Thoughts on food

I have been thinking about something. And if there's one thing I've learned from writing this blog, it's that if I'm thinking about it, so are a bunch of you. (It's weird, isn't it?? It makes me feel sometimes like I'm Sigourney Weaver in "Ghostbusters." Or at least Sigourney Weaver in "Galaxy Quest.")

Anyway, what I've been thinking about it critically examining what my kids and I eat and making a focused effort to improve it.

Now, for those of you who have kids who are, say, 14 months old, who are still eating organic baby food and have never had sugar, you are probably thinking I'm nuts. But for those of you with older kids, you know that by the time your kid is 3 or so, and is out more in the world, and certainly when they go to school, food starts to get away from you. Unless you're there every single second, you don't have control over everything your child eats. So even if you pack lunches that are nutritionally spotless, the other nannies could be slipping your kid stuff on the sly, or snacks at school could be not-so-healthy.

For me, I know that food slid a lot when I started the divorce process. It was a combination of feeling just physically and emotionally exhausted all the time and wanting my kids to feel loved, so we started having a bunch of snacks. And Newman Os may be better than Oreos, but they're still highly-processed, super-sugary pseudo-foods.

But now that I have more room to breathe all-around, I've started to be hyper-aware of what we're putting into our bodies. I joined the Food committee at my kids' school (the upshot of the first meeting was that we are going to make very slow progress on this as everything in NYC Public Schools has to go through everything in triplicate twice over) and I started following Mrs. Q's blog She's a public school teacher who decided to eat (and photograph) the lunch the kids at her school were served every day from the beginning of 2010 to the summer. Wow. Read it, and follow her on Twitter at @fedupwithlunch.

I am pretty sure that the crap we eat (we meaning my family but also our culture in general) is what's compounding our energy problems, poor sleep, lack of focus, and problems getting along with other people. I think if I could lay the basis for more healthy eating consistently, then occasional snacks wouldn't trigger binges like they do now.

So I'm looking for ways to start. Just to start moving things to a better direction. So this week I've been making oatmeal for breakfast instead of cinnamon toast. And the little one loves it. But the big one doesn't. We haven't figured out a whole-grain alternative for him yet, but are working on it. He hates hot cereal.

Next step: Go vegetarian for 2 of the 3-4 dinners I serve them a week. (We're already at 1.)

Here are my questions for you:

First, do you have any general thoughts on this?

Second, do you have any recipes for whole-grain cookies that do NOT contain raisins, because I cannot stand raisins and neither can my older son? They can be no-bakes.

Third, why is it harder to take small steps toward something than it is to go on some radical change plan? Is that all humans, or just me?

91 thoughts on “Thoughts on food”

  1. We are fans of Nikki’s Healthy Cookies:
    The only change we make: 1) cheaper chocolate works; so does white
    and 2) we make them in bars. They stick together much better that way.
    Also: cinnamon toast isn’t terrible if you use a better bread.
    And yes, we are working with the same issues. I felt a major rush of pride when at a bbq my older son’s plate was half salad and berries, with a burger and chips for the rest. Last summer, it would have been all chips (no kidding).
    Less success with my younger son. But we’re working on it!

  2. 1. I love that you added the point about 14 month olds. I probably would have been very holier than thou 2 years ago. But we’ve fell down the slippery slope of more and more snacks and junk, because my kids went to birthday parties and discovered candy and all kinds of other crap. Plus they’re pickier about dinner.2. Can’t help on the recipes. Unless something with oatmeal and white flour counts. Then silver palate oatmeal cookies rock (lots of sugar though).
    3. I think different personalities. Huge arguments with my husband before we figured out our differences here. He’s a baby steps person. I’m a, we can’t tackle it until we have enough time to conquer every aspect of it person.

  3. I really enjoy the blog Kath Eats Real Food. Kath doesn’t have kids, but just looking at her posts with whole grains, whole foods, rainbow colors, and a focus on eating what your body needs is inspiring. She does a lot of “smoothies in a bowl” and “overnight oats,” which could be eaten cold.I also really like Weelicious. Although marketed as baby/toddler there are a ton of great ideas for lunch boxes & bigger kids…I’m hoping to start incorporating some of them into my sons’ lunch boxes this year.
    I know it really helps my family if I batch-cook good stuff on the weekends to eat later in the week, freeze meals (soup, lasagna, etc.), make a weekly meal plan, and do lunch prep the night before. The problem is being too busy/tired/stressed to actually DO it. This has been on my mind a LOT lately, such good timing!

  4. We replace raisins with dried cranberries. Or chocolate chips. Not exactly healthy, but they ARE cookies.Right now I’m trying to figure out my three-year-old and milk. She has never liked drinking cow’s milk except for the flavored stuff. She does eat cheese and yogurt (and still breastfeeds twice a day), and I let her drink flavored milk a few times a week. I’d like her to drink the plain, but I don’t want it to become a battle. Recently I discovered that she will drink WHOLE cow’s milk, but when she turned two the pediatrician told me to switch to 1%. I’ve been buying the whole the past couple of weeks, figuring that the extra calcium and protein are worth the extra fat (especially since she is 75th percentile for height but only 10th for weight). but I’m worried I’m starting another bad habit.

  5. For the oatmeal alternative – what about homemade granola and yogurt? Or I’ve made a recipe for quinoa muffins (recipe from the M. Stewart site) before. Oat Bran has a recipe for muffins on the side of the box that is pretty good.You know? That is an interesting question – it’s been something I’ve been paying attention to lately too.
    My husband wants me to watch the amount of sugar and not-whole-grains I feed him because of his “numbers”.
    My 16 year old asked if we could start buying organic meat. Which led to an interesting discussion of how meat is packaged at the supermarket and the challenges of feeding a family of 5, but the upshot was yes, I’ve been trying to work in more organic meat.
    I’ve been trying to buy at least some softdrink made with regular sugar vs. HFCS (OK. I know it’s still soda, and still a sometimes food. Organic cookies are still cookies. πŸ™‚ ) When buying juice drinks, also, have been looking for the non-HFCS choices. And I’ve also been trying to buy organic fruits/veg when it makes more sense/it’s a choice.
    My basket, lately, has been an interesting juxtaposition of marshmallow cereal and organic tomatoes.

  6. This probably doesn’t help but I substitute chocolate chips for the raisins in oatmeal cookies. Or you can leave out the raisins.

  7. This is one of the things I beat myself up about. As educated as I am about health choices, in the daily rush, I don’t do as well as I’d like. Also, my husband is one of those high-metabolism individuals, who’ve never had to worry about food for weight-related reasons. I worry sometimes that I am allowing my kids to develop bad early habits that will be really difficult to reverse in the future. Look forward to good suggestions from other readers!

  8. Easy – any dried fruit can be substituted for raisins – figs, apricots, whatever, just chopped up. I love white chocolate and cranberry oatmeal cookies.Harder – yes, I am constantly thinking about what we eat, and am slowly dragging my husband along the path to better nutrition. Trying to make him see that the LO watches everything, so if she sees him eating toast with jelly with his dinner, then that’s what she will want too, but she won’t eat anything else. And so on. Trying to banish trans-fat and HCFS from the household too, but that is an uphill climb.
    Harder still – trying to get a handle on what I eat during the day while at work. My new rule is to not eat anything that I wouldn’t want my daughter to eat. So far, it’s working out. I’ve lost a few pounds and actually my caffeine habit has slowed down.
    Hardest – I think it is so hard to make those little changes, because the point of the little changes are to make them stick. But when you make those big radical changes, part of your mind knows that it won’t stay, that you can go back to “normal” whenever you get sick of it.
    Impossible – controlling everything she eats while I’m not around. Daycare does an excellent job of planning and posting meals, but I know that she has some stuff that I wouldn’t necessarily approve of. I try to keep it in the big picture, and be grateful that she doesn’t have any real, actual dietary restrictions with medical consequences.

  9. We are already at vegetarian dinners for the adults 5-ish nights/wk (lunches too), with the kids at 3-4 (they eat our Shabbat chicken leftovers for dinner early in the week). I try to be careful to have a legume-based protein (ideally NOT processed soy products like tofu) for at least one or two of those dinners, but all too often it is whole wheat pasta + sauteed veggies + cubed marinated mozzarella.Preschool was totally my downfall here. The snacks are just….crap. No control there. Graham crackers, saltines, Cheez-its….and not even the “better” brands – the stuff they are serving has HFCS, hydrogenated palm oil, and all sorts of other stuff I do not (try not to) let into my home. The juice (apple Mon-Thur, grape on Fri) is watered down, at least.
    I try to keep my kids involved in the food creation process. We go to the farmer’s market together in season, and I know which stand will let them totally ravage the green beans or whatever. I have them sample vegetables as I’m cutting them up to cook, and we try to talk about how things taste different when raw, and some things are not good to eat raw.
    I’m trying to move the whole household toward protein-based breakfasts (PLAIN yogurt with either a drizzle of honey and/or a small handful of granola and/or a handful of toasted sliced almonds). Success for myself and my husband on weekdays, semi-success for the kids but some days they still just want cereal. Sundays are tough because, hey, who doesn’t like a bagel on Sunday morning?
    But, yeah – totally would have been (was?) holier-than-thou two years ago when they were 18M. More realistic now, I think.
    I’m no help on your second issue, sorry. I just sub in whole wheat for half the flour, maybe cut back the total flour quantity by a smidge b/c the WW absorbs more liquid.
    Third issue – it’s totally a personality thing.

  10. Third, why is it harder to take small steps toward something than it is to go on some radical change plan? Is that all humans, or just me?I absolutely believe that making huge changes helps me stick to a plan better than small steps. Last January I committed to my family eating better, no more eating out period! Well, that craziness lasted only until February 1st, but here it is July and I bet we cook 9 out of 10 meals at home and that’s still amazing. My kid may not eat well-rounded meals (last night was ham, mashed potatoes, blueberries and apple-cinnamon rice cake), but it’s still better than McDonalds!

  11. will be printing up this post and comments and affixing it to my refrigerator, so thanks in advance!We’re also trying to go vegetarian a few times a week and when we do eat meat I’m trying to have it be meat we pick up from Whole Foods (one just opened near us and is our only real option other than standard supermarkets). We often use Morning Star “meat” crumbles in things like spaghetti or chili and recently have come close to perfecting meatloaf with it. The Morning Star tends to be a bit dry for a meatloaf so on a whim I added some leftover apple/carrot pulp (about a cups worth)from the juicer (you could steam and throw in the food processor, it’s what I did the second time), normal meatloaf ingredients after than, and then a rub of olive oil – it came out delicious! (can’t take full credit it was a joint cooking project with the Hubby)

  12. Thank you for this. I struggle with it all the time, trying to find the balance between good for us (foodwise) and good for us (timewise & walletwise). I think too often I try to jump in with both feet, which can be overwhelming. I need to be better about starting with smaller steps.

  13. We are struggling with our almost-4 year old who will eat nothing but spaghetti, chicken nuggets, eggs or PB&J in her lunch and at hoem. That’s not all she gets, but it’s the only things she will actually EAT. She’ll eat other things when we go out (last weekend she tried and liked oysters), but asking her to try something new at home is a battle I don’t want to ahve. So we incorporate those things above into our meals quite often so she actually consumes some calories and nutrition.I did finally have a light bulb moment a few months back when buying another box of $7 chix nuggets (12 count)that were real chicken that I could make them myself. So now I do just that and one hour in the kitchen gives me a month-supply of nuggets and I know what/where all the ingredients come from.
    Over the past year we have moved more towards a “real food” diet. Whole milk, butter, local produce, grass feed meat. Fresh foods over boxes/cans. But I’m also a total sugar addict and breastfeeding makes the sweet cravings even worse. Sometimes I wish I could just go cold turkey off sugar but I fear for my sanity and how mean I might be to others!

  14. Holy wow, this couldn’t be more appropriate for me right now. I’ve got a toddler with major food limitations (and a major sweet addiction which I’ve let slide too often lately) and I’m desperate to get us both back on track. I just really want to cut down on sugar consumption for the both of us. I think sugar is an addictive substance that needs very close monitoring! For adults and kids. Unfortunately, it’s in everything. And when my toddler will only eat 5 things (most of which have some sort of sugar, whether it’s natural or added) I feel almost hopeless. Thanks for posting this, Moxie. I’m extra excited for naptime today so I can take a moment to read all the comments!

  15. This is a tough one for me….mostly because I am not in charge of breakfasts for my older (and most pickiest eater) 5 days a week, and 2 days a week for my younger son – they are with their dad. Younger will eat an egg any day, any time. But their dad doesn’t always have eggs in the house. Both of them usually have yogurt and a ton of fruit and sometimes crackers and pretzels for breakfast. I try really hard not to have a problem with this, since fruit is really healthy. My younger son could use something more substantial, but it’s only 2 days a week so I try not to say anything. My older son is a light eater. At every meal. He will probably never enjoy a huge, hearty breakfast. So I try to tell myself that yogurt and fruit is pretty healthy for him and get over it. And then I try to compensate by cooking them healthy meals for dinner, which older one struggles to “enjoy” even though he’s hungry – it’s noodles and butter, noodles and butter noodles and butter.I try to limit the desserts, we limit our M*nugget intake to once per week, and it’s fruit, veggies and cheese for snacks, which are pretty popular. I try not to feel bad about it, as it’s something that is somewhat out of my control. Which I hate, BTW because I think I should control everything.

  16. Best thing I did for our overall health was to start making stuff at home (as you know, Moxie, from following my INCREDIBLY FASCINATING twitter feed). A lot of stuff is surprisingly easy.Also, I found the Cook’s Illustrated / 30 minute meals religion and never looked back. That was honestly the most dramatic effect to my/our eating habits.
    I’m talking about this book:
    In two words: Fast. Awesome.

  17. I recently saw some info on a new documentary called inGREEDients that looks interesting in an awful and scary way. We do what we can and we’re not strict in any sense of the word, but avoid the bad stuff when I can. Sugar in pasta sauce, come on people, why?!!Hummus and veggie roll ups? Spinach/cheese raviolis? Or we’ll make smoothies on hot days- even the green ones are good.
    I was also feeding E some fish oil, but haven’t kept that habit up. I hate cooking fish at home, so that’s what we’ll share when we’re out and thankfully he likes it!

  18. I’ve been thinking about this a lot too, having just crossed the threshold of “OK, I can pack a perfect lunch, but she doesn’t eat it — if I pack Goldfish and fruit leather, at least she’s getting some calories.” My daughter has always been pretty tiny, not a fat roll to be seen (ever). She almost 4, and barely 28 pounds. She tells me what the other kids have in their lunches, and … wow. So right now, I’m focusing on the meals I can control — I figure if she gets a healthy breakfast, afternoon snack, and dinner, we’re doing pretty well. Now I just need to convince her nanny, who is also her grandma/my mom, to stop giving her “low sugar” cookies and baked goods right after school. She gets those calories, and WHAM. She doesn’t have an appetite for anything else.Sometimes, I feel like you can’t really win. Morning Star products were a staple for me growing up, but there’s a ton of research out right now showing the soy protein isolate really isn’t good for you. So, dammit.
    However, I was raised vegetarian, and we almost never have meat on the table now, because I don’t like cooking with it. We go the quinoa route for protein, as lot — it’s awesome in grain salads and pretty much adopts any flavors you put with it.
    Cookies: Moxie, why don’t you just omit the raisins? Dried fruit of any kind isn’t that nutritionally dense … it’s mostly sugar.
    Going to follow this thread closely. Thanks for bringing it up!

  19. Moxie- just a quick one: would your big kid eat oatmeal cookies? My grandmother used to make cookies with leftover cooked oatmeal, since we were more likely to eat those!

  20. I have been thinking about what we eat lately, too. It’s hard when it’s just me and a toddler. Last night he was happy with milk, blueberries and a box of yogurt covered raisins and I ate cold leftover cheese tortellini (his dinner from the night before). If I eat a decent lunch, I’m good with a bowl of cereal for dinner so planning a “balanced” dinner meal for one and a half people honestly seems like more effort than necessary. I just don’t want to wake up and he’s 10 and we are still eating cereal and pb&nutella sandwiches for dinner.I do radical change plans all the time and then when I slide back into what’s comfortable, I keep a bit of the radical change with me. Seems normal to me.
    I pack his lunch everyday and it is true how easily the processed, pre-packaged snacks get in. I do a lot of shopping in the “Greenwise” section but it’s still snack food.
    My most shameful parenting thing right now is the fact that he asks for LOUDLY “diet coke”. Guess who never is far from a can of diet coke. Right. Me. He even went so far as to say he wanted in his bottle (the one he’s not supposed to even be using but still drinks milk from, yes, that one). Sigh.

  21. You do read minds!I’m lucky in that my son’s school generally has a very good diet/lunches (Montessori)…until they don’t and have some special day with all popcorn and gummies or something.
    At home we do wobble around a bit. The big big key for me is:
    1. Plan, and plan for the plan to fail
    2. Don’t get focused on perfection (like you said, small steps are hard.)
    3. The distinction between a snack and a treat.
    So for example – I plan to use a variety of vegetables. My plan often fails and I end up buying the same four over and over. So I joined an organic CSA so the vegetables come to my door in all their abundant variety. Then I have frozen for the night I can’t face washing more greens. πŸ™‚
    I meal plan, but I also have an emergency meal or two on the plan with the ingredients at hand. Last night it was scrambled eggs with whole-grain toast and a cucumber-tomato salad from the CSA.
    For breakfast I plan to make hot cereal or healthy muffins, but I also stock the cupboard with not-so-bad cold cereal just in case. For the record, some of that cereal is not thrillingly healthy (Mini Wheats).
    For perfection…I truly believe the Food Network, etc., have ruined home cooking. Our expectations of what makes a meal are kind of high.
    Now I am not opposed to that – unless it causes me to give up and order pizza. There is nothing wrong or unhealthy about putting raw vegetables and salmon pockets made with canned salmon and whole-grain pitas on the table and calling it a dinner, or serving a stew two nights in a row (maybe over rice the second night). I love to make beautiful meals, but not every day. FWIW for some of my childhood we ate the same 7 meals every week – they represented decent variety (for the time) and my mother just bought the same ingredients every. week.
    Snacks and treats…A snack is healthy food you eat in between meals when you are hungry. A treat is unhealthy. We do not eat cookies or ice cream for snacks; on the other hand we do stock cheese and olives and nuts and fruit and make popcorn occasionally; whole-grain toast counts as a snack too.
    I have tried to reverse my thinking on treats. It used to be that treats are junk, so they should be cheap/on sale/whatever. This resulted in Big Economy Sized crap treats. Now I invest the money in really good bakery cake or quality ice cream. We can afford less, but it is yummier.
    The one thing I’m pretty hard-core about is drinks. Juice is a treat, pop is a dessert, and milk and water and herbal/brewed tea are drinks.

  22. This recipe has sugar. But they’re great. Make a bunch, and put them in the freezer. Then pull them out when the kids are about to go run around. They’ll love them.Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies.
    * 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
    * 1/2 cup natural brown sugar
    * 1/2 cup organic sugar
    * 1 egg
    * 1 teaspoon vanilla
    * 1 cup white whole wheat flour
    * 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
    * 1/4 teaspoon salt
    * 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
    * 1 1/4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
    * 3/4 to 1 cup dark chocolate chips
    * 3/4 cup nuts, chopped (totally optional)
    * 1 dark chocolate bar, grated
    Preheat oven to 375. Place oats in a food processor or chopper and process until them until they turn into a powder. In a bowl, whisk together the powdered oats, flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda. In a large bowl, cream together butter and both sugars for 3 minutes on medium speed. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Gradually beat in dry ingredients. Stir in grated chocolate, then add chocolate chips and chopped nuts. Scoop dough on a cookie sheet. Bake for 12 minutes.
    Also, the scooped dough freezes well and bakes up great. Add 1-2 minutes to bake time for frozen dough.

  23. I personally find it easier to make small changes. I even make small changes and then build on them over the years. Big changes are impossible for me to handle.Other than having a kid, that is. That one was huge.
    I’m a big fan of substituting half the flour in any recipe with whole wheat flour. It’s not as perfect as whole grain, but it’s good. And if I’m using flour, it means I’m making it at home, and it’s fresh and not full of preservatives and other junk.
    Pepperidge Farms has a good line of whole grain breads. By good, I mean they feel much more like “normal” store-bought bread, aren’t crazy dense, and they taste great. The also have other lines that look like whole grain but aren’t, so check the label and make sure the first ingredient is 100? stone-ground whole wheat. (Actually, that’s a good tip for anything advertising as whole grain, since labeling is so tricky). They might use other dubious ingredients — I can’t recall — but this is about small changes and not letting the perfect be the enemy of the good, right?
    Good luck to you.

  24. I’ll need to ponder this post some and add more thoughts later (in between nursing the voracious newborn), but I do have a couple of tips now:-I replace white flour with whole wheat pastry flour in almost every cookie recipe without a problem. There are a few that I’ve determined do better with just half WW flour, but oatmeal cookies are great with WW flour and chocolate chips (I know, not terribly healthy, but still…)
    -A couple of times a week, I bake zucchini, banana, or pumpkin muffins with whole wheat flour and replace the white sugar with sucanat or rapadura. Sometimes I’ll throw in a small scoop of chocolate chips. I know, I’m a sucker. These muffins freeze well and I’ll defrost extras later in the week for snacks or breakfasts. I usually serve plain yogurt with berries or cinnamon as a side.
    -If your son doesn’t like oatmeal plain, try a recipe for baked oatmeal. It comes out almost cakey/pastry-ish tasting. If you look up pretty much any recipe on the internet and add some cinnamon, reduce the sugar, replace half the butter with either coconut oil or applesauce, and add an extra egg, you’ve got a pretty simple yummy breakfast.
    -My fall-back easy breakfast for the kids is a whole wheat English muffin (I either bake them and freeze them or buy a bunch at Trader Joe’s and stick them in the freezer. The kids love these with natural peanut butter, bananas, and a drizzle of raw honey.
    -I also will make a big batch of homemade granola every couple of weeks or so and serve it with milk or yogurt and fresh fruit. Another way to get oatmeal into the kids that isn’t just a bowl of traditional hot cereal.
    My “rule” that I try to hold myself to is to avoid buying pre-packaged snacks and breakfast foods. I do bend this rule sometimes, but when I stick to it, we find ourselves snacking much more on yogurt, fruit, veggies, hummus, nuts, etc. rather than crackers, cookies, fruit snacks, etc. I try to make homemade stuff in big batches as I have time (granola, granola bars, muffins, breads, fruit leather, etc.) but like anyone, we run out and I don’t have time. Most of the time, this works well for us though.

  25. omg, yep, I am trying to implement 2 specific changes to get us eating a little healthier:- making homemade cookies *in traditional 1-tablespoon cookie size* for after school snack. for a long time Mouse and I have stopped at a local cafe after I pick her up from care around 5:30 (we don’t eat dinner until 7:30ish) and split one of those head-size cookies with who knows what in it. I actually think old-fashioned-size cookies are fine for you, whole grain or not.
    – (this one’s yet to be implemented) making a vegetable soup on Thursday night (because I can’t deal on Fridays) to be eaten for Saturday lunch. That’s a time when Mouse is starving after swimming, I’m tired, we don’t grocery shop until Sat afternoon because the car has been off at swimming lessons…so we usually eat some crap
    Also, breakfast: since Mr. C is a South Beach person, we’ve settled on making toast with that Bible Bread – you know the one with the bible verse on it that’s super duper whole grain…um…Ezekiel 4:9?, it’s usually in the freezer section? Anyway it’s inedible raw but good toasted, so we have that with peanut butter (and jelly for those who want it) or Mouse also likes Ak-Mak whole wheat crackers with cream cheese. And some fruit. And sometimes eggs on the weekend – we splurge on pasture-raised eggs from the farmers market. (None of us like hot cereal so that’s out but I’ve been thinking of trying breakfast couscous a la Mark Bittman because couscous is so fast.)
    It’s really hard with school snacks – Mouse’s school asks every family who can to contribute $40 for the year so that each classroom can get a weekly fruit box, which is great. But then for the rest of snack it’s always just pretzels or cheez its or whatever, because families contribute and many many of our families are not buying fancy organics.

  26. Elizabeth, if she’s eating cheese and yogurt, plus breastfeeding, not sure I’d worry about the cow’s milk. But if you want her to drink it, I’d try mixing whole and 2% and gradually reduce the whole over a couple of weeks.

  27. WIthout sounding dogmatic or hysterical, have you considered *fewer* whole grains?I pooh-poohed the whole gluten/grain thing for a long time, but have seen major mood and attitude improvements and *way* fewer sugar cravings (bonus!) with our family’s reduction of grains, esp. wheat and its processed cousins.
    Some seemingly contrarian resources and ideas can be found by searching “Nourishing Traditions” or “traditional foods” and/or “primal” or “paleo” eating. They can be overwhelming, so we institute one or two at a time, starting with protein at breakfast and cutting down our grains, etc.
    No matter what you find works, I think the key is believing in incremental benefits and not focusing on all or nothing.

  28. I have an oatmeal peanut butter cookie recipe…somewhere, I’ll try to dig it up for you. For breakfast, I was about to suggest the Ezekiel cinnamon raisin toast but then I remembered no raisins. That said, any whole grain toast with nut butter and a little honey is a hit here. Or muffins made with ww flour and sub yogurt or applesauce for half the fat (and I’ll throw in some flaxseed or wheat germ too if I’m feeling it).I don’t try to limit fat (whole family is on the skinny side so we still do full-fat dairy, etc.) but I do try to limit refined carbs. Virtually all pasta and bread is whole grain and we eat basically only brown rice, or rarely white with millet and other grains mixed in. I don’t have anything against box mac&cheese or occasional treats but I recently realized we were relying too much on packaged snacks (Annie’s bunny snacks, that kind of thing) so we’re trying to do more yogurt, fruit, nuts, and other whole food based snacks. Middling success, as that depends on actually having those foods reliably on hand.
    Daycare has been a weak link for us–my daughter only goes 2 days/week and they do cook great lunches 90% of the time (Spanish style braised pork chops!) but the other 10% it’s, like, hot dogs and chips. And the snacks are inevitably animal crackers or saltines or something like that.

  29. My pediatrician gave me a rule to live by when Maddie and Riley were two. There are healthy foods and there are unhealthy foods. Beyond that, don’t stress out about it. Don’t worry too much about the variety or the quantity, don’t let it take up too much of your time (unless you really enjoy it). Just make sure you make the healthiest choices you can, when you are the one making the food.How this translates for me, as a full-time work-out-of-the-house and 100% single parent is that our variety sucks. I do not have the time, or choose not to make the time, for extensive meal planning. We eat the same things over and over. But they are really healthy things that we all enjoy. We eat tons of fresh fruit, we belong to a CSA, we eat all 100% whole-wheat bread, all organic and local dairy products, lots of whole-grain pasta, fish, peanut butter, beans, local eggs.
    Dinners are quesadillas, various pasta dishes, grilled cheese, breakfast-for-dinner, hummus + pita, pizza, fish and rice, tacos, quiche. Those are the staples. Always served with fruit and some vegetable. Breakfast is cereal, toast w/peanut butter, smoothies. Packed lunches are leftovers from dinner, PB&J, more fruit, carrots, etc. We have a snack cabinet that I stock with reasonable options, mostly from Trader Joe’s: nuts, popcorn, sesame sticks, crispy peas, dried fruit. Or there’s cheese, plain yogurt, the perennial fruit.
    I have to keep things simple to keep my sanity. I miss cooking more elaborate, fun meals and I worry that the relative lack of variety will dull M&R’s palettes. But I console myself with the thought that it’s all good, nutritious food (with the occasional treat, of course!), and for now, that’s the best I can do.

  30. Breakfast at our place is always a choice between Jordan’s Morning Crisp cereal (granola with freeze-dried fruit) and toast with peanut butter & jam. Our local store has a peanut grinder so it is easy for me to get fresh-ground peanut butter which doesn’t have any extra sugar added.I figure that high-fat stuff tastes a lot better, you just have to eat a bit less of it because it has more calories – fat isn’t bad for you and there are tons of fat soluble vitamins that you aren’t getting on a low-fat diet. So I go for the 9% m.f. yogurt, and it turns out you don’t have to put as much sugar in that for it to taste amazing.
    Cookies and muffins I just substitute whole wheat flour for regular (just leave out about 1 tbsp/ cup so things don’t wind up super dense). For me the trick with baking is to freeze everything immediately (cookies, muffins, scones, quick-breads) so that I’m not tempted to eat it all really quick before it gets stale. You can put frozen stuff right into the lunch-bag and it will be nicely thawed out by lunchtime.

  31. I recommend making these pancakes and either just keeping the batter in the fridge for a few days while you make them, or making a bunch and throwing them in the fridge and reheating for breakfast. My oatmeal-hating daughter loves them (and so does everyone else): think you would really enjoy this recipe/ cooking blog. I’m sure she has some healthy cookies on there:
    I currently have one picky 4-year old who pretty much wants meat or dairy for every meal, and a 14-month old who won’t eat meat or dairy. It’s such a party.

  32. This was a fun post — thanks Moxie!I worry about the food issue constantly, and I’ve got a little guy with a usually great appetite. What allows me the most success is the weekly menu, planned after I figure out what’s coming in the CSA box. The box makes me eat in season, and expands my horizons beyond the four or five staple veggies that a previous poster mentioned. And I follow the Ellen Satter rule; I decide what and when he eats, he decides if and how much. That really frees me up to make things that sound good to me and are healthy, and most of the time he eats. One of his favorites is a chard and chickpea slow cooker recipe, go figure.
    Speaking of slow cookers, that’s the other key in my household. I do a lot of crock pot recipes; they’re great for beans and other grains, although you have to look a little harder for those recipes — so many are meat based. But I can do the prep either the night before, after the little ones are in bed, or while they’re napping if I have the day off. And then everything is ready at dinner. Evenings are more crazy and stressful in my home; if I had to start dinner from scratch when I got in the door from work we’d be doing a lot more convenience food.
    My hubby is the baker in our family, but I think he pretty much substitutes at least 50% whole wheat flour for everything he bakes these days, if not a higher percentage. This resulted in a funny looking ice cream (the recipe called for flour), it was a little brown. But tasty!

  33. @ yasmara,thank you so much for sending me to I just spent the last hour perusing her recipes (an hour that I should have spent studying for the bar exam in 2 weeks!) and am totally hooked. Can’t wait to start using some of her ideas.

  34. Here are my whole grain suggestions– these are things my 3.5 year old happily eats on a regular basis (including oatmeal with maple syrup, which he asks for a lot):1. shredded wheat (plain kind w/ a little brown sugar added by me)
    2. wheat toast or wheat English muffin or whole grain bakery bread spread with peanut butter or honey or cream cheese; sometimes it’s toast and an egg
    3. muesli-granola mix (a lot of granola is too sweet, a lot of muesli is too dry, but we like it mixed)
    4. yogurt and fruit, with honey and some granola/muesli on top
    5. on the weekends if we make waffles or pancakes, I’ll use 1/2 whole wheat flour, 1/2 regular; full whole wheat doesn’t taste great, but no one really notices 1/2 wheat
    Also, we really gussy up our oatmeal: maple syrup, sometimes a little brown sugar and milk. My son sometimes asks for raisins and/or walnuts too. Other additions that may make it more palatable to your older son are blueberries or bananas, honey, or even butter.
    Also, Cheerios are honestly not that bad nutritionally– they’re pretty much the lowest sugar mainstream cereal available and they do contain oats. As processed foods go, Cheerios are actually ok.
    For snacks, we eat a lot of fruit, nuts, cheese, cut up cucumbers and red bell peppers and carrots (no dip usually, though my son likes hummus or yogurt dip sometimes), and whole grain crackers. His juice ration is a small 1/2 juice, 1/2 soda water 2x per day, otherwise it’s water or milk. He is in the process of understanding treats/dessert vs. all the time foods now– he asked me for jelly beans for breakfast yesterday morning, in fact, and we had a chat about why that’s not a good idea. But if he’s eaten a good dinner, I let him have a cookie or some jelly beans (he got a giant gift bag of Jelly Bellys at a birthday party last month, which I’ve been doling out 5 beans at a time) or whatever it is. If he hasn’t really eaten much dinner or it’s snack time and he is craving something sweet, we have fruit– luckily, he loves fruit and everything good is in season right now. Peaches, watermelon, cherries, plums, berries. That being said, I’m married to a sweet toothed chocoholic and my son loves special trips to get ice cream with Daddy. They also bake together a fair bit, and it seems to me that my son enjoys baking the cake/muffins/cookies as much as eating them!
    Otherwise, I second everything Shandra said. Menu planning is a pain– you have to sit down for an hour and think about it and do the shopping list, but it really makes life a lot easier during the hectic week. I keep our menu on the fridge, so I don’t even have to think about what we’re having any given night. If we’re really not in the mood for what’s on the menu, we may opt out and have pasta or take out instead, but usually we stick to the menu and it’s a big help in getting us to actually eat all the vegetables in the ‘fridge instead of just letting them wilt in the produce drawer. I also keep a list of what’s available for lunch and snacks on the ‘fridge so I can assemble quickly. When you’ve planned to make the default option the healthy option (i.e. the Oreos and chips aren’t there, but the carrots and hummus are) it’s muuuuch easier to eat healthy.
    I’m lucky to have a very adventurous eater– his parents like to eat and cook and he likes to eat and cook, thank goodness! I also live in Berkeley, where you can get fresh, healthy food by falling out of bed in the morning (seriously, even the taco stand uses humane certified, pastured meats and certified sustainable seafood). When I lived in NYC I didn’t have a kid, so I could spend Saturday mornings leisurely buying heirloom eggplants at Union Square farmers markets. Moxie, you’ve got two kids and a commute– how about Fresh Direct? Do they deliver to your nabe? We also got a CSA box when we lived in Manhattan. It’s sooooo much easier when it’s delivered to your door. There are many options for CSA type deliveries–and varying degrees of control over what’s in the box (from zero to moderate, never total). Also, I don’t know if it appeals to you, but healthy meals can be part cooked, part assembled: picking up a Peruvian roast chicken and some rice on the way home and making some salad at home to go with is a lot less work than roasting a chicken yourself on a weeknight. Ditto entrees/sides from a good deli you like.
    Finally, I have a temperament that makes baby steps much harder than radical change. I don’t know why– somehow it’s harder to remember baby steps, but easier to get into a totally shifted mentality. My husband is capable of moderate, slow and steady change, so I know it’s possible, but I have a hard time with it.

  35. @Elizabeth, I know there’s a lot of disagreement about this, and most mainstream nutritional sources as well as most doctors will tell you to go with 2% or less for the entire family, but I switched back to whole milk for *myself* after years of the “lighter” variety. Recent studies have come out suggesting that the hysteria surrounding saturated fat is not entirely warranted, and lower-percent milks are more processed – I’d rather have milk that’s just labeled as milk, without all the added “milk powder” and whatnot. (Plus I no longer have to buy half and half, since there’s only a one-percent difference – ahem.) I still avoid saturated fat in a lot of other places, but I honestly think a lifetime of whole milk isn’t going to make a huge difference in a child’s health (on it’s own anyway).I really like Shandra’s distinction between snacks and treats. One thing I’ve thought about doing (but not implemented yet), is setting a rule that, with the exception of ice cream, no treats will be consumed *in the house* that I didn’t make from scratch. Meaning I don’t buy Oreos, or packaged cookies, or frozen pies, or pudding, or whatever. If I don’t have the time to bake it (and I love to bake, so this isn’t as strict a rule as it sounds), I don’t get it. Like I said, this is a work in progress, since I’m still working and there are treats at the office all. the. time, and parties and trips where I feel somehow “entitled” to a treat or dessert of some kind. But it seems like a good way to (a) make treat consumption less and (b) make sure that even things high in sugar and fat that I eat aren’t as processed as the unlimited shelf-life ones I would buy.
    And for recipes, I would try Googling “baked oatmeal.” It usually does have brown sugar in it, so if you’re trying to avoid that completely, it’s not a great substitute, but consistency-wise, it’s more like a muffin or warm, soft, cookie, and you can put any kind of dried fruit or nuts in it you want – or even fresh fruit, if you’re going to eat it quickly.

  36. What we eat has become a serious priority with me lately, and my baby girl is only 1! I have been thinking a LOT about nutrition for kids in general and for us as a family in specific. I love that you are following Mrs. Q – I’ve been doing that as well.I’ve been doing my best to not purchase foods that I wouldn’t be willing to give my baby girl. I’ve always loved to cook what I considered to be good food for us, but lately I’ve been more mindful of exactly what I’m putting into our bodies. No HFCS, fewer/no processed items, etc.
    It’s been an eye-opener (to say the least). I’m just glad that I decided to do this before Lily Ruth was old enough to be ‘hooked’ on anything πŸ™‚ this way, we’re eating better as a family and maybe I’ll stand a chance of winning a few food battles once she’s old enough to wage them πŸ˜›
    I feel drawn to fight the battle for better school food. I wonder where that will take me…

  37. My main issue at the moment is working out what to prepare my kids in hot weather. Winter is fine, but since my kids aren’t really into cold food and it’s too hot to turn the oven on (or cook for too long on the stove), I find myself in a bit of a pickle.Hubby and I eat a lot of salads ( tomato, mozarella salad/ chicken and rocket/ squid and potato), but forget the kids. At best they’ll eat a pasta salad or a cold frittata, but the 3 y.0 won’t have a bar of cold rice or any other of my concoctions ( popular at the moment is barley and spelt salad with tuna and prawns).
    As I have mentioned before, the only way I get veggies into my kids is through soups, but unless it’s a cold potato and leak, they aint buying it. So basically in summer they don’t get too many vegetables into themselves at all.
    So as both kids are at home on school holidays I make their main meal lunch ( well, that has always been their main meal actually) and give them a cooked pasta/risotto/rice dish followed by some meat and then a fruit. If they eat all this ( they usually do), I don’t really care if they don’t eat much at dinner time. And if I can get some soup into them at dinner time (I recently tried carrot and zucchini which I served coolish), that’s the vegetables taken care of too.

  38. @Elizabeth – I’m not a doctor, but I don’t see why your daughter can’t drink whole milk, especially if she’s in the 10th% for weight. My 26 month old son eats whole milk yogurt and drinks whole milk. He doesn’t eat yogurt every day and milk isn’t his main drink (water is), and I don’t worry about it at all. Fat in and of itself isn’t bad for us; in fact our brains need it to grow. I’m a lot less worried about natural fats/good or neutral fats than I am about hyper-processed foods, white sugar/HFCS. I want my food to be food.I’ve definitely noticed a slipping of control with my son’s food. You can’t take your kid to someone’s house or to a restaurant and police every mouthful. I care deeply about organics, and I *do not* buy berries or peppers that are grown conventionally because they are so loaded with pesticides. But at his Gran’s house? Well, I can’t slap the strawberry away from his hand, and I can’t ask my friend “Is that an organic blueberry?”. I do the best with what I can control when we’re at home, and I don’t stress too much about the details. For me it’s about finding the two or three food issues I really care about (minimizing processed food/food with artificial flavors; organic produce; organic/pasture fed meat, not that often). My son had his first hot dog the other day – I felt so weird about it!
    For those worried about sugar in baking recipes – in lots of recipes for desserts, even cookies, it’s easy to cut down on the amount of sugar the recipe calls for. Sometimes making a baby step like that makes me feel better. Little changes can turn big.
    My toddler has a very dull bland toddler diet. I wish his plate had more vibrant colors and that he liked more complex flavors, but I also follow the Satter rule and don’t police what he eats or make a big deal out of it. I was a picky eater my whole childhood, so I sympathize with the desire to eat the mildest possible foods. I grew out of it, I bet he will, too.

  39. Does the older one like prunes? My kids LOVE prunes. If you’re wedded to keeping dried fruit in the cookie, that’s the one I’d go with (or cranberries or apricots)but really. cookies are cookies and chocolate is good in cookies. My favorite cookies are smitten kitchen’s chocolate chip meringues. They’re egg whites, sugar, ground nuts, and chips. Perfect, and no grains at all. I justify them as being high in protein. πŸ™‚ But really, it’s ok to have a whole wheat/oatmeal/chocolate chip cookie. no need to torture yourself with treats – that’s how people end up hating “health food”
    If you have the psychic and actual energy and the $$, I’d recommend either joining a community garden or a CSA (depending on level of psychic and actual energy, if any is available). It really and truly is true that kids will eat better and will eat more vegetables if they have a connection to their production. My little guy won’t touch a tomato under normal circumstances, but will gobble them up if they come off the (single) tomato plant that we have on our deck. Same with herbs, lettuce, eggs, meat, etc. If they’ve met it or visited it or taken care of it, they’re so much more interested in eating it. Now, I’m incredibly spoiled by living in an agricultural area rich in organic, pastured hoohah, but I’m willing to bet you could recreate a taste of that for your kids. Even if it’s just empowering them by letting them pick out *which* veggies and *which* cereal they like. There’s no reason in the world a kid has to eat broccoli if they hate it but like cauliflower instead. (this is a favorite soapbox of mine. I have friends who flip out because their toddlers won’t eat beef or broccoli or whatever specific food, but will eat other meats or veggies – kids are allowed to have taste preferences, too). And by making them cook. The older one is totally old enough to make a simple dinner.
    Would your older eat granola that has been prebaked and cooled and covered in milk? There’s his oatmeal. And, if you get some nuts and cranberries in it, some fiber and protein as well. Alton Brown has a good recipe, though I tend to reduce the fat and sugar a bit because that’s how I roll.

  40. This is a great high-protien cookie recipe–please halve it as just half the recipe yields 3 dozen or more cookies.Mix in order of listing (this is the full recipe!):
    6 eggs
    2 cups brown sugar
    1 1/2 tsp vanilla
    1 1/2 Tbsp Karo Syrup
    4 tsp baking soda
    1 cup butter
    3 cups peanut butter
    9 cups rolled oats
    1 lb m&ms or chocolate chunks/chips
    Oven: 350
    Cook: 10 minutes each round – I wouldn’t go over 12 minutes for larger
    Spoon drop cookie dough onto greased or aluminum covered baking sheet. You could also form the dough with your hands. I keep what we don’t immediately eat in the fridge and it works great – they do not dry
    out. I’ve also tried just adding nuts instead of chocolate – which worked well.

  41. @Shanna – And what’s wrong (nutritionally) with “wheat pasta + sauteed veggies + cubed marinated mozzarella”? Sounds healthy to me.And regarding flour, I have found that when substituting whole wheat flour for all-purpose, the “white whole wheat” is ground much finer and therefore makes a more equivalent batter or dough to the original.
    Sometimes it helps, sometimes the regular (coarser ground) whole wheat works better; my kids complained the last time I made white flour pancakes instead of half/half (I had run out).
    Our biggest issue is the picky kids who will eat fruit but not veges. Now we’re OK, but come fall it’s a problem.

  42. Small steps don’t give you the rush that Big Changes do, so it’s harder to feel like you’re actually doing something.Right now, I feel like food is one of the things our little family does reasonably well, within the limitations of time and budget. We go organic when we can, we don’t eat a lot of red meat, we eat fruits and veggies, we sit down and eat dinner together nearly every night. Probably the area that needs the most improvement in our diet is refined carbs – need fewer of those and more whole grains! But anyhow, given that we both work full-time and aren’t exactly swimming in extra cash, I’m willing to make some compromises and not feel guilty about it.

  43. I and my husband have always (i.e. the 10ish years we’ve been together) been mostly organic, mostly homemade, omnivores-but-light-on-the-meat. But I would take shortcuts, buy something cheaper, closer… doritos once a month, etc.Then two things happened: 1. I developed a deadly allergy to shrimp in my thirties, which led to lots of googling about gut leaks and our immune system– just do a few google searches, there is a ton of info. The effect that food has on our energy/immune system (as you suspect) is really an emerging science that mainstream drs don’t seem to have a lot of insight/knowledge about. REALLY disturbing.
    2. I got pregnant. I really watched the origin (if not the amount!) of what I ate then and after my son was born we went all organic, all local,all seasonal… just felt right.
    BUT, I live in California. It is really really easy to go all local, all organic, and have an abundant, inexpensive table that tastes great.
    In terms of your third point: radical change vs small steps– I am a freak and LOVE situations where that appears to be the dilemma. 1. I am a former project manager 2. I read a post at zen habits years ago that basically said the zen approach to life was step-by-step to radical change. So what I would do in this case, is figure out where I want to be a year (5 years?) from now, how I want to feel,the positive reasons I am doing this (not comparatives, or withholding statements) and break down to little incremental steps to get there. This has been a really transformative practice in my life– allowing a small step of change to seem really big, and powerful, and meaningful. It gives me lots of great emotional/intellectual feedback to keep going.
    Another thing– I would think about the positives of making these changes instead of the negatives. You said you bought cookies to show your kids you love them, but isn’t making your own a greater sign of love? They’ll get it.

  44. I think with this issue; you have to pick your battles and decide what is most important to you. Being a farm girl from OK, I can’t imagine eating multiple meatless meals per week and that’s ok. I tend to think that we (in general) do not eat enough fresh fruits/veggies so that’s where I focus my energies.So even if we aren’t having the healthiest meal, I supplement with fresh fruit and veggies (carrots and raw snap peas are a favorite). Like today the nanny took the kids to the pool and I gave my blessing for them to get a hot dog or hamburger from the snack shack but I also sent peas, carrots, and orange quarters on request of my kids.
    We actually do pretty well and don’t keep a lot of processed junk food snacks in the house. Mostly because my husband and I would eat too much of it. The kids all love fruit and veggies complain if we run out. All they really know is whole wheat bread and bagels so that’s what they eat.
    We do have a organic fruit/veggie delivery bi-weekly. Sort of like a coop that delivers. Which is awesome and I highly recommend it. Of course it varies, some weeks are heavy on veggies and others on fruit so I just pick up what is lacking to supplement with my weekly grocery shopping.
    I don’t have the link handy but Epicurious has an awesome sweet potato and zucchini bread recipe that I make into muffins. I cut the sugar in half, use applesauce for 1/2 the oil and double up on the spices.

  45. Like @Shandra mentioned up-thread, we joined a CSA (Community Sustainable Agriculture) plan this summer and love it. Having all of these amazingly fresh veggies & fruits each week that we must use before they go bad has really gotten us eating more healthfully = a nice side-effect. I never knew how much I would enjoy something as odd sounding as garlic scrapes.Food worries are really part of the cultural zeitgeist right now. I’ve always been a believer of the idea of “Everything in Moderation.” Baby Steps work better for me than Radical Change. The mama here who lets her kids have the chicken nuggets once a week has the right idea, I think. Kids need the freedom to enjoy some ice cream occasionally. I try not to get too crazy with the whole local-organic-my awesome-new-diet-eliminated-my-bunions & taught my-kid-to-read stuff. πŸ˜‰
    I’m very inconsistent. Both of my kids were eating raw tuna at the local sushi place the other night and loving it; then we had chocolate chip cookies for lunch today. It all evens out. I think the idea is to keep offering lots of different foods and not to get too hung up about always eating the elusive “perfect” foods.

  46. Geez, way to tap the zeitgeist two in a row!One other thing for all of us with picky eaters: I have borrowed an idea from a genius mom in town: the very hungry c@terpillar. I cut circles from construction paper, had my boys each draw a head, and I attached pipe cleaner antennae. Now every time they try a new food (two bites), I write the name of that food on a circle and they get to tape it to the wall to show the foods they tried.
    The genius mom has three kids and three caterpillars that border her dining room and go up her stairs! (She’s also super-accomplished in the kitchen.) And with my budding lawyer boys (ages 4 and 6) I have a “no junk food” provision in there. So, for example, I made a coconut cake recently and they couldn’t count the cake but they could count the coconut, which neither of them had tried before.
    It’s working well for us because my older is terrific about trying anything and my younger is on the beige food diet (pasta/bread/cheese/applesauce/bananas only). But he doesn’t want big brother’s caterpillar to get longer than his! So he’s discovered cucumbers, and noodles with red sauce. Baby steps towards that rainbow but I’ll take it!

  47. I haven’t had time to read all the comments, but I just had to share my breakfast cookie recipe:Mix 2 cups of quick oats, 3 mashed bananas, 1 egg, 1/2 cup apple sauce, 2 spoons of honey and 1/2 cup of mix-ins (like chopped nuts, dried fruit, chocolate chips). Sprinkle with cinnamon if you like. Dollop out onto parchment paper (makes 12 or so) and bake for 20 minutes at 350 F.
    My kids eat them like crazy because it is Cookies! For breakfast!

  48. Here’s a great cookie recipe (we sub chopped up dried cranberries for the raisins cause my boys prefer those. You could also sub chopped up dried dates or just omit dried fruit all together)I tried to find the link to the food blog from which I got this so I could give proper credit but I am not able to find it.
    Morning Cookies
    Perfect for busy mornings. Pack these fist-sized goodies in a brown bag breakfast or grab on the way out the door
    1/4 cup margarine or butter
    1/2 cup packed brown sugar
    3/4 cup whole wheat flour
    3/4 cup applesauce
    1/2 cup rolled oats
    1/3 cup wheat bran
    1/4 cup nonfat dry milk powder
    1 egg white
    1/2 tsp. baking soda
    1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
    1/4 tsp. baking powder
    1/4 tsp. salt
    1/8 to 1/4 tsp. ground cloves
    1/2 cup raisins
    1/4 cup chopped walnuts
    1/2 cup soft-style cream cheese or peanut butter
    In a mixer bowl beat margarine or butter and brown sugar with an electric mixer till well combined. Add whole wheat flour, applesauce, oats, bran, milk powder, egg white, soda, cinnamon, baking powder, salt, and cloves. Beat on low speed just till combined. Stir in raisins and nuts.
    Spray a baking sheet with nonstick spray coating. Drop rounded tablespoons of dough, 2 to 3 inches apart, onto baking sheet. Spread dough so each cookie is about 2 inches across. Bake in a 375F oven for 10 minutes or till set. Cool on a wire rack.
    Spread bottoms of half the cooled cookies with 1 tablespoon cream cheese or peanut butter; top with remaining unfrosted cookies. Chill till serving or wrap and freeze. If frozen, let thaw in refrigerator overnight.
    Makes 8 sandwich cookies.
    Per cookie: 275 calories, 6 grams protein, 39 grams carbo, 12 grams fat, 1 mg cholesterol, 266 mg sodium, 326 mg potassium, and 4 grams dietary fiber.
    PS. Also, I exclude the sandwich (cream cheese/PB part of this)

  49. On the breakfast front, does your son like peanut butter or almond butter or cashew butter?I ask because my sister eats nut butter on whole-grain bread for breakfast most mornings. Or whole grain toast with lox trimmings (get it from your deli, it’s the stuff they cut off the sides of the nice slices of lox).
    She does this because she’s got an intolerance to eggs and has better energy if she starts with protein in the morning.
    What about whole-milk yogurt with bananas or seasonal fruit and granola?

  50. I feel that generally we’ve done a good job on the food front so far (probably because I love to cook and also because I’m picky and didn’t want my kids to turn out like me) but know it will be challenging once the boys go off to school and we lose control on the lunch front (but at least that is just one meal).What’s worked for us is to focus on the colors. So, we’ve always told the boys they have to have one green thing at every meal. I steam broccoli, brussel sprouts, green beans, etc. We make a great raw kale salad that doesn’t taste so vegetably, put spinach in omlettes, etc. Most of the time, I make extra of the steamed veggies/kale salad and they eat the left overs cold for breakfast and lunch. I give them control (sometimes) over which particular green thing they want for a meal.
    For breakfast, except now on weekends so my husband and I can have “breakfasty” food, we’ve not fed the boys traditional breakfast so it is just like any other meal. They will have some sort of left over protein (left over roasted chicken, etc.), some sort of green thing, and some sort of whole grainy thing. Made it a lot easier to get an extra veggie serving into their diet and also has conditioned them to look for a green thing always. We then serve them fresh fruit after each meal for their dessert.
    As they’ve gotten older, we do have more “treats” but I try to do only homemade treats (except for ice cream like LC said).
    An idea for breakfast that is really tasty (and can be served luke warm) is the Tasty Kitchen fruit on the bottom baked oatmeal. I cut the butter back dramatically as well as a little of the sugar and up the quantity of fruit and it is really tasty.

  51. Sorry, one more great recipe (not for cookies but for muffins – I make into mini muffins and everyone always raves about them)Recipe is originally for a cake/loaf but just spoon into mini muffins and don’t bake quite as long.
    Low-Sugar and Whole Wheat Garden Harvest Cake with Zucchini, Apple, and Carrot
    (Makes one loaf, recipe adapted from Garden Harvest Cake by Jennifer Dunklee for the Austin American Spokesman.)
    1 cup white whole wheat flour (or all-purpose flour)
    3/4 cup Splenda (or sugar)
    2 tsp. ground cinnamon
    1 tsp. baking soda
    1/4 tsp. salt
    1/2 cup peeled and grated Granny Smith apple (1 medium-sized apple)
    1/2 cup grated carrot (1 medium carrot)
    1/2 cup grated zucchini
    1/2 cup chopped pecans (I’ve excluded the nuts just to be safe for our nut-allergic friends)
    1/4 cup canola oil
    1/4 cup buttermilk (I’ve just used regular milk and it turns out just fine)
    2 large eggs
    non-stick spray or oil for coating loaf pan
    Preheat oven to 350F/175C and spray a 8 X 4 inch loaf pan with non-stick spray or oil (Or you can use a 9 x 5 inch pan and have a flatter cake like I did!) In a large mixing bowl, add white whole wheat flour, Splenda (or sugar), cinnamon, baking powder, and salt. Mix together with large spoon until well-combined.
    Add grated apple, grated carrot, grated zucchini, and chopped pecans to the bowl with the flour mixture. Use the spoon to toss ingredients together until all ingredients are well coated with flour.
    In a smaller bowl, add canola oil, buttermilk, and eggs, and beat with a whisk for about 30 seconds, until well combined. Pour egg mixture into the other bowl with the flour mixture and stir until just combined. (Mixture will be fairly stiff.)
    Pour cake into oiled loaf pan. Bake at 350F/175C for about 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out completely clean. (For me, that was exactly 50 minutes.)
    Cool cake in the pan placed on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Then carefully remove cake from pan (I used a knife to go around the edge) and cool cake completely on rack before slicing. This lasted several days in the refrigerator, but only because I was very diligently using portion control!

  52. Moxie, every word you wrote is so true! I was so great about this stuff up until my daughter was maybe 1.5 yo and I was preggers with my son.I’ll have to give more thought to the overall health of the food we eat later. For now my concern is letting my daughter out in the world since we’ve learned of her allergy to peanuts.
    Our. World. Has. Completely. Changed.
    I have to check with new schools, new teachers, birthday parties, family get togethers, trips to the pool or really anywhere. Not just things made with peanuts, but things processed in facilities that also process peanuts.
    The bright side (HA! as if!) is that this forces me and hubby to make a lot more from scratch, especially baked goods like cakes.
    For those looking for some good, quick recipes, Cloud at is doing a series called Dinner during Dora, and is inviting other people to either blog or post on her blog recipes for dinner that can be made during a 20-30 minute episode of Dora, while the kiddo is entertained and not trying to reach up on the hot stove. There are probably going to be some relatively healthy recipes in that series.

  53. Hee hee! The recipe on the first comment – from 101Cookbooks – came to my mind, too! :)I JUST posted my favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe! It uses whole wheat flour, craisins, and unrefined sugar. They’re to die for!
    We are almost totally vegetarian and recently my big addition was green smoothies in the morning! I feel like if we get a serving of greens in the morning (a handful of spinach with whatever fruit is on hand), we’re off to a really good start!

  54. First of all- thanks for the plug, @Caramama! I’d love more ideas for fast dinners, if anyone else wants to participate.Second of all- definitely try homemade granola. I used to make it in grad school, because it was cheaper than buying premade. It is really very easy and quick to make, and if you’re making it, you can make sure it only has things your son likes. Like, no raisins.
    I’ve got LOTS of thoughts on food, and have posted a bunch on this on my blog in the past.
    But in brief: I think we as a culture tend to worry about the wrong things. So we’re super focused right now on avoiding processed foods. But I think what we should really focus on is whether things have too much salt and fat, and whether they still have the nutrients that the ingredients had at the start. For example, does it really matter who makes the bread- me, my local small baker, a local company that distributes widely, or a big national brand? No. What matters is what the ingredients are. You can use the level of processing as a short hand gauge for health, but it is a very imperfect measure, and we shouldn’t feel bad for using processed/convenience foods that aren’t unhealthy.
    Also, some people are just picky eaters. In my (only marginally educated) opinion, kids are probably more likely to be picky eaters for two reasons (1) they still have all their taste buds, so a slight bitter taste to a grown up may be off the chart bitter to a kid. (2) They haven’t had time to get over the innate fear of trying new things that we all have to some extent (some of us more than others). Think about it. When we evolved, being willing to just pop any old thing into your mouth wasn’t a very good idea. A lot of things aren’t safe to eat.
    Finally, there is a saying I hear a lot at work: “Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good”- i.e., most families with parents who work outside the home can’t have the “perfect” dinner, but that doesn’t mean we should throw up your hands and order fast food. (I’m not saying you do this, Moxie- I’m speaking more generally.) There is a middle ground, and that middle ground isn’t so bad.

  55. Homemade granola (I use the Alton Brown recipe, cutting the sweetener a bit) is so much better than store bought. I lean towards using whole dairy whenever possible, and good, plain whole milk yogurt with the granola is lots tastier than the low fat stuff.I personally go back and forth between granola+yogurt, and oatmeal as regular breakfast – currently the 3yo is on an oatmeal phase, so I am complying with that.
    My oatmeal tip is to make the 10min stuff, with milk, but to microwave the milk before putting it on the stove top… getting it up to temperature first keeps you from wanting to turn the heat up too high and scorching it. The 3yo gets his choice of dried fruit (served in a separate cup) to eat with the oatmeal – currently blueberries and sour cherries (Trader Joe’s).
    It sounds fiddly, but I can do it in my sleep, and since the stove is turned down low, it’s tolerant of up to an hour’s inattention. It also provides a good mix of choice and lack of choice – I can offer different dried fruit, if the 3yo decides that he needs to reject something to have control over breakfast, without letting him pull the breakfast rug out from under me.
    I could be convinced that restricting full-fat dairy was a good idea, but only if you were also restricting overall calories. I’m specifically trying to add calories, both for myself and for the children. If I make the oatmeal with something other than whole milk, I myself am starving by 10am.

  56. I think it’s so great that you joined the Food Committee at your kids’ school.When I heard that at my friend Queenie’s camp they have a no-trading-food policy, I implemented it at my school, and it has made a huge difference.
    Parents are happier because they feel more confident that they’re able to trust that their kids won’t be ingesting food they don’t send them with. They put so much effort into packing healthy snacks that they appreciate the effort the yard staff puts into making sure kids aren’t trading! It might be something you’d want to look into at your school.
    I also want to say, as someone who’s been working with kids for fifteen years, that I see an enormous change in behavior and attention span when parents change the family diet. I know it’s so hard to stay on top of it with all of the demands in parent’s lives these days, but the effects are so huge! I hope that parents realize just how much of a difference it IS making in their kiddos lives, and give themselves a pat on the back for their hard work.

  57. Think outside the box snacks:My 4 year old loves (since we started Super Baby Food style at 6 months):
    Kidney Beans tossed in brewers yeast (also can use garbanzos, black beans — harder for the littler fingers though) — she eats them like they are m&ms!
    dried fruits from trader joes (with or without added nuts, depending on your household, but can’t usually send those to school these days)
    Baked tofu (seasoned, can make your own or buy at TJs)
    Don’t be afraid to try new foods with your kids – I couldn’t believe it when she was two & started wolfing down the grilled trout on a salad I had while we were on vacation. Now fish is a staple at least once a week — NOT coated in breadcrumbs, just baked or sauted or grilled, with fresh veggies & fruit in the summer.
    Our breakfast staples are blueberry pancakes, frozen when we make extra big batches on a weekend using berries leftover from the previous summer as long as those last, cream of wheat, bagel with cheese or lox (see above fish note!), yogurt & fruit, or not-to-sweet cold cereals like Kashi Go Lean crunch. I like this one because it packs a wallop of protein & fiber, which balances out the sugar, so I’m not hungry two hours later. She loves it in part because I eat it, but she will eat it so I’m okay with it. It’s gotten crazy expensive lately, so when I find it on sale, I buy boxes & boxes & boxes to store in the basement pantry. My husband thinks I’m crazy but now we’re out again & I can’t stomach paying more than $3 a box.

  58. I second the Nikki’s cookie recipe. Talk about Sigourney Weaver, I was going to post that here myself, and saw that as the first comment, lol.

  59. I’m w/ your oldest, Moxie – I hate raisins baked in things. (oddly, I do like them in granola, which would be my suggestion for a healthier morning cereal option. The fat content can be high, so you have to watch what you’re serving/buying. But it’s a lot of oat/whole grain kind of stuff)I’m also very into baked good for breakfast, so I love muffins and breakfast breads.
    I found a recipe for quiche cups in the South Beach Diet book (it’s the first recipe, I think) that I have modified to include a lot more cheese and some bacon or ham or something crumbled for flavor. You make a bunch ahead of time and freeze them and voila! quick breakfast, packed w/ protein.
    My toddler eats a ton of yogurt in the mornings. She really doesn’t like plain milk (I haven’t tried chocolate or strawberry because I’m worried about the sugar content) but eats lots of cheese and yogurt, so the doc says it’s fine.

  60. What would your son like to eat? No reason that you have to stick with traditional american breakfast foods.Also, I am of the thinking that if you make it yourself, then it is OK to eat. Unless you’re deep frying foods twice a week or covering things in cheese and bacon, I think you’re OK.

  61. Whole-grain idea for you: just substitute a big spoonful of rye flour for all-purpose flour in whatever recipe you already like. Like choc chip. Or peanut butter cookies. I do that, and add milled flax seed, or oat bran (just a spoon’ll do ya) to pancakes, waffles, pizza dough, yadda …One small step we took was to cut back on just corn syrupy foods. Get replacements, or alternatives, but watch for that ingredient. You’d be aMAZed at how much is in our diet.
    Third, I have to confess I read your post while eating a rice krispie bar. Not the brown rice kind either, which we love. So now i’m going to read everyone’s post …

  62. One of my friends allows her kids to pick 6 food items they don’t have to eat (mine are too small yet). They go on a chart on the refrigerator. If that item is part of dinner, they do not put it on their plate. They can only change the items on the first of every month. This way the kids have a say in what they truly dislike and feel a little more in control.My twins are only 16 months so we haven’t gotten to far into the food arguments yet. I try to start out each meal with fruit/veggies while I finish fixing the rest. Then I give them protein. Once they finish all of that, they can have the carb. This limits sugar, carbs, etc. since they are fairly full by now.

  63. My kid does like oatmeal, but I alternate with whole grain waffles. I make a huge batch in about 20 minutes on Sunday night. All whole wheat flour, no sugar (I used applesauce and smooshed bananas instead) or maybe a tiny bit of honey, add flax seed sometimes, and even some cooked quinoa, lots of cinnamon, a bit of vanilla. Freeze them up and toast as needed with a bit of jam on the side. Sometimes we have slices of apples with sunflower seed butter.Lunches are usually a cheese sandwich on whole grain and fresh fruit. Sometimes whole wheat Annie’s mac and cheese with veggies mixed in. Or I make a batch of homemade chicken tenders (with organic chicken, dipped in milk/whole wheat breadcrumbs and grated parmesan, then baked. I freeze a bunch and nuke one or two for lunches as needed). Very often it’s left over whole wheat pasts with red sauce and frozen peas. But I don’t do much variety. As a full time working mom with a commute, I don’t have time to be more creative.

  64. I’ve been thinking more about food lately as well. While overall we eat fairly well consistently (real food, whole food, little processed, rarely eat out/order in) it’s definitely one of those spiral things as Moxie alluded to in the previous sleep post. Like everyone else, when we get busy and tired, food usually takes a hit.The biggest challenge with DS is managing his ever-chaning-2yo-doesn’t-make-sense diet. Just trying to figure out what he will eat on any given day is a shot in the dark and totally frustrating some days. But, I’m still fairly obsessed with making sure he eats enough fruit & veggies (in a multitude of colours) for his meals at home. (At daycare, of course, he eats everything. I guess I shouldn’t complain – at least he’s getting it somewhere). This whole beige diet, which seems to be the preference more often lately is annoying and quite frankly depressing me!
    DS has a small handful of ‘almost always eats’ foods . Eggs. Cheese. Whole wheat crackers. Yogurt (I mix vanilla bean seeds or vanilla extract into plain organic yogurt. Too much sugar in the flavoured yogurt at the supermarket). Pasta & tomato sauce (again, for the tomato sauce, I puree a can of San Marzano tomatoes, add a couple of tbsp of olive oil, some salt and a bit of oregano or basil – makes a very fresh, clean tomato sauce with no sugar or overprocessing. We’re still working on the whole-grain pasta thing – old habits and all that). Did I mention the beige diet? Sadly, no fruits or veggies are on this list. It kills me because DS LOVED veggies when he was a baby. Pureed broccoli, eggplant parmigiana, leeks, sweet potato, zucchini, mashed avocado…the list goes on. Now? Nada. Well not as veggies in pieces. Like @Paola’s kids, he’ll eat purΓ©ed vegetable soups – zucchini soup, ginger carrot soup, curried parsnip soup, tomato soup etc. At least there’s that. Speaking of which: @Paola, have you tried Gazpacho? DS won’t eat it (even if I make it without onions), but maybe it’s worth a try. It really is the perfect summer soup.
    Nothing, except maybe chocolate ice cream, is an ‘always eats’ item for DS. And we – ok, um, DS only has that very rarely as a treat. (DH & I – have a bit of an ice cream fetish – luckily we have a great local brand that doesn’t contain modified milk ingredients and is less expensive than other brands of ice cream. Awesome.)
    Anyhow, we try to balance our meals and we usually eat 2-4 vegetarian meals per week. I usually make at least one soup in the week, which is often veggie. And we usually have a salad once a week. We recently got a slow cooker so we’re experimenting with that too and will usually try one meal in that as well. We often have homemade pizza on Friday nights. We were doing whole wheat crust for a while, but we just prefer the taste so much more of the white flour crust. Though maybe it’s a texture thing. We’ll look for that white whole wheat flour.
    We menu plan as well – the week just goes so much smoother when we do, we have leftovers for lunch, and we eat a lot better as well. As often as I can, I serve DS the same meals we have, and then have a few back ups due to the issues mentioned above. We try to shop at the farmers market in the summer. Though we do opt for the grocery store for convenience more often than we like. We love going to the market and are going to try to go every weekend that we need groceries, for the rest of the summer. Getting meat from a real butcher instead of the supermarket is sooo much better (and cheaper). I heard about an organic meat and veggie farm not too far from here the other day, so we’ll check that out too – though it would be an occasional thing as it’s 1 hour out of town.
    Our next steps are:
    -Reduce soda consumption to an occasional treat. I have a (small) coke most days. I had quit while I was pregnant and then it slipped back in during the post-pregnancy haze of sleep deprivation (which still continues). But, pretty soon, DS will notice and want to drink it as well (I try not to drink it around him now). And I don’t want him to get addicted to that.
    -Make sure for each meal that 1/2 the plate is veggies & fruit. I love veggies, so technically this shouldn’t be a problem. It’s just to get in the habbit of preparing enough and a variety in each meal (we tend to do one veggie, unless it’s a salad. And for 1/2 the plate, I find I want variety).
    -Move weekday dinner time up. DS eats soon after we get home (5:30pm). DH & I eat after DS goes to bed. On a bad week, we’ll eat as late as 10pm. A good week is 8 or 8:30 pm. We need to have more good weeks in this regard.
    While a lot of people have an issue with how much take-out they eat, we kind of have the reverse problem. There are nights when we really just want to order in (really bad day, way too tired etc.). Every time we order in, we’re totally disappointed in the meal considering the $ it costs. Yes, we have high standards. We admit it. The fall out from cooking a lot. But sometimes, you just want someone else to make your dinner. The only things we’ve found that works consistently for takeout is Indian or hot dogs and fries from our favorite casse-croute (greasy spoon..kind of). Indian food – great. Hot dogs and fries – not so great for you. But it’s a mom & pop operation so I feel like at least we’re getting healthier junk food (ha).
    I really think with DS that we will have treats with him (like hotdogs and fries). I don’t want to forbid all junk food / sweets as I think it just makes it more appealing. That being said, there will be limits.
    @Cloud, Totally agree on the ingredients vs. processed point you made. I’ve been readlng labels a lot more since DS was born. I don’t feel too bad about the processed foods I buy (and some of my choices changed when I started reading the labels closely) as they’re usually pretty reasonable for their nutritional content.
    @Caramama, Totally empathize with you on the peanut allergy thing. When DH went into anaphylactic shock, and before he had the tests to determine what he was allergic to, I totally cleared the house of all things peanut-related as the docs thought that was the likely culprit. It is so much extra work.

  65. I am completely there with you moxie on adjusting our diet. I wondered if anyone else would post about traditional foods, and I noticed in_ca did. This has been my passion lately. Trying to move away from so many grains! My body just needs meat and fat (good fats!) obviously because I feel better on the traditional foods diet. My struggle is trying to afford pastured local meat and all the produce we consume!Making any change is all about taking baby steps and being able to forgive yourself and keep trying when you slip (bc you will, nobodys perfect).

  66. I’m so glad a couple of people have commented on Paleo/traditional diets. Whole grains, especially wheat, can cause many people problems. Carbs are certainly more of a concern for me than fat. I do give my kids small amounts of multigrain crackers, bread and oatmeal but as they get older and more willing to try other foods, I’d like to further limit the grains as I have in my own diet.

  67. @memegrl – the hungry catepillar is genius! I’ll be stashing that in memory banks for the future.I also love weelicious – big ups to the original poster there too! The first three posting on there at the moment are all things my Mom made for us.
    I grew up with grandparents who had serious vegetable/fruit gardens in the backyards of their inner suburban homes. One set of grandparents were farmers (sheep, crops & some beef- all pasture fed) the others did a variety of jobs – including one stint in the 1950’s as chicken farmers. I have some great memories of ‘helping’ in the garden. My father is carrying on the tradition. Sure the garden is even smaller – but in his garden he grows chillies, tomatoes, herbs, peas, a lime tree, a lemon tree… And in the parts of my garden he has commandeered we have more chillies, garlic, more herbs, strawberries, carrots, another couple of lemon trees… I think it makes food so much more appealing when you grow it yourself! And of course, kids will try stuff with the grandies that they won’t even consider with the parents!

  68. @the millinerThanks for the gazpacho suggestion. In fact DH suggeted it not too long ago too, but I think tomatoes ( along with caulifower)are the only veggie I don’t like (I know, strange for an Italian). I make an effort if it’s in largish pieces in salad, but liquid and cold, no thanks.
    Oh and we went through a period of making pizza dough with whole wheat, barley or spelt flour. IN fact adding barley flour gave it a nice texture without altering the taste, but the whole wheat flour gave it a rancid taste. It only really worked if the ratio of whole wheat to white flour as 1:4 or so. I also have issues with certain grains (allergy to rye, allergic cross reaction to whole wheat flour during ragweed season) so good old plain white flour is the safest for me.
    Oh and talking about allergies, let’s say, the only bonus of having loads of food allergies (anaphylactic shock to walnuts, and buckwheat, severe allergic reactions to tree nuts and peanuts, less severe reactions to rye – vodka is made from rye, boo hoo – eggplant, sulphides in wine…the list is endless)is that I have to be really careful with what I eat and so very little processed or packaged food. I cook almost everything from scratch ( hey I’m a SAHM so have the time)and hardly ever eat out. Despite the huge amounts of carbs my family eats (pasta and bread daily), no one is overweight, and for the moment, the picture of health.

  69. The closest to whole grain cookies I make is my favourite chocolate chip recipe – it’s delicious, *everyone* loves them, and it’s 50% “old fashioned” oats (these suckers will keep you fantastically regular!!).1c melted butter mixed with 2c dark brown sugar. Add 2 beaten eggs and 1tsp vanilla (or 1/2tsp mint extract). Set aside. Mix together 2c flour, 2c ‘old fashioned’ oats, 1tsp baking powder, 1/2tsp baking soda, 1/4tsp salt. Add 1/2 dry ingredients to the wet, add 1/2 of 2c chocolate chips (1c), add remaining dry ingredients, add remaining ch. chips. Drop by spoonful onto greased cookie sheets and bake @ 350F for 10-12mins – makes 4-6dozen cookies. (dough freezes fantastically) (alternately, instead of chocolate chips substitute 1tbsp cinnamon + 1tsp nutmeg + 1tsp cloves).

  70. I don’t have time to read through all the comments so forgive me if this is a repeat. I also hate oatmeal — I find the gloopiness terribly off-putting.However, I discovered a few years ago that you can put oats in a bowl, pour milk over them without heating, and let them sit for 10-15 minutes. They soften up without the unpleasant glutinous texture, and retain the delicious hint of nuttiness.
    If I throw some frozen cherries in the microwave for 20 seconds and put them on top, I don’t want sugar or anything. Plus it makes the milk an intriguing shade of purple. πŸ˜‰

  71. Another option that hasn’t been mentioned yet – and of course won’t work for everyone – is a collective food-share. The NYT just had an article about this, which inspired a small group of us (5-6 families, 2 parents + 1 small child each) to try it out. So far we’re on Week 3, and it’s kind of exciting.Each family prepares one large dish and divides it into 3-serving portions (distributed into dishes/bags/etc.). There are 5-6 families participating, so we make 15-18 portion meals (lasagna, chicken curry, Creole beans & rice, etc.). We meet once a week for a drop-off, and everyone goes home with meals for a week.
    Fortunately, we’re all on pretty much the same page taste/ingredient-wise – which is to say, leaving the inspiration up to the chef, with a caveat for organic, ethically raised meat (and no pork). One of us sends out a facebook message each week, we all chime in to say Yea or Nay to participating that week, and that’s that.
    We’ll see how long it lasts, but it’s been fun so far. Just cooking ONCE and yet having five whole dinners already taken care of is tremendous! I realize that logistically this isn’t realistic for a lot of folks, but it’s an idea that might work for some of you out there.

  72. @Paola, Thanks for the barley flour suggestion for the pizza dough. We’ll have to try that. Italian? Don’t like tomatoes? Wow! ;)For the cauliflower, have you tried it roasted in the oven (toss in olive oil, s&p, & some chopped fresh parsley. Roast at 375F for 30-45 mins). It tastes amazing. Like candy (ok, well really sweet with that roasted flavour). Nothing like steamed cauliflower (which I’m not fond of unless it’s smothered in cheese sauce). OK, end of my pitch for cauliflower πŸ˜‰

  73. I wish I had more energy to think about this now (head still reeling from giving birth to my third two days ago), but I’ve saved this post for later.I will say that if you have space, the one thing that has made a HUGE difference in the way my 3 y.o. son eats is my garden. I was shocked when this spring we were out there, and he asked, “Mama, what’s this?” Me: “Spinach. Want to try some?” thinking he won’t. He pulls off a leaf and stuffs it in his mouth and then pulls off another and eats it. We’ve added sweet peas that he eats off the vine, and I’m really hoping he’ll like the baby tomatoes that are ripening as we speak. I can usually get him to eat a couple of bites of salad off his plate too. I know it’s not a practical suggestion for you NYers who have no space, but growing something might be what helps.

  74. A smoothie is a great breakfast solution – fast, healthy and satisfying. we rotate through 4 different smoothie flavours each week (blueberry/banana, strawberry/banana, mango/orange, peach/orange), and use whole milk, yogurt, and organic frozen fruit. we just found recipes on line.also, a high protein, meatless meal option is to use quinoa pasta – it is high in protein (much higher than wheat pasta) and tastes delicious. can be used the same way as wheat pasta, but much more nutritious.
    you can also purchase quinoa in grain form and make for breakfast, like oatmeal.

  75. Here’s an oatmeal idea that my 3-year-old got us started on b/c she wanted to eat “oats” instead of “oatmeal” (she got the idea from one of her storybooks). We dump some raw oats–not even quick cook, we use the old fashioned kind–into a bowl and then pour milk over it just like cold cereal. Each person in our family uses different mix ins. Favorites in our house are bananas, almonds, black sesame powder and honey, but you could obviously go to town on this. We eat it right away. It’s good and I LOVE not cleaning up a pot. LOVE. Also, my husband hated oatmeal before because it was mushy but he really likes “oats”.

  76. Wow, this is a hot button issue! I have a very ambivalent relationship to food and come from an eating-disordered household. I love, love, love to cook and what we eat is very important to me — we go to the farmer’s market, belong to a CSA, eat very, very, very little processed food.Yet I struggle with feeling really controlling around food and do not want to pass this along to DS and any other possible future children. I have to repeat the Ellen Satter motto to myself pretty much every time we eat. And I don’t want to be the household where the children feel deprived of all yummy treats and then binge on them whenever they have the chance to eat them (that was my household as a kid — a combination of my Mom trying to be a good 70s crunchy Mom and my Dad perpetually worrying about his weight. So we’d have like Diet Coke and whole wheat everything). So, my solution is to do baking myself and make things like juice into a special treat that DS gets like once a week on our outing to the coffee shop or whatever. When I bake I make whole grain cookies, muffins, etc. I have found the Weelicious website helpful, 101 Cookbooks website (try the black bean brownies or the peanut butter olive oil cookies) and also another good baking-heavy one is called Pattycake. And, to echo what others have said, I sub WW pastry flour for unbleached in any old baking recipe and it works just fine.
    I am vegetarian so I make 6 non-meat meals a week (DH cooks on Sunday nights) and I work full time (though I am a college professor and thus don’t have a strict 9-5 schedule; I also have a very short commute). We eat: fritattas with toast and salad; homemade veggie burgers with sweet potato fries and roasted broccoli; whole wheat pasta with pesto, cannelini beans and kale; gluten-based “sausages” with some veggie sides; lentil or mung-bean pancakes with soy dipping sauce; hard-boiled eggs with other cold veggie sides (like raw veggies and dip) for a cool summer meal; soups in the winter; tofu cutlets with veggie sides, black bean, cheese, and veggie burritos, etc. I tend to roast a lot of veggies because it is easy — chop, toss with olive oil, salt, pepper, throw in a 350-400 degree oven and then get on with making the main course while having fewer things on the stovetop to worry about, take up space, fiddle with. We also do a lot of meals where I will take a whole grain — brown rice, quinoa, etc. — fry up some tempeh strips in coconut oil, grate carrots and beets, chop spinach, and then offer it all up with some sort of sauce. Everyone gets to make up their own bowl and pour the sauce on top. Sometimes it’s a tahini sauce, sometimes an asian-inspired salad dressing, etc. It’s highly adaptable to what you have and what you feel like eating.
    I rely a lot on Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything Vegetarian (and the regular version), and Cynthia Lair’s Cooking for the Whole Family, and I like reading about food on the internet too.
    My son is a mercurial toddler in his eating so I work really hard to see the big picture — some days he eats little, some days a lot, some days a lot of carbs, some days a lot of veggies, etc. I just try to offer good stuff, involve him as much as he is able and willing in food shopping and production, and offer him some meals he has total control over. Usually that is breakfast. And all he really wants then is dried fruit. I don’t love it, but it’s not the worst.

  77. Personally I find that some people really love to crunch in the morning while others appreciate the softer option.Toast versus porridge( oatmeal), Bircher style soaked muesli( granola) versus crunchy baked granola sort of thing.
    Porridge was ubiquitous for decades here and you can meet many older people who still loathe it with a passion.
    So it’s easily said in the morning rush but I offer soft and crunchy in the mornings as a SAHM. I’m also not overly convinced of the wholemeal ( whole wheat ) thing. Bran is quite hard to digest actually, certainly for very young children. And no, not for me the wholewheat cookies. Rather go without. Purely personal thing ! Many delicious wholemeal recipes about ! Love oats in cookies but not whole wheat.
    As a by the by my mother banned all sweets when I was little, hard candies, and I became a sugar fiend for years after I left home.
    So I wouldn’t ban white toast from time to time.
    Like Caramama says severe allergy changes life. One fellow mother summed it up as spinning around another axis.
    My daughter had very severe eczema since birth and rapidly went on to become allergic and anaphylactic to animal milks and by-products, eggs, peanuts and last but not least she had an anaphylactic shock to yellow bell pepper. All that in the space of six months from 12-18 months.
    Other than the anxiety of course on the home front it’s no bad thing. My DH lost a lot of weight without feeling deprived once all the dairy products and eggs left the premises.
    It’s easy to stay motivated once you see your baby in the ambulance terrified and not able to breathe.
    Not eating processed food is not a bad thing either.
    It looks kind of 1950’s. For breakfast there’s cereal hot or cold, for lunch it’s bread from the French bakery with walnuts or olives or bacon with homemade vegetable soup and fruit.
    Dinner is potatoes, two green vegetables, two yellow vegetables, meat as in lamb, beef, turkey, chicken, pork or fish and the veggie option for DH and the little one and the veggie option for mummy.
    Finish with fruit and dark chocolate for the wee one. She doesn’t drink much of any milk replacement so we supplement calcium and D. For snacks we take dark chocolate and bread sticks.
    Outside of the home it’s a pain in the derriere. There’s nowhere where she can eat a whole meal and now two and a half she minds more.
    If we do find something safe and dairy free like a kosher sausage or a jelly ( jell-o) or a dairy free cookie outside of home we do let her have that. She drinks a lot of juice away from home too. But we usually eat at home.
    But we get by. And I’ve had one dinner I didn’t cook myself in 18 months which gets dreary for me.
    For school we start with Montessori for the afternoons when she’s three and a half, one snack, fruit, no milk, with Epipens ready at the school and strict supervision about food around her. I’m scared already.
    So far we’ve done activities without food, but she has to be out in the world of course. She’s wary of foods she doesn’t know, but loves anything that looks chocolate.
    I do bake vegan cupcakes and cookies but not often so they’re a special treat.

  78. I will move away a bit from the discussion point here, but it is still relevant -i think!- I have read an interesting book on avoiding children eating disorders (preventing childhood eating problems by Jane Hirschmann and Lela Zaphiropoulos), one that advocates intuitive eating with children. What is important is that they learn and respect their body signals: eat when they are hungry, what they are hungry for and stop when they are full. Restricting and making foods illegal makes them more likely to be desired and for them to binge on when they have access to them. This does not mean that you cannot guide them about what is healthy or offering ‘better’ foods, but at least they won’t go rushing and bingeing on stuff when you are not there to see!

  79. Moxie, I really hope you get this far. First of all, I second the reco. for the oatmeal buttermilk pancakes posted above ( They are excellent and the make-ahead aspect works well.MORE importantly, I read a fantastic blog called “It’s Not About Nutrition” that I hope you will check out:
    I am linking specifically to a cookie post since that’s what a lot of the comments are about. Her blog is super super smart and I think it has really changed my thinking on things like “healthy cookies.”
    Seriously, her blog is worthy of its own post–very thought-provoking, in a Nurtureshock sort of way.
    Lastly I have a great recipe for leftover oatmeal muffins: it is same as this but mine uses a scant 1/2 c of oil where this linked one uses a combo of applesauce & oil: I’m going to try it that way next time. I make my breakfast oatmeal for the kid & me with diced apples, raisins, and dried cherries, so my muffins have those goodies in them too. Definitely include the apple! You can tweak the flour too: white, whole wheat, King Arthur White Whole Wheat, etc, to taste.

  80. I use dried cranberries instead of raisins for everything cookies, granola, salads. I mix them in with quick cooking Irish oats, brown sugar, and milk(+/-).

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