4790 Continue reading

Healthy Nut-free Snacks

Although a few weeks left in summer vacation, our town is starting to talk about going back to school and we parents can’t wait to see who our children will have for teachers.  The packets were supposedly coming last week, then we were told probably by the end of next week.  It’s such a big deal to many– not only in getting a good fit with teacher to your child but also to see who of your child’s friends will be in class together.  But I’m always hoping we don’t get the “your child’s class is a nut-free class” letter.  Luckily my children don’t have any food allergies, but we still have to be considerate of those that do.  Especially dangerous ones that can give a reaction just in tiny amounts, like nuts.  But, since my two youngest love peanut butter and since my youngest is super picky, it’s not the easiest to find snacks that they’ll eat.  



Here’s a list of some healthy snack ideas that are nut-free: Continue reading

Rosemary Olive Bread

Yesterday's Rosemary Olive Bread

Yesterday’s Rosemary Olive Bread

Yesterday I baked a white loaf for a friend who’d recently had surgery.  Since it was a crummy day and the oven was hot I decided to make some more bread; just something a bit different.  I came up with this recipe and tried to duplicate it today without the bread maker (which I used just to mix/knead the dough) and I’d used the last of the potato flour yesterday.  Today’s was a bit different, but really didn’t matter too much as they were both delicious! 

Today's Rosemary Olive Bread

Today’s Rosemary Olive Bread

Continue reading

Summer Meal in a Flash

Between my part time work, boys’ swim lessons, swim team practice, speech therapy, and BMX practice and my Park & Rec Commission meeting there was little time to cook dinner last night but we still managed to have a quick and healthy meal.

I sound like a broken record, but I find so many convenient yet healthful foods at Trader Joe’s.  Last night I cooked Mahi Mahi burgers and served them with sides of spinach and broccoli.  The boys had theirs plain, but for mine I added a bit of a flavor treat.  One of my favorite combinations of flavors is Mahi Mahi with mango salsa.  Since the boys had to run out to BMX track and I had to get to a meeting I just skipped some of the parts, but still created a similar taste.  I added a slices of mango and avocado and some Sriracha.  So delicious! Going to do that again soon. 

Trader Joe's Mahi Mahi Burgers with avocado and mango

Trader Joe’s Mahi Mahi Burgers with avocado and mangoIMG_4492


A Rebuttal- Cult of Organics

The other week I read a post on BlogHer called The Cult of Organics.  Although I consider myself a moderate voice when it comes to food politics and beliefs, I still took umbrage with it. I’m sorry that the author got condescending reactions to her food choices, but I believe there are plenty of good/viable reasons to choose organic foods– some of the time.   Money is an issue for me but I still buy organic milk.  I buy organic strawberries.  But, I don’t buy only organic foods.  I choose which foods I buy that don’t need to be organic and those which do.  I might pay more for some of these choices, but it’s a price I’ll pay now so my children don’t need to pay it later with their health.  I guess I also consider myself a “food snob” because I care about and enjoy food; it’s a big part of my life.  I am not part of a cult but an informed consumer, who is concerned for the long-term effects of pesticides, over use of antibiotics and uncertainty of GMOs on my children’s well-being. 

It may be surprising, but I am also the mom who allows my kids junk food, occasionally,  and I let them drink a soda when at a party, and I also throw a frozen pizza in the oven when I need   to.  But when I choose most foods, they are healthful and often times, made at home.  I think lumping everyone who buys organic or chooses to make homemade-from-scratch foods in as “elite” or “food snobs” doesn’t give the author credibility as a moderate voice.  I don’t think I’m hostile to people who choose non-organic versions of foods, but I found the article to be hostile toward those trying to educate others about them. 

Even if you haven’t read studies, articles or books on pesticides in foods (like those with endocrine disruptors); pollutants that have gone into our rivers and oceans affecting the flora and fauna; bee colony collapse; cancer causing ingredients that are banned in other countries; rises in autoimmune diseases, allergies and neurological disorders; children starting puberty younger;  or the rises in obesity, you can often see the difference in organic over conventional fruits and vegetables… a potato that’s not organic won’t sprout eyes but will just go rotten.  Or how about those ginormic strawberries that are perfectly, uniformly red, but lack a true strawberry flavor? And do you really want to buy your food from the world’s largest herbicide company –which is also the largest seed company?

I will choose antibiotic-free meats because food-producing animals are being given more antibiotics than humans as the norm to prevent illnesses that better living conditions could solve.  Those antibiotics get into our foods and water and we are getting close to an era where antibiotics will no longer work for us humans.  I don’t mean to be fearmongering and sensationalist, I am just trying to say sometimes organics are the best choice.  (In my parents’/grandparents’ day there was no such word as organic food there was just food, because then there was a fraction of pesticide/herbicide use and no GMOs.) As far as Jayson Lusk’s arguments against organics in Food Police go,– he doesn’t dissuade me, I’m not in it for most of the reasons (mostly economic) he gives.  Many studies giving out favorable information on conventionally grown foods are funded by food companies who grow the food, they not only fund the studies but consequently benefit from the dissemination and promotion of those very studies.   

I will not buy berries, apples, spinach, celery, potatoes or corn that are not organic (or at least locally produced without GMOs and most pesticides).  But I will buy broccoli, cauliflower, peas, avocados, mushrooms.  I am not a cultist or someone who is extreme.  I am an informed consumer.  My children’s milk is usually organic and always without hormones.  And the one thing I am not is rich.  Far from it.  I struggle, especially because my husband has been unemployed since January and was basically working for free for several months before that.   But I will forgo movie outings, dining out, new clothes,  cleaning people, and expensive salon trips to put the money into our food choices. 


Conventionally Grown Lettuce vs. Organic Lettuce at Trader Joe's - just a little bit more expensive.

Conventionally Grown Lettuce vs. Organic Lettuce at Trader Joe’s – just a little bit more expensive.

And I will buy frozen foods.  Even some canned foods.  And many of the “Food Police” (Pollan, Bittman,  Nestle, etc) actually do say if it comes down to it: buy vegetables and fruits in any way over not buying them at all.    If you’re looking, I find that Trader Joe’s is a great place to not only find well-priced foods but also those that are free of GMOs, artificial colors and other harmful ingredients.   Choosing to join a CSA actually saved me money and I was introduced to many new and different foods that I otherwise wouldn’t have chosen.  And those foods are pesticide-free– bugs are hand-picked then squashed.  So it’s possible to buy organic foods on a tight budget.  

I try to share information on how to prepare foods that are healthful and convenient.  I love cheap food but realize there are prices to pay.  For me it’s the whole economics — health and wealth are the factors in my decision making. I also think it is worth the extra money. Sometimes.  So, sure, let’s have some reasonableness.  Just realize us “food snobs” or those you claim are in an organic cult aren’t always the ones with the hostility.  Want to find quick ways to cook healthy foods?  Search through my blog; it’s got plenty of ideas and many of them take short-cuts so they’re convenient. You might also find my popular pizza that takes so little time but is actually pretty healthy.

So, let’s get along but understand, tolerance goes both ways.  

Turning One Obsession into Cake

Middle son wins own cake in Cake Walk

My son is so thrilled to have won his own prize-winning cake!

Many moms of boys I know get a bit sick of Minecrack Minecraft.  My boys play and play and play.  They stay in on the computer too long and I find it hard to get them off willingly.  I have to resort to turning it off or taking away another privilege.  But last weekend I actually turned their obsession into something else fun. (We’ve done Minecraft themed Halloween costumes and decorating before too!)

Our town has a library that Mark Twain started and each year the library puts on a country children’s fair called the Frog Frolic. My kids run around safely unattended for hours and hours (while I volunteer at one or two stations) in the sun and fresh air, bouncing on one of several bounce houses/obstacle courses, and do cute games.  For the past couple of years the fair has had a Cake Walk– kids and adults bake/decorate cakes that are then auctioned off in a contest.  The contestants walk around on top of numbered lily pads and when the music stops whomever is on top of the drawn number is the winner of a cake– of their choosing.  Continue reading

How to De-Bone Chicken pt 1

Ok, we made a video instead of trying to write it all step-by-step with photos.  I still might do it and gif the photos.  Just limited in time lately (well, really almost always!).

My youngest son, 6 years old, decided to get into the video (part 2) and I’m  going to just leave him in… too time consuming to edit it all out and it shows the normal situation in our house (kids running around and interrupting conversations, etc). 

The bones were all saved for a stock.

And reasons for de-boning:
*mostly because it’s faster and the thighs and breast take same time to cook, keeping breast moist when thighs are done all the way through.
* also great for marinating: flavors will penetrate more of the meat this way (in a shorter period of time).