Tuesday, June 30, 2009

kids and body shapes...

My daughter M recently asked a Mommy at daycare if she had a baby in her tummy. The mom was good-natured and said, "No, I don't sweetie" and kept walking. I was embarrassed, would have maybe said something to the mom had she not already walked past, didn't want to make more of a deal of it than it was. Lots of the mommies at her daycare are pregnant, and it's a hot topic of conversation among the kids.

I wanted to tell her that M asked her dad last week if HE had a baby in his tummy, that we talk about how wonderful it is that bodies come in all shapes and sizes, and how studies are showing that BMI or body mass index, is a poor predictor of health and illness despite of what the media wants us to believe. (Except maybe at the very extremes...)

I really love this post about talking to your kids about body shape. Please read it. Tell me what you think...
Here also is a fun little slide-show of what the categories of weight look like, and how meaningless they can be in real life. (I haven't taken the time to vet the whole web-site, so sorry if there may be something objectionable...)

I know women with  a BMI of "obese" who run marathons, and "normal" weight women who don't take care of themselves at all. If we focus on doing what makes our bodies feel good-eating in balance, exercising, getting enough sleep- not weight, we would all be a whole lot happier and healthier.

Monday, June 29, 2009

when cell phones go swimming

Totally random cell phone advice for busy parents in our crazy world!

Last week on a hot and humid day, we headed for one of the awesome wading pools through the Minneapolis Park System. As hard as it is to provide opportunities for kids to be active when it's 20 below zero, it can be challenging when it's 95 degrees too! M dumped her bag of pool toys into the water, and I was hanging up towels. I heard a yell, "Mom! You're cell phone is in the pool!"
Sure enough. I jumped in and dialed my husband– it worked-briefly. Its an odd feeling to be without a cell phone, which I use for personal and business use. How will I coordinate dinner-time with my husband, will clients be able to reach me?
Luckily I have a chatty kid, and we were swinging next to a little girl and her dad. M announced, "Mommy's cell phone went swimming!" As luck would have it, Dad was a cell phone engineer who had brought his phone back from two rounds in the washing machine. Here's his advice...

Rescuing a water-logged cell phone...

Turn it off right away. Remove the battery. Gently dry outside and any obvious water. Do not take it apart. Put the phone in a baggie with dry rice. Squeeze out all the air and LEAVE IT for 4-5 days. (Do not turn it on...) Do the same in a separate baggie with the battery. 
I turned mine on after that time and it worked well. Of course if you have a fancy phone with a memory card, you don't have to worry about losing all your data!

Keep old phones and chargers in a baggie in your junk drawer

Keep old phones handy. How to wait 4 days until the rice sucked all the moisture out of the phones? My husband had an old phone that was less than 5 years old. We called Verizon and they set me up right away. I just turned on my old phone and didn't lose any data, but I'm keeping this new phone!

Feel free to call me on my new phone! 1-888-848-6802 and check availability for my talk tonight 6/29. I have 2 spots left! Parent worksh0p on Taking Anxiety and Conflict Off the Menu: increasing variety and nutrition.
Roseville Caribou, 7-8:30 pm, 15 attendees max so lots of time for personal questions...

Anyone have any cell-phone disaster stories they want to share? Kids toss it in the toilet?

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

bad feeding advice

I've heard all kinds of advice that parents get about feeding, some of it worse than others...

Parents share their stories.  (paraphrasing...)

"My one-year-old is refusing solid food, I'm really worried. We saw a pediatric nutritionist who told us to just feed her Cheetos. It just doesn't feel right..."

"My child won't drink milk. My doctor said that if I only give him milk, eventually he will either drink it or get dehydrated. He said after 3 or 4 days my son would like milk. I can't bring myself to do that..."

"I have a very picky son and we saw a new doctor who just told us to serve green beans and beef every meal until he ate it. Who's going to live like that?"

"My 14-month-old is healthy and loves to eat, but my Mom told me I'm making her obese and to only feed her 3 meals a day without snacks because that's what she did. My child is whining and begging for food! What do I do?"

We now know that feeding struggles can lead to serious problems. Nutrition suffers, the family meal is held hostage, kids develop an adversarial relationship with food and their parents, and disordered feeding can lead to disordered eating. 

If you're getting advice that doesn't feel right, you need to challenge it. Maybe it is good advice, but more often than not you may be getting opinion, myth or just plain bad advice. Get educated and find a solution that works for your family. 

What advice have you gotten from professionals or family about feeding??

Monday, June 22, 2009


Our pantry has spread from a few cupboards to every spare surface in our rather small kitchen. Those lovely built-ins that had fancy cooking magazines and tasteful pottery when we toured our house-to-be have been taken over by oats, crackers, beans, salsa, refried beans, pickles, condiments, malt-o-meal, rice, pasta, tomato sauce, canned tomatoes, basket of crafty things for M, broth, jams, mango nectar...
With the added space, I can buy several of any item and be less likely to run out. I was even ambitious with my label-maker and made signs like "beans," "tomato," "rice" but I admit that organization didn't last long, and have resorted to shoving that packet of rice-mix behind the extra ketchup. It seems to work. A well-stocked pantry makes meal prep, meal planning, and meal rescue (last-minute scurrying) easier

One tip with packaged rice-mixes (like Spanish rice, or Knorr, rice-a-roni etc...) I like the ease, but often find them a little too salty. Try to only put in half the flavor package. It still adds a nice flavor, but you have a quick side-dish that isn't too salty or overpowering when you're in a hurry. (For another quick, tasty side-dish, try couscous made with broth...) 

Saturday, June 13, 2009

enjoying the herbs of our labor

About 8 weeks ago, as part of a desperate bid to entertain my daughter for a little while, I bought seeds and pots to start our garden. I have not done much gardening before, and don't have a lot of room in our yard, but we started anyway. I've tried tomatoes in the past that grew gorgeous green tomatoes that never ripened,  so I'm a little fatalistic. 

M enjoyed seeing how the seeds all looked different, and even watered the cilantro (M loves guacamole) basil and cherry tomatoes once they sprouted. (I was amazed that the cats did not destroy them all.) I kept them on or near the radiator, and covered until they sprouted. I had to thin out the crop, but we have now successfully planted the basil and cilantro in a container. The cherry tomatoes are set up against the garage wall. We had to buy a dill plant, which doesn't take well to being transplanted apparently. All are thriving.

Peer pressure and herbs
The other day, M had 4 neighborhood girls over aged 3-7.  They all crowded around the herbs, curious to taste the various plants- declaring some "yummy," and others "too spicy!"  It was a lovely scene. Shows how peer pressure can sometimes be a good thing as even the notoriously picky one lined up for a sample.

Aside from peer pressure, studies also suggest that kids involved in growing food are more likely to eat those foods. 

save money
We've used the dill several times, and the basil and cilantro for M's favorite turkey curry dish. I think we'll save at least $30 on fresh herbs over the summer, and we'll use them more often.

If I can do it, you can do it! Give it a try this year, or start next Spring if you're overwhelmed right now. I'll keep you posted on the tomatoes. By the way, all the sunflowers we planted were mowed down by rabbits (we think) within hours of being outside. Not sure I'm ready for scarecrows and netting! We'll take it slow.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

snack-saver milk on sale

I just got back from Whole Foods in St. Paul. Organic Valley milk boxes are on sale. A whopping $10 off the normal price of 24.99 for 24. Now they are 14.99. That's about .65 each with tax. 
I like this product because it can make snacks on-the-go more successful. M often gets too distracted when we're not eating at home, and eats very little for snack, only to be hungry soon thereafter. I find that if I bring milk with snacks on-the-go, she is more likely to drink it, giving her some protein, fat and carb to give the snack a little more staying power. Normally I pack water or diluted juice in a thermos, and I'm not thrilled about the waste with the boxes, but I don't like putting milk in thermoses. (Have you ever discovered a thermos of curdled milk in your car? Usually the smell clues you in first...)

Also, these guys are ultra-pasteurized, so you don't have to store them all in your fridge. Very convenient.

There is a chocolate milk option. 

For older kids who may skip breakfast, a milk box and some trail mix or cereal bar on the way to school is better than nothing!

Monday, June 8, 2009

your child will test you...

We've been at this trust model of feeding in our home for the last two years now. Every day we are thankful that we don't have a struggle with feeding, yet every day there are still issues to deal with.  She whines over candy, asks for macaroni and cheese, leaves some things untouched on her plate... She still baits and tests us. (Isn't that what kids do?) 

Its not that a  child with a healthy, nurturing feeding relationship won't whine for candy, or always eats one portion of the stew you simmered all afternoon, but if you can feed in the trust model, you will see most of the time things can go really well. 

bait and ignore...

Last night at dinner, we had a salad with asparagus, peppers, avocado, and cherry tomatoes. M is not a huge fan of the lettuce, and mostly eats and asks for seconds of the "goodies." I add a few leaves to her bowl so she has access to them. Most days she leaves them behind. Last night, she announced, "I don't want the salad, part, I just want the goodies" with a leaf on her fork. Husband and I glanced over, said "fine," and continued our conversation (the usual that lasts about 45 seconds with a 3 year-old in the house) and she popped it in her mouth and ate it. (Don't forget- no praise, no reaction, it just is-save the high-fives with your partner for after dinner...)

Its a great lesson that I share with clients. Don't focus on the food. In fact, ignore your child occasionally. One client said that her child eats best when she is chatting with Dad or older Brother. Her son feels no pressure and can sneak up on new foods without all the fanfare.

Even after 2 years M still tests us, still baits us into the argument. After two years though, I no longer even think to say (like I did in the beginning...) "Honey, just have two bites, its really good for you, you know it will make you strong, just a few bites!"  It takes time as parents to relearn a way of thinking- to trust, to brush off the baiting, to feel comfortable with a meal of a few bites, or an extra-big breakfast. With time, you will see the changes, the peace at the family table, and the jokes shared instead of threats. And when you least expect it, your child will sneak up on a new food, pop it in his mouth and carry on with his meal. No drama, no threats, just dinner.

Friday, June 5, 2009

local market burgers

I made home-made burgers the other day (hamburger meat mixed with an egg and some bread crumbs and onions...) I tried to flatten them enough, but they still turned out like thick, round hockey-pucks. Its the kind of thing that I need to watch someone do, but tried to just "wing-it" from memory (watching my mom when I was little.)  I'll try the meatloaf burgers again when it cools down and I can have them with mashed potatoes and it doesn't matter what they look like or if they fit on a bun.
Lately, we've been having fun grilling, and we found pre-made patties at Widmer's, a small local St. Paul market known for their meat counter.  They are $1 a piece roughly, and delicious. They are pretty much just plain meat, but for me, the burger is about the condiments, lettuce, tomatoes etc. Not a bad price, supporting a local market and don't have to mix raw meat and egg with my hands. Plus, burgers cook really quick on the grill which helps get a family meal on the table. 

Try with local asparagus. I wash, then boil until tender (8 or 9 minutes) and serve with a sauce that M likes. 

Random pink sauce recipe for asparagus
Mix  2 Tbspn miracle whip, 2 tspn white vinegar, 1-2 tspn ketchup, 1 Tbspn evaporated milk (not condensed sweetened.)  Its really sweet, and something my husband won't eat, but I ate it as a kid with asparagus, and M likes it too! Hubbie eats the asparagus plain, which when they are in season is a real treat too.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

trust in feeding

M was enjoying dinner the other day when she stopped and said, "Mommy, what do I am eating in my mouf? This green stuff?" Followed by a gaping mouth and pointing...

It happened to be baby bok-choy and she had been enjoying her stir-fry with rice, sauce, bok choy and peppers.

The fact that she trusted the eating process enough to put something completely foreign in her mouth -not knowing what it was- is what its all about. If we had been sneaking stuff into her food, or made a big deal announcing that she had to try a new food that was "good for her," we would have likely had a tearful battle, and a miserable meal.

Of course, she then only ate rice and sauce for the rest of the meal, but she had tried a new food, and the experience was positive.

how to bake a potato and potato peelers...

Time-saver: have two or more peelers. I found that I was constantly needing my peeler and pulling it out of the dishwasher to clean and use. I bought another Oxo peeler at Target (which I love!) and have a clean one on hand all the time. 

Then again, if you don't want to peel a potato, here's how to make great baked potatoes. I used to wrap them in foil, but then they steam, and these smell so sweet and yummy! Anyone with a fail-safe grill method please write in. I've had mixed luck, and we have a tiny grill.

Baked potatoes

•Preheat oven to 400 degrees
•Wash desired number of potatoes with a brush or cloth (get the ones that are big and look like bakers, not the thin white or red skinned...)
•Poke potatoes 5 or 6 times with a fork
•Rub with olive oil and a pinch of salt (sea salt if you have it-I didn't and they were great!)
•Bake for 50-60 minutes on a baking sheet (line with foil to save clean-up) 
•Done when you can poke a fork almost to the center with little resistance


We served it with plain yogurt mixed with some snipped garden herbs and lemon juice. Have your child mix the yogurt or sour cream with ketchup to make a pink sauce that kids like (especially if you have a girl in a pink phase like I do.) I admit, I like the pink sauce too...