Thursday, September 24, 2009

quick glaze recipe

My new favorite easy way to bring in a lot of flavor is to make a glaze for meat or fish. You can use chicken or pork. I made it last night over pork. Sometimes I make the glaze a little thicker, or thin it down for some sauce for noodles. (photo is of nicely browned chicken with some broth in the pan...)

Quick glaze for meat or fish
olive or canola oil
chicken broth (as needed)
about 1/3 to 1/2 cup real maple syrup
about 1 Tbspn dijon mustard (or can use soy sauce if you don't have mustard)

Add oil (1-2 Tbspn) to pan and heat over medium-high. Meat should sizzle when added to pan. Brown meat (3-4 minutes for thin cuts, 7-8 minutes for thicker cuts) and flip. If thick piece, may want to add a splash of broth and cover to cook. Stir maple syrup and dijon together in a bowl and add to meat when it as almost done. The sauce can scorch fast so keep an eye on it. Add small amount of broth if desired for sauce. Remove from heat and serve. Play with this, add more or less dijon, let it get thicker one night. You can also remove the meat after it is done, then add the sauce to the pan, scraping up the brown bits and reduce it until its really syrupy. Then pour over the meat. (Add any juices that came from the meat into the sauce for more flavor.)

Cooking is trial and error– finding what you like. This is so fast and easy though I find I make it about once every 10 days. (My pork was a little overdone last night, but it was still yummy.) I used the glaze with soy sauce over quick broiled salmon last week and M and Hubby loved that one too! (After M refused to initially try it...)

Monday, September 21, 2009

"Nectarines are gross!!!!"

So it's a little awkward when you are the "feeding expert" and your kid is having a major meltdown at preschool pickup over what you brought for snack. My child, like her mother and her mother's mother likes food. Perhaps out of guilt or joy at seeing her happy after school I had relied too much recently on the home-made oatmeal cookies for the after school snack. I also generally want something I know she will likely eat since we go play at the park after school and dinner isn't often until 6:45. So today I decide snack is graham crackers (not a favorite) a cut up nectarine (which she normally loves) and a milk box. She asks what I brought right away. I tell her and she loses her stuff in the middle of the lobby. "I hate nectarines! They're gross! Is that all you brought! AHHHSee full size imageHH!!!!" I smile politely, nodding the mommy nod to the other mommies, "You know how it goes, eh?" The screaming continues to the parking lot where I get a couple inquiring looks, and in the car where we usually have a nice chat while she eats a quiet snack before the park. I actually stand outside the car while she thrashes around crying inside.
It's just a sandwich-or is it?

All she wants is a sandwich. Reasonable it seems, but it feels so wrong. I can't give in, even if it's only a sandwich. Why does this push my buttons? Because if I had gone home to make her a sandwich I would have violated one of the rules of the Division of Responsibility. I decide what she gets to chose from, she decides if she eats it. It wasn't about nectarines. It was seeing if she could win, if she could decide what she got to eat– if she could pitch a big enough fit so that I always brought cookies and treats.A few minutes later we were parked outside our favorite park, sharing a milk box and graham crackers. She admitted the nectarine was really good and ripe and was mad that I had to eat a piece to get the top on the tupperware to fit. Kids will pitch fits, will manipulate– it's their job. It's our job to feed them well, to step back when we're annoyed and ask why is this such a struggle right now? What is going on? Stick to your guns. Remember, your job is to decide what, when and where kids eat, it's the kids job to decide if and how much.

Twin Cities clip

Watch the Twin Cities Live spot on family dinner and feeding strategies.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

"That's lazy exercise!"

I was at the park with M the other day. As usual, we started on the swings when a little girl, maybe 5 or 6 bounded over and jumped up next to us. She was a "wirey" little girl, as my dad would say. Her father yelled over "Sally, get off that swing now! That's lazy exercise! We didn't come here for that! Get off and go run around!" Sally looked dejected but did as she was told.

I can just imagine Dad reading some CDC guidelines, or a handout from the pediatrician saying, "Your child should get 60 minutes of vigorous, supervised exercise daily..." Though probably well-intentioned, Dad is likely not instilling a love of activity, or a love of her body in Sally.

Have you ever watched a child on a swing? Do you remember how free, how powerful, how utterly in the moment and in your body you were? (See the photo of the boy top right.)

What Sally is learning is that exercise is not fun, it shouldn't feel good. Maybe she's learning that you exercise only so you don't get fat. What if she gets a little pudgy before puberty? How will that effect her self-worth? How will Dad react?

What we know is that pressuring kids to be active, just like pressure with food often backfires. Your job is to provide the opportunity for activity in a pleasant, fun setting. One of the most effective ways to get kids active is to limit screen time. They will come up with other things to do. Go for a walk after dinner together, have a scavenger hunt to look for leaves or listen to the cicadas. Ride a bike, head to the park, enjoy open gym time at the local rec center, and yes even swing on a swing.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

easy quiche, or "cheesey bacon pie"

I made our easy quiche the other day. We always have evaporated milk on hand so I use this instead of cream. It's part of a great quick dinner. The picture doesn't do it justice.

We served it the first night with a big salad and cherry tomatoes from the garden. M said, "This is good!"and ate about 4 bites. Next morning we had it cold for breakfast and she ate some of that too. The next day we had it for lunch with veggies, and she spat it out and said it was "disgusting." Go figure. Remember, kids are not "rational" with food. Don't get sucked into food battles or try to rationalize, "But you liked it last night!" We didn't make a fuss. I figure she may or may not like it the next time, but we love it. Each time we offered it, we did it the same way- neutral. Don't like it?
"OK, would you like some more veggies or bread?" She spat it out politely in her napkin.

I use frozen pie crust– whole wheat if they have it. Be sure it's not a sweetened one intended for sweet pies. I made one once with a sugary crust and it truly WAS "disgusting."

Quick Quiche (adapted from Nestle Carnation recipe)
prep time 15 minutes, cook time 50 ish...
Poke frozen pie crust with a fork several times. Put pie shell in a 450 degree oven for about 8 minutes under foil, remove foil, cook another 4 minutes or so. Depending on brand you may need to prick a bubble or cover with foil if edges get too brown. I added this step after eating some soggy crusts that weren't pre-cooked. Turn oven down to 350 degrees...

1 pie shell (pre-cooked partially as above)
1 12 ounce can evaporated milk (not sweetened condensed)
3 large eggs
1/4 cup all -purpose flour
1 cup shredded Swiss Cheese (divided) I used some sliced Jarlsburg I had on hand. You can improvise with the cheese.
1/2 cup cooked bacon or cubed ham
1/4 cup sliced green onions (I use leeks-one small leek which I sautee for about 5 minutes in a small amount of bacon fat left in the pan)
1/2 tspn dried thyme
1/4 tspn salty

Whisk together milk, eggs, flour in large bowl. Stir in 1/2 the cheese, all the ham and leeks, thyme, salt, pepper. Pour into pre-cooked pie shell, sprinkle with remaining cheese

bake for 45-50 minutes or until knife inserted near center comes out clean. Cool 5-7 minutes before serving. Ad lib with whatever veggies you have on hand. Asparagus? Peppers?

Thursday, September 10, 2009

watch FFD Sept 14th

Another TV spot coming up which I'm excited about. So good to get the word out about the importance of a loving and healthy feeding relationship. We're doing something a little different with some Family Dinner role-playing. Write in if you have any suggestions, or struggles you'd like to see us deal with on air! Hope you can TiVO or tune in this Monday, September 14th at 3 pm on Twin Cities local channel 5. I'll try to post a link next week.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

mortar and pestle and home-made Chai

This is a comment from "Harpy" to the pesto posting...

A fun way for kids (or anyone really) to make pesto is to use a mortar and pestle. You get a different taste and texture to using a blender or processor, as when you pound the basil leaves, you "bruise" them and release the aromatics. There's a stronger scent and thus a different taste. You can note the colour of mechanically blended pesto is much lighter green than the pesto pounded by hand, something else it might be interesting for children to note, as well as the texture changes the more you pound. (You can get good big granite mortar and pestle sets for $20-30 these days, they're very useful.) I find adding a little fresh lemon juice to the pesto adds another taste dimension, as do different kinds of olive oils. Adding coarse salt, like celtic or sea salt helps grind everything up.

Another idea for mortar and pestles with kids from Family Feeding Dynamics...
home-made Chai tea (makes 2 cups)
2 inches of cinnamon stick
6-8 cardamom seeds
1 tea bag (use after you serve the kids)
1 cup of milk
1 cup of water (just use half water/half milk, can increase quantity for more servings)
Crush the cinnamon and cardamom with mortar and pestle. Let kids help as appropriate. Heat the water and milk on low. Add crushed spices, note the smell. Let steep a little while. Careful not to let boil or scorch. Pour milk through a sieve for your child, then add tea bag to steep for you. Pour through sieve. Add sugar or preferred sweetener to taste and enjoy! I prefer this to the powdered Chai mixes because you can control the sweetness and its so clean and fresh tasting– not muddied by too many ingredients.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

talking to kids about eating and wellness

This NYT article on feeding kids is a mixed bag. Some good points, but mostly a lot of the "common wisdom" kind of thinking that got us into this mess with food in the first place.
The author started his first serious diet at age 8, which led to years of binge eating and bulemia. He's published a recent memoir of his struggles, but I fear he still doesn't get it.

Good Points:
1) He acknowledges that there is a lot of angst on the part of parents about how to talk to kids about food without making matters worse. I see this when I talk to parents, and it's oneof the reasons why I founded Family Feeding Dynamics. This angst is making things worse.

"I was struck by just how much thought they had given to coaxing their children toward a sensible eating and away from extreme indulgence or self-denial."

"Every parent fretted over the right language to use with children."

2) He acknowledges that appetites vary. I talk to parents about this. Some kids are born hungry, others seem to care less about food. I, for instance get antsy if I don't eat at least every 4 hours most days. I get preoccupied and feel icky if I get too hungry. My spouse on the other hand could go without eating for most of the day and not really notice. There is a physiological difference. There is a hormonal, psychological, food-related, neural basis for people having different appetites. (Dieting and deprivation radically effect hunger, appetite etc.) If you are one who has a mild appetite or interest in food, having a child who is the opposite can be baffling and scary.

One expert said, "Food lights up some people more than it lights up other people. We're not born the same."

And then the bad news...

One mom in the story worked hard to "restrain" portions and be healthy, and then when the daughter came home from a trip to Italy a few pounds heavier (the story suggests) she gets the girl signed up at a gym. (Though this anecdote seems to be portrayed positively.)

A 16 year ols who is "slim and gravitated naturally towards less fattening foods" dared to go for a bowl of ice-cream after a 3 mile run. When Dad tried to steer her away from the ice-cream to a "healthier choice" she got upset, insinuated her Dad was calling her fat. (Was it really a bad choice for her to enjoy a bowl if ice-cream?)

The author concludes that appetite is "mysterious" and notes the "tricky task parents face in trying to regulate it."

And here is the failure of thinking that we fall back on too easily.

It's tricky to "regulate" or control our children's appetites because we can't. And all that angst and effort leads to heavier kids and more disordered eating. Kids pushed to eat more tend to eat less, and kids pushed to eat less tend to eat more, and no one is very happy during the process.
In fact, given the right support and structure, we can trust that our children's bodies can regulate themselves. We need to do a good job feeding our children on a schedule, allowing them to eat from mostly healthy foods most of the time until they are satisfied. We need to move our bodies and give them opportunities to do the same because it feels good, not because the kid gained a few pounds. We need to enjoy treats and forbidden foods without guilt and shame. We need to reject dieting and weight loss as a goal. We need to love our children unconditionally. Not everyone can grow up to be slim, but they can be healthy.