Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Veggie Chili & Cornbread

This past Sunday I made a meal for a family that just had a new baby (our community is great with organizing new baby meals).  Though most people tend to have their standard new baby meal for when they need to make a meal, I'm not quite there.  It would probably be easier for me to have that so I don't need to think too much, but I tend to get excited over food (in case you haven't yet noticed), so I end up making whatever I'm really in the mood for.  This week I wanted Veggie Chili and Cornbread.  I've made both before and they've been a hit with my husband and other company we've had over, so I hoped that maybe Henry would eat it too. 

I got the base for both recipes from  But, I changed both of the recipes significantly.  I assumed that Henry would LOVE the cornbread, and I hoped that he would at least try the Veggie Chili.  The big surprise of the meal was that though Henry ate the cornbread, what he couldn't get enough of was the Veggie Chili.  Until his bowl of Veggie Chili was finished, he didn't even look at the cornbread!  And then, when we joined him at the table with our bowls of chili, he then proceeded to take bites from both of our bowls.  I guess I will have to make it again!

I apologize for the lack of pictures...we ate it too quickly :)

Vegetarian Chili (called The Best Vegetarian Chili in the World in
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 bay leaves
1 tsp cumin
2 Tbsp oregano
1/2 Tbsp salt
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 (12 oz) pkg Lightlife Smart Ground Vegetarian Meat Crumbles
3 (15 oz) cans diced tomatoes, with juice
3 Tbsp chili powder
2 Tsp ground black pepper
1/2 (15 oz) can white kidney beans (it's what I had in my fridge)
1 (15 oz) can chickpeas
1 (15 oz) can black beans
1 (15 oz) can yellow corn
1 (12 oz) bottle beer
Shredded low-fat cheddar or mozzarella cheese (optional)

1.  Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat.  Stir in onion, and season with bay leaves, cumin, oregano, and salt.  Cook and stir until onion is tender, and then throw in the garlic, and cook 2 more minutes.  Mix in the vegetarian crumbles.  Reduce heat to low, cover pot, and simmer 5 minutes.

2.  Mix the tomatoes into the pot.  Season with chili powder and pepper.  Stir in the kidney beans, chickpeas, black beans, and corn.  Pour in half the beer.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer for about 2 hours.  Monitor the pot, and as the liquid cooks down, you can add more beer (the longer you simmer, the more beer you will use).

3.  To serve top each bowl with a bit of shredded cheese if desired, and with a piece of cornbread on the side (below).

Corn-filled Cornbread (called Buttery Cornbread at
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup honey
3 eggs
1 2/3 cups 1% milk
2 1/3 cups flour
1 cup cornmeal
4 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 cup canned corn (rinsed and drained)

1.  Preheat oven to 400.

2.  In a mixing bowl, cream butter, sugar, and honey. Combine the eggs and milk. Combine flour, cornmeal, baking powder and salt; add to creamed mixture alternately with egg mixture. Then stir in the canned corn.

3.  Pour into a 13x9 inch pan that has been sprayed with cooking spray.  Bake in oven for about 30 minutes, or until its cooked through.

Happy and (mostly) healthy eating!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

New Veggie for the Whole Family

Last week I decided to experiment with a new vegetable - celery root or celeriac (or celery bulb as it was called in my shady vegetable market).

It's definitely not an attractive vegetable, but I really wanted to try it.  I had no idea how to prepare it, but then I found a recipe for Celery Root, Potato, and Parsnip Soup on the Foodie/Nutritionist Blog that looked relatively easy, and like something that we would probably like.  I pretty much followed the recipe exactly, but I skipped the evaporated milk and truffle oil, and instead added 1 additional cup of water and 1 cup of white kidney beans (for protein and texture).  I didn't try the celery root on its own, but it smelled just like celery when I peeled and cut it.  The soup itself was delicious, but it tasted more like parsnip to me than anything else.  I'm not complaining though because Henry ate 3 bowls' worth...and then tried to eat the bowl!
As is a toddler's prerogative, after loving the soup one night, he then refused to eat it the next two days that I put it on his tray.  I'm still saying he loved it though :)

Happy and (mostly) healthy eating!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Back to Normal

It was clear today that Henry was back to feeling 100%, and his appetite was 150% better...likely due to his lack of eating since Friday. 

For lunch, I had made a healthified version of the Spinach Caramelized Onion and Muenster Au Gratin Potatoes (that's quite a mouthfull!) from  A friend of mine was coming over for lunch, and so last night I looked to see what I had in the house that I could make.  I had a huge package of muenster cheese (thank you Costco!), so I quickly did a search on allrecipes for some ideas that would incorporate muenster cheese.  I always end up making fritattas, baked noodle dishes, or tortilla based cheesy dishes, so a potato dish was a nice change.  It was definitely on the unhealthy side though, so I cut back on some of the fat and added more veggies.  Whatever I did, it seemed to work for Henry.  He ate an entire bowl (kiddie sized), and then finished a second bowl, followed by bananas and pineapple.

I kind of figured that lunch was Henry's big meal, so I didn't expect him to eat too much dinner.  Au contraire.  He downed a bowl of Chickpea & Kale Soup...and I mean downed! He used a spoon in one hand and his fingers from the other hand to shovel the food in.  And that's not all...he then had more pineapple...followed by half a banana and about an inch worth of corn on the cob at my sister's house (my nephews were having dinner while we were there). 

So, needless to say (but yes, I'm saying it anyway), Henry is feeling much better and is making up for lost time.  I could not be happier!

Healthified Veggie Potato Au Gratin (adapted from
6 small potatoes, peeled and diced
3/4 cup frozen spinach
1/2 cup frozen broccoli cuts
2 Tbsp light butter
1 onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp flour
1/2 tsp salt
1.5 cups 1% milk
1.5 cups shredded muenster cheese

1. Preheat oven to 400.

2.  Spray 9 x 13 pan with cooking spray, and put potatoes, broccoli and spinach in there, and set aside (mix them up a little).

3.  In a saute pan or small pot, melt butter, and saute onions until slightly brown (about 7 minutes).  Stir in garlic and flour, and cook 1 minute more.  Season with salt and add milk.  Bring to a simmer, and cook and stir until sauce thickens.  Stir in 1 cup of muenster cheese, and allow to melt fully.  Pour mixture of potatoes and veggies.

4.  Cover and bake in over for 30 minutes.  Then, uncover, and bake for 20 minutes more.  Finally, sprinkle with remaining muenster cheese and bake for another 10 minutes.  Enjoy!

Happy and (mostly) healthy eating!

Monday, December 20, 2010

A Recipe Wasted...

Prior to Henry getting sick, I had decided to try a new gefilte fish recipe.  In the past he really liked gefilte fish (it has a pretty mild fish flavor), and I thought Henry might actually eat it even though he is now much pickier.  Alas, he got sick on Friday, and even though he was mostly better by Friday night, fish was not going to be his first food.  I probably would have tried it on him yesterday, but since I didn't feel well, the idea of taking out fish would have been enough to put me over the edge.  So, I thought tonight would be the perfect night to try it.  And then I got the call at work...Henry seemed to feel fine but he was having diarrhea (is it wrong that I was sort of happy that I was at work so I didn't have to change those diapers?).  So, instead of trying some Sun-dried Tomato Pesto Gefilte Fish:

Henry ended up with this:

Not quite as gourmet, but the BRATT diet (bananas, rice, applesauce, tea, toast) was definitely the better choice to help Henry get back to his normal self.  Henry loved it though, and happily ate it all.  If only he would do that with veggies...

Oh, I did get to try a couple of rehydration solution recipes though.  Since I had the car at work, and since my husband was home again (this time because he still wasn't feeling well), I had him try a couple of the homemade remedies for Henry since we didn't yet have the Pedialyte.  Here is the resource I used:  Anyway, we tried using 1 cup Powerade to 1 cup water, and 1/4 teaspoon salt, but Henry refused it.  We then tried 1/2 cup OJ, 1/4 teaspoon baking soda (which contains sodium), 4 teaspoons sugar, and 2 1/4 cups water.  Henry seemed to like that one, so we stuck with it.  On the way home from work I picked up some Pedialyte, but hopefully we won't have to use it anytime soon...

Anyway, my husband and I really enjoyed the gefilte fish, and I gave the leftovers to my parents who also really liked it, so I figured I'd share the recipe:

Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto Gefilte Fish
1.5 cups sundried tomatoes (in oil)
1 cup cilantro (this was the only herb I had - parsley would work just as well...can't really taste cilantro over the tomatoes)
1/2 cup black olives
1/2 cup walnuts
zest of 1 lemon
juice of 1/2 lemon
2 Tbsp olive oil
pepper to taste

1.  Preheat oven to 350.

2.  Put 1st 6 ingredients in food processor and blend.  Then add the olive oil.  Season with pepper.

3.  Spray a 9x13 pan with cooking spray.  Spread about 1/4 cup of pesto on the bottom of the pan.  Unwrap the gefilte fish loaves and place on top.  Spread about 3/4 cup of pesto all over the fish. 

4.  Bake in oven, covered, for 1 hour.  Then, remove foil, and bake for 30 minutes more.

5.  Serve cold or at room temperature with additional pesto on the side. 

Note: Leftover pesto is also great on pasta or sandwiches!

Happy and (mostly) healthy eating!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Pedialyte Vs. Powerade

Today was an unsuccessful food day since my husband and I apparently caught whatever Henry had on Friday.  Luckily we weren't throwing up, but the nausea was quite real, and it knocked us both out (isn't there some rule that both parents can't be sick at the same time?).  As a result, Henry spent a lot of time in front of the TV, and when he opted to eat only challah and pretzels today, there wasn't much of a push for him to have anything else.

But, I am feeling mostly better now, and I wanted to do a little research on Pedialyte versus Powerade since I received a few comments and emails regarding the choice to give Henry Powerade on Friday when he was sick.  I'll start off by saying, not that much thought went into it on my part (shocking...and I'm supposed to be the dietitian??).  Before I left for work on Friday, I asked my husband to take Henry to the doctor in the morning, and then after the appointment to pick up some Pedialyte - honestly, it's the only children's rehydrating solution that I knew, so I figured that was the way to go.  But when my husband went to the appointment, the pediatrician recommended getting Gatorade or Powerade since in his experience children of Henry's age (16 months) didn't like the taste of Pedialyte and refused to drink it.  Going with the doctor's recommendation, we stocked our house with Powerade.

So what are the major differences?  According to the Pedialyte website (
Pedialyte is an oral electrolyte solution that is specifically designed to replace fluids and minerals (electrolytes) that are lost when a child has diarrhea with or without vomiting. Pedialyte is effective because it contains only small amounts of sugars (dextrose and fructose) that are balanced with appropriate levels of electrolytes.  Pedialyte is designed with this precise combination of sugars and electrolytes to promote quick fluid and electrolyte absorption. In general, other household beverages such as sports drinks, sweetened sodas and juices are too high in carbohydrates (sugar) and too low in sodium -- an important electrolyte that is lost during diarrhea and vomiting.

Basically, Pedialyte contains 2.5 times more sodium and 55% less sugar than Powerade.  The idea being that more sodium is needed to replenish the body after vomiting and diarrhea than after a workout.  In addition, sugar can exacerbate diarrhea, so Pedialyte uses only a small amount of dextrose and fructose, and then adds artificial sweeteners (sucralose and acesulfame potassium) to help make the beverage more palatable to kids.  Powerade just uses High Fructose Corn Syrup as its sweetener.  One note here is that the World Health Organization's Oral Rehydration Solution, which is considered the "gold standard" contains about 10 grams of sugar for an equal volume of Pedialyte (6 grams sugar) and Powerade (14 grams sugar).

So which should you choose? Well, you should talk to your doctor for his/her recommendation based on your child, as well as go with what you are most comfortable with.  In Henry's case, he had only vomited 4 times and did not have diarrhea.  Our main concern was keeping him hydrated, and since he liked the taste of Powerade, he was able to drink more Powerade than he would drink water.  So for our needs, it worked well.

And what would I do next time? Well, I'd definitely keep Powerade on hand since I know Henry likes the flavor.  But, given that Pedialyte has less sugar, I would like to try that next time, especially if Henry has diarrhea.  And if Henry absolutely can't stand it, at least I'll still have some Powerade.

Or maybe next time I'll try a homemade oral rehydrating solution...wishful thinking. When your kid is puking and you're running around cleaning vomit-drenched sheets and clothes, and trying to get to work, there's not really time for homemade remedies...

Happy and (mostly) healthy eating!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Puke & Powerade

Disclaimer: The following post is not for the queasy.

Friday morning Henry woke up at 4:40AM.  Needless to say I was not pleased, but I quickly went into his room to see why on earth he was up so early.  When I got there, he was sitting up surrounded by vomit (hey - you read the disclaimer...).  I took him out of his crib, changed his clothes, and my husband removed the sheet from the bed.  The remainder of the morning did not go much better.  He proceeded to throw up in my husband's shoe, in my husband's face, and in a couple of different toilets as well (I got pretty lucky). 

Unfortunately, I had an all-day meeting that I had to go to, so since I'm normally the one working from home, my husband took one for the team and worked from home on Friday.  Before I left, I told him to skip the milk, and to buy some Powerade, and to only feed Henry if he asked for food...and then to only give him bread or maybe oatmeal.  Well, right after I left, my sick son asked for food.  My husband happily watched while Henry ate the entire bowl, and then asked for more.  And then, as my husband turned around to make the next bowl, Henry threw up for the 4th time, all over his highchair. 

I like to add pics to my posts :)

And then the day of Powerade started.  My husband texted me from the store to find out which flavor to get (he really doesn't like to make any decisions).  This time I was actually happy that he asked because I had meant to tell him not to get any red flavors - this way we wouldn't think he was vomiting blood if he threw up again. So, "blue" was purchased (juices in general skeeve me out, but especially odd-colored ones), and for the rest of the day that's pretty much all he had.  Actually, not much eating happened at our house yesterday at all -my husband and I couldn't seem to get the stench of vomit out of our noses (or minds).  Here's hoping we don't have any more vomit fests anytime soon (luckily Henry was 100% better this morning, but his appetite is still lagging - I'm guessing that will change tomorrow).

Happy and (mostly) healthy eating - assuming I didn't just totally nauseate you!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Spinach Quiche - Another Frozen Treasure

At the start of the week, when I was organized, I made a big pan of eggplant rollatini.  The plan was for Henry to have it for lunch or dinner today and for a meal tomorrow too.  Unfortunately, when I broke into the pan last night for my dinner, the dish was a dud.  As a lover of shortcuts in cooking, this time I went too far.  No need to hash out all my mistakes...I promise to slow down in my cooking next time (maybe).  Though I will still eat the dish since I won't waste food, I did not want to give it to Henry and then have him distrust eggplant forever.  So, into my freezer I dove...

Lo and behold, I still had a few pieces left of the spinach quiche that I had frozen for Henry for when I was out of town for work.  Score!  I defrosted the piece and left it for my nanny to feed to Henry while I was at work today.  When I got home, my nanny said Henry devoured the whole slice.  Oh trusty spinach quiche, how I love you!

Quiche right out of the freezer

Za'atar Spinach Quiche
1 Tbsp olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, diced
1/2 to 1 cup mushrooms, sliced (I've done with both...depending on how many mushrooms I have)
1 - 10 ounce pkg frozen spinach, thawed and drained
1/2 cup light feta cheese, crumbled
1 cup part-skim shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
1.5 tsps za'atar (taste the mixture to see if you want to add more...sometimes I end up adding more)
salt & pepper to taste
4 eggs
1 cup 1% milk

1.  Preheat oven to 375.

2. Put oil in a medium skillet, and saute onion and garlic until softened (about 5 min).  Add mushrooms and saute about 3-4 minutes more.  Stir in spinach, feta, and 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese.  Season with za'atar, salt, and pepper.  Taste to see if you need more seasoning. (Be careful on the salt - feta is pretty salty).

3.  In a bowl, whisk together eggs and milk.  Add the mixture to the skillet, and gently mix in. 

4.  Transfer skillet to the oven and bake for about 20 minutes.  Then, sprinkle top with 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese and bake for another 30 minutes, or until center is set. 

Happy and (mostly) healthy eating!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Corn, My Hero... & More Kale Love

Today Henry woke up well-rested, happy, and cold-free.  Granted that doesn't necessarily mean that he'll be any less picky at meals, but it was a step up from yesterday. 

Lunch today, however, was a real pleasure.  I decided to try the chicken casserole on him again.  At first, as expected, he refused to eat it.  And then I had an idea.  I'm not sure if I mentioned this, but Henry LOVES corn.  In the summer he loved corn on the cob, and now he's just as happy to eat canned corn.  It couldn't get much easier.  So, I decided to offer Henry some corn.  Of course he immediately started saying, "corn, corn!".  So, I took the corn and poured it into his bowl of chicken casserole and mixed it in, while he watched (I wasn't trying to trick him).  The next thing I knew, he was taking the spoon himself and trying to scoop it all up.  He didn't finish the bowl, and still avoided the peas, but he did eat more than half of what I scooped out for him - it couldn't get much better...

And then it did!  Since I try to eat lunch with Henry to keep myself from just picking at his food, and to help him feel like part of a family meal, I took out some kale that I had made on Sunday.  I had given Henry the kale to try before, but he hadn't even touched it.  Today, however, when he saw me eating it, he wanted it.  I gave him a small kale leaf, and Henry licked it, and then put it out to hand back to me.  When I went to take it, he then went to lick it again.  I realized that he wanted me to break it up smaller because he couldn't chew it.  I started breaking it up, and I couldn't give it to him fast enough - he ate about 3 whole leaves!  What was even more impressive is that I had already put a clementine on his tray (a fave), and he opted for the kale instead! 
The kale recipe comes courtesy of Lisa Suriano, the creator of the Veggiecation program.  After she posted on twitter that some kids she had worked with loved the kale, I had to get the recipe.  Luckily, Lisa was very sweet and immediately emailed it to me.  I must warn you that I totally overloaded the baking sheet with kale (I was impatient!), and probably didn't let it crisp up enough, but it was delicious nonetheless!
Baked Kale Chips

Yield: 5 servings
12 large kale leaves
1 tbsp olive oil
3 Tbsp sugar
2 ½ tsp of cinnamon

Preheat oven to 250°F.
Wash the Kale leaves and dry well.  Cut each leaf in half lengthwise.  Remove stem and center rib.
Toss kale with oil in large bowl.
Arrange leaves in single layer on 2 large baking sheets.
Combine Cinnamon and sugar in a bowl and sprinkle over Kale leaves.
Bake until crisp, about 25 - 30 minutes.  Check after 25 minutes.  Smaller leaves take less time and should be removed first.  The larger more wrinkled leaves usually need to bake for a few extra minutes to get crisp.
Transfer leaves to rack to cool.

Copyright Notice
© Copyright 2006-2010 Veggiecation. All World Wide Rights Reserved.
COPYRIGHT NOTICE WARNING: The entire contents, as well as all individual parts, of this program are copyrighted by its creator and author, Lisa Suriano (the “Author”), and are protected under the laws of the United States of America and member treaty nations.

Happy and (mostly) healthy eating!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Chicken Casserole for the Soul

This morning Henry woke up congested.  When that happens, I know we're in for a LONG day.  Surprisingly, Henry was actually in pretty good spirits, which allowed his mommy to be in pretty good spirits too!

Eating, however, was not that great.  As soon as I saw that Henry didn't feel well, I decided to quickly put up a chicken soup.  I knew there was a good chance he wouldn't eat it, but I love chicken soup so either way someone would be happy at dinner.  My main problem with chicken soup, however, is that my husband does not like to eat boiled chicken, and since I'm a vegetarian (but yes, I do drink the chicken broth), I won't eat the chicken either.  Oh, and I should mention I never throw out food.  So today I decided to see if I could make some sort of chicken casserole out of the boiled chicken.

I saw lots of recipes online that called for cream soups to mix with chicken.  Problem is we're kosher (don't mix dairy and meat) and I wasn't going to the store for any ingredients.  I liked the idea of a chicken pot-pie, but I definitely was not going to be making any pastry dough or biscuits for the top.  So, I improvised and made a chicken pot-pie type casserole with whatever ingredients I had in my freezer or pantry. 

Was it a success?  Well, my husband really liked it.  Henry accidentally took a bite when he mistook the spoon coming to his mouth for a spoon full of chicken broth.  He was none too happy, immediately took the offending pea out of his mouth, and then refused the pot-pie, as well as the soup that he had previously been enjoying.  Lesson learned - if Henry is eating something happily, don't sneak something else in.

What do you do with leftover boiled chicken?

Kitchen-Sink Chicken Casserole

3 Tbsp light margarine (I use Smart Balance light since it is pareve)
1 small onion, chopped
1/4 cup sliced mushrooms
1/3 cup frozen peas
1 carrot, diced
1/2 cup frozen cauliflower florets
1 baked sweet potato, diced
1.5 cups shredded or diced chicken
1.5 Tbsp flour
2 cups chicken stock
1/8 tsp dried sage
1/8 tsp dried thyme
salt and pepper to taste
3/4 cup panko breadcrumbs

1.  Preheat oven to 350.

2.  In a skillet, melt margarine and add onion to saute for about 3 minutes.

3.  Add remaining vegetables and saute until all vegetables are defrosted and softened - about 7-8 minutes. 

4.  Then add shredded chicken and flour, and stir to combine.  Let cook about 1 minute.  Then add chicken stock, sage, thyme, salt, and pepper, and stir to combine.

5.  Top skillet with panko breadcrumbs and bake in oven for about 15 minutes.  For the last minute, turn on the broiler to get a nice brown crust on top.

Serves about 3-4 people.

Happy and (mostly) healthy eating!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Are we on to something?

As you may have noted, the last few days have been a bit of a feeding struggle with Henry.  So, I decided to take a deep breath and re-examine the situation.  From what I can see, Henry does really well with breakfast, and then from there the day seems to fall apart.  Some days he eats lunch, some days he eats dinner, and some days he eats neither.  He does tend to do a fair amount of snacking though.  I like that he snacks because he shouldn't have to go too long without eating, but maybe the issue was that there was no actual snack time, and instead he was just getting snacks throughout the day.  I also realized I had to just chill out a little - definitely easier said than done, but I can't create a stressful situation at meal times.  If Henry doesn't want to eat, I need to just accept it and for my sanity, ignore it.

I decided to go with my new attitude starting last night at dinner.  It was shabbos dinner, so challah was going to be all Henry wanted.  I tried to give him a bit of the main course (cholent - a stew of beans, potatoes, and beef made in the crockpot) before we had the challah, but he didn't really want it.  Instead of pleading with him (honestly, why do I do that - he's 16 months old and has no idea how to reason with me!), I let it go, and then let him have challah once we made the blessing over it.  As usual, he had as much challah as he wanted (about 3 slices), but some of the pieces I dipped in the cholent to expose him to the flavor.  Deciding to not let his refusal to eat other food bother me made dinner a much more pleasant experience.

Today we tried to also add in the set snack times.  He had breakfast around 8AM, and then his first set snack around 10:30AM (a clementine and some Cheerios).  Henry then took a nap, and when he woke up, he had lunch around 12:30.  Lunch again was cholent, and this time he ate a real portion of it.  My husband and I just kept looking at each other in amazement.  After he ate most of the cholent, we then took out the challah and let him have some.  And then the most amazing thing happened...even with all the challah on his tray, he took another bite of cholent! 

After that amazing lunch, I didn't really care how dinner went.  He sat down for a snack at his friend's house around 3:45, but didn't really eat anything.  I also didn't really expect him to eat dinner.  But, at 5:30, when he sat in his highchair, he ate almost 3 full slices of smoked turkey, half a banana, and a few pieces of cauliflower (I think the bites of cauliflower were by accident, but I'll take it!). 

I don't know if it's the new schedule, my new attitude, or the fact that eventually Henry must get really hungry, but today was great.  I know I can't expect this to happen everyday, but if Henry can just do this every few days, I think we'll be in great shape!

Happy and (mostly) healthy eating!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Dinner? Not Tonight.

I should warn you - I'm sulking.  I know Henry is only 16 months old and has no real concept of his actions, but tonight's dinner experience has left me feeling drained and a bit sad.  And yes, I tend to be melodramatic. 

I think the problem is that tonight I planned dinner solely with Henry in mind. Since we haven't had much feeding success the last couple of days, I really tried to appeal to what Henry likes.  And like most kids, Henry likes sweet food.  I try to pretend that he likes lots of different foods, but really when it comes down to it, the sweeter the food, the more he wants it.  So, tonight I not only made a sweet vegetable (butternut squash), but I roasted it to make it even sweeter, AND added brown sugar. I don't add sugar to veggies...I really was struggling. 

The dish was super easy to prepare (thank you Costco for now selling cubed butternut squash!!), it smelled amazing while it was roasting, and it tasted amazing.  As soon as I tasted it (before Henry tried it), I even called my mom to tell her how great this dish was (I thrive on praise, and I know I'll always get it from my mom!).  And then it came time for Henry to eat.  The dish was butternut squash and chickpeas.  I knew he'd likely snub the chickpeas, but I figured he'd try the butternut squash.  He likes sweet potatoes (or at least he did??), so I figured the butternut squash would look similar enough for him to taste it.  I was wrong.  Not only did Henry say "no" to the squash, but he broke out in a dramatic cry at the idea of it being on his tray (I know, I know - he gets that from me). 

I tried putting the squash on a fork - nothing.  I tried letting him feed me so that he would then try it - nothing.  I even tried putting his high chair in front of the TV to distract him (again, not a proud moment for me) - nothing, nothing, nothing!  And tonight for the first time, I firmly followed Ellyn Satter's (a dietitian & child feeding authority) advice that parents decide the what, when, and where of feeding, and children decide the if and how much.  I had given Henry squash and chickpeas, he declined, and so he went to bed without dinner.  Granted he may have eaten snacks with his nanny before I got home, and he did get his milk, but tonight there was no food.  And you know what? He didn't care at all.  We'll see how tonight goes (he seems to be sleeping soundly), but it seems that Henry is totally unscathed, and I'm just a bit of a wreck.

For those of you who would like to try a really good recipe that Henry wouldn't even touch, here it is:

Moroccan Butternut Squash & Chickpeas

2 lbs cubed butternut squash
1 15-oz can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp dark brown sugar
1/4 tsp salt
Few turns of the pepper mill

Preheat oven to 400.  On a baking sheet, mix together all ingredients.  Roast in oven for about 25 minutes.  Serve with whole wheat couscous.

Happy and (mostly) healthy eating!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Once Loved, Now Forgotten

Since last night Henry did not partake in any of the Chanukah meal, today he got leftovers for lunch.  He happily ate an entire potato & zucchini latke (though at first he started to just pull the potato & zucchini strands apart).  He also ate a couple of bites of the breaded fish.  The one thing he wouldn't touch? The beets! 

I know beets don't necessarily seem like a typical kid food, but I've made beets at least 3 times before for Henry, and he has LOVED them everytime.  He's signed for "more", and once even finished all the leftovers that I thought I'd get to eat for lunch!  So when Henry wouldn't even touch the beets, I could not believe it. 

At lunch, when I put the beets on Henry's tray, he shook his head "no".  I thought he didn't realize what it was, so I said, "No, Henry, it's love them!".  His response was to throw the beets, one by one, on the floor.  I then left the topic alone, and decided I'd approach it at dinner.

At dinner, I again tried to give Henry the beets.  Again, he refused.  I was also feeding him the Morningstar Chicken Strips (vegetarian) at the time, and Henry absolutely loves those (at least for now...or so I'm learning).  So, I decided to spear a bite on the fork first and then spear a piece of the chicken strip.  Henry took the bite, and then removed the beet from his mouth and deposited it on the floor.  I still felt he hadn't given it a fair chance.  So, I got tricky...I cut the chicken strip bite in half, speared one half on the fork, then a bite of beet, and then the other half of the chicken bite (see pic below).  Henry took it and actually ate a few bites.  I don't feel victorious though because eventually he started spitting the bite out, removing the beet, and then eating the rest of the chicken strip. 

I guess Henry is no longer a fan of beets.  I'm not counting beets out though.  I will still continue to make them, and offer them to Henry whenever we're having them.  But I finally learned the lesson that I taught to my mother all the years I was growing up...just because a kid says (or shows) that they love a certain food, it doesn't mean they'll be in the mood for it the next time it's served!

On a side note, anyone have tips on how to stop a 16 month old from throwing food off his tray?

Happy and (mostly) healthy eating!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Oh Chanukah, Oh Chanukah

Tonight my parents, sister, and nephews came over for menorah lighting and dinner.  I was really excited to try out some new recipes.  I know Henry is somewhat picky, but my nephews (ages 6, 8.5, and 11) are super picky, and they all like totally different foods.  I knew tonight would be a tough audience.  But, since I know that my nephews sometimes don't even eat their "favorite" foods, I decided to be a little daring. 

I should preface this post by saying that my usual picky critic, Henry, was not too helpful tonight.  Between starting dinner later than he usually eats, and having his big cousins and grandma around him, there was just way too much to distract him.  He ate a couple of bites of fish and a cube of beet, but he really just wanted to get out and play.  I'll hopefully have his review tomorrow after he tries it all for lunch :)

Instead of the typical fried potato latkes, I decided to bake some potato & zucchini latkes. 
Even though I baked them, I did put a small amount of oil in the pan and put it in the oven prior to putting in the latkes so that the latkes would still get nice and crispy.  I think it worked.  My nephew Daniel (8.5) really liked them and ate about 3.  Jacob (11) was not as big a fan.  And Evan (6) got a new toy before dinner and so could not be bothered to eat.  The adults all liked them.

I also made a beet salad with feta cheese because Henry happens to really love beets.  I thought the red veggie might intrigue my nephews.  Instead, it grossed them out...not one would even touch that dish (nice try Aunt Ali...).  It was okay though...the adults pretty much polished it off. 
For the entree, I made baked breaded tilapia.  I breaded the full filet for the adults, and cut the fillets smaller and then breaded those for the kids.  Those were a hit...or as big of a hit as you could get with my kid crowd.  Daniel and Jacob both ate and liked them (for them, liking them was eating one fish stick).  Evan managed to take a bite while playing with his new toy - that was all he ate the entire dinner. 
I also served a Caesar salad (romaine lettuce, croutons, and light Caesar dressing) along with the meal.  Thats a standard fave of my nephews...I think Jacob was the only one who even touched it...and that was to pick out the croutons (that should help with context of my critics!).

Here are the recipes:

Potato & Zucchini Latkes
4 potatoes, shredded (I kept the peel on)
1 large zucchini, shredded (peel on)
1 medium onion, grated
2 tsp salt
2 eggs
1/4 cup flour
3 tbsp olive oil (because I used three baking trays)

Preheat oven to 450. 

Mix together potatoes, zucchini, onion, salt, eggs, and flour.

Put baking sheet with 1 tablespoon of oil on each sheet in oven for about 3 minutes.  Take baking sheets out and spray each tray with a bit of additional cooking spray, and then spoon latkes onto the sheet.  Put back in oven and bake for about 12 minutes.  Flip latkes and put back in oven for another 10 minutes or until golden brown.

Beet & Feta Salad
4 beets
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 tsps balsamic vinegar
4 ounces light feta cheese, crumbled
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 450.  Wrap each beet in foil.  Bake in oven for about 45 minutes.

Peel beets when cool enough to touch. (Tip: peel under running water to help prevent your hands from turning red).  Dice the beets and mix with the remaining ingredients.  Can serve warm or cold.

Breaded Tilapia Fingers

1/4 cup light mayonnaise
1 Tbsp dijon mustard
2 tsps prepared white horseradish
4 6-ounce tilapia filets
2 cups panko breadcrumbs

Preheat oven to 400. 

Mix together mayo, mustard, and horseradish. 

Cut filets into 2 ounce pieces (I cut 4 "fingers" out of each filet).  Dip each "finger" into mayo mixture, and then into the breadcrumbs.  Put on baking sheet (spray with cooking spray first), and bake for about 10-12 minutes.  Then, place under the broiler for 1-2 minutes to get golden color.  If desired, make more of the mayo mixture as a dipping sauce.

Happy and (mostly) healthy eating!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

It's a "No"...Yay?

Today seemed fated to be a junk food day.  On the docket were two birthday parties and a chanukah party.  The way I saw it, Henry could possibly just end up eating cake and donuts all day long.  Obviously I would try to feed him real food, but in party situations when the cake is out, I won't stop him. I don't want him to feel there are foods that I deny him because then he may end up wanting them even more down the line.  I will, however, always try to show him other healthy foods as well, such as fruits and veggies, with the hope that he'll eat those too.

Surprisingly, the day took a different turn.  The two birthday parties were back to back, and because Henry had woken up too early this morning, he was already somewhat tired by the time we got to the first birthday party.  When he looked at the food table, he seemed to be aiming for a mini chocolate chip muffin, but I intercepted with a strawberry, which kept him quite happy.  He then had a quarter of a mini-bagel, and some salad (Henry loves eating lettuce off of our plates now - I think he's a dressing fan).  Because the next party was starting, we left right after we sang "Happy Birthday", and before they served the cake (Henry did not seem to notice).  At party #2, he was already on the verge of a meltdown.  He had no desire for food - not pizza or birthday cake.  Definitely not a loss.

After Henry woke up from his nap, we headed out to a Chanukah party.  I knew they'd be serving sufganiyot (jelly donuts), and since this is a special Chanukah treat, I was more than fine with him having we'd already bypassed two rounds of birthday cake!  So, we got Henry a jelly donut.  He took a bite, then took the chewed donut from his mouth, and ever so sweetly placed it into his daddy's unsuspecting open mouth.  He then refused to eat anymore and proceeded to feed the rest of the donut to his daddy.  This is the first time he has ever disliked a sweet, and I'm not gonna lie, I was so happy.  This is definitely not a food item that I will feel a need to try on him again!

Happy and (mostly) healthy eating!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Hot dogs make everything better...

When I was little, my mom used to make pea soup with hot dog slices in it.  When I turned 9, and gave up all meat (much to my parents' dismay), my mom dropped that soup from her repertoire.  I still ate soup cooked with meat (chicken soup with matzo balls is still my fave even though I still don't eat meat), but for some reason, the novelty of the pea soup was lost.

I started thinking about that soup this past weekend.  I've had, and made, other vegan split pea soups, but what I was craving was the hot dogs (I know, I'm a strange vegetarian).  I happen to really like Smart Dogs (vegetarian hot dogs), so I decided to buy them and see how they'd fare in the soup.  Since I let the soup simmer for about 2 hours, and since I'd thrown the veggie dogs in at the beginning, they kind of dissolved a little.  I was disappointed since my goal was to have little hot dogs as treats in my bowl (ok, this post is more about me than Henry), but the flavor they added was amazing.  Since I think of pea soup as a pretty kid-friendly dish, I wasn't really surprised that Henry liked it.  I was thrilled, however, when he started frantically motioning at me between bites because he wasn't getting the soup fast enough - I don't think that has happened since he first started eating solid foods! 

Oh, and to satisfy my hot dog craving, I sliced up an extra Smart Dog and threw it in mine and my husband's bowls.  I thought it was perfect. Granted my carnivorous husband said he'd rather a real hot dog sliced in...but he agreed the soup itself was delicious!

Veggie Dog Split Pea Soup

2 teaspoons olive oil
1 large onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 carrots, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
1 pound dried split peas
1 cup barley
1 teaspoon salt
few grinds black pepper (to taste)
2 bay leaves
1/4 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp basil
8 cups water
4 veggie dogs, sliced (keep 1 of the veggie dogs separate)

In a large soup pot, heat olive oil and add onions and garlic.  Saute for about 5 minutes.  Then add all the remaining ingredients, except for 1 veggie dog).  Bring to a boil, and then let simmer for about 2 hours.  When done simmering, taste to see if you want more salt and pepper. 

To serve, put soup in the bowl, and then add a few slices of veggie dogs!

Happy and (mostly) healthy eating!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Confession: My Son has 3 Breakfasts...

Breakfast is the one meal of the day that I never worry about.  Henry LOVES his oatmeal, and so I usually just stick with that option.  I'd rather pick my battles later on in the day when I'm not trying to run out the door and get to work or the gym.  His breakfast is simple to make...I take regular 1-minute plain oats, mix in hot water from the instant hot, and then add in unsweetened applesauce.  Along with his cup of whole milk, it's a nice balanced meal.  And Henry will generally finish off the whole bowl. 

...And then his daddy comes in the room, pours himself a bowl of cereal, and suddenly Henry is begging for food.  Another confession...though we've reduced the sugary cereals in the house, my husband still needs some of what I call the "snack cereals" in the morning.  To appease me, he mixes those cereals with Fiber One.  So, as Henry begs for food in the morning, my husband dutifully picks out strands of Fiber One from his bowl and puts them on Henry's tray so he can eat them. 

...And then I finally get a chance to eat.  I can't say that Henry always wants what I'm having (he's still not the biggest yogurt fan, and my strange choice of ricotta cheese this morning did not appeal to him at all...), but he likes to sit and eat more while I'm still there.  So, if he likes what I'm eating, he'll eat some of that too, and if not (or sometimes in addition) he ends up with a serving...or more like 2 servings...of Craisins as a dessert for breakfast. 

For the most part, Henry's three breakfasts tend to hold him over until least that's what I see the days that I work from home.  Aside from the fact that I don't love to share my food (I may have one time almost stabbed my husband's hand with a fork when he ate the dessert we were sharing too quickly...I take my chocolate seriously), I'm happy that Henry eats so well each morning and that we get to eat breakfast as a family (to some degree).  My only fear is that one day he may not opt for the healthy oatmeal and fruit as part of his large morning meal.  I guess I should warn my husband that the sugary cereals may soon be going bye-bye...

Happy and (mostly) healthy eating!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Making the Unfamiliar, Familiar

On Sunday when I went to the fruit and vegetable market, I picked up a bunch of Swiss chard. The only other time I cooked and ate Swiss chard, I had made a soup with Swiss chard and white beans. I remember it being good, but I just made the posole on Sunday, and I wanted a bit of a soup/stew break. But, I did like the idea of a "1-pot" meal, where Henry would get in his protein, starch, and veggie, without me having to give him 3 different foods. There are just some days when I don't want to have to think of which food to give him first so that he'll eat a little bit of everything - today was one of those days.

I started trying to think of how I could make chard Henry-friendly. I have a wonderful lasagna recipe that was given to me by a close family friend that calls for spinach, and that got me thinking of a cheesy pasta dish. Henry loves cheese and pasta, so it seemed like a good option. The idea of having to layer pasta, sauce, and cheese, however, seemed a bit much, so I settled on making baked ziti with Swiss chard.

When it came to feeding time, I wasn't sure if Henry would eat it because shortly before dinner he had sort of chowed down at a Hanukkah event. He ate pretzels, Cheerios, and chocolate spread, while the older kids made food menorahs...and then he ate the tip of a green crayon, while the older kids made crowns (he totally tricked me - lulled me into a sense of security when he was coloring so nicely, and then when I started a conversation with the mom next to me, he bit it right off!). But, when we got home, he seemed to still be hungry. I cut the baked ziti up and put it in front of him. He gave me a big smile, but then just sat there staring at it. I happened to be really hungry myself, so I turned around to cut myself a piece and heat it up. When I turned back, Henry was happily eating it. A few bites in, it looked like he was tired of it, but then when I came to sit down with him, he grabbed my fork, and then used it to eat the rest of his piece (with some spearing help, of course). Mixing the new veggie in with a favorite seemed to really work!
Swiss Chard Baked Ziti
1 lb ziti or penne
1 bunch Swiss chard, ribs removed, and leaves chopped
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/4 tsp garlic powder (2 garlic cloves would be better, but I didn't have them. Ok, I'm lying, I had them but I didn't want to mince them - again, it was one of those days!).
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup part-skim ricotta
1 cup part-skim shredded mozzarella, divided
1/2 jar tomato sauce (probably could have used more, but that was all I had left)
2 eggs, beaten
2 Tbsp grated parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 350.
Cook pasta according to package directions.
In a pot, saute chard in oil, and add garlic powder, salt and pepper (if using fresh garlic, saute garlic first, and then add chard). Once wilted, set aside.
In a bowl, mix together ricotta, 3/4 cup mozzarella cheese, sauce, chard and pasta. Taste to see if you want more salt and pepper. Then add eggs, and mix. Pour mixture into a 9x13 baking dish. Top with remaining mozzarella cheese and parmesan cheese. Bake for 30 minutes, or until you like the way the cheese looks on top.
Happy and (mostly) healthy eating!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

It's a No-le to Posole

A couple of months ago I was in the supermarket and came across a can of hominy. I'd heard of it, and knew that it was somehow related to corn, but I never tried it - so of course I bought it. It got tucked away in my pantry, and I came across it again on Friday evening. I wasn't sure what to do with it so I opened the can, hoping to throw it in a salad. Once I opened the can, however, and tasted it, I didn't think it would be good in a raw salad. The taste was great, just like a corn tortilla, but the texture was a bit strange for me, and the very bright white of the hominy was a bit much for my senses. So, I put the hominy in a tupperware, and decided I would deal with it on Sunday.

Fast forward to today. I did a bunch of google searches for "hominy recipes", and the majority of recipes that popped up were for Posole. From what I learned, Posole is a Mexican stew, typically made with pork, but I also found a few with chicken, and a couple of vegetarian options. Since I'm kosher, the pork option was definitely out. We also don't mix meat and dairy, and since I wanted to put cheese on my stew, I decided on a vegetarian version. There were so many vegetarian versions out there, so I just opted to take ingredients from all of them, and create my own.

Henry typically likes strong flavors, and tends to like stews, so I hoped this would be a winner. No such luck. As soon as he saw it, he refused it, and immediately threw a piece of hominy at me (to be fair, he was aiming for the floor, and accidentally hit me...still not so pleased). I then decided to give him challah and dip it in the stew so that he would try the flavor. He immediately took the challah, and then when he got the taste of the posole, he spit it out. He was not falling for my tricks. After a few tries of challah dipped in the stew, I gracefully surrendered, and let him have some honeydew.

I should mention that a couple of hours later, we took Henry's temperature, and realized he had a fever. So, it may be that he didn't want to try something new because he didn't feel well. Unfortunately, I won't be able to try the stew out again later this week since my husband and I actually finished the entire pot (it was really good!). I'm not sure if this tastes at all like Posole, but we were huge fans!

Vegetarian Posole

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 large onion, diced
1 tablespoon cumin
4-5 turns of the black pepper mill
dash of cayenne pepper (I think I may skip this next time - it was a bit hot for our tastes)
1 tbsp chili powder
1/2 tsp oregano
15 ounce can hominy, drained and rinsed
15 ounce can diced tomatoes (do not drain)
4 oz can diced green chilis
15 oz can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
4 cups water
salt to taste
juice of half a juicy lime

shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
chopped fresh cilantro
lime wedges

In a large pot, saute onion and garlic in olive oil until onion is translucent. Put in all ingredients from cumin to pinto beans. Coat all ingredients with seasonings. Then pour in water. Bring to a boil, and then let simmer for about an hour (I ended up letting it simmer for close to 2 hours because I had the time and I find stews taste better the longer they simmer). Then, add salt to taste and the lime juice. Simmer for about 5 minutes more, and then serve. Top each bowl with shredded cheese, cilantro, and a lime wedge. Enjoy!

Happy and (mostly) healthy eating!