Making Your Own Bread and Other DIY Adventures

I’ve been on this major domestic kick lately, and have been trying to find ways to make certain food items at home to save money. Tops on my list included bread, jelly, yogurt, dried herbs, snack crackers, fruit snacks and cheese (specifically ricotta).

I’ve been hard at work at the bread thing. I was browsing Pinterest and stumbled on a recipe for “no knead dutch oven bread.” I made it and it turned out ok, and then I wanted to try to make it again, but obviously I didn’t “pin” it and promptly lost said recipe.

So, I did a web search and it turns out there’s a lot of different versions of this recipe. I’ve tried a WHOLE BUNCH of them, so you didn’t have to, and I’m here to tell you that this is the one. This. Is. The. One. Instructions so easy to follow that even me, a total baking incompetent, could follow them. Four measly ingredients that you always have lying around anyway.

It’s slightly time consuming, you have to remember in the morning that hey, I wanted to make bread for dinner tonight. But other than that, piece of cake. Er, bread. Whatever.

I found this recipe on a site called Girl Versus Dough. Click on the link, and make your life a whole lot more interesting.

Next, I’m going to try to perfect sandwich bread. I think it can be done. Anyone ever had luck with this? Without a bread machine, I mean. We got a bread machine as a wedding present and used it a lot those first few years, but then it sat in the cupboard and we decided to give it away at some point. I’m missing that thing all of a sudden…

What sorts of items do you make at home rather than buy pre-made? What are your biggest successes/failures?

my bread

Picky Eaters Anonymous

Mention online somewhere that your kid or kids are picky eaters, and you’ll get a whole lotta “feedback” from other moms whose kids “eat all their vegetables!”, “love peas!” and “I can’t keep enough salad around for her!” They’ll also throw in helpful tidbits about how “you’re not trying hard enough.” or “your’e not doing it right.”

I am not that mom.

I feel your pain. I understand. Let’s start a support group.

My boys both started out as amazing eaters when they were babies. AMAZING. Ate everything I offered. Even stuff I won’t touch. Green beans? Check. Peas? Check. Broccoli? You bet. But then, when they hit about two years of age, they suddenly started turning up their noses at everything. I thought for a while that Ferris was “less picky”, but I’m slowly discovering that just because he eats foods that Bowie won’t doesn’t mean there’s not a long list of foods he won’t touch too.

I was advised by our preschool director that it is our job to put the healthy foods on their plates, and whether they eat it or not is up to them. And also if you put the tiniest little portion, like teaspoon sized portion, of whatever “healthy” food it is you want to serve, but think they won’t eat, they’re a lot more likely to try it, because the portion size is so much less intimidating. And we have instituted this advice, with some success. They both definitely tried foods they wouldn’t normally have gone for, and even enjoyed some of them, broadening their eating repertoire.

But, there are still those lunches and dinners where they refuse to eat a single bite, and it’s a big argument, and then they go hungry, which I hate. But, we all learn from it and the next mealtime is often infinitely easier.

I’ve got a list for you of foods that are nutritious, or at least mildly so, and that my boys will eat, for whatever reason. For those times when you don’t want to have the argument, and you don’t want them to be hungry. You want them to eat a healthy meal, and you want them to get a full belly. I’m going to skip the obvious choices, like fresh fruit, cheese, brown rice, ketchup, you guys know all about that. These are ideas to get you (and your kids) out of your rut. So, here it is:

Beth’s Top Ten Favorite Healthy Foods for Picky Kiddos

1. Avocados. I don’t know if it’s the creaminess, the mild flavor, the fun color, what. But they gobble them up. And they are packed with fiber, iron, potassium, vitamin C, amongst other things. If your little one turns their nose up at slices or chunks, try mashing it. Weelicious has great recipes here and here. Think non-spicy, non-chunky guac. Serve with some whole wheat pitas or low salt tortilla chips.

2. Eggs. I know you have probably been on the egg train for a while. This one is kind of a no-brainer. But, I’m including it to remind you how versatile eggs are. Look beyond the scramble. Embrace the hard boiled, either whole or mashed up for egg salad (which you can mix with flax, veggie purees, chia seeds, whatever your go-to sneaky additive). Consider over-hard fried for breakfast (just the whites too, if you want to go that route). They can eat it on toast like a sandwich or chopped on top of rice or quinoa.  You can serve them baked, I have a great recipe that is just eggs, leeks and cream, baked in ramekins. So yummy even Mommy and Daddy will enjoy. I serve them for dinner! Or try a frittata, or a quiche, load them up with veggie purees. Eggs are cheap, versatile, and they’re loaded with protein. I’m telling you, eggs are your friend.

3. Since I just mentioned it, we’ll move on to quinoa. I love quinoa. It’s so easy to cook, you can replace your rice with it in almost any recipe (I love making quinoa fried “rice”, fabu) and it’s got a nice nutty flavor and great texture. My guys really like it with a bit of oil and vinegar. I cook it in chicken stock for added flavor and nutrition, and I add in little bits of veggies that they may or may not pick out, but they’re in there. Quinoa is a whole grain, a great source of iron and fiber, and a protein powerhouse.

4. Edamame. Otherwise known as soybeans. You can find them in the frozen section, in pods or out, or sometimes in the fresh produce, pre-cooked and seasoned and packaged up. They have a nice, mild, non-intimidating flavor. Some people don’t or can’t do soy, so this obviously isn’t for you. But edamame has a long list of vitamins and lots of fiber and protein, is fast and easy to cook, and is easily snackable for the park or a day at the zoo.

5. Fish. Not your average store-bought fish sticks, just fish. Real fish. Sometimes I doll it up and put a crunchy batter on it myself, but usually I can just serve it as-is with a tasty sauce, and they’re totally on board. I serve salmon with a yogurt-dill sauce or with a tasty miso sauce. I serve white fish like tilapia or cod with a yummy cumin lime butter or another yogurt sauce with herbs like mint or cilantro. Or just fish tacos with sour cream. If it’s got a nice mild flavor and you can pair it with a topping they already like, they are highly likely to eat it. Fish, especially salmon, is a great source of protein, as well as the all-important omega-3 fatty acids.

6. Trail Mix. This works because it’s full of nuts and dried fruit (if you have a nut allergy in your house, obvs. this one’s not for you), but the kids just see the M&Ms and think they’ve won. We pour a small amount for each one, maybe 1/4 cup, and the rule is they have to eat all of that before they can have more. This prevents them from picking out the chocolate and leaving the rest. Nuts and dried fruits are great sources of nutrition, and trail mix is often low-salt or no-salt (check the sodium level). We like to get the giant bags from Costco, or to just make our own.

7. Hummus. Ok, confession: Bowie won’t eat hummus. But, Ferris LOVES it. Can’t get enough. And I’ve seen plenty of my friends’ picky eaters gobble it up too. Put a big gob on the end of one of those thick pretzel sticks or on a big cracker, and watch them (maybe, hopefully) devour. Hummus consists mostly of chickpeas, which are overall just really great for you. And hummus comes in a wide variety of flavors so you can find one your kids will like. Ferris likes roasted red pepper flavor.

8. Quesadillas. I’m not talking your standard burrito-place 1/2 inch thick gob of cheese between two white flour tortillas here. I’m talking take that idea, and turn it up a notch. I like to make them with whole wheat tortillas. I spread them with a very thick layer of refried beans, beans are crazy full of fiber, and I sprinkle ground flax over the top of that. Then I sprinkle on a modest amount of shredded cheddar cheese. I serve it with a dab of sour cream (I don’t know why, but kids LOVE dipping their food into stuff), sometimes I add a little flax to the cream too. Or cumin, which has a nice authentic yet mild flavor, and is actually really nutritious itself, offering fiber, iron and even calcium. I am also a MAJOR fan of the Breakfast Quesadilla from Weelicious. Her recipe just calls for egg and cheese, but during step 3, I also add chopped spinach or kale, like really finely chopped, and just a dusting. They’ll hardly even notice it.

9. Spinach tortellini or ravioli. It’s got pasta, which they love, and inside, along with some yummy cheese, is spinach. That’s right, SPINACH. My boys tuck the tiny dumplings into their mouths like popcorn. Either they don’t notice the green stuff, or they don’t care. Either way, they’re each getting a serving of spinach in their belly. I buy spinach tortellini virtually by the case from Trader Joe’s, where a 10 ounce package of the fresh stuff (which I freeze) is only $1.99. I cook it, put a little olive oil, salt and pepper on it, and sprinkle with parmesan. It’s a lunch box staple for Bowie. It only takes me 3 minutes to cook it in the morning.

10. Sushi. Ok, hold on, don’t run away. Hear me out. I know some of you are thinking, “yeah right, I’m going to take my kid out for raw fish.” But, sushi comes in many forms. And sushi restaurants have a plethora of regular menu items that kids worship. It’s probably Bowie’s favorite meal. He likes the miso soup. Miso good for them, and he also likes the protein-filled tofu. And the onions and seaweed just go down the hatch with the broth. And of course there is edamame (see #4), which is a cheap menu item, sometimes even free. Both guys also like avocado rolls (see #1) and our local place has a tempura roll that has tempura-battered shrimp in it. So they get the nori (the seaweed on the outside) and avocado and shrimp. And I always order the tempura veggies. Yes, they’re fried, but the batter is very thin and holds less oil. Ferris will eat huge florets of broccoli and slices of zucchini and eggplant. Bowie likes the carrots and sweet potatoes. They are also different from other deep fried vegetables in that the pieces of vegetables themselves are gigantic. Most of the nutritional value is kept intact, and not cancelled out totally by the oil. And if you can get your kid to eat fish, of the cooked variety (see #5), most Japanese menus have a wide variety of fish to choose from, and lots of sauces. My boys are both sort-of fans of teriyaki salmon.

10 1/2. I don’t know why, but both of my guys like frozen peas and frozen corn. Not cooked. Just straight from freezer to plate. They don’t care for either one in cooked form, but frozen? A treat, somehow. Maybe give it a try?

This is ONLY what worked for MY kids. And if I know picky eaters (and I DO), then your picky eater’s personal list of That Which Shall Not Be Touched is probably totally different than it is with my guys. I’m also kind of a fan of the hiding-healthy-bits-in-the-yummy-stuff, but I know others don’t really like this approach, so just do what feels right, of course. I just hope this gave you at least one idea. Or half an idea. Just hope it helped.

Please let others know in the comments what your ideas are. What are your go-to healthy kiddo foods? Meal ideas, snack ideas? What’s your favorite way to add nutrition to their favorite foods?

ferris eating

 

 

Bowie Approved

[NOTE: Giveaway has ended.]

Kindergarten is different from preschool in so many, many ways. He’s gone for twice the amount of hours per day. There’s homework. He’s dog tired when he gets home. But, the biggest difference for me as Mom is: lunches. Lots and lots of lunches.

Now, we could shell out the measly $3 a day for hot lunch, but that adds up. And if they’re serving something he doesn’t care for, then there’s no guarantee he will actually eat lunch. So, at least for now, I’m packing his lunch.

It’s hard to think of different lunch box combos and ideas every single day of the week. I mean, I have read countless blogs that are heavily focused on creative non-sandwich lunch ideas for kids. And I’ve studied them and pored over them. I think I’ve gotten the gist of it.

But I can’t always have all of those foods on hand at my disposal every morning. Usually I have a couple kinds of fruit, some crackers, maybe some meats and cheeses, and dinner leftovers (provided he actually liked and deigned to eat that dinner). And I mix and match all week and then try to get something different for the following week.

Even though I’m trying my best to give him variety, he’s still got a touch of the pickies, and we don’t go through food fast enough for me to have a zillion different options on hand all the time. So, I know he’s getting a little burnt out on certain stuff.

I usually stick one of his water bottles in there with just water in it, because milk will get too warm, he can’t have the amount sugar in a juice box (it affects his behavior), and soda isn’t allowed (not that I’d even give him soda at all, but you know, not an option). So, I was so excited to discover Drazil Kids Tea.

It’s got a healthy tea blend of Hibiscus, Rose Hips, Rooibos, Pomegranate, and fruit pieces, with a touch of juice for flavor (35% less sugar than a juice box), and best of all they come in easily packable individual serving sized boxes, like boxed juice. It’s packed with antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, has no added sugar, no artificial flavors, and is caffeine free.

Bowie is a big fan of tea, he drinks all kinds of it all the time. When he was small, he would find my cups of cold Earl Grey around the house, abandoned and/or forgotten by me, and finish them, and then ask for more! So, I knew these would be right up his alley.

I toss them in two or three days a week. I vary it so he’s always pleasantly surprised, and it adds a little bit of fun to the monotonous packed lunch. Once in a while he will even thank me after school for putting one in his lunch.

Drazil is available in markets across Northern California, and is also available on Amazon.com.

It’s a great, delicious, nutritious way to add a little variety to their day. I approve. And so does Bowie!

And one of YOU, my lucky readers, can win some Drazil Kids Tea for free! Just:

1. Leave a comment below with your favorite lunch time ideas for kids.

2. Head to Facebook and “like” the Drazil Kids Tea page.

I will pick a reader at random to receive some Drazil! (Winner will be picked after 8pm Pacific Time, September 11, 2012. Winner will be notified shortly after.)

Good luck and thank you!

 

I was compensated for this post by Drazil Kids Tea, but all opinions are my own.

Starting Solid Food

When Bowie turned 4 months old, I started him on solid food mostly because I was an eager new mom, and was excited to start. I mean, he was nursing slightly more than the average kid, and he certainly met the weight criteria, but he was happily sleeping through the night, and he didn’t seem all that interested in food, and he was thriving, and I’m sure I could have held off until his 6 month birthday. But, I got the go-ahead from our pediatrician and I started him on cereals at 4 months anyway, and fruits and veggies shortly after. And he did great.

Ferris is much more eager to get started on solid foods, and he’s made that perfectly clear, even though he’s not officially 4 months old until next Thursday. But, like big brother, he’s at the right weight (double his birth weight) and he’s had basic head and neck strength since like, 6 weeks. (My guys like to look around and see the world, I guess.)

Unlike big brother, he’s eating A LOT more than the average kiddo, with up to 15 feedings per day (most articles recommend starting if the baby still seems hungry after 8 to 10 feedings). He’s also interested in what we’re eating. REALLY interested. Not only does he watch in fascination as we eat, and screech in protest when we don’t share, but around New Year’s, I was eating a clementine with him in my lap, and he grabbed himself a slice and started shoving it into his mouth! And to top it all off, I’m pretty sure he’s going to sprout a tooth any second. Dude is ready. 

So, I mentioned something on the old Twitters about how he was SO SO READY, and did I actually have to wait until he was fully 4 months old to start?

I got a few responses informing me that “the recommendation is actually 6 months.” Which yes, is the tail end of what most consider to be the recommendation of 4 to 6 months, as long as baby shows signs of readiness. In fact, one article I ran across recommended starting sometime before 6 months, because after 6 months, the texture might be a turn off for them, and you’ll have a harder time getting them to start. I’m not saying you need to start before then even if you and baby aren’t ready, but I just found that little bit of info interesting.

Ferris will start very soon. As soon as I get a second to grab a box of Earth’s Best from Target (I plan to make all of his food like I did for Bowie, including my own rice cereal, but before 6 months it’s recommended they start on iron-fortified cereal). I figure since you start out only feeding a tablespoon or two a day, it’s ok to start a week early.

I had big babies who like to eat. What else is a mama to do?

When did you start your babies on solids? What signs of readiness did they show?

Summer Noms

It’s been far too long since I wrote a food post. I’ve been in a major recipe rut for months now, and having to be on a low-carb diet hasn’t helped the cause any. But, I felt inspired today to post my favorite, favorite, favorite pasta salad recipe, for a couple of reasons.

1. Us San Franciscans are just beginning to enter our real summer, which comes a bit later than it does for the rest of the country. September and October are our hot, sunny, stellar months. We’ve had some good days so far this August too. And we’re rockin’ it. So, it’s time to whip out the “summer” recipes–i.e. those that don’t involve the oven and/or are served cold.

2. Every time I make this salad, Bowie enjoys it a little bit more. The last time I made it, he gobbled up every last drop. If you know my son at all (or have read my Twitter account on any given day) then you know he is about the pickiest eater there is. Won’t try a new thing ever. ESPECIALLY if it’s green. But he eats every single morsel of this salad. Once you see the ingredients, you’ll understand why this is so noteworthy. So, parents of picky eaters: read on.

You’re likely wondering how I can include a pasta salad in my diet when I’m supposed to be keeping it low-carb. First off, I use whole wheat pasta, which is better for the ol’ blood sugar than regular white pasta. Secondly, I can tolerate more carbs later in the day, so right now I reserve this dish for dinner. Thirdly, it helps to eat the pasta in conjunction with the other ingredients. And finally, our old friend portion control.

Ok. So. This recipe is based on one I found a while back on Real Simple. Well, it’s exactly this recipe, except that they advertise it as a lunch dish and the recipe “serves 2”. When I make it, I double or triple it, and really just eyeball the amounts needed of each of the ingredients. Which is why, to the dismay of some of you, I don’t have any exact measurements listed here, only the ingredients you need. You can decide how much of everything you want, which I think just adds to the beauty of the recipe. Ok, here you go:

Most Delicious, Kid-Friendly Pasta Salad Ever

Cooked and cooled pasta, penne works well

Bocconcini (smallish mozzarella balls) or chopped fresh mozzarella

Grape or cherry tomatoes, halved

Baby spinach, chopped

Salami, chopped

For the dressing:

3 parts olive oil

1 part white wine vinegar or rice vinegar (my “parts” are typically tablespoons)

salt and pepper

Mix all the salad ingredients together in a large bowl. In a small bowl, whisk together the dressing ingredients. Give it a taste and adjust based on how you like it. Put it on the salad and toss well to mix. It helps if this sits in the fridge for a half a day or so to let the flavors mix, but totally not necessary.

That’s it. Simple to make, easy to find ingredients, nice and light for those hot summer nights. And the leftovers keep for days. Yay for easy lunches!

Happy eating! And happy pleasing your picky kid!

(I mean, I hope it helps, at least. Believe me, I know how frustrating it can be when someone says they have the “key to getting a picky kid to eat!” and you find it doesn’t work for your kid.)

Let There Be Carbs

I just returned home from my appointment with the diabetes center at my hospital, and all I can say is HALLELUJA.

The nurse I spoke with was shocked at how much I’d cut back on the carbs. But, I explained, the women’s clinic didn’t offer me much information at all, except to “cut way back” and I wanted to play it safe.

This makes me wonder why hospital policy isn’t that someone from the diabetes center calls you within 48 hours of your diagnosis to just give you a quick run-down of things over the phone, rather than make you wait 10 days in the dark until you can get an appointment. But, I know none of you are part of my hospital’s administration so…end of rant.

She had a lot more info than I found anywhere on the Internet too. She tailored a diet plan for me based on my results and my health (before and during pregnancy), which is so helpful. And she said I can probably afford to have a much more significant amount of carbs than other women. This means bread! Crackers! Pasta! Just keeping it to a reasonable amount, of course.

I treated myself to a tuna sub from Subway for lunch, just to see what numbers came up and: totally normal. So, that slice of pizza I “indulged” in Sunday night? Probably no biggie whatsoever. I can still eat (basically) what I want to. I’m so relieved. I’ll be full for more than a half hour at a time! I won’t be so crabby all the time!

The womp womp news is that I do have to test my blood sugar periodically. FOUR TIMES A DAY at least for this first week. But, our insurance got me a pretty sweet little monitor with “gentle” lancets.

I’ve already tested twice today and it’s not so bad. I’m even typing away with the fingers I’ve tested, no issue whatsoever. I had this image in my head of me having to test like, every hour, and my fingertips would be so sore I couldn’t do anything. Not so. Still a pain to do, and to remember to do, but I only have 11 weeks left. And I actually have to birth this little man. So, you know, I can handle this.

I want to really give a shout out to the fellow moms who gave me so much info on past posts. It really helped me feel better, and I got some much needed firsthand info when I was totally clueless. Thank you thank you thank you!

Cravings and Such

As I mentioned in a recent post, when I was pregnant with Bowie, sugar was the name of the game. I didn’t really crave anything specific. As long as it was fattening and full of sugar: full steam ahead. I was pounding the brownies, cupcakes, ice cream, Milky Way bars, and when I decided I needed to eat “healthy”, more often than not fruit and/or fruit juice were involved. Still sugar. Nature’s sugar, but sugar.

This time around, things are a lot more specific, and very odd in the pickles-and-ice-cream cliche sort of way. I mean, they’re manageable. Strawberry ice cream and Fritos. Pringles and jelly beans. Caramel lattes (decaf OF COURSE) and pretzels. There’s just a salty-sweet thing going on there I think. And a lot of people have heard of my cravings, contemplated them for a minute and then said, “I’m gonna have to try that.”

But, less cravings for sweet this time. People are always assuming I’ll attack the cupcake plate, but really, most times, I really don’t want to. Which means this baby will be really different from Bowie, right? RIGHT?!

I’ve also been partial to deli turkey sandwiches. And deli meat is one of those mega pregnancy food no-nos, so I get a heaping helping of guilt trip with my sandwiches, THANKS A LOT PREGNANCY BOOKS. I think it’s a protein thing? I typically don’t crave meat of any type, let alone salty, smoky cold cuts.

Mmmm, salty. In writing this I may or may not be setting myself up for needing a turkey sandwich for lunch.

One thing that’s a lot different this time around: I can’t really eat much in one sitting. I’m past the morning sickness phase and still awaiting the fetus-is-crowding-my-stomach-like-whoa phase, so I don’t know what gives. But, I have had to cut way back on portions, even of my absolute favorite foods of all time ever. If I eat too much, I feel really sick and just generally uncomfortable. And turned off of food. At least for an hour before I’m hungry again (and what the H, I don’t remember the constant hungries striking this early) (although somebody remind me that I’m already almost 4 months along).

What did you experience when you were pregnant, food-wise? Was it different for different pregnancies? Any of this sound normal and ok, or am I just a crazy lady?

My Weekend

1. The craft fair was an astonishing success. It took me a full 2 1/2 hours to set up, because I got a little anal about it, but I had the time to spend so, whatever. Not only did I make $400 but also had a total blast. I mean, watching people “ooh” and “aah” over the things that I made, me with my own hands, was so satisfying. Also, did a wee bit o’ networking so I can do more of these kinds of things. Hella awesome.

2. Bowie met a little boy at a holiday party Saturday night who was 2 1/2 years old, and they were best friends for about 5 seconds before wrestling each other all over the living room, like a live, tiny-person WWE match. Ugh, BOYS, with the fighting. I hope it’s a phase.

3. Sunday was sublime. First, we made pancakes for breakfast. Then, we sat in jammies for most of the morning while Huz played a video game and I read a new gardening book my cousin got me for Christmas. Later on in the day, we lit a fire, made some tasty Asian-inspired chicken noodle soup, and decorated our Christmas tree. Which this year sported some hand made ornaments from the kiddo. Priceless.

Hope your weekend was peachy.

The craft fair setup

This Picky Eating Thing

It’s no secret to regular readers that Bowie is somewhat of a picky eater. And, I’ve also been clear that I wholeheartedly don’t feel responsible, because I made all of his baby food and he was a very adventurous little eater.

He ate every single puree I ever made for him. Corn, black beans, green beans, sweet potatoes, carrots, pumpkin, broccoli, cauliflower, potatoes, lots of other stuff I’m forgetting about, and I even mixed in a wee bit of pureed chicken, fish or beef from time to time. He gobbled it ALL up.

He first got a little picky when I started introducing textured food into his puree. Rice and orzo were my first tries, and sometimes they went over fine, sometimes not so much. Then, I made a recipe from an Annabel Karmel book, with finely diced veggies in it, and that stuff sat in the fridge for days, the freezer for months, and he never did take a liking to it.

When he started self-feeding, I kept it fairly healthy, I think. Cheerios, berries, whole wheat pasta, rice, sunflower seeds, edamame. I wasn’t concerned, aside from the fact that he didn’t seem to like chunks of fish or chicken.

As he has gotten older though, the list of things he will eat gets shorter and shorter. Things I know he likes suddenly get thrown at the wall. We’re down to a handful of healthy foods he will touch, and I’ve become one of those moms I said I’d never be: most evenings making my son his own dinner plate, separate from what we’re eating. I’ve gotten caught in a vicious cycle.

So, the other day, I get the 48035097th email about picky eating from one of the many mom sites I subscribe to. It was a list of healthy vegetable dishes “your kids will actually eat!!!” Of course I took a gander. If I walk away from those articles with just one new dish to try, I consider it a success.

There were the obligatory Carrots with Butter and Broccoli with Ranch (which never work for me), but one of the dishes was a chopped salad.

A CHOPPED SALAD.

Let me just tell you, if your kid will eat a chopped salad, you are winning at feeding your kid.

If you have to slather veggies in butter, douse them with ranch dressing, salt them to high heaven, chop them up into a salad, I don’t care what, if your child sees a vegetable on their plate (i.e. it’s not pureed and mixed in with other foods) and then eats that vegetable, you are 500 steps ahead of me as far as getting kids to eat veggies. You might think they’re picky because maybe broccoli and carrots are some of the only foods they prefer to eat, but really they’re not very picky at all.

Picky eaters don’t eat vegetables. They don’t eat most fruit. They only want one specific brand, shape and flavor of crackers. They won’t eat all shapes or colors of pasta. And crackers and pasta become very important, because they won’t eat grains in any other form. There’s only one variety of cheese they will deign to eat. And you can forget about meat completely.

And like I said before, picky eaters will have a certain dish that they love, that they adore, that they ask for at every meal. And just when you think you’ve found something they like that’s mildly nutritious and you’ve perfected the cooking process, they will turn up their nose at it.

Picky eaters also like things presented it just the perfect way. An example: Bowie really likes avocado rolls. But, if I were to just put avocado on his plate, he’d never touch it in a million years. He’s also picky about the way cheese is served. A dice or thin slice is ok, but shredded or stick form: no. Oh, and applesauce. He loves it in those squeezie pouches. But, the little cups, or from a jar? Forget it.

Far be it from me to discourage these sites from putting together articles for the mothers of picky eaters, in an effort to help them get their picky eaters to get a little more roughage in their diet. However, I find it absurd that they would imply that if I would just put a chopped salad in front of my son, he’d magically start liking vegetables, and would eat salads all the time. If your child will eat a chopped salad, your job is done.

Don’t feel bad if your kid is like mine, and wouldn’t touch that salad with an 80 foot fork. Their palate is still developing. Things that taste good to them today, might not taste good tomorrow. And as they get older, you’ll be a lot more successful at explaining to them that they should just try a bite, because you’re fairly sure they’ll enjoy the taste.

Having a picky toddler or preschooler sucks. It really does. But, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. And you don’t have to serve chopped salad to get there.

Soda

I was born in Northern Illinois. By the fifth grade, I would also live in Green Bay, the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, Cincinnati and northwestern Wisconsin. (Yes, that’s a lot of moving. I swear I will blog about that one of these days like I keep promising.)

We moved to Cincinnati during my second grade year. One of my first assignments at my new school was to make a collage of magazine photos, newspaper clippings, what have you, for the letter “P”. I found a gigantic picture of a can of Coke, and slapped it on there. “P” for “pop”.

I proudly presented the assignment to my father, who told me sheepishly, and with a little sorrow in his voice, “They call it ‘soda’ here sweetie.”

I was dumbstruck. Different words for the same thing? This is madness.

After 3 years in Cincinnati, we moved back to the “pop” saying folk in Wisconsin. I had a southern accent to kick by then, but I got right back in the habit of saying “pop.”

Fast forward 15 years, and I move to California. It is SODA here, no acceptions. I let “pop” slip once, and the gal had zero idea what I was talking about. “I don’t think we serve that here.”

Now, when I am back in the Midwest and someone says “pop”, at first I don’t know what that is. And I laugh. I laugh, because my 2nd grade self wanted to cry. So funny how different we all are in these big, wide United States. Even with our words.

Pop. I mean soda. I mean...whatever.