I’ve been a wee bit busy

It’s been a long time since my last post, but I have not stopped trying to improve the healthy intake of food by children around me. But I may be a bit less obvious about it. My kids are growing… eldest now 14 and youngest 9! When I started this I had a three-year-old. So, their food choices are overall healthy, but of course, they’re kids, so when given a chance, they’ll eat the junk. But I’m so proud that my kids overall shun McDonald’s and the like. I’ve always tried to be open to the occasional unhealthy foods/snacks/candy so that my kids had a healthy attitude with food. They don’t hoard food and don’t overindulge when given the chance to eat candy and other unhealthy stuff. And my eldest knows that if he has more than one soda at a meal, he’ll feel ill, so he has one and done. It’s the balance that I’m proud of. They will eat a large variety of fruits and vegetables and they like spicy foods, international foods, fish, meats, etc. I do still wish they’d eat more combinations of vegetarian options. My middle son still steers clear of most foods combined in one dish besides some pasta dishes and chili. He likes things separated on a plate with distinct tastes for each item. 

Growing up quickly and enjoying Chicken Aloo Gobi

Enjoying Chicken Aloo Gobi (curry with coconut, cauliflower and potatoes)


Proud dad looking on









One of the reasons I’ve been remiss in writing is that I’ve been busy. Really, really, busy. Growing boys have sports, scouts, Odyssey of the Mind, plays, camps, school, music lessons, play dates, etc. And now year-end shows, parties, concerts… I’ve also just gotten a new job and no longer working as an investment advisor. I was laid off from my company when it went a little more corporate and got rid of its smaller producers who worked from home. You’d think that would’ve given me more time to write then, but another reason is that I stopped writing is that I felt we were in a pattern food-wise and I didn’t have much to share. I’m certain I’ve created recipes, but when I did, it was probably at a busy time, and I just didn’t get it on here. 

Before I got my new job I was working as a cafe supervisor at my son’s elementary school. I loved working there with all the children. The woman who was my coworker felt that many of the kids were being “bad” if they were talking to friends at other tables and she didn’t exactly do things the same way as I did. But after some time, she tolerated my “let’s make this fun, not punitive” attitude with dealing with the kids. (They’re just babes really, 5-10 year olds.)  One of the changes I made was in encouraging the students to eat more fruits and vegetables. I’d done that as a parent volunteer, but this was different, and more challenging, as an employee. I felt it necessary when I’d see what the kids ate every day. Like the boy who for his lunch had white bread and butter, cheese slices, blue jello, blue cotton candy, chocolate and no vegetables. He did have grapes but refused to eat them, because he ‘tried them once and didn’t like them.”

At first I brought in an apple slicer. So many of this age group are dealing with loose baby teeth and gaps until their adult teeth come in, so they’d shy away from whole apples. Slicing them was easy and it increased the number of kids who’d eat apples. Some told me that when I wasn’t there, they wouldn’t buy apples because they’d only eat them sliced. And since I’ve gone, apparently they’re not eating them anymore. 🙁 

I also piggybacked onto the reward system the school used in classrooms and hallways… for respecting self, others, environment. So, if the kids brought in from home or chose from cafeteria 3 or more fruits and veggies, they’d get a reward. The reward would be put in a bin and at lunch we’d choose 4 winners to pick friends to sit with at the reward table or pick a prize from prize box. It was amazing how quickly those kids would rush back into the lunch line to grab more fruits and vegetables or tell their parents to pack more. Then if there were some kids who never ate any (and I mean never) then I’d offer them a reward for just getting 1 or 2. And they found they liked more than they’d ever realized. 

Mostly what I found was the kids were willing to try new things and eat more if they felt there was an immediate reward for it, it was fun, or it was just easier to eat. I hope that some it stuck and since I’m gone they’re doing it at home or school. It’s not always that hard, and they are all good kids.

Here’s a link to my summery grilled peach & ricotta toast which will be perfect for the upcoming season. 

Summer deliciousness

Summer deliciousness

The Dr. Seuss Method of Getting Kids to Eat

Last year I wrote about being the character Sam of Dr. Seuss’s Green Eggs and Ham.  I was just  reading the book, in celebration of Dr. Seuss’s birthday, to my youngest son the other night.  Then last night had a moment where I felt like I was again Sam-I-Am.  My youngest is now seven years old and until a couple of weeks ago, broccoli was one of his favorite foods– not just one of his favorite vegetables, but of all foods.  Until two weeks ago that is; now he’s decided he no longer likes broccoli.  No, he hates broccoli.  My logo is of him eating broccoli with a huge smile on his face.  If he hates broccoli, I think, I’m done for.  But I remember what my mother said she learnt from Dr. Spock (not the Klingon Dr. Spock, but the baby book author that was popular in the 60’s & 70’s).  She said kids will go on “jags” eating nothing but one food until they suddenly no longer want that food.   I’m hoping this broccoli dislike is temporary. 

Anyway, my youngest is already my pickiest eater by far.  Well, when I made dinner last night, I took the vegetables I was going to use for a stir-fry and instead made a pasta dish.  It had garlic, shallots, green onions, broccoli, purple cabbage, shredded carrots, shredded cauliflower, zucchini, sugar snap peas and chick peas with a little olive oil and stock.  Number Two cried a bit at first then added ketchup (a trick a friend told him about and I said he could try), took a couple chickpeas out and ate most of it.  My eldest ate all of it and declared it delicious. My youngest son refused to taste it.  Wouldn’t eat a bite.  I just said he wouldn’t get anything else until he ate it… or at least tried it.

Fast forward an hour or so.  Youngest son is in the bath, probably with dessert on his mind.  I brought the pasta dish in to him and said, “Just try it, try it and you may see.”  He did without fuss and then requested I heat it up.  Of course I obliged and then proceeded to feed him in the bath (yes, I fed him like when he was a baby) with no train, fox, mouse or car in sight.  He even said he liked the broccoli “with the pasta” though he didn’t eat every piece and he asked to not have to eat the chickpeas (he loves hummus but not whole chickpeas).  The other thing he tried which previously he said he disliked was zucchini. I  explained that he might actually like it if he gave it a chance.  Immediately he said he didn’t but as he chewed and then swallowed his face softened and he said he did actually like it! 

He liked it!

He liked it!

I was so happy he ate so much of his dinner that he’d originally refused to touch with a thirty-nine-and-a-half-foot-pole.   It seems like I had the Sam-I-Am touch again.  

Don’t give up; sometimes you just have to catch them at the right moment — like when they are hungry enough to not fight you on it and they will actually try something new or healthy.

Guest Post- SaHMMY’s Cajones Grandes

One of my earliest followers from when I started my blog on tumblr 3 years ago was “The SaHMMY”, a witty, sometimes snarky and always funny, former actress/comedian and now stay-at-home-mom who asked me to be a “guest chef” on her site/blog.  Twice!  I was incredibly flattered. It was so nice to feel the love.  I also follow her blog and the goings on of her life, her kids, her crazy ass dog… and love every minute that I spend reading about it all.  She’s one of my tumblr friends that I hope to actually meet one day.  My mom, when we were younger, would have said that we belonged to the Mutual Admiration Society.

So, a while back I asked her (Jeris Donovan a.k.a. The SaHMMY) to write a sort of testimonial about my blog. “I’d love to hear from people who may have been inspired to get their kids to eat well after reading my blog” (I must have been feeling sorry for myself that day.)  What I got is so f*%&ing funny and I’m so honored to be a positive influence.  Not that I always live up to it myself!  And I still need to get a juicer!! 

Since I just found out my son and I didn’t win the White House/Epicurious contest, I figured today would be a good day for some feels.


One day in high school while sitting on the “Senior Ledge” (really a long marble bench that became a rite of passage), a classmate dared me to say the “F” word.

“No way!” I said.

“Why not?” he asked.

“Because my mother will find out,” I snapped.

“No she won’t,” he said. Then we shared a long look. “Yeah, you are probably right,” he replied. I had dated this boy two years prior and he knew of my mother’s mad snooping skills. She knew everyone and was just intimidating enough to get the truth out of someone quickly and painlessly. Her ominous powers kept me in line all through high school and most of college.

I share this little story because this same sense of “she’s gonna find out” comes over me every time I plan a meal for my family except the person isn’t my mother, is it Vanessa.

I can’t even remember when I started following My Kids Really Eat This. I think it was around two years ago when I bought a bread machine through Craigslist from a couple in the nearby crunchy town of Carrboro, NC. A stranger would have voted us most likely to meet in a Target parking lot for a bread machine exchange: one of us in a Prius and the other in a Subaru wagon, all of us in Keens. I think that becoming determined to make my own bread was the catalyst that led me to Vanessa. I began gardening, forcing inspiring my kids to try new things, and became more conscious of what we were putting in our bodies. Continue reading

Hodgepodge Meals & Tips for Reheating

Sometimes when I’m not in the mood to fully “cook” I will make a bit of a hodgepodge — sort of like a buffet of grazing foods or I will serve up leftovers.  But the leftovers needn’t be all the same thing for everyone, but whatever they want from the choice of foods that we have left over.  This way one son might be eating pork, broccoli and pasta and another one bowl full of chili and brown rice and yet another with vegetable soup, pasta and cheese.  I use up the left over food and don’t go crazy making 3 different meals, just reheat ones already made.  And they usually get what they’re in the mood for and will eat it all.  

A more buffet style is putting out cooked and raw vegetables, cheeses, hummus, fruits, and other bits and pieces.  Then it’s more of a casual grazing and since all the choices are healthful, I don’t have to worry about the portions since, not only are mine not likely to take a ton of the more calorie-laden foods like cheese, but they’re not likely to pile up their plates with food. Yesterday, my youngest two each had a packet of roasted seaweed, tons of raw carrots and bagels for lunch. 

So key here is making sure they get healthy choices even when you’re not really “cooking”. 

Here are some tips on reheating those leftovers (especially right now the Thanksgiving turkey and mashed potatoes):

Microwave heating mashed potatoes: add a splash of milk to potatoes and stir with a fork in a microwavable bowl.  Heat on high stirring occasionally.  You can add gravy after the potatoes are slightly warm.(These mashed are not as fluffy as normal but hopefully you get the idea)

Reheating poultry in the microwave: cover pieces with a damp paper towel and reheat on 80% starting with 1 minute.  Flip and move pieces around then repeat until hot.  The turkey/chicken/duck won’t be rubbery and dry this way.

For a dinner plate with different items, you’ll want to reheat only those things that are the same (meats, vegetables, grains, etc) as they may take different lengths of time and temperature.  I usually put all of one item in a bowl/plate reheating the items that take longest first.  Then assembling the plate of food and maybe giving it another 10-20 seconds.  

Stews, soups and one-pot meals like chilies and curries can be heated together in the microwave.  Some sauces need heating on a stove over medium-low heat, especially cream sauces that would otherwise break.

My pickiest eater now

Thank you to all my 50,000+ followers.  Thank you for following me.  Thank you for understanding my purpose.  I hope I help you or others.  

Just for the record… it’s been really difficult with my youngest son lately. He’s my pickiest eater.  Getting him to eat a variety of foods has been really challenging in the past couple of weeks.  Actually seemingly overnight he’s gone off some of his old favorites (salmon, seaweed, mushrooms, cheese) so I’m not cooking/serving most of them right now. Instead of trying too hard with lots of different foods, I am going with healthful foods I know he will eat.  

So for his health and our sanity I am serving mostly the following foods: broccoli, sugar and snap peas, green beans, celery, carrots, apples, oranges, bananas, strawberries, pears, yogurts, milk, and fairly plain salads.  He’ll eat other things apart from these fruits and vegetables as well, but really limited considering the rest of the family— brown rice, pasta (plain), chicken, baked white fish, couscous, hummus, peanut butter, steak, lamb. 

He won’t eat soup, chili, stew, stir fry, and most foods that are a one pot meals. Last week was difficult since that’s mostly what I made.  Makes it challenging but I am still making him eat a little of the food if I’ve made it.   I figure just like he is “off” certain former favorites and not liking things mixed, he will eventually come back to a greater variety if I don’t push too hard, but remain firm.  I remember when I was his age taking a dislike to the cheese on pizza and sauce on spaghetti, but I got adventurous again not long after and my mother didn’t push.  Instead of any possibility of a fight, most of this week I am cooking things I know he’ll eat.

As a child I remember going to some friends’ homes where the mom made my brother and I eat the overcooked zucchini and squash.  Big-seeded, mushy, thin-cut vegetables are not appealing to many young kids. I held my nose and choked it down.  My brother sat at that table all night.  We wouldn’t touch them for years.  Now, it’s a different story.  I think if the vegetables are cooked right they are more appealing, but it’s not a guarantee that they’ll pass muster.  Also if you push too hard, if you aren’t flexible, it can backfire.  It’s a fine line and not an easy thing to decide.  Being firm yet flexible. Not giving in every time, but understanding when you must bend the rules.  So making sure the alternatives aren’t full of sugar and that his dietary needs are met.  Thankfully he still loves his broccoli. 

And now to prepare for another storm.  Hopefully we won’t lose power in this one because no power equals no heat or water (hot or cold). 

Is there anything you wish to know?   A recipe I didn’t share?  A story you’d like to share or something you wish I’d share?  Let me know!

No good deed goes unpunished

In the first couple of weeks of the new school year, I, along with some other parent volunteers, stood in the lunch lines and helped the kids make “healthy choices”.  I aptly named myself the “Fruit & Veggie Pusher” because, we all know the healthy choices were just getting more (or any for that matter) fruits and vegetables on those kids’ plates.  The school lunch provider (corporate lame processed food broker) now give the kids the choice to take “as many” vegetables or fruits as they’d like (while they’re in line, but can’t go back for more) and usually doesn’t actually serve them to the kids.  The children can pick out individual containers (or none at all) of the “healthy choice” stuff.  Now, at the end of each line is a prominently displayed case of snack foods.  I think it’s ridiculous that they have snacks at lunch. 

Do you know how many kids I saw not eat their healthier foods and go get 2-4 bags of chips every day?  Too many!  These are empty calories that will just make most people fat.  They provide no nutritional value, but there they are… at $1 a pop for the kids to buy (if their parents haven’t put restrictions on their accounts). these kids eaten enough food to go on for the rest of the day?  Well, not if they’re not taking the fruits and vegetables.  And then there are those kids who are already too big and they certainly don’t need any more calories, empty or not.   I know that a lot of parents think that give the kids the choice and they’ll learn to make the right decisions.  Well, not always. 

Studies show that even adults make poor eating decisions and will overeat more often than not, and will take junk even when they’re not hungry.  (Read Mindless Eating by Brian Wansink)  Anyway, my kids aren’t allowed to buy the snack foods at school.  I just wish it wasn’t allowed in schools in the first place.  Because I feel that other parents, if aware of their children’s real eating habits and what the snack foods will do in the long run, they wouldn’t want their kids eating them as well.  They care about their kids, they want them to be happy and grow up healthy.   And, I’m not saying I don’t buy these snack foods occasionally, but I certainly don’t want my kids eating them daily, and especially in place of real food.  So, I just seem I’m just on a rant at times… until I found out what a real rant is one day.   

On Fridays the kids get ice cream.  Many look forward all week to that treat.  My kids are actually allowed to buy one; it’s only once a week.  Anyway in our first week one parent volunteer asked me about the frozen desserts that were displayed (they weren’t ice creams).  They were artificially colored, flavored stuff and sweetened with high fructose corn syrup (HFCS).  The mom thought that the food service provider had stopped using HFCS.  So, when the Food Service Director (FSD) came in, I asked him about them along with numerous other things.  It was one of the only things he acted on.  He got rid of them, in between service.  If it had been me, I would’ve sold them and then not bought anymore, but I’m not in charge. 

Anyway, the following week when there was no ice cream or any other frozen treats I asked the woman in charge of the kitchen why not.  She said because of the HFCS stuff taken away last week that they can’t buy them.  I reminded her (since I was there during it all) that they could buy stuff that wasn’t sweetened with HFCS (I can’t get the artificial colors banned yet).  “Well, I just got a list today” was her response.  Well, no biggie, I thought.   Ha-ha!  Until the gym teacher came in.  She was screaming at me, “why isn’t there any ice cream?!!”  I told her that when the FSD came in last week that he got rid of them because of the HFCS.  Then I told her to ask the women that worked there about it because she kept on about it.   A few minutes later she came back out and got right in my face yelling, “Who says they can’t have high fructose corn syrup?!  Is this a government ban?!  Is it the FDA?!  As a parent I want to know!!”  For goodness sakes, she’s one of the ones teaching our kids’ health and nutrition.  I tried to calmly tell her that it was most likely the Food Service Provider’s decision, but it may be because of the USDA’s health guidelines.  I tried to tell her that they can buy real ice cream and that there is all natural pudding there.  Oy.  I’ve always liked this woman, and I was quite shocked at how she treated me.  I wasn’t there to get rid of the ice cream.  I was trying to get the kids to eat more fruits and vegetables.  I would like the snack foods out, but I haven’t pushed on that yet.  I really want to do good for the children.  One girl’s lunch with mostly healthy choices (she ate the scrambled egg first).

The Fruit & Vegetable Pusher

Our kids’ school year just began the other day and I have decided to try something different to help our elementary school students eat more fruits and vegetables.  At the last school year’s PTA meeting I had been given the idea to get some parent volunteers to come in to help the first graders get through the lunch lines on those first few days of school.  Although they’d had a run-though of what to do/expect at the end of their Kindergarten year, it could be overwhelming for the wee ones when returning after their long summer break.  I decided to use the opportunity to do a little coaxing when it came to the fruits and vegetables.  Unfortunately our school lunch provider doesn’t automatically give the kids those, they usually just offer them.  And not only are they just offered, they are in small plastic containers (except a couple of whole apples, oranges or bananas) that are set in a bin the kids have to reach to get (which can be tough for the smaller ones). 

So, I organized my volunteers to gently persuade all the kids (grades1 through 4) to take as many of the small containers as they’d like by telling them what’s in them and to say, “which one would you like sweet red peppers or coleslaw… or both?” instead of just saying “would you like some vegetables?” And if they refused try to convince them they needed their vegetables and fruits for a well-rounded meal, to be strong, to be smart, to be healthy.  Whatever they could think of that would work.

Interestingly I found that the lunch ladies hadn’t planned on the kids taking so many of these containers of vegetables and fruits as we’d run out during service for each grade every time in the first week (they were prepared but in the walk-in inside the kitchen — where I wasn’t allowed to go).  Continue reading