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!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

A Saturday Night Out

Tonight my husband and I decided to take Henry out to dinner with us. Unlike my last dinner out with Henry, when he was too distracted to eat, this night looked more promising. The restaurant was fairly empty, and we had plenty of room to spread out. I also remembered to bring our adhesive tabletop placemats for Henry, so it was easier to put out food for him without Henry pulling everything right off the table.

Henry was perfect. He was well-behaved and he ate everything we put in front of him (veggie omelet and French toast). He even allowed us to eat somewhat peacefully. And then it happened...while he was eating, he looked up to admire the cool lighting fixture. Then he started choking/coughing, and the next thing we knew he was throwing up all over his placemat. When he was done, he was totally unfazed and went back to playing and waving at the few people around us. I can't say we were as nonchalant - having someone puke at your table can really put a damper on the meal. But, we did learn a valuable lesson...expect the unexpected, and always ask for extra napkins.

Happy and (mostly) healthy eating!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Turkey Day Happiness

Today we celebrated Thanksgiving at my Aunt and Uncle's house. There was loads of delicious food, but I was concerned going in that Henry would be too overwhelmed by all the people to actually eat. Plus, as I mentioned in an earlier post, Henry is not a big poultry fan, so I wasn't sure how balanced his meal would be.

With this in mind, I created a game plan. I know from other meals out that Henry does not do well without his own chair (with belt and tray) to sit in. So, I made sure to pack his booster seat. And, even though the Thanksgiving gathering was called for 1PM, I made sure to feed Henry lunch at 11AM (earlier than usual), so that he wouldn't be famished when we got there and then just eat all the appetizers (for him, crackers). I also didn't want to feed him his lunch too late that then he wouldn't be hungry for the Thanksgiving meal, which was earlier than his typical dinner. [Nevermind the fact that I was so prepared for Henry, that I forgot the dish that I made for the meal, only to remember (and turn around) 25 minutes into the drive...(amazingly I managed to blame that on my husband....feeling quite thankful now for my very understanding husband)].

Anyway, when we finally got to my aunt and uncle's house there were lots of appetizers out. Of course, Henry wanted all the crackers/mini-toasts. I let him have two, and then my dad took him downstairs to play with the other kids so that he wouldn't just constantly want more crackers.

Once the meal was set out, I saw that there were many options. My goal was to give him a balanced meal of turkey, a starch, and a veggie. I didn't want to confuse him with too many choices because then I felt he might just get overwhelmed and not eat (I know I get overwhelmed with lots of choices!). On his tray I put turkey, roasted brussel sprouts, and mashed sweet potatoes. Of course Henry loved the mashed sweet potatoes and avoided the other foods. But then I noticed that he liked using the fork for the sweet potatoes. So, I started spearing the fork into the turkey and then dipping it in the sweet potatoes. I did the same for the brussel sprouts. And you know what? He ate it all! Of course he also ate a bunch of cookies for dessert, but we can't win 'em all!

Happy and (mostly) healthy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Try, try again

I haven't had much luck with feeding poultry to Henry. He pretty much always shuns chicken, unless it accidentally gets mixed into the food on his tray. Henry does, however, really like meatballs. Using that knowledge, I figured I was really clever and decided to make him turkey meatballs about a month and a half ago. Also knowing that he loves the Asian veggie burgers by Morningstar, I went with a Teriyaki-type turkey meatball recipe. I tried giving them to Henry for 2 or 3 meals, and each time he spit them out. Trial period 1 did not work.

Whenever Henry refuses a food, I don't take it as a final answer. That doesn't mean that I force it on him until he takes it. I try my best to stay calm (although I must admit I have my moments...I know it's not normal to be offended that a 15 month old doesn't like my cooking, but trust me, it happens), and I hold off and plan to try that same food on him on a different day. In school I had learned that it can take a child (or even a picky adult!) 7-15 times before they will accept a new food. I even learned it firsthand when I started to feed Henry solid foods. After trying avocado, he was not a big fan. But, by trial #12, he ate avocado like a champ (and no, it was not 12 days in a row).

With all this information under my belt, I decided to try a plainer turkey meatball recipe this past Friday night. As I mentioned in an earlier email, Henry was not a fan Friday night, and also rejected them Saturday night. HOWEVER, on Sunday and Monday night, Henry happily ate the meatballs! I'm now so happy that I have another form of protein that I can make for Henry. Of course, he may decide not to eat them next time, but I have hope!

Simple Turkey Meatballs
1 lb ground turkey
1 egg
1/3 cup bread crumbs
a few grinds of black pepper (about 1/8 tsp)
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/8 tsp onion powder
1/8 tsp oregano
1/8 tsp basil

Preheat oven to 350. Spray a pan (8x11 or 9x13 will work) liberally with olive oil spray. Mix together all ingredients in a bowl. Form 12 meatballs (or make more smaller meatballs and adjust the cook time) and place in pan. Cook for about 25 minutes, or until done, turning meatballs halfway through baking. Serve with sauce if desired (Henry preferred without, to my surprise).

Happy and (mostly) healthy eating!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Eating Out...not so much

Tonight was really nice. Henry and I went into the city to meet my aunt-in-law (I know that sounds funny...) for dinner. We chose a kid-friendly diner-type place. My main concern when taking Henry out to eat is just that he sit nicely so that we can get through our meal without feeling really stressed out. And tonight, Henry did a great job. He sat in his highchair and played with everything in front of him, waved at anyone who passed by, and basically sat happily for at least 40 minutes. All in all, it was a successful night...except for the fact that Henry didn't actually eat any real food.

I ordered a veggie burger for us to "share" since Henry usually will eat veggie burgers. My aunt ordered an omelet...another favorite of Henry's. In front of him were eggs, veggie burger, pieces of the hamburger bun, and even some sweet potato fries. He didn't eat a thing! Usually he will at least play with the food, but this time it barely even caught his attention. At one point he did try a small piece of a sweet potato fry, but after a couple of seconds of chewing, he ever so politely spit it all out. It seemed like with all the hustle and bustle around him, he was too distracted to eat. So in the end Henry had a handful of baby puffs, and 2 honey wheat pretzels. I think next time I'll have to feed Henry before we get to the restaurant.

Anyone have suggestions for eating out?

Happy and (mostly) healthy eating!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Hidden Veggie Fritatta

Today we had some friends over for brunch. In our pre-Henry life, brunch was really brunch...our first meal of the day. Now by the time we get to brunch, we've had breakfast, and usually a snack as well. Ah, the days when we used to sleep late...

For brunch, I decided to take the easy route. I knew that in the morning I would buy some whole wheat bagels and cream cheese and serve it with sliced tomato, cucumber, red onion, and capers. But I wanted to make something a bit more special, without adding too many extra steps to my day. I thought about French toast, waffles, or pancakes, but since I was already going with the carb-y bagels, I opted for an egg dish. I didn't really have time to go out and buy ingredients, so I decided that I would make a fritatta on Saturday night with whatever ingredients I had, and then heat it up for brunch. Luckily, I had plenty of eggs on hand :)

I have to admit, that with all my thought processes on what to make, and how to make my life easier, feeding Henry, or appealing to what he likes, did not really enter my mind. As a result, I was all the more pleasantly surprised when Henry scarfed down the fritatta at brunch, and even seemed to choose it over his beloved bread! Without even trying, I got Henry to eat eggs (great protein), cheese (protein & calcium), artichokes, olives, and sundried tomatoes (vitamins & minerals). I then remembered that my friend Laura had told me earlier this week that she used to make veggie omelets for her daughter (who was then almost 2) since her daughter loved eggs and was willing to eat them with anything. Maybe subconsciously I remembered that, and made the fritatta with Henry in mind? Yeah, let's stick with that story. Either way, it seems to work - thanks for the tip Laura!

Here's my approximate recipe for the Fritatta:

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 large onion, diced
6 whole eggs
6 egg whites
1/2 cup 1% milk
1 15-oz can artichoke hearts (in water), drained and diced
10 sundried tomatoes, drained and diced
1 cup black olives, sliced (measure first and then slice)
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
1/4 cup light feta cheese, crumbled
1/3 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella
1/4 tsp garlic powder
pepper to taste

Sautee onion in olive oil in a large saucepan until translucent. Set aside.

Whisk eggs, egg whites, and milk together. Add all other ingredients, including sauteed onion. Pour into baking dish (I used my large saute pan, but a 9x13 pan would work too. Bake in 400 degree oven for about 30 minutes, or until done.

When I reheated today, I sprinkled an additional 1/4 cup of mozzarella cheese on top.

The best part is, we have leftovers. Now I don't have to worry about what Henry will eat for lunch tomorrow!

Happy and (mostly) healthy eating!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

How does he know?

I'm going to look at last night as an interesting learning experience because otherwise it was just frustrating.

Last night, as usual, I fed Henry dinner around 6PM. Since I knew he wouldn't eat anything after we took the challah out, I gave him his food before we made kiddush. I gave him a nice array of food - roasted squash, turkey meatballs, and cauliflower. To my delight, he cautiously tried each food item. In the end, he negated the squash and meatballs, but he did eat a few pieces of cauliflower...and then of course he ate about half a challah roll. I wish he would have eaten more protein, but I really couldn't complain.

After dinner, we were invited out to a dessert party. We bundled Henry up and took him up the block. As soon as we got into the house, and he saw the dessert table, he started signing for "more". My husband made a dessert plate (mostly for himself), and Henry immediately started grabbing at it. He put every dessert in his mouth without a single hesitation. I get that kids like dessert...I love dessert, so how could I not expect Henry to as well? Though I don't give Henry cakes and cookies on a regular basis, if someone offers them to him, or if other people around him are eating dessert, I always let him have some (one could argue that on these occasions he gets too much dessert, but I'm trying my best!). My feeling is that I don't want him to feel deprived and then later on in life eat sweets whenever he can get his hands on them. I realize that could happen anyway, but that's my attitude on least for now. Anyway, my issue last night was that I just couldn't understand how he knew that he would like everything on his dessert plate, but meanwhile at dinner, he played with each piece of food for a good minute before he even put it in his mouth! Now of course I'm trying to figure out how I can use this information to get him to eat healthy foods. I don't have an answer, but I just really had to share...any ideas?

Happy and (mostly) healthy eating!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Freezer Love

Thursdays for me are always a kind of no man's land. By Thursday we've finished up all the food that I cooked for the week, and I don't start cooking for the weekend until Thursday night after Henry is asleep. In a former life, before I had Henry, and before my husband started working (he was a student when we were first married), Thursdays were the perfect night to go out to dinner. Though I love Henry dearly, he is not the best dinner date, so instead on Thursdays I now scramble around to find something somewhat balanced and healthy to feed us.

That's where my beloved freezer comes in. I know some people are skeeved out by freezing food, but I am totally the opposite. I will try and freeze anything. Tons of leftover rice from Chinese takeout? Freezer. Rotting bananas on my counter? Freezer. Too big a bag of shredded cheese to eat before it goes bad? Yup, you guessed it - freezer! Freezing my leftover food helps with some quick fixes on busy nights, and definitely helps to save some money.

But, on top of just freezing my rotting/leftover food, I also cook for my freezer. For example, when I make a big pan of macaroni and cheese or a spinach quiche, I almost always cut the leftovers into individual portions and stick them in my freezer. Typically I then kind of forget about it, and then on desperate nights I am elated to find a home-cooked dinner that just needs to be heated in the microwave. Luckily for me, that happened today. A few months ago, I made a big batch of "Addictive Sweet Potato Burritos" that I found on I then wrapped each burrito in foil, and stuffed them in a bag in my freezer. Today, as I was searching for something for us to eat, I stumbled upon the very last one. I stuck it in the microwave for about 3 minutes, and then Henry and I got to enjoy a delicious meal! I meant to take a picture of the burrito for the blog, but Henry and I were pretty hungry, and the burrito was finished before I even got the camera out. When we find something we like to eat, we don't let anything get in our way!

Again, here is the link for the recipe: Addictive Sweet Potato Burritos. I altered the recipe slightly and used canola oil in place of vegetable oil, and a 1 pound bag of dried black beans instead of 6 cups of kidney beans. I thought the black beans would be a better contrast to the sweet potato, and using the dried beans cut down on the sodium and the cost. I also used regular mustard since I don't have dried mustard, and I used about 15 8-inch whole-wheat tortillas since I didn't have any 10-inch ones. Oh, and I used low-sodium soy sauce to help cut down on the sodium as well. They were a little time-consuming to make, but since they made 15 burritos that I was then able to freeze, it was well worth it!

Happy and (mostly) healthy eating!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Tasty Eggplant

Eggplant is one of my favorite vegetables. It is high in fiber, B vitamins, and minerals such as magnesium and potassium, and it tastes good! Since I'm a vegetarian, it's one of my staples during the warmer months since it holds up well on the grill, when I'm out grilling burgers and such for the meat eaters in my life. It is also one of only a few vegetables that my husband really does not like (along with zucchini - another personal fave). Sadly for my husband, I won't let this fly. I am constantly cooking foods I don't eat (i.e. beef and chicken), so I'm not really willing to forgo any veggies. What does this have to do with feeding my toddler, you might ask? Well, it's given me great practice in finding recipes that make certain vegetables that are unpalatable to some, quite tasty!

My husband, like Henry, loves anything with sauce and melted cheese (pizza is definitely our favorite food). So, adding cheese and sauce to eggplant was a no-brainer (this can work with lots of different veggies!). I knew it worked on my husband, so I was fairly confident that Henry would like eggplant parmesan as well. Boy was I right. Henry gobbled up his piece at dinner. On top of that, though I normally wait for Henry to be asleep before I eat, tonight I was lucky enough to have him up with me when I finally decided I couldn't wait to eat anymore at 9PM. As I ate my piece of eggplant parm, Henry eagerly sat beside me, signing for, and saying, "more", as he grabbed at my food. Remind me why I want him to like all my favorite foods again??

Anyway, here is my version of baked eggplant parmesan:

1 large eggplant, thinly sliced (I don't peel the eggplant, but make sure to avoid the skin with your toddler since it is harder to chew with limited teeth)

1 whole egg

2 egg whites

2 cups plain bread crumbs

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon dried basil

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

a few turns of the black pepper grinder (cooking is not exact!)

1.5 cups tomato sauce

2/3 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella

1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Set up breading station. Beat eggs and egg whites in one bowl. Mix breadcrumbs, oregano, basil, and pepper in another bowl. Dip eggplant slices in eggs and then breadcrumb mixture, and then put on a baking sheet that has been sprayed with cooking spray. Bake eggplant slices for 7-10 minutes.

Then, in a 9x13 pan, pour 1/2 cup tomato sauce on the bottom of the pan. Then put a layer of the eggplant. Sprinkle on 1/3 cup mozzarella cheese, and half of the parmesan cheese. I then put another 1/2 cup of sauce, the remaining eggplant, another 1/2 cup of sauce (I like seeing the sauce on top), and then the rest of the cheeses. Bake for about 25 minutes.

Happy and (mostly) healthy eating!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Falling Down on the Weight Chart

Today I had Henry's 15 month check-up. He actually turned 15 months on October 27th, but because he's been a little slow on the motor development, I like to go late to check-ups so we get a little catch-up time :)

Anyway, from the time Henry was a month old, he was BIG. At each visit the doctor told me how quickly he was growing, and Henry was for the first year of his life about the 90th percentile for weight (and height). At his one-year visit, his weight started to drop, and we pushed down to the 50th percentile. This actually seemed quite normal to me as both my husband and I were fairly small when we were little. Well today, at 23 pounds 11 ounces, Henry dropped again to the 40th percentile for weight (we're now at 75th for height). I'm still not that concerned - he's more mobile now, and I still think he's just evening out after his breastmilk binge (he faithfully nursed every 3 hours around the clock until about 10 months) - but the doctor did mention that maybe I should try to add another cup of whole milk to his diet. I know that's not a big deal, but it definitely got me second guessing myself. I thought we were doing pretty well with the whole eating thing...and honestly, I'm not sure I can handle carrying a child much larger than Henry (he's still not walking). I mean, if my almost 24 pound son is considered to be only 40th percentile, how big are the 90th percentile kids???

Well, with me now doubting myself, I took Henry home and went to feed him lunch. On the way back from the doctor, I actually stopped and bought a few ready made items for me and my husband to eat. I had planned on feeding Henry some cheese and eggs, but then he kept grunting at my food. He usually does that, and then doesn't actually eat the food, so I indulged him as usual and gave him a piece of what I was eating - a rice-stuffed grape leaf. The next thing I knew, Henry ate 1 and a half stuffed grape leaves! Granted the nutritional content is not all that impressive, but they do have a small amount of protein, vitamin A, fiber, and some healthy fats. Plus, its a new flavor profile for him...which means maybe some new food options in the future!

Dinner was also a happy time...Henry almost willingly ate a new soup I made. Remember that extra kale I had? I found a really interesting kale soup recipe on Fatfree Vegan Kitchen that I adapted based on the ingredients I had on hand. I also added some barley because I like my soups to be balanced so that they're all I'd need to eat for dinner.
Anyway, Henry at first didn't want to try it, but once I let him hold the spoon with my help, he happily ate about 7 spoonfuls. Plus my husband and I absolutely loved it, so I highly recommend the recipe! So today was a great day for Henry trying new foods - now we just need to work on the volume.

North African Chickpea and Kale Soup (adapted from Fatfree Vegan Kitchen)
2 tsps olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
8 baby carrots, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1.5 tsps ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon paprika
pinch cayenne pepper
5 allspice berries (or 1/4 tsp allspice - I was out of ground allspice)
1/2 tsp ground ginger
generous pinch saffron, lightly crushed
1/8 tsp cinnamon
2 bay leaves
1 can chickpeas (drained and rinsed)
8 cups water
2 tsps chicken consomme powder
1/2 cup barley
1 large bunch kale, thick center ribs removed and chopped
salt to taste (I didn't think it needed anymore - the consomme powder was pretty salty)

Heat oil in large pot. Add onion and carrot and cook until onions soften. Add garlic and cook one minute more. Add the spices, including bay leaves, and cook stirring for another minute. Add the chickpeas and stir to coat with the spices. Pour in the 8 cups of water, the chicken consomme powder, and the barley. Bring to a boil, and reduce to simmer for 25 minutes.

Add the chopped kale and stir. Cook an additional 20-30 minutes, or until barley seems cooked. Season with salt if desired, and then serve!

Happy and (mostly) healthy eating!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Feed a Cold?

I'm not quite sure where the saying "feed a cold, starve a fever" came from, and I honestly have never seen any studies to back it up (if you've seen otherwise, please let me know!), but all I know is that I don't know how anyone actually can feed a toddler with a cold.

Last night I decided to be organized, and I actually did some cooking for the week. I figured I would be prepared for the meals ahead, and truthfully, I was hoping to have some good recipes for the blog! Well, this morning I had an inkling that things would not go as planned. Henry woke up all congested, and his little cry even sounded hoarse - I felt awful having to leave him at home when I went to work!

My main goal when Henry is sick is to keep him as happy as possible, and feed him whatever I can. When he's sick, all of my usual "rules" fly out the window, and I will frequently try to give him foods that I know he likes (within reason - I'm not pulling out the cookies). So, when I left my nanny with chicken-salad roll-ups for Henry for lunch, I also told her that if he didn't eat them, she could try the cheese, corn, or noodles that were in the fridge. Unfortunately, Henry not only did not try the chicken salad, but he also didn't eat anything else. I tried the same thing at dinner, and again he barely ate anything. For the whole day, I think he ate a couple of teaspoons of oatmeal, a handful of craisins, and 1/2 a slice of cheese. Luckily he still drank all his milk and some water, so he stayed hydrated. Now I'm just hoping he gets a good night's sleep and feels better tomorrow!

For anyone that wants the chicken salad recipe, here it is. My husband loved it, so maybe Henry will like what's left tomorrow...

1.5 cups shredded chicken (I used what was left from my chicken soup)
2 tablespoons diced mango
1/4 of a small avocado, diced
1 tablespoon dried cranberries
1 tablespoon walnuts, chopped small
1 tablespoon light mayonnaise
1/4 teaspoon minced onion
dash of paprika
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl.

For Henry I had taken half a whole-wheat wrap, filled it lengthwise with chicken salad, rolled it up, and then cut into small rolls - maybe it will work for someone else :)

Happy and (mostly) healthy eating!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Eating by Color

Weekends are tough when it comes to eating. Our schedule is off, and meals and meal times tend to vary.

For this weekend, I made a big pot of chicken soup with veggies, chicken, noodles, and matzo balls for Friday night dinner. I should know better by now - Henry will not eat anything I make on Friday nights because his favorite food precedes the meal. Henry is obsessed with challah. It is by far his favorite food. He asks for it everyday, and on Friday nights, he knows he gets it. I realize that challah does not make for a balanced meal, but since I don't give it to him during the week, I just let it go. There are only so many meals I can battle with a 15 month old.

I thought the soup was really good though, and I really thought he would like the matzo could he not? It's just another starchy, soft food...and it looks like bread! So, tonight I decided to try the chicken soup (sans actual soup) for dinner again. At dinner #1, he did not want anything - not even the noodles. Instead of trying to give him something else, I just took him out of the highchair and let him play. (I generally try not to offer other foods if he won't eat something since I don't want to end up a short-order cook). I then tried something that I normally never do (and I don't think I'll make a habit of it...for now). While Henry was playing, I brought him over a piece of matzo ball to try. This time he ate it and asked/signed for more. Success! I put him back in his highchair and let him at his food. Now, I wish I could say that I purposely planned this, but it just so happened that most of the food on his tray was only one color - white.
So, while Henry went to grab at the matzo ball, he also sometimes grabbed chicken, parsnip, turnip, onion, and noodles. This definitely is not what is meant by eating by color, but it totally worked tonight!

Happy and (mostly) healthy eating!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Kale - Take 1

Kale was definitely an ambitious undertaking for my third post, but I saw it in the vegetable market, and gosh darn it, I wanted it!

Kale is one of those veggies that I was only introduced to later in life. I'd made it a few times before Henry was born, and both Jason (my husband) and I liked it. Since I hope to make kale many more times in the future, I figured it was time to introduce it to Henry. The recipe I made was very basic and simple - it consisted of onion, garlic, olive oil, chickpeas, kale, salt, and lemon (see below for approximate recipe). One thing to note about wilts down to nothing. So fill your pot, let it wilt, and then continue to add more kale.
This was the finished product:
When I went to feed it to Henry, I started with the item I thought he would find most offensive first. Since he's shunned chickpeas before, that's what I gave him first. Shocker - he wasn't a taker. I then put a piece of kale on his highchair. Again he would not take it. I tried to put it in his mouth - he made a face, and spit it out. That's when I got creative. I had made some rotini pasta to serve with the kale dish. I know Henry LOVES pasta. So, I intertwined the kale with the pasta so he couldn't get it off.
The next thing I knew, Henry ate 5 pieces of pasta/kale! I even saw him accidentally take a plain piece of kale and eat it. Granted, it only happened once, but that's definitely progress. When he stopped going for the pasta, I added some banana to his tray (which he LOVES). He mostly ate the banana, but in the midst of grabbing for banana, I do believe another pasta/kale piece got thrown in. I still don't think Henry will grab for kale the next time I make it, but I'm hoping that maybe he'll at least consider it...
Anyway, here's how I made my kale:
1.5 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion
2 cloves garlic
1 giant bunch kale, rinsed and shredded (make sure to remove the rib/stem)
1 - 15 oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed (note: make sure to rinse well...this removes a lot of the extra sodium)
salt to taste
zest and juice from half a lemon (because that's what I had on hand)
In large pot or large skillet, sautee onion and garlic in oil until onions are translucent. Add chickpeas and stir together. Put in as much kale as you can fit, and let it wilt (see picture above). Continue to do so until all kale is in the pot. Add salt to taste. Sautee kale with other ingredients until it looks wilted and is easy to chew. Then, turn heat off, add in the lemon zest and lemon juice and mix together.

Depending on whether there are leftovers, I may try the kale out on Henry again tomorrow. If not, I still have another bunch of kale in the fridge, so he'll definitely be having it in some form in the next few days. Wish me luck!
Happy and (mostly) healthy eating!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Sleeping the Day Away

Today was not our typical day, but honestly I'm not sure what's typical anymore...

After Henry woke up at 8AM (instead of his usual 6:30AM), I decided to forgo his usual oatmeal for breakfast and try giving him yogurt for probably the 10th time. When Henry first had yogurt at about 8 months old, he did okay. Back then I started him with Trader Joe's Plain Greek Yogurt, hoping that he wouldn't get used to having sweetened yogurt. After a couple of months, Greek yogurt was a firm "no!". Knowing that it can take 15 times for a child to like a new food, I kept at it. Instead of the Trader Joe's yogurt, which was full-fat, and therefore preferable for children under age 2, I decided to go with the Chobani 2% Greek Yogurt with pineapple. Yes, I'd given up my hope of him eating the plain yogurt (for now!), but I was not quite willing to give up the Greek yogurt since it has more protein and less sugar than regular yogurt.

The yogurt experience started out the same. A firm headshake, a mumbled "no", and an arm swatting my spoon away. But then I decided to let Henry take the spoon himself. The next thing I knew, he was eating the yogurt! I ended up with a pretty messy boy, but a boy who had just consumed 13 grams of protein and 150 milligrams of calcium - my morning was a success!

After breakfast, we headed to playgroup. I'd love to forget that there he had a small piece of Entenmann's Chocolate Chip Crumb Loaf Cake, but it was there, he wanted it, and I let him have it (plus he was already grabbing it from his friend). Since Henry decided to fall asleep in the car on the way home, and then continue to sleep for 3.5 hours in his crib, he did not eat lunch until 3:20PM. Henry typically likes a whole wheat tortilla with salsa and melted cheese, so I decided I would sneak some extra veggies in there for added nutrition. In with the muenster cheese and salsa went a couple of chopped up black olives, a chopped mushroom, a small handful of canned corn, and a small handful of pinto beans. I threw it in the microwave for 30 seconds, and voila!

I'm not sure if it's just that Henry was starving, but he ate almost the entire tortilla - another successful meal.

I was on a roll. Dinner was going to be some beef stew that my mom had given us the day before. I had tasted the veggies from it (I'm a vegetarian, but eat things cooked with meat), and it was delicious! I put Henry in is highchair and giddily put the pieces of beef, potato, and carrot in front of him. I watched him eat a piece of beef - he was doing great. I turned around to microwave a few pieces of frozen cauliflower to add to his meal, and suddenly even more beef was gone. He was loving it! I was a bit sad when he no'd my cauliflower (he loved it last week!), but I was pleased with the stew. And then I saw witty little boy was taking the pieces of beef and putting it in the seat of his highchair. Apparently dinner was not such a success. I followed up the stew with a 1/3 of a banana and 2 strawberries which he happily ate. At least he got in some good fruit for the day!

I should also mention that Henry is an avid milk-drinker. So if all else fails, I know that he is usually getting in 16 ounces of whole milk a day.

Happy and (mostly) healthy eating!

Here we go...

A little background:

I'm a mom to an adorable, bubbly, and happy 15 month old boy named Henry. I also LOVE food and everything about it - cooking, supermarket/grocery shopping (when I have the time), and most of all, I love to eat! On top of that, I'm a dietitian.

Prior to having a baby, I had idealistic notions of raising a child who always ate healthy food, who would eat anything I gave him, and who would have a healthy attitude about food and eating. I'd been through the nutrition training, and believed that I knew the way to avoid a picky eater. I secretly scoffed at parents who ordered from the children's menus, assuming that I would train my child to eat small portions of whatever mostly healthy, adult food my husband and I were eating.

At first, everything seemed to be going smoothly. I solely breastfed Henry for the first 5.5 months of his life, and then continued to breastfeed him, along with feeding him solid foods until he was just about 13 months old. When I started feeding him solids, he seemed to be a wonderful eater. He ate anything I gave him - broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, sweet potatoes, black beans, hearts of palm, and even gefilte fish with horseradish (obviously that came later on in the feeding progression). I had accomplished what I had set out to do!

And then one day, Henry changed. Suddenly he wouldn't eat the chicken, roasted carrots, and quinoa I'd made, and instead only wanted noodles, corn, and (gasp!) cookies! My planned healthy eater suddenly had an opinion, and it hit me HARD!

So that's why I'm starting this blog. There are tons of us moms out there who are hoping to find a way to get their kids to eat some healthy food. I know that every child is different, and that Henry is not the pickiest eater, but I still face feeding challenges with him. I hope to be able to share with everyone what I plan to feed Henry on a somewhat daily basis, what actually works for him, and hopefully share some recipes and food ideas along the way. And at anytime, if anyone has their own feeding suggestions, please share them...

Happy and (mostly) healthy eating!