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

 

 

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.)

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.

Nemesis

I love fresh basil. I cook with it a minimum of once a week. But, as much as I adore it, I also abhor it. Basil is my archnemesis.

Let’s start with the simple act of purchasing it at the grocery store. You buy the only big, green, fragrant lovely bunch that has no signs of mold in the entire store. You take it home. If you don’t use it up within 48 hours, you’re left with gooey puddle of black mush. And I’ve tried storing it in baggies, not in baggies, in the fridge, out of the fridge, in water, not in water, you name it. The best method seems to be: countertop, in water. But even then, you get 4 days, tops.

This leads me to the other issue. All this throwing-out-of-black-mush led me to the conclusion that it might be more cost-effective and less wasteful to grow my own basil.

I’ve been attempting that one for 6 years now.

Basil likes sun. But, not too much sun. And it likes heat. But not too much heat. It also needs a lot of water. But, whoa there, not too much water. And you too can grow basil from seed! Provided it gets *just the right touch* of heat, sun and water.

This last time, I thought I had it nailed. My little basil seedlings (purchased at the garden center, already grown, because SCREW that from-seed idea) were sitting on the windowsill in the kitchen, minding their own business. Lots of sun, not too much heat, right there for me to monitor the moisture of the soil and water accordingly. And then, the leaves start disappearing. I don’t mean falling apart, I mean disappearing. And there’s this suspicious black dust all over the windowsill, and in the sink below.

This morning it had gotten to the point that I needed to investigate. I brushed off some of the black dust, and then shook the plant a little.

PLOP PLOP.

Two big, fat caterpillars fall into the sink. I mean BIG. I mean FAT. At least an inch long, diameter of a pencil eraser. I’m having a hard time figuring out how they got into my kitchen, and at this point sort of think they came home with me from the garden center. And the black dust? I’m surmising that it’s caterpillar poop.

Little shits have eaten at least a dozen leaves between the two of them over the past week. The same caterpillars we find in the yard eating dandelions. These ones are FEASTING on my fresh basil. So, even when all systems are a-go, something happens to rob me of my basil.

I’m going to attempt to bring this plant back to life. This LEAFLESS plant. But, if I can’t, I’m at a loss. What is the lesser of two evils: throwing away half the basil you purchase at the grocery store, or getting to use about the same amount from your own herb garden, only to have to start over with a new plant every month?

Genius Mom Moment #492

Bowie has been somewhat picky since about 18 months of age. But lately, he’s taken it to a whole new level. He’s like, competitively picky, as if he were on a reality show: America’s Pickiest Eater. I mean, the list of the things he will deign to eat, is less than I have fingers. Which royally sucks when you’re trying to get just an ever so slightly tiny minuscule amount of nutrition into him.

One of the foods he will gladly eat, and not just eat but clean his plate of, is cheese pizza. Loves the stuff, gobbles it up. Which he comes by naturally, I could eat pizza in some form for every single meal for the rest of my life and be perfectly content. Ahem.

Anyway, I was standing in front of a fridge case at Trader Joe’s, waiting in line for my time to browse (why the heck are those stores packed morning, noon and night? Oh yeah, because they are the BOMB.) and I thought about making a pizza for one of our dinners that week. Then, I thought to myself, Self, instead of having Bowie mooch off of the pizza you make for yourself, you could pull off a little ball of dough, and make him his own tiny pizza.

And at that moment, I swear to you, the heavens opened up, and a voice came down and said, Thou shalt pull the whole package of dough into little dough balls, and thou shalt freeze said dough balls, and thou shalt be able to make a mini pizza for him whenever thou pleaseth.

I mean, this is GENIUS. I have thus far made about 10 of these mini pizzas for him since that lightbulb went off, and I am STILL amazed at how simple it is.

And the best part about pizza is you can hide pretty much anything you want to in that sauce. (If you go that route, I’m not looking to start a debate here, just letting you know what worked for this mom.) I’m a fan of spinach, kale, carrot or sweet potato puree. And even if I don’t have any of that at the ready, I will sprinkle on a little flax meal. And a little corn meal on the crust. And, use whole wheat dough. I’m telling you, the added-nutrition options are endless.

So, there you have it. This picky eating breakthrough was way too good to not share with my bloggy friends. 1 lb. bag of store-bought pizza dough, some ziploc baggies, a bag of shredded mozzarella and a jar of pizza sauce = like 10 meals!

I made a little pizza tonight, and I wanted to take a picture for the blog, but I forgot until I had already given it to him. I went into the kitchen to retrieve the camera, and this is what was left:

Into the Mouths of Babes

All of my blog drafts lately have been long, ranting messes. Thus, their lack of “Published” status. I don’t enjoy reading angry run-on blog posts, and I reckon most other people don’t either.

That said, I haven’t published a post in a while. So, I’m just going to talk about something sucky that happened at the zoo today, and if it gets a little ranty, well, sorry. Mostly, I just want to see what other moms think of this.

Bowie and I went to one of the handful of food stands they have at the zoo. I had brought food for him, but not for myself. So, I ordered the chicken strip basket, comes with fries. Got the kid a juice. We sit down at our table, he’s drinking juice, I’m eating food. He’s eating some of the cheddar bunnies, applesauce, cheese stick and raisins I brought. But, he is picking up a French fry every now and then.

A mom comes over with her brood of 4, and from what I could surmise, her mother-in-law. She denies her son a snack from the food stand, they’ve just come to sit at the tables and eat the lunch they brought. Totally fine. But, then she goes on a long tirade on the food at the zoo, deeming it “some of the worst stuff you could put in your body” and “probably even dangerous, this place CAN’T be clean.” And she gives them each a big thing of Yoplait.

Eventually she notices us, we’re only a few tables away. I get a long, purposeful stare from her, and a look at our tray followed by a dramatic and audible “TSSSSK.” But that wasn’t it! She KEPT giving us the stinkeye, probably a half dozen times. And, she started saying things to her kids like, “Doesn’t it feel so good to eat healthy foods? We’re helping our bodies with this healthy food!”

I mean, let’s just push aside the fact that the healthy food she was having them eat is riddled with sugar. And let’s also bypass the totally useless passive-aggressive method of delivering her “message”. And, let’s instead focus on the fact that, from her vantage point, she couldn’t see the food I’d brought for Bowie and put on the tray for him to eat. She also got there long after I was finished eating, and there was a fair amount of food leftover. So, from first glance, it looked like I had intended for my 3 year old son to eat all of that fried, greasy food. But, the whole time she was there, not once did he put a fry into his mouth.

If she was truly that concerned about the food that a complete stranger’s toddler eats, then she could have tried a little harder to assess the full situation. That’s the whole thing about judging other people: most of the time you have no idea what their situation is, you have no back story, you have NO IDEA. And it’s best to just leave well enough alone.

What’s more, we are at the ZOO. If I want to let my son have some junk food during our fun day out at the zoo, then what the hell business is it of hers?! We certainly don’t eat like that all the time. When I go somewhere like the zoo, or an amusement park, or the movies, somewhere fun like that where going is kind of an event, I like to indulge a little. If my kid eats a handful of French fries at the zoo, he’s not doomed to poor health for the rest of his life. I know it’s not great for him, I know it’s not the most nutritious lunch, but I’ll make up for it at dinner.

That woman acted as if she saw us every day, for every meal, and saw the same lack of nutrition in front of us each time. What she should have reminded herself of is the fact that she’s never seen us before a day in her life.

Have you ever encountered something like this? Not just with food, but with any of your parenting? I hear a lot online about moms getting judged, but this is the first time it really happened to me. And such a seemingly innocuous situation. Would you feel the same way if you saw us sitting at the zoo today?