Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Introducing new food to children.

I’m back. The flu has finally left our family, I hope.

Today I’m talking about getting children to eat foods that are good for them, and different from what they are used to.

I mentioned once my friend and neighbor Queenie the nutritionist. She once told me that it takes up to 20 exposures to a new food before a child or adult is comfortable trying it. So if your kids or spouse have never eaten kale before, or sushi, or Chinese food, or lentils and you put it on the table one night as the main course, they may very well refuse it completely, and you may conclude that you just can’t get your family to change their eating habits and give up right there. This is especially frustrating when you’ve put a lot of time and effort into making something.

Now there are a lot of ways to hide things from your family and get them to eat it while none the wiser. Pureeing is usually the simplest. If it’s too small to see it doesn’t exist and they will therefore eat that spinach in the tomato sauce. But today is about getting them to know what they are eating and try it.

We have a one-bite rule at our table. I you have never tasted something before you may not push it aside disgustedly and declare that you don’t like it. You must taste it first. You may not be excused from the table until it has been tasted. After that they can leave it untouched if they prefer, most of the time.

Right now I’m trying to get my children to like leeks, because I like leeks, and I want to be able to cook with them at dinner. My steps to leek enjoyment begin at the grocery store with children in tow. I pull it off of the shelf, call them to examine it, ask them what they think it is. We name it, smell it, describe what it’s like and they help me put it in the cart. This is their first exposure. I use words like tasty and yummy when I talk about it. At home when I’m making dinner, I let them help me in the kitchen. They can wash it for me, and watch me chop it. I’ll first introduce it in a side dish next to something I know they will enjoy. I may sauté it with some baby carrots, and corn or cashews. They will taste a piece or two, declare their dislike, and we’ll move on, I’ll allow them to pick it off of the carrots, knowing that they are getting used to the flavor even if they are rejecting the texture thus far. Next I will make potato and leek soup, I’ll chop the leeks small so they just look like floating green bits, which my kids are used to because I cook with a lot of green herbs. They will probably eat the soup, especially since it will probably have bacon and cheese to top it, and some kind of tasty bread. After they have enjoyed a few bites I will tell them that those are leeks in there. Next I may make a leek frittata that I love and have been craving, and now the strange and dreadful leeks are showing up in eggs and cheese, two of their favorite things. They may pick them out, because they are large pieces, or not, either way there has been another exposure. As time goes by and leeks continue to appear at our dinner table, they will become accustomed to them and eventually accept them as part of the normal dinner fare. They will express preparation preferences and I will accommodate. For example, my children don’t like cooked broccoli, at all, but they will eat it raw, so I only offer it in raw form now. They don’t like green beans raw on the other hand, but they will eat them steamed with butter or in a particularly tasty spicy dish I invented once. So my husband and I enjoy the green beans raw, and the children get them cooked.

This method builds on several ideas that I hear repeated all over the place when it comes to getting children to eat. First, model good eating habits. They will eat what they see you eating, so eat well. Second, involve them in shopping and food preparation, children are almost always more willing to eat something they decided on and helped to make. Third, make healthful food the only thing available in your house. What you buy at the store is what your family will eat. If you have to have that junky treat, or your spouse does, don’t do it at home, and don’t do it often, choose to make healthful eating commonplace. My friend Queenie, granted she’s Chinese, could get her children to eat bok choy, lotus and beef soup, this really kind of bland and runny rice soup thing, and all sorts of other things that you or I may not enjoy, okay, I like bok choy, but still. The interesting thing was, the more my children ate lunch with her children, the more they were willing to eat that stuff too. You set the standard for normal, set it high.

One last thing. Don’t make the table a battleground. If a child is forced to eat something they may never like it, because it goes beyond trying things and to an emotional involvement; that clouds the whole issue. I know the one bite rule sounds like it contradicts this, but it doesn’t, because it’s always there, it applies to everyone, they can expect it, and they don’t have to eat more than that. It never becomes personal, at least not so far.

And one last last thing, if your child wants to try something new, by all means let them. My son has found pumpkins fascinating this fall; he’s never really eaten one. So I bought a small one. We will prepare it together, taste the seeds, taste it raw, taste it cooked, taste it in muffins and in the pie we are taking for thanksgiving, and he will add another item to his food experiences.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Popsicles, Ginger Ale, Crackers and Links*updated

***So I'm sick now too, but that means I know exactly what kind of Ginger Ale I prefer, because the genius husband went out to get me some. Reed's Extra Ginger Brew, 26 grams of ginger per bottle, fruit juice and honey sweetened, all natural. It's at Trader Joe's but I was able to find it in Canada, so you may have luck looking at specialty stores. That's all for now, I'm taking a nap.***

We are still in the middle of flu week here. The Girl seems to be better the Boy has replaced her on the couch with the puke bowl. Which brings me to today’s topic.

Popsicles are classic flu recovery food, but they are also something that kids love to eat anytime. I always make my own; they are really simple.

You can just use fruit juice, any kind and pour it into popsicle molds. Here are some other ideas as well.

I watch for fruit that has been marked down because it’s getting too ripe, especially organic strawberries. These are bit mushy but not rotting. When I get them home I cut off the ends and put them all in the blender and then pour them into popsicle molds. When I’m concerned about my children not getting enough protein I add other things like yogurt, or ground almonds, or nut butter, tahini, soy milk, almond milk, etc. They really like ground almonds strawberries and yogurt. There is no need to add sweetener if you have fruit or juice in the mix.

Right now I’m making them swirled fudgesicles. I fill the molds half way up with the unsweetened Vanilla Almond Breeze milk, and then I slowly pour in chocolate flavored almond milk on top, it makes a nice little swirl in the mold and I just have to get them to the freezer without too much jostling. Peanut butter fudgsicles happen when we mix chocolate soymilk or almond milk with some peanut butter and usually some yogurt, and freeze it. The possibilities are endless, and ALWAYS eaten. This is also a good place to sneak in supplements in powder form.

Ginger ale is good for a recovering stomach, just not the brands that don’t actually have any real ginger in them. We like to get the Jamaican style of ginger beers. You may have to go outside of your regular grocery store to find these, but they are around. Just label read for real ginger content. They also have less sugar, and a very strong taste. I don’t actually give my kids this; it’s for the grown-ups who need it. For kids we have “bubble juice” also known as Emergen-C. This is a little powder packet full of Vitamin C and essential minerals and electrolytes. We buy it by the box at Trader Joe’s but I know you can get it in many other places including on the counter at several gas stations. It comes in several different flavors, it's fizzy, the kids think they’re getting a treat, and it absorbs fast, which is great for nauseous little tummies. They don’t just get this when they’re sick. It’s often their one juice a day. I keep a couple of packets in my purse and use it when I think they’re in danger of dehydration in the CA summers. I just pour a packet into their water bottles and they tend to drink it faster because they like it.

We’ve already talked about crackers extensively. So I’ll not go there.

I found this the other day, which is a helpful shopping guide for healthier alternatives to snack food with some brands I’d forgotten about.

Also, I’ve had a question about JuicePlus+ the supplement that I take. So basically they turn fruits and vegetables into powder without heat and keep up to 80% of the nutrients alive somehow and then put them in capsules for you to take. It’s the next best thing to fruits and vegetables and covers many dietary gaps. The reason I like them better than other companies that make similar claims is that they actually test to make sure it works, through independent researchers who don’t get a paycheck from them. They have done blood tests on people before taking the supplement, and then after 2 weeks, and then 4 etc. And they test specifically for things like alpha-tocopherals and beta-carotenes, and the things that you are supposed to get from fruits and vegetables and show a significant increase in your blood within 2 weeks of taking the supplement. You can go to their sight to read more and order. I think if you go to a link through this site then I get a little tiny bit of money for your order, so I’m going to put a link up in the side bar in case you want to do that. So I can pay for more popsicles.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Breakfast when you need it now.

We are experiencing a few technical difficulties. Okay, maybe not so very technical, but difficult nonetheless. The Girls has had the flu the past two days, though she ate dinner tonight so we'll see if she keeps it down or we have another night like the last. That's just my excuse for not posting for a while. The Tortilla recipe that I promised you was scribbled on a very greasy and well used scrap of paper that has, predictably gone missing. This morning I tried to phone my dear friend Beth in Canada, who's recipe it is, to ask her for it again, only to have her midwife answer the phone. She's in the middle of having a baby so it may be a while before I can get that recipe to you.

But I have a couple of other recipes/ideas to keep you from being too disappointed.

Breakfast is one of those meals that never seems to be fast enough to prepare. There are hungry children that want to eat now, there are schedules to keep and people to get out the door and it's easy to fall back on cereal, or toaster pastries, or other convenience foods that are less healthy for us. Here are a few things that work for me for breakfast.

Whole Grain Crockpot Porridge

1 cup whole oats-hulled
1 cup whole barley-hulled
1/2 cup millet
5-6-7 cups of water
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
1tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt(Optional)
1 cup dried fruit (Raisins, apples, cranberries, prunes, apricots, etc.)

Combine all ingredients in crockpot. Cook on low. feeds 4-5 hungry people. To keep the outside from getting crunchy you can put a bowl with the combined ingredients in it inside the crockpot. Fill the crockpot itself with water that goes about halfway up the outside of the bowl.

Turn on the crockpot just before you go to bed, and turn it off as soon as you wake up. Serve with milk or cream or yogurt, maple syrup, fresh berries, my husband likes to add brown sugar; whatever you like. The longer you sleep, the more water you need to add so it doesn't burn or dry out. Also, if you have leftovers, take them out of the crockpot right away and put them in something else so that they don't dry out right away from the residual heat.

It's great having breakfast ready when you get out of bed, and it smells good too.

Another great option is meusli. In europe they mix this ahead the night before with the yogurt and fresh fruit and it's very soft in the morning. My family prefers their meusli a little bit more chewy, so I mix the yogurt in in the morning and we eat it like that. I'm not talking about the meusli cereal with the flakes in it that comes in a box. I'm talking about the stuff that looks more like granola that hasn't been cooked. You can buy this in several stores, or you can make it yourself.

Basic meusli recipe

5 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup millet
1 cup chopped or slivered almonds
1 cup dried fruit, (anything you want, we like dried apples and raisins, or a berry mix.)
2 tbsps cinnamon
2 tbsps ground cardamom (We like it anyway)
mix together and keep in a bag in the fridge, to serve add equal parts fresh plain yogurt and meusli, stir together and eat. The longer you let it sit, the softer it gets. You can add fresh fruit also, berries kiwi, mangos, whatever your imagination can come up with.

There are as many different ways to make meusli as there are people, you can add other grains, avoid sour ones, you can add more nuts less nuts, different kinds of nuts,seeds, coconut, fruit, spices, etc. Experiment until you find one that your family loves.

Yogurt can get expensive to buy so I have a secret for you; it's super simple to make and way cheaper. I used to be afraid of it, and waited a long time to try, and then wondered why I had because it's so simple.

Yogurt Recipe

All you need is a large pot, a warm place, I use my oven, and a candy thermometer, oh and containers to hold the yogurt I like glass canning jars the best the 1 litre size.


yogurt with live active cultures/yogurt starter like yogourmet

A starter comes with directions, if you decide to use some of your last container of plain yogurt instead, this is what you do. Make sure the label reads active bacterial cultures, if not you need to get a different brand of yogurt, or a starter.

In a pot on the stove heat the milk until it reaches 180 degrees F. This is to pasteurize it. DO NOT LET THE MILK BOIL OR GET ANY HOTTER THAN 180. If this happens you change the structure of the proteins and it gets weird and stringy. Remove from heat immediately and allow to cool until milk is 120 degrees F. If you are in a hurry you can put it in the fridge, but it will get all steamy and over worked. While milk is cooling, turn oven on to the lowest setting, usually 150 degrees. Once milk is 120 degrees stir in approx. 1/4 cup of yogurt. Immediately, before it can cool, pour into storage containers and place in warm oven. Turn the oven off, it should stay warm enough, and allow at least 4 hours to pass. I usually just go to bed and check it in the morning. The bacteria in yogurt like the temperature 120. As long as the milk stays warm, they will make yogurt for you. I make a big batch one or two nights a month. It keeps a long time.
It has been years since we bought yogurt.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Why Eat Real Food?

I never used to think about why I ate the food I ate, beyond whether I liked it or not, or was hungry. My weight fluctuated a lot in my late teen years, though I was never more than 20lbs or so over what would be considered healthy for me, and I considered most of my problem with weight to be an issue of vanity rather than health. I wanted to look better in my clothes, I wanted to wear a size 6 or 4 again, I wanted to be attractive to men. At the same time I rebelled against the idea that people would judge me for what I looked like, rather than who I am, and that I needed to conform to some kind of standard to be accepted. So while I would from time to time try to exercise more regularly, or eat low fat foods, or eat less for dessert, (I was in great shape the year I biked to work everyday) I was never really all that motivated to make any permanent lifestyles changes that were good for me because of this ambivalence.

Then I was pregnant with my first child, and everything changed. One of the first things you read in those pregnancy books is that everything you eat goes to your baby, that the things going into your mouth are the building blocks from which your child’s body is formed. I remember one book that said if I was hungry at 2am I should get up and eat because maybe the baby needed a little something to grow an ear. They talked about peak periods of brain development and muscle and bone development and the kinds of things I should be eating to give the baby the best start possible. Here was a reason to pay attention to my eating that mattered to me, that changed my perception completely. I was eating nothing but healthful food for the first time in my life, consciously aware that food was the building block for life.

After my son was born I continued eating this way as it had become habitual, and to my surprise I was in a size 4 by the time he was 8 months old. (Yes breastfeeding helped a lot.) Losing weight had not been my motive for healthier eating, but it was a definite perk. My wedding dress was too large.

While pregnant I started taking this really great supplement that I still take called JuicePlus+. They have a lot of literature to read and a lot to listen to, and it was here that I began to realize that that not only was what I ate the building block for my baby, but it was the building block for myself as well.

Did you know that red blood cells have a lifespan of about 120 days? That means that every four months your body has completely replaced all of your blood with new blood cells, and that these new blood cells are comprised entirely of what you ate for the last 4 months. The same goes for your soft tissues, your bones and eventually your brain. This means several things; most significantly if you are giving your body inferior material to work with, it will create an inferior product. All food is not created equal. Secondly, if you make a positive change and stick with it for four months, you should feel a significant difference by the end of that time, because all of the blood coursing through your veins will have been affected by this positive change.

Then I heard of this guy named Pottenger, and his experiments with cats. He fed one group of cats processed and cooked food, and another only fresh foods. The cats eating fresh food stayed healthy and strong for several generations, the cats eating processed food got sicker and sicker with each successive generation, showing signs of degenerative diseases that humans get at younger and younger ages until they all died. This process damaged the DNA itself. His experiment also showed that when he fed the surviving cats natural food again the damage was reversed in about the same time.

Did you know that one raw apple has more than 14 000 phytochemical constituents? (Phytochemicals are the things that are good for us, also known as antioxidants, vitamins, etc.) Scientists don’t even know what more than say 50 or 60 of them do, or how they work in our bodies. Did you also know that if you cook that apple, turn it into apple sauce, make a pie, etc. that up to 80% of those life giving phytochemicals are killed in the process? Now remember that all food when it leaves the field is like that, bursting with nutrients and goodness and all that our bodies need to be strong and healthy. And then remember that with each progressive step in processing it to get to our grocery store shelves, more and more of those nutrients are killed.

My point is that God, nature, whomever you like knew what they were doing when they made food, and the less we mess with it the better. So eat fresh, eat it as close to the field as you can find. Eat produce and nuts and seeds raw, eat grains whole, buy from local producers so that you know it is fresh and hasn’t been sitting in a refrigerated warehouse for months before you get it, get vine ripened as the nutrient content triples those last few days on the vine, eat beans and lentils and things that haven’t been messed with by food manufacturers but still have the goodness of the sun and the earth and the water in them.
I sound like a hippy I know, or maybe just a kid who grew up in a farming family and ate my honey raw, my milk unpasteurized from my grandmother’s cow, my eggs fresh from her chickens, my vegetables fresh from the garden. It wasn’t a hard concept for me to adjust to, though it took me long enough to do it, and understand why my parents fed me as they did. Perhaps hearing how I came full circle will help you out as well.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

A dinner recipe

I'm making this for dinner tonight. But I'll be using brown rice. And we'll of course be eating salad too. It's not my healthiest recipe, but it's sure tasty, and already typed out. :) If you wanted to reduce calories, I suppose you could poach the eggs instead, and use breast meat instead of thigh meat, actually I'm doing that tonight, the meat, not the eggs, no one is calorie counting around here, my kids are skinny and I'm pregnant.

The salad will have napa cabbage, mint, cilantro, shredded carrots, and butter leaf lettuce in it basically everything that makes a srping roll tasty without all of the work of rolling them, or the rice stick. And we will be using Trader Joe's Asian Style Spicy Peanut Vinaigrette on top, which tastes almost as good as my husband's recipe for homemade peanut sauce/dressing. This is a variation of the peanut sauce in this book. He adds a lot more lime juice and a little bit of water to thin it out for salad dressing, and doesn't put the cilantro in it because it's already in the salad.

I don't know if it's a copyright violation to post a recipe here that belongs to someone else, even if I credit it. Can anyone help me out on that?

I can tell you that when we are going all out we marinate prawns in red curry and coconut milk and a little bit of tamarind juice and then saute them and throw them on top of the salad, and it is tasty, but I don't think I have time to defrost any tonight.
Related Posts with Thumbnails