Friday, January 30, 2009

salmon declared "ewie"

So, our salmon last night was not a big hit. M declared it "ewie," which we then corrected to "Its not my favorite." (Its OK for kids not to like food, but not OK for them to be rude.) Sad thing is, it was Ewie. I overcooked it, and the soy/apricot jam glaze didn't work in the grill pan as nicely as it has on the real grill or in the oven. Do I admit my failures, when I'm trying to inspire home-cooking? Heck yes! We experiment, we make do, we mess up, we burn, but we keep trying. Sometimes its spectacular, sometimes its OK, but it was a pleasant meal, and the rice and broccoli were great! Cooking at home saves money, often time, allows for bonding and family meals and you are always learning new things. By the way, the purple stuff in the top photo is beet salad. Its way better than it sounds, I'll post a recipe soon...

keeping kids busy

Yes its good to cook with kids, but sometimes you just need them to get out of the way! I feel like I've turned into Martha Stewart, and I should get a Michaels credit card. A caveat, I have a 3 year old, so the activities I describe are what works for M, not necessarily for all kids. Please write in with your ideas! (Younger toddlers, older infants often love to just have a drawer of pots, tupperware and spoons to knock around...) 
Our current favorite are those little foam stickers. Relatively cheap for hours of fun (if you are OK with picking up hundreds of tiny pieces of backing. ) M loves the foam (for some reason only the circles and hearts these days) and will happily stick for 20 minutes at a time. Set them up at the kitchen table with a little music, involve them in cooking when you can. We combined Valentine's present making by getting some cheap (sorry Gramma and Grampa) picture frames and having her stick colorful borders. (Ikea, Walgreens,Target dollar aisle have decent cheap frames.) Stick on hearts, and mail to the Grandparents!
More ideas to come. We also liked this little project desk
from Michaels for $6.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

broccoli ala Mother-in-law

I didn't grow up with a microwave, and didn't know how to do much other than pop corn. We all love broccoli, and its not too expensive, and so good for you. Tonight we'll have it with some salmon (I have to admit, I haven't tried lots of fish with M. We usually do a white fish that I bread and fry up in a pan-recipe for that later...) I'll let you know how the salmon goes...
So I used to boil broccoli, and can honestly say it is way better in the microwave. My MIL showed me and I've never looked back! (I'd say thanks here, but I haven't asked if I can use her name or not...)  Also, save the rubber bands (usually two per bunch) for closing bags of frozen corn etc. 
  1. Cut off bottom 1/3 of stem or so...
  2. Roughly (means no need to be precise) cut off the peel from the bottom of the stem. Sometimes you can just pull it off up towards the florets and it peels really easily. I like the stems...
  3. cut the bunch roughly in half, sometimes thirds through the stem 
  4. layer florets facing stems (see photo) alternating so there is room in the dish
  5. put maybe 1/4 cup water  into the pyrex dish 
  6. cover with saran
  7. nuke about 7 minutes, check for doneness, more if desired

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Oh, Oprah.... a grammatically imprecise rant

Don't know if anyone saw Oprah yesterday on "Why America's Kids are Fat..." It was painful to watch, and so disappointing. Here is Oprah, admonishing 16 adolescents, as young as age 11, on national TV to do something about their weight. She who, with personal trainer, chef, gym and endless financial resources,  has "lost" her own battle with weight yet again.  Oprah tells a struggling family that they should buy fewer video games so they can have fresh fruits and vegetables, Dr. Oz chimes in that they should buy fresh vegetables from the farmer's market. Oprah turns down pretzels saying "I'm not doing carbs..." Oh moderation and common sense, wherefore art though???

Dr. Oz - by the way, what are his qualifications in talking to young people about healthy life-style choices that honor their bodies and souls? I thought he was a surgeon? 

These poor kids were videotaped by their parents who seemed to taunt them about how much they ate, how they were out of breath while walking etc. "You ate two donuts, didn't you? I know you did, two hotdogs, two donuts?" The kids cry and squirm while Dr. Oz tells them the "Odds are good you will die in your sleep," "Your insides are rusting out, your chances of death are the same as if you had cancer..."

No one seems to think this is cruel. Its OK, and good medicine to scare these kids into losing weight. All the evidence shows that diets fail 80-95% of the time- often with added weight gain, no one mentions that there is good evidence that focusing on weight loss as a motivator for good health is particularly pointless and damaging to the psyche, no one mentions that fear and shame are proven not to be motivators for positive changes, and in fact reinforce counter-productive choices.

 It does not mean we give up, it means we acknowledge this is a multifactorial problem with complex "solutions" that will be different for each individual. (That would mean a 16 page post, and this one is already gonna be long...)

What I might have said:

Yes, the farmers' market is a great place to buy fruits and vegetables, and if you can afford organic great, but how about mentioning that canned and frozen are cheaper and more nutritious often than grocery-store fresh? (They are packed so close to the point of production, not shipped and sitting out for days on end...)

You are a worthy person, worthy of love and respect. Zero tolerance for bullying in school, and consequently on the Oprah show... Zero tolerance of bullying from the parents, who by the way are the ones responsible for bringing the donuts, pizza, and hotdogs into the house (not that these are inherently bad foods, but the scorn these parents heaped on the kids was awful...)

Kids: How can we help you respect and love yourself? What things make you happy? Can we find a walking club with friends, do you like to dance, play piano? Can we take some fun cooking classes, can we sit together and eat dinner as a family? Can your parents not be food-cop with judgement and scorn, but provide a varied meal that is eaten in a pleasant setting? Can one parent or family member sit with you while you have meals and maybe snacks and just talk about your day? Can you forget calorie counting, and include variety and banish guilt (called Intuitive eating, see resource list on my website...)

Most of these shows and media barrage never mention feeding dynamics. That setting up structure and loving feeding early on can help honor your body. Eating a variety of foods, having fun with your body, not shaming kids to drop out of gym when they are 10 or 11, accepting that some kids may be bigger or smaller, but can still be healthy, not putting young children on restrictive diets which evidence shows leads to unhealthy weight acceleration, making small changes like having your take-out at home with milk and apple-sauce, and then making more small changes.

The only glimmer of "hope" I saw on the whole show was when a very sad 16 year old girl mentioned that many in her family had had surgery, and asked if she could have gastric bypass, and Dr. Oz basically said "yes, and I'll even help you." Her face lit up like she had just won the lottery. Ugh. So sad. 

Oprah should be ashamed, not for gaining weight, but for perpetuating the damaging, over-simplified diet mentality that got her where she is, and will not serve those kids.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

tuna casserole mistake found!!!

Thanks to a reader who pointed out it should not be condensed, but EVAPORATED milk in the tuna recipe (Jan 21.) I always mix those up! Sorry! 

Quick morph meal

We used the leftover Thai Peanut Sauce (see Jan 16th post-don't worry it was frozen) and wanted to make Robin Miller's Peanut satay shrimp kebabs. Didn't quite work out that way, but this dish was super fast, and pretty good. Since it contained shrimp and broccoli, M loved it. 
We are too cheap to buy the big shrimp, and we like the Archer Brand (Target) Key West wild caught pink shrimp. (We've been told to avoid farmed shrimp from Asia.) So I sauteed the shrimp for about a minute each side in some veg. oil, dumped in the 1 cup of leftover peanut sauce and added a bag of frozen broccoli florets and heated it through. Sprinkled on some sesame seeds (I keep them in the freezer because I use them so rarely and they can spoil) and served over rice. Not bad, and fast! I added a little of the red garlic/chili sauce for D and I, but kept it bland for M.

Monday, January 26, 2009

cool grocery update...

I enjoy cauliflower, but it used to be you could only find them twice as big as your head. Recently, smaller ones like this have been showing up in the produce aisles. I usually serve it with a home-made white sauce (Bechamel, but not so complicated-recipe forthcoming...) I hate warmed over cauliflower (I think it smells like farts, but I may be odd that way) and ended up throwing lots out.
Now this is perfect for one meal. No waste, and everyone likes it. 

Sunday, January 25, 2009

eating out with kids

When you have an active kid– or two, eating out just isn't as much fun as it used to be. 
Here are our criteria for "fine dining" with kids...

•Buffet or salad bar (usually kid buffet is really cheap- they are not making money off my kid...)

Our current Twin City favs are:

1)Ruby Tuesdays, at Rosedale or MOA. Salad bar has grapes, cherry tomatoes, broccoli, chick peas and string beans (plus a puddle of ranch) to keep M busy while we wait for the food. She loves the noodles with a side of marinara that she likes to dip.  I used to enjoy the Ruby Mini turkey burgers with fries (which I shared with M) until I found out the combo (plus the ranch dressing I like when I go to salad bar) is probably well over 1,000 calories. Maybe if I order without the fried onion rings and mayo sauce it will be a little healthier, and I won't miss it in terms of flavor and satisfaction. If you drink water, and they don't charge your kiddo for sharing your salad bar, its a great deal. (Coke is $2.75!)
2)Cleveland Wok on Cleveland in Highland. Buffet, and booths (sometimes.) Has great green beans and a yummy broccoli dish, add shrimp and noodles and a fortune cookie and M is in heaven. I love the options too. Even my husband, who generally hates Chinese buffets for their usual greasy fare of orange or General Tso's chicken, likes this place.
3)Taste of Thailand on Selby in St. Paul. Buffet (not on weekends!!!) and booths! Usually a noodle, rice, broccoli option. Careful though, sometimes the noodles are REALLY spicy and M won't eat them.
4)DQ recently M had her first positive hot dog experience. A fairly quick, easy stop, with a kiddie DQ cone makes an occasional treat out.
5)Genghis Grill off Yankee Doodle and I-35. Booth, noodle, shrimp, broccoli (notice a trend?) Fast and yummy, and a kid size.
6)New China Buffet Yankee Doodle and I-35 mini-mall. Ditto above... 
7)Korean place in strip mall across from Gleasons Gym in Edina (Silver Bell Road) they have karaoke too! 
8)Noodles and Co, Just hearing a 3 year old say "pesto cavatappi" is worth it, and its fast even though there is no buffet.
9)Dukem Ethiopian on West 7th. The lamb Tibs are AMAZING!!! (OK, we haven't taken M there yet, but we went there on our anniversary and it was SO delicious, and cheap. Apparently they are having a Valentine's Day special.
10)Tiger? Asian place at the Minnesota Zoo cafeteria. M likes the noodles and broccoli dish, yet again...
11)St Clair Broiler on St. Clair and Snelling. Kid friendly, actually has a mac n cheese she will eat. Downside is slow service sometimes. Awesome Cobb salad, and M loves to eat the guacamole off my salad. 
12)Whole Foods. M likes their pizza slices, and they usually have enough fruit and guacamole samples that she eats a little of those on our way to the deli counter. 

Any of your favorites you'd care to share???

Friday, January 23, 2009

tuna casserole update...

FFD Tuna Noodle Casserole (from 1/21) was even better as left-overs. I heated it in the microwave, added a little salt and enjoyed my comfort food lunch!

weird snacks

Here's a recent snack. Cocktail onions,  an oatmeal cookie and milk. 
(Ideally offer a fat, carb and protein with every meal or snack.) Being creative about offerings can help break the carb-only, graham cracker rut.

Kids can surprise you. She started loving pickled things during her most picky time (which in most kids is right around 18-24 months.) I have a habit of not offering M things I don't like which I've gotten better at. I wouldn't eat a pickled onion, but she got a hold of one at Holiday party in 07 and there was no turning back! 

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

skillet tuna noodle casserole

I love creamy, yummy casseroles but they are a lot of trouble or are made with too many cans of bland salty soup. I found a recipe that I adapted from America's Test Kitchen Family cookbook. The original had 2 Tbspns of butter and a cup of heavy cream. I am not against those things when they taste good, but both my husband (D) and I felt it was really heavy. Here is the altered recipe which D and I like, but daughter M is not so keen on yet. But, its only been her second taste and she ate some along with bread and butter-the standby for meals she doesn't like. (Remember it may take dozens of neutral exposures before a child learns to like a food.) The original recipe calls for sprinkling crushed crackers on top. We chose not to.

FFD Tuna Noodle Casserole... ONE PAN!!

prep time 10 minutes, total about 35...

1 Tbspn butter
1 Tbsn olive oil
one package (8 -10 ounces) mushrooms (presliced will save time) otherwise clean and slice
1 minced onion (use a pre-chopped onion-see 1st week January posts and save time)
2 Tbspns sherry (*)
3 cups egg noodles, No Yoke brand work fine
2 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup evaporated milk (not sweetened condensed milk...)
1/2 cup half and half
1 cup frozen peas
1 can or pouch flaked white tuna (recipe calls for 2, we think this is too much tuna...)

sherry: I use Sheffield, really cheap. Called for in lots of Stir-fry sauces. I added this for a bit more depth of flavor. Can leave it out.

1) melt butter and olive oil over medium-high heat, cook onions and mushrooms about 5 minutes, add sherry and cook another 5 min or so until done. Adjust heat as needed. Transfer to a bowl.
2) sprinkle noodles into 12 inch round skillet, pour the broth, half and half and condensed milk over, cover and bring to a boil. Simmer about 10 minutes.
3) Stir in peas, tuna, add mushroom/onion mixture. Heat through a few minutes (if you're waiting for a spouse to get home from work, or a kid to get back from soccer,  it can sit off heat for 10 minutes and still be fine. Season with salt and pepper to taste (we threw in some left-over cooked broccoli from the night before...)

Tell me what you think! Any improvements?

Sunday, January 18, 2009

media avalanche continues

 My friends forward links (keep them coming!) of countless articles full of pseudo-science and terrifying half-truths that serve to confuse and miseducate parents. 

Here are some facts you won't hear:

The United States Preventive Services Task Force states, "A substantial proportion of children under 12 or 13, even with BMI's above the 95% will not develop adult obesity." Pretty much every article you read will lead you to believe the opposite, and that if you don't do something now, your child is doomed. 
In fact, the natural tendency is towards slimming as children grow (Serdula) but we never hear that either. 

Parents hear the hysteria and the fear tactics. We are urged by the media and even health care professionals to feed with the misguided agenda of controlling weight–which studies show leads to the very outcomes parents are trying to prevent

My advice? Skip the articles. Feed with love and common sense and honor your bodies through joyful movement. Not sure how to do that? There are lots of resources out there. Try or

Friday, January 16, 2009

Thai peanut beef

This was quick, easy and yummy. Thai peanut beef from Robin Miller. I used soba noodles (which being a brown noodle made this dish kinda look like a grey-brown blob but it tastes good and the noodles cook in 6 minutes...) Sauce was a little bland for us grown-ups but tasty enough. M still used ketchup for the steak and declared it "a good dinner."
We saved the sauce for quick dinners later in the week. We'll let you know how that goes! 

 4/5 stars, will make it again.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

waste now, save later

This is what a  fairly typical plate looks like after my daughter is finished. She's eaten about half of what was on the plate, 4 or 5 pieces of broccoli, the remnants of a puddle of ketchup. A small dish that had some vanilla ice-cream. 
As someone who grew up in the clean-plate club, allowing my child to leave food was something that took some getting used to. It seemed wasteful. She had asked for seconds on the broccoli, and didn't finish it. I can hear my parent's voices, "You asked for more broccoli, now you have to finish it." For those who did not always have food in abundance, this is an understandable reaction. I try to serve smaller portions and let her ask for seconds and thirds. As she gets better at it, she will be serving herself family style.
Letting your child leave some food behind honors her inner voice– that voice that tells her she's full. Making a child clean her plate, or eat when she is not hungry will make it harder for her to tune in to the cues her body is sending. Losing touch with the feelings of fullness and satiety can later lead to a pattern of overeating.  (One study showed that 85% of parents of kindergartners encouraged their children to eat more than they wanted to. "Just take two more bites of cheese, OK Sweetie?")

In addition, letting a child leave food on her plate means she will be more likely to try new foods. If she knows she doesn't have to finish something unfamiliar, she will be more likely to try it. Waste a little more now, but less later as she gets older and learns to enjoy a greater variety of foods.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

plates and pork left-overs

This is the pork sloppy-joe made from left-over pork roast in Quick Fix cookbook. I didn't think pork loin would have the right tecture, but it was good. (Usually I make pork butt or shoulder in the clow-sooker and shred the meat.) M really liked it. I serve it without the bun because sometimes she prefers that, but she did eat it with the bun after all.  She got in on the food prep act by emptying out the bag of thawed, left-over pork, helping measure and dump the ingredients and stirring. She loves smelling different spices. This can kill a few minutes while you're waiting for something to cook or thaw in a microwave... Caution– snorting cinnamon stings! Children will find new ways to remind you they are still learning.

 She loves these partitioned plates. Toddlers and pre-schoolers are naturally more suspicicous of new foods and pickier than older infants who just think its cook to try to pick up food and get it in their mouths. Cross-contamination of foods, which sometimes can spark a tantrum, is avoided with these nifty plates. 

Monday, January 12, 2009

camping out

Its not always "square meals," in fact sometimes they're round and squishy. This weekend we camped out in our living room– tent and all and needed the food to go with it. Isn't camping food half the fun?? So dinner was roasted marshmallows, hot dogs and cherry tomatoes. A big hit. We like the natural casing hot dogs from Clancey's in Minneapolis. Nothing beats that snap from biting into a natural casing. (Just don't think about it too much.)

so long cuties...

Alas, one of my cheap favorites has gone up in price. Now at $6.99 a box, its not as good a deal. Luckily, M ate so many that she's sick of them. By next December she'll be ready to gorge again! I think her record was four and a half in one sitting. Part of the 'appeal' (haha) was the act of peeling the little guys. It was easy enough for her to do, gave her a sense of accomplishment and was a healthy snack while it lasted... 

Sunday, January 11, 2009

let them eat cake

My mom sent me this article about the perils of over-restricting treats or "junk-food" for kids.
Its pretty funny, and while I grew up in a very healthy and much less restricted home, I still snuck over to friends' houses for Doritos, microwaved (!!) popcorn and burritos, taco bell, soda...
The best part of our yearly epic road-trips? Non-stop fast food– at least after the egg-salad sandwiches on wheat bread ran out.
Leanne Birch  conducted studies on 5-9 year-old girls who were treat-deprived. These girls, when given the opportunity to eat treats (even after a large meal) will consume larger quantities and are heavier than their non-deprived counterparts– AND they feel guilty about it! 
Seems like the message is all things in moderation, mostly healthy foods most of the time and you're ahead of the game.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

get to the point

We have a relatively small kitchen, and tend to have lots of gadgets to make cooking easier: bread machine, rice cooker, crock-pot, small food processor...
So I saw this at a friend's house and thought it was a great idea.  We mounted ours near the stove and prep surfaces. We're happy with our magnetic knife holder ( for the following reasons:
1) keeps our knives sharper if not tumbling around in drawers
2)keeps sharp knives out of reach of our daughter who likes rummaging while "laying the table."
3)frees up counter space from our knife-block wedding present
4) can see all your knives and grab them easily when cooking
Also, I screwed up and ordered the wrong one initially. Kegworks was really good about my questions to customer service, prompt with the new order and the refund. 

Friday, January 9, 2009

pork roast and easy sides

This was the balsamic roasted pork tenderloin on page 72 of the Quickfix cookbook. It was super-easy and delicious. As a bonus, I found that the Alexia brand sweet potato fries we like cook at the same temperature. (Note-we always have to cook them longer than the package suggests so they're a little crispy.)
I line the pan with foil and a little cooking spray for fast clean up. They're yummy, quick and pretty nutritious. 
Its also a bonus that they cook at the same oven temp. I get steamed when I need to do a roast and I want to do oven green-beans or some other side with a different cooking temp. If I had the choice I would go for a range with two small ovens so I would have more options. 
I'm going to start a list of things we cook often in the oven and their temperatures and keep it on the inside door of a cupboard near the oven. We'll see if that helps with meal-planning or not...
Alexia does lots of potato-type sides and breads. They're a yummy treat. They're at Target and Whole Foods and our local co-op. 
The left-over pork was easily stored for two "morph" dinners-  pork sloppy joes and pork fried rice.

5/5 stars, will make this again

Thursday, January 8, 2009

no more tears

Lots of dishes I cook use chopped onions. The Quickfix book suggests this time-saving trick.
When you are chopping onions, chop up an extra 2 or 3. Freeze 1/2 cup or 1 cup measures in a plastic bag (label!) for quicker weeknight prep. You only have to clean the knife and chopping block once, and I also find that the onions cook much quicker after they are frozen. This is one trick I will keep doing!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

a word about my photos...

My daughter M is a little confused about the camera showing up at random times in the kitchen. Here is one of my attempts at capturing the Test Kitchen cook book for yesterday's blog. I have about 10 of her laying on my "subject." My kitchen is hygienic (most of the time) but otherwise you may see clutter, a random dish on the stove, or used napkins floating around. I'm a mom of a busy three year old, and I know its hard to cook for your family. (I think I cooked three meals in rotation during M's clingy phase, and ordered lots from our local fresh Thai place. I even tried cooking with her in a hip-sling which I'm sure is a no-no...) My grammar may also offend some (sorry Jennie, as a science geek I lived in blissful ignorance of the rules for years.) While I can punctuate properly with a little, OK a lot of effort, this blog is mostly meant to be a quick, opinionated forum for common sense in feeding and health. As I increase my professional duties, I too am feeling the pressures facing many working parents to get food on the table. I am experimenting and hope to share some ideas– and hope you share yours– to help make the task a little easier and a lot more fun! Coming soon, video! I'll try to rope my husband into being the camera-man. I think I can make a honey-mustard dressing with 4 ingredients in under a minute. I'll keep you posted. 
New food alert: M ate and enjoyed lettuce last night. I think because it was buttery soft and bland Boston lettuce drowning in the aforementioned dressing...

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

keep 'em busy

My brother and his wife are about the best I've ever seen at having their kids help in the kitchen. I remember my nieces as little more than toddlers wielding the paring knife like pros. So the apple tart may not be worthy of Martha Stewart, having kids help in the kitchen keeps them busy, gets them involved in food and makes it more likely they will try and enjoy the fruits of their labor. Even small children can be involved. Here's M breaking up lasagna noodles for a skillet lasagna that was awesome! She loved breaking up the noodles, and also helped dump the diced tomatoes into the pan.
The recipe was from the America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook. ( book has lots of other great recipes.

1 28 oz can diced tomatoes
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 pound meatloaf mix (they actually sell this at the butcher, half beef, half pork)
1 minced onion
3 minced garlic cloves
1/8 tspn red pepper flakes
10 curly edge lasagna noodles, broken into 2 inch pieces (don't use no-boil)* kids do this*
1 8 oz can tomato sauce
1/2 cup grated parmesan * older kids*
8 oz whole milk ricotta (our store only had part-skim and it was fine...)
1/2 cup minced fresh basil (I didn't have this)

Pour tomatoes and their juice into a quart measuring cup, add water to measure mix to 4 cups. (This was confusing, I didn't know if I was supposed to add the sauce too. I ended up skipping this step and adding 1/2 cup water or so a few times in the cooking process...) Heat oil in deep 12 inch skillet until shimmering (med-high) add onions and red pepper flakes (I omitted the flakes since M isn't a huge fan of spice.) Stir in the garlic for about 15 seconds, add the meat and break up/cook until pink is gone. (I drained a few Tbspns of fat at this point.) Sprinkle noodle pieces on top, pour on tomatoes and sauce. Cover and simmer stirring occasionally until pasta is tender, about 20 minutes. (I had to add water a couple times as the bottom threatened to scorch...)  Remove skillet from heat and stir in parmesan. Dot blobs of ricotta on top and cover for another 5 minutes off heat. YUMMY! M loved it and had some in her thermos for lunch today. I served it with "asparagus spears" that M enjoyed with ketchup. I might try stirring some drained spinach into the lasagna next time, but I'm afraid it might make it watery. Maybe that will solve the water issue!

Let me know if anyone tries this one and what you think. It will definitely be added to our regulars!

5/5 stars

BMI myths

From parenting magazines, Wii fit, to your child's teachers and doctors, it seems all anyone is talking about these days is BMI. BMI or body mass index– for those of you who have been blissfully living under a rock– is a measure relating weight to height.  It is sold as a way to estimate body fat composition and predict health outcomes. It can be a useful tool, but mostly to follow populations– not individuals.
 The latest of a long list of studies to illustrate the problems using BMI appeared in The Journal of the American Dietetic Association in 2008 (author Brann.) It concluded that roughly 20% of boys in the study were incorrectly diagnosed as 'overweight' or 'normal' based on BMI. A focus on BMI alone as an indicator of health is misguided.
BMI can be dangerous  when a single number is used to label a child and assess health status. One can see how arbitrary the labels are when you consider a six-year-old where 5 pounds can span three categories, and a height measurement off by as little as 1/8 of an inch can take a child from 'normal' to 'overweight' or even 'obese.' 
Think its not a big deal to label a six year old girl 'overweight' or 'obese' regardless of her BMI? (More on that in later installations...)
So, this is mostly a cautionary note. BMI is part of an overall evaluation of the health of the child. Seeing how your child grows over time is important. A child growing consistently at the 90% can be very healthy, and the label of 'overweight' may be totally inappropriate. Same is true for a child growing at the 10% with a label of 'underweight' also being misleading. 
Is your doctor asking about healthy habits? How much screen time do your kids have? Are they grazing on convenience foods all day long? Are they eating a variety of foods that include fruits, vegetables and yes, treats? Are they physically active? 
Focusing on behaviors means kids who are 'normal' weight with health risks won't be ignored, and active children with well-rounded diets and consistent, normal growth won't be misdiagnosed as 'overweight' and possibly harmed with unnecessary intervention.

Friday, January 2, 2009

save money and space

I used to pull a jar of salsa out of the fridge and wonder when I opened it. Was it a week ago or three months? 
I ended up with two problems.
1) I had things in my fridge that were WELL past fresh. (A recent bottle of peanut oil I found had a sell-by date of 2005...) Now I know oil stays fresh longer in the fridge, but that was embarrassing.
2) I threw out things that were probably fine, but I couldn't remember exactly how long they were in the fridge. 
SOLUTION? I keep a sharpie in the drawer next to my fridge. EVERY item I put in the fridge now gets the date on it before it goes in. I have much more confidence that the food I am serving is fresh, and above all safe. I'm saving money and space. No more year-old pickles taking up space, and no more throwing something out because it *might* be too old.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

fast, but not quite right

I'm experimenting with the Quick Fix Meals cook book. Made the fried rice from left-over pork roast on page 74. I had brown rice on hand (recipe called for white) but I tried it anyway. Not so good, even though my daughter M  declared, "This is really good Mommy!"
 We also thought it was a little heavy on the Hoisin flavor, but it was so easy, I'll try it again with double rice and broth and keep the Hoisin amount the same – and use WHITE rice!
As for M, she ate eggs in this dish which she normally avoids. Eggs are a great source of healthy fats, vitamins and protein.
Second note, I usually separate meats, grains and veggies because M liked it that way for a long time. I didn't with this one-dish meal and she loved it. Reminds me we need to challenge our kids from time to time. Just because she liked things one way last month doesn't mean she won't like it another way now. Try and try again!

3/5 stars, will make this with some overhaul

point down

I have two knives that do about 95% of what I need. One is my Target Santoku knife (I had a pricey one that broke cutting squash and I didn't notice the tiny missing piece until after dinner. I was convinced my daughter swallowed it and would bleed out!) 
I also love a good paring knife. The top one is a fancy one, but the bottom knives with colored handles are in a set from Target for under $10. You don't have to pay lots of money for great tools!


Welcome to Family Feeding Dynamics Blog.  With the struggling economy, more and more families are choosing to eat at home. Eating meals as a family doesn't just save money. Kids who eat family meals are more likely to do well in school, and less likely to use alcohol and drugs.  But lets face it, getting meals on the table can be hard. A minnesota University study identified that families struggle with meal-planning, cooking, clean-up and having to cook special foods for picky eaters. 
This blog will try to address barriers to home cooking. Its a forum for cooking tips, kitchen organization and small steps to making the family table a place everyone wants to be.