Archive for the ‘Foodie Fridays’ Category

My kids are now almost two—and part of me has no idea how that happened. It seems like just a month or two ago, we were starting solid foods. And working on sleeping through the night. And outgrowing the bucket carseats.  However, since they’re not infants anymore, they do lots of fun toddler activities. One activity they go to is an Early Intervention playgroup. They have a blast there—there’s a gross motor room (think slides and swings), free play in the classroom, circle time, snack time and art. Oh, don’t even get me started on the time they did fingerpaints. Oh. My. Lord. My kids were about 18-19 months. Imagine. There was fingerpaint in hair, mouth and decorating a cute little shirt which used to sport the name of the college both Daddy and I attended—without green paint.

So,  perhaps you’re thinking—this doesn’t have a lot to do with food? Then, let me get to the point. During each group, there is a snack time. Snack time takes place at the table (without sippy cups–eep!) and the kids are offered two types of snacks. The teachers show the kids both snacks and ask, “Do you want applesauce, cracker or both”. My kids? They always want “both”. Of course they do, as they love eating out. When we started group, they also enjoyed eating most foods at home too. However, since then, they have developed into typical toddlers. A bit finicky. A bit tantrum-y. Very indecisive. So challenging.

In the last month, mealtimes have become a headache. They are requesting certain foods, then refusing to eat them. Foods they used to love get a (screamed), “No!!! No!!! No!!!” along with a violent head shake, in case Mommy is a bit slow and didn’t realize that they didn’t want that food choice. I get frustrated. They get frustrated. It’s not pretty. And I really am not an idiot. I don’t prepare six types of food for them. I don’t let them have cookies for dinner. But, it’s still frustrating. And when they’re hungry and grouchy, I get pretty grouchy myself, fairly quickly.

So, one day this week I decided to take the EI approach. I offered two choices (pasta & pear). The kiddos? They wanted, “Both”. And got really excited about it. Hmm. Since then, this has been what happens at every meal. They have eaten foods I haven’t seen them eat for months—turkey meatloaf (somehow feeling a bit wrong since we were JUST watching the wild turkeys out the window), pasta with tomato sauce, kidney beans, black beans, red pepper, cornbread….it’s all excited when they get to pick both. They’re eating much healthier and more balanced meals. And there’s almost no yelling. Maybe those Early Intervention teachers know what they’re doing. Hmm….perhaps I am a bit slow after all, since it’s taken me months to think to try this approach at home.

Anyway, I thought I’d offer up this technique in case others with toddlers were experiencing the same joy around mealtimes that I was. Oh, and a bonus? My two slow-to-speak kids? They can now say “both” very clearly.


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Abigail's all ready to help Daddy cook!
Abigail’s all ready to help Daddy cook!

When my babies were young, it was easy to have them eat only healthy foods. We made our own babyfood, and mostly they ate veggies, fruits, rice, oatmeal and some proteins—-chicken, turkey, cheese etc….In fact, I remember once looking at their meals and commenting to my husband that we should all have that healthy a diet. However, I find that as the kids get older—they are now almost two—-healthy eating becomes more of a challenge. Other HDYDI moms have some suggestions for how to do this, I have some and I’d love to hear yours as well.

Cook with your kids
The general consensus is that kids are more likely to eat foods if they’ve helped prepare them. Now while this isn’t necessarily helpful when you’re making chocolate chip cookies, it’s certainly useful for the healthy foods. We–ok, fine, let’s be honest here—my husband does a lot of cooking with the kids, from breakfast foods on the weekends to chili or muffins or pumpkin bread. We started early, probably around a year or so, and let them sit and watch us cook at the counter. Now they are very into dumping cups of flour, sugar or eggs into the bowl and stirring is really a highlight of any cooking project. That and sampling the project as we go….

Sneak healthy foods
LauraC wrote a great post about this recently. I have nothing to add to this!

Education yourself
Do some reading on nutrition and foods for toddlers. It seems to me that recommendations change regularly—fats are good? Bad? What about carbs? I try to read the latest information on this and generally avoid the more processed foods, if possible. I ususally figure that if we made it ourselves, we know what’s in there. We tend to try to use whole wheat pasta and bread, instead of white and offer lots of fruits and veggies. I think each parent draws the line somewhere differently here.

Join a CSA
Here’s a fun way to get a bunch of local produce—and push yourselves to use  A LOT of veggies. There was just a list of local ones in our paper here.  Maybe this is just something we contemplate, but it seems like it could be a fun challenge.



Danny tries cereal and milk for the first time

Danny tries cereal and milk for the first time

Have only healthy snacks available
One HDYDI mom said that her toddlers are happy to have a healthy snack—if you give them a choice of snacks! Just make both choices something you’re happy for them to have. Ahh, toddlers.



What are your eating healthy tips? How do you keep your kids away from the junkfood and teach a love of healthy eating?

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Feedings toddlers—mine are 21 months—seems to be an evolving challenge. Obviously, there are all the challenges that come with toddlers’ newfound picky eating habits, as I wrote about here a few weeks ago. And that is a whole ‘nother challenge.

But sometimes, we just get stuck in a food rut. It’s that post afternoon nap time and the kids could use a snack. But what to serve them? I try to stay away from most of the processed snack foods when possible, no matter how much I enjoy goldfish crackers or teddy grahams myself. (And if you haven’t tried these pleasures as an adult yet, you should. They are delicious). However, as delicious as they are, my kids often go several meals without eating much as all. If they’re going to eat, I’d like them to eat something of substance, with some nutritional value. However, lately, we have run out of ideas. Here’s a list of our go-to options:

Toddler “trail mix”–cheerios mixed with some sort of dried fruits (craisins/raisins/dried papaya/prunes/apricots)
Cheddar cheese rice cakes
Banana bread/pumpkin bread
Mini-bagel with cream cheese
Yogurt (the mess factor here can be an issue)
Whole wheat pretzels dipped in hummus
Canned black olives

Any other go to (reasonably) healthy snacks people offer their toddlers? I’m fresh out of ideas! Help me out here….

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I’ve been thinking about breastfeeding this week. First, LauraC reposted her thoughts about her decision to stop breastfeeding. And then, a mom posted a question in the comments about how to get regular naps when her babies fall asleep when nursing and take an hour to eat. This got me thinking some more about the whole breastfeeding experience—what helped, what didn’t, what worked and what was awful. I’ve written about this before, here and here,  as have others here and here, but I think it’s such an important topic for new moms it’s worth revisiting. I exclusively breastfed my twins for the first year, and I can look back and see the choices we made which made it work, and potential roadblocks that would have derailed breastfeeding for good. I’m glad we did it, but it certainly was challenging at times.

One comment I hear from new moms of twins a lot (and probably from new moms of singletons too, if all the babies in my life didn’t come in pairs) is that their babies take forever to eat. As in an hour. Or more. And I’m not talking about babies who are a week or two old. I’m talking about babies who are two, three or four months old and still latching on and chowing down for a significant amount of time. With a newborn, you already feel like you spend all of your time nursing—how in the world are you ever going to do anything else? And I’m not talking big projects, like dissertations (shudder–mine is still not complete) or other ambitious projects—I’m talking shower and empty the dishwasher and maybe eat lunch.  By 2 months or so, my kids were eating for maybe 15 minutes a meal. By 4-5 months, it was down to 5 minutes.

So, when people ask me how to get their babies to eat faster, I tend to just pass on the advice I got from the fantastic lactation consultant who ran the breastfeeding group I attended. Obviously, this isn’t a problem for everyone. If you’re content with your kids eating for 45 minutes to an hour, then read no more. It’s not an issue! However, if it’s driving you crazy or making you contemplate stopping breastfeeding, then read on. And, readers, if you have good suggestions that worked for you, please put them in the comments section!

1. The breast is not a place to hang out and get comfy. As soon as you stop hearing swallowing or the baby starts falling asleep, you can pull them off. Babies will tell you (loudly) if they are still hungry.

2. Be comfortable having baby go back for round two. If you cut baby off after 15 minutes and now she won’t go to sleep, it may be that she’s still hungry. Feed again. No problem.

3. You may find your babies need to eat every 2 hours for a long time. Mine certainly did, at least during the day. However, this is much less of an issue if the feedings are pretty quick.

4. Offer a pacifier after feeding if they are still fussy, but not eating much. It may be that they are looking for the comfort of sucking, not the food. However, the benefit of the paci is that Daddy or Grandma can do that, it doesn’t have to be you. Thus, time for you to eat lunch!

These are just my thoughts on this and what worked for me. Obviously, all babies are different and I am certainly not an expert in breastfeeding. However, I found this lactation consultant so instrumental in giving me the tools and information to be able to keep breastfeeding my kids. I’d recommend a lactation consultant to anyone. Other ideas? Please chime in.

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As always, if you have a food related topic you’d like to see, write your suggestion in the comments. We’d love to hear from you.

My 21 month old kiddos are heading quickly towards their twos. And no where can you see it more than in the changes we’ve seen lately around food. They have recently decided they are too old for highchairs, even though we had more boostery ones than many are. This change is fine with me, especially because they’d rather sit on the bar stools at the counter. Super easy for me, and they can sit and watch what I’m doing. And them wanting to eat with adult forks and spoons, also fine with me. I can toss the baby spoons and make more room in my drawer. However, the eating has gotten downright unpredictable. Mysterious, and even a bit annoying at times.

This probably isn’t fair to lump poor Abigail in with Danny in this complaint, since she is overall pretty easy with food and happy to eat whenever, wherever. However, even Abigail has gotten a bit finicky around her food choices. For example:

Foods we do NOT eat:
Pasta with tomato sauce (unless really hungry)
Any food I have spent a significant (more than 5 minutes) preparing
Many veggies, unless still frozen (see below)

Foods we LOVE:
Carbs. Any kind. The more processed, the better
Fruit: Any kind. Canned. Frozen. Fresh. Dried. Whatever.
Frozen peas. Really. They do NOT enjoy them thawed, only frozen
Lima beans (Ick. I mean, really?!)
Shredded cheese—not cubed for Danny, only shredded, preferably orange cheddar
Canned olives
Mac and cheese from a box (the awful bright orange stuff their dad really likes)
Any food being offered as a free sample at Whole Foods

Arg. Seriously. And we are not a big cater to kiddos family. They get a couple of options, they can eat it or not. And, more likely than not, if it’s dinner, Danny will say no thank you. (Or, in reality, yell, yell, yell—we’re still working on single words here, much less polite, well-formed sentences).  They will love something one day, and turn up their noses at it the next. And meat of any kind, forget it! I guess I have budding little vegetarians. Their no-animal eating grandmother will be so proud. Me, I’ll just pull my hair out.

Those of you with toddlers out there—are yours doing this too? I miss my happy go lucky eaters of the baby days.

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 As always, if you have a topic in mind that you’d like to see discussed on Foodie Fridays, or have a tip or some advice you’d like to pass on, just write it in the comments? We’d love to hear from you.

To those families out there that celebrate Christmas, I hope that you had a wonderful day yesterday. For us, the difference between celebrating Christmas with two 8 month olds and celebrating with two 20 month olds was night and day. In some ways, it was a lot harder—-they are more easily distrupted by new people and different places, as well as exciting things like, well, all those presents—-and yet in some ways this is so, so much better than last year. They actually enjoy the holiday, the people, the attention and the gifts and we could see the first glimmer of what Christmas with two little kids is like. Excitment and loss of routine and fatigue—-and fun. Lots of fun.

Anyway, unlike last year, when we ate our big holiday dinner during their afternoon nap (ahh, days of 2 naps, I miss you so!), this year they were awake and ready to participate. And yet, holiday meals aren’t really geared towards two toddlers. We wrote last week about traditions changing with babies and toddlers, and I think this is true for traditions like holidays meals as well. The days of a long, drawn-out meal with a glass of wine, or two, everyone lingering at the table to chat until later when dessert is served—those days are long gone, for us at least. My childless brother and his girlfriend—-they are free to do that until, of course, one of my kiddos goes hunting Uncle Josh for a story or to beg him to turn on the tv. (Uncle Josh has been known to really enjoy college sports on tv and MY kids, they really enjoy tv, of any kind).

And the holiday meal, in all its deliciousness? Well, not really aimed at toddler appetites either, unless you count dessert. Their favorite foods? Yogurt, blueberries, cheese, frozen peas (only frozen, not thawed—weird little kiddos), oatmeal with blueberries, pears, apples, goldfish—-none of these scrumptious foods are on a holiday dinner menu. Meat? My kids laugh at the idea of eating meat. Mashed potatoes? They’ve never liked the texture of potatoes, white or sweet. Their favorite part of Thanksgiving dinner was the spanakopita that someone brought for the handful of vegetarians there. There was none at Christmas dinner. Well, the spanakopita and the desserts. Desserts they were all over, especially the pumpkin cheesecake. So, for Christmas dinner, I got to watch my kids pick at a pile of food, and then have to feed them dinner several hours later before bed. And no, dinner is not pumpkin pie and whipped cream, as fantastic as that might be. Do I want to raise adventuresome eaters who will try anything? Sure. But, holidays are not the time when I work at expanding my kids’ culinary bounds and pushing them to try new things. Holidays are hard enough—we can have yogurt, AGAIN, for dinner. Merry Christmas, kiddos.

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 As always, if you have a topic in mind that you’d like to see discussed on Foodie Fridays, or have a tip or some advice you’d like to pass on, just write it in the comments? We’d love to hear from you.

I think that one of the best parts of the December holiday season is the holiday cooking. Last year, I was too tired to do much but an obligatory batch of Christmas cookies, and I don’t even remember what I made. I was still recovering from months of sleep deprivation, and busy introducing solids and finger foods to 8 month old babies. I paid much more attention to rice krispies and shredded cheese (my favorite finger foods!) than to holiday food. This year, however, I am back in the swing of things! Ok, mostly back in the swing of things—let’s not get crazy, I do have two toddlers destroying running around my house. Yesterday, they tried to unwrap the lights from tree. It’s a small miracle we didn’t have a tree topple in the living room.  

Anyway, I know I talked about cookies a few weeks ago, but I thought I’d share a few more of our holiday favorites.

Panettone Bread Pudding
I really don’t like Rachel Ray as much as my recipe collection suggests I do, but occasionally she has a really great recipe. And, as a bonus for parents of two toddlers, they don’t take too long to make. We’ll leave the complex, multi-step fabulous recipes for a different stage in our life. Anyway,  these are delicious. You can leave out the rum and they are still tasty, but they are even better with it.  This is a great use for stale panettone, when someone forgets to close the bag.

Christmas wreath bread
This bread was so popular at my family’s house one Christmas morning that they’ve insisted it become a holiday tradition. Two babies? Who care?—they want the bread! We try not to anger family on Christmas morning, so bread it is. 

Roasted butternut squash with herbs de provence
This is an old Cooking Light recipe that has become a favorite around here. It’s especially useful since we tend to be given butternut squash by family that grows them—-I guess it’s hard to just grow a few? This is a great use for them. And, the best part is that it tastes like it’s covered with butter. Not so much!

One of our favorite things to do is cook with the kiddos, so there are often two kiddos at the bar “helping” us cook. All of these recipes are good for kiddos helping. Lots of dumping of ingredients and mixing and such. 

Do you have favorite holiday recipes? Share them with us! And, to everyone who is traveling for the holidays—-have a safe (quiet?) trip! If you see two frazzled parents chasing 20 month old twins through the Manchester airport, that’s us! Wish us luck…..

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