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Jan 14 2014

How to Use Tu Bishvat to Help Your Kids Stop Wasting Food

By at 11:57 am

how to teach kids to stop wasting food

You’ll never hear me tell my kids to join the “clean plate club.” My father used to always push back when my grandparents told me to clean my plate. Somewhere in between their depression-mentality and his realization that giving your kid a stomachache and making them overeat really didn’t accomplish anything lies that reasonable parental desire to help curb our kids’ seemingly innate tendency to waste food.

Whether you’re that parent that really won’t let your kid eat anything else except what is served for dinner, or you’re that parent who gives in and let’s them have a bowl of cereal, or, heaven forbid, the one who becomes a short-order cook, most of us cringe when our kids waste the food they’re served or serve themselves.

How convenient then that we can use Tu Bishvat, the Jewish “Birthday of the Trees,” as an opportunity to reduce their wastefulness (Tu Bishvat is from sundown on Wednesday to sundown on Thursday). Kids really get a kick out of this birthday concept and want to learn more. If the trees are so special that they deserve their own holiday, we should have respect for the food that comes off of them and be sure to use it respectfully.

Have you ever become frustrated at how much your kids waste or wondered if it really is as much as you think it is? Here’s what you can do at home: Read the rest of this entry →

Oct 8 2013

My Kid Won’t Eat Veggies, But I’m Not to Blame

By at 9:49 am

shutterstock_126710522

When my daughter started eating solid foods, we did exactly as the pediatrician said. Start with rice cereal, then move to fruits and vegetables that are yellow & orange, then to fruits and vegetables that are green, purple, and red. My daughter liked to eat and I never really thought more about it. As she grew older, she grew pickier. She moved from eating most things to only eating some things to only eating a few things: macaroni and cheese, chicken nuggets, bagels (with butter, no cream cheese), grilled cheese, and a pretty good variety of fruit. But NO VEGETABLES.

No vegetables. Not one, not ever. When she was 2 1/2, we went to a friend’s house, who just happens to be a professional chef, and she served purple and orange carrots, roasted vegetables, and meatloaf with veggies hidden inside. My daughter picked at the meatloaf, but that was it. At 3 years old, I hosted a dinner play date for a bunch of friends. We made ravioli, edamame, and steamed carrots. My daughter refused the carrots, only tried the edamame because we called them magic beans while singing a song from Yo Gabba Gabba about trying new foods, and she even hated the ravioli, which is cheese and pasta–the same as macaroni and cheese–but I guess it’s not, to her. Read the rest of this entry →

Sep 4 2013

Wishing You a Sweet–But Not Too Sweet–New Year

By at 12:04 pm

drizzling honey onto apple rosh hashanahA few days ago I was busy in my kitchen preparing a double batch of honey cakes for the upcoming Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah. In between measuring out cups of honey, sugar, and flour, I found myself thinking about the traditional blessing for a happy, healthy, and sweet new year that Jews around the world wish each other in the weeks and days leading up to the holiday.

Mostly, I rattle off the words without much deeper thought as to what I am actually saying. Naturally I want my loved ones and the Jewish people as a whole to be blessed with health and happiness. Sweetness sure sounds like a good thing, too. But, as I peered down into the bowl of gooey cake batter, I started to wonder what type of sweetness I was talking about and whether it was such a good blessing to be doling out after all. Read the rest of this entry →

Apr 29 2013

Overcoming My Eating Disorder & Raising a Healthy Daughter

By at 5:07 pm

scale on a plate with knife and forkI gave birth to my daughter six months ago, and, a few sleep-deprived weeks later, I realized it was right around the 10th “anniversary” of when I was admitted to a hospital for an eating disorders inpatient program.

When I try to reconcile the memory of my scared, enervated teen self with myself today, as a (somewhat) confident mother of two with visibly muscled biceps from lugging around a giant purse, a diaper bag, a breast pump, a baby, and sometimes a 38-pound 3-year-old, it’s difficult. But I still vividly remember the feelings of insecurity, self-doubt, and physical weakness. As it turns out, you can be too thin after all. Read the rest of this entry →

Jan 31 2013

I’m So Tired of “What Are We Having for Dinner?”

By at 3:38 pm

angry kid at dinner with carrotsAs my children trickle home from school and their tummies begin to rumble, I can hear the question before it even begins to leave their mouths. With authority that they think is their birthright, they ask me, “What are we having for dinner?”

Oh, how I have grown to strongly dislike this inquiry. When the question begins to form, it is not just on the lips of one child but the lips of four little mouths whining in unison. It’s a rhetorical question for sure and experience has taught me that there is no correct answer that will satisfy all eight ears. Read the rest of this entry →

Jan 29 2013

Feeding My Daughter Bathtub Peanut Butter

By at 2:37 pm

Our 16-month-old daughter has always been on the low end of the weight percentile scales for her age. She dipped down to 0-3% a few months ago, but averages around 9%. She’s normal if not a tad above average for her height.

She’s a noodle. We get really excited when she moves up a diaper size. She’s up to size 4. As if I didn’t have enough to be anxious about as a new mom, the percentile game added a number value to my self-perceived success as a parent. Though a bit underweight, the doctors assure us that she is doing just great developmentally, and suggest we mix butter into her food to get some extra calories into her. Read the rest of this entry →

Jan 15 2013

When You’re Not the Only One Feeding Your Child

By at 4:10 pm

handing over a popsicleWe all have plans for how our children will eat. The other parents will drool with jealousy over the varied and sophisticated palate of our little ones. They’ll run around the playground clutching carrot and celery sticks and turn their nose up at white bread. This works for a while, until your child leaves the house. Then it’s all over.

For the first time since I had my son, in January of 2012, I braved going to a Friday night Shabbaton dinner at my shul. With Shabbat starting early in the winter, it was pre-meltdown time for him and my 4-year old-daughter. Of course I forgot our little booster seat, so my eating-dinner-like-a-mentschette plan was in major jeopardy. When a family friend (aka the “baby whisperer”) told me it would be his pleasure to hold little “Dimples” on his lap during the fish course, I threw him the baby and ran to my seat to stuff my face while I had two hands and a lap free. Read the rest of this entry →

May 17 2012

The Day to Day Woes of Food Allergies

By at 12:03 pm

peanut allergyI never thought my diaper bag would save a life. But the EpiPen that I carry in that diaper bag serves as a reminder that my child’s life could be in danger at any time, in any place. I need to be prepared to recognize his allergic reaction, stab him in the leg with the EpiPen for 10 seconds while holding him down, and get emergency help ASAP. All while keeping his 16 -month-old twin brother safe, too.

The challenge of food allergies hasn’t been the countless trips to the dermatologist when my son’s face, legs, ankles and diaper area were weeping, seeping, and raw. It wasn’t the day my mother held him down while a nurse drew blood from his tiny veins and I paced the hallway holding his brother, waiting for his screams to erupt the silence. It wasn’t giving up dairy and eggs while breastfeeding. It wasn’t even the morning my husband awakened to find the baby’s entire face swollen so severely that we couldn’t see the whites of his eyes–and within minutes we were on our first ambulance ride. Read the rest of this entry →

May 16 2012

Pregnancy Cravings & The Evils of Trader Joe’s

By at 2:58 pm
trader joes milk chocolate peanut butter pretzels

How cruel.

I suspected I was pregnant with my fourth child even before the little ritual with peeing on the stick for two reasons. Reason 1: It is not normal to fall asleep in the (parked) car in the carpool line. Reason 2: It is not normal to think that dipping chocolate covered pretzels in hot sriracha sauce would constitute a tasty snack. Well, okay, both of those reasons are “normal” behavior–normal behavior for a woman who is pregnant, that is.

Food is a touchstone of pregnancy. It’s not only because a pregnant woman has to think of the developing child in her womb as she chooses what to eat, but also because those “pregnancy cravings” are very real. Trader Joe’s trips, normally a comparatively inexpensive supermarket trip to stock up on fresh vegetables, have become a veritable minefield of lethal snacks. There is definitely someone pregnant working in product development for that store (chocolate covered peanut butter filled pretzels, exhibit A), and they prey on my dramatic pregnant appetites. Read the rest of this entry →

Sep 6 2011

Vacation is Over, Getting Your Kids To Eat Well Again

By at 1:00 pm

I got back Saturday from five days on the beach in Cape May, N.J. (It should have been a week’s vacation; I’m looking at you, Hurricane Irene.) And instead of feeling rejuvenated, I’m nursing a stomach sick from eating ice cream, crab cakes, ice cream, saltwater taffy, ice cream, chicken cheese steaks, a hot dog, and ice cream. But that’s not what’s eating me. I’m more bothered that Ellie, my 20-month-old, keeps saying her stomach hurts, too.

I’m not going to pretend that she eats perfectly all the time. If it’s green or meat, she’s not interested, and I’m convinced that if it were not for the existence of challah, she would have long ago starved. But in Cape May, the only options on the kids’ menus were hot dogs, grilled cheese, fried shrimp, chicken fingers, buttered noodles, and mac and cheese – all served with fries and a tot-size soft drink. There wasn’t a veggie to be found. (Potatoes in the fries don’t count.) When I asked at a pricey Italian restaurant if the chef could steam some carrots in place of the fries, the waitress said no.

Much to my annoyance, my husband wasn’t nearly as concerned as I was about what Ellie was putting in her mouth. He justified her poor diet as a casualty of being on vacation. After all, we weren’t exactly scarfing down broiled salmon and crispy kale. “She’ll get right back on track when we get home,” he assured me.

That kids’ menus offer little more than fat- and cholesterol-laden options is not new, not unique to Cape May and, when you get down to it, not very surprising. After all, those are the foods most kids – heck, most adults, if we’re being honest – would prefer to eat. And us parents, hoping to avoid a scene in a public place, let them eat it.

But even McDonald’s lets you choose apple slices and milk in lieu of fries and a soda in a Happy Meal. Isn’t it time for more restaurants step up to the plate?

Now we’re home and Ellie keeps asking for mac and cheese. She hasn’t gotten it. Tonight she had a tantrum because she wanted ice cream after her bath. She didn’t get that, either. Of course, at her age she doesn’t connect her tummy trouble to what she ate, so getting her back on track will apparently be tougher than I naively thought it would be.

Short of packing a suitcase full of fruit, yogurt and whole-grain bread, what’s a parent to do? What do you do to make sure your children eat healthy away from home?

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