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Oct 7 2013

Why Are Israeli Preschools Feeding Our Kids Crap?

By at 10:24 am

 

shutterstock_47582197

Israel does a lot of things exceptionally well: Jewish life in general, giving people reasons to weep from spiritual depth, falafel, breeding good-looking Jews. But you know what Israelis aren’t doing so well? Feeding children. And while some mothers may fantasize about expensive vacations or ivy league acceptance for their kids, I find myself lost in a flurry of daydreams involving my toddler eating unsweetened peanut butter on whole wheat bread or some yogurt without added sugar.

Am I crazy? Maybe. But Israeli preschools leave me no choice. On English language forums for mothers in Israel, almost daily, a frazzled mother tells a tale about how their kids get a snack, supposedly to “keep them going” in the afternoon, of white bread with chocolate spread, cookies, or the infamous Bamba (think peanut butter flavored cheese doodles). But don’t worry, they don’t really give 2 and 3-year-olds candy and cake anymore. Having realized that it’s not so nutritious, they only give it on special occasions, including but not limited to a class birthday, an upcoming holiday, Rosh Chodesh, and Shabbat (you know, that weekly occurrence). Really very infrequently, they say. 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 →

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 →

Oct 12 2012

Kids Bring You Their Favorite Healthy Recipes

By at 12:11 pm
healthy lunchtime challenge

The faces of the talented young chefs.

Need some new healthy, kid-friendly lunchtime options in your repertoire? Michelle Obama and 54 little talented chefs have just the thing for you.

As part of a project called “The Healthy Lunchtime Challenge,” the First Lady paired up with Epicurious to ask kids  between 8-12 years old to send in their favorite healthy recipes. One recipe from each state (plus a few territories) was chosen and compiled in this free, online cookbook. You can check out the whole cookbook here, and we’ve picked out two of our favorites below. Happy healthy eating! Read the rest of this entry →

Apr 17 2012

My Daughter Wants to Eat Just Like Me

By at 2:03 pm
chocolate cake

I've been dreaming about this cake for days.

If you are what you eat, then I am slowly becoming a birthday cake this week. But more than that, I’ve realized that I’m a full-fledged, certifiable food hypocrite.

I realized this the other day as I waited excitedly until my husband had whisked our daughter off for a nap. See, that meant I could dive into a slice of chocolatey goodness without Ellie seeing me do it. She would want some, but she is allowed one dessert a day, after dinner–and only if she actually eats said dinner. So as I pushed carrots, grapes, and blueberries at her, visions of icing roses danced in my head. Read the rest of this entry →

Nov 10 2011

Accessorizing My Way to Exercise

By at 12:24 pm

running shoesEarlier this week, Shannon wrote about running marathons to keep her sanity. But it’s not for everybody. What’s your exercise routine, or should we say, do you have one?

It has been a little over a year since I gave birth, yet I still look seven months pregnant.  My momma friends back in NYC were those lucky women who bounce back to their original size moments after giving birth and then run marathons.  I was never a size 2 to begin with, but I was thinner once upon a time.

I convinced myself that dieting and exercise could wait until after I finished nursing. Since I am not the healthiest eater and have Crohn’s disease, I didn’t want to reduce any of the few nutrients I was getting into my body. But when I finished nursing, I was trying to get pregnant. Once again, I did not want to change anything in my lifestyle or eating habits in case it jeopardized my getting pregnant again. In the meantime, my self-image has fallen to an all-time low. I just can’t stand the way I look anymore. I am embarrassed to go out, and in a new town,  that makes meeting people pretty much impossible. It is almost too hard to write about because I am so unhappy with it.

A few days ago I decided to take charge of the situation. I decided to start working out on the treadmill at the small gym in our apartment complex. It is not in my DNA to be a gym rat, and it is hard for me to stay motivated. I also have plantar fascitis (a painful foot condition) that sidelines me easily. I tackled this problem like anything I put my mind to: with shopping. Read the rest of this entry →

Oct 19 2011

Setting the Table

By at 9:43 am

Cooking together is such a luxury.

The kitchen table is a lot more than just a few planks of wood. It’s where memories are made, traditions are continued, and families spend time together. It’s actually one of the most important pieces of furniture in your house.

And, if you’re anything like me, getting dinner on that table can be difficult. Balancing taking care of my daughter with wanting to cook healthy, local, affordable food that everyone wants to eat (including the picky toddler) is really hard. I’ve been trying lots of different techniques–from using the slow cooker to making lots of food on Sunday to eat throughout the week–but sometimes I wish I had someone to tell me exactly what and how to make it all happen.

And sometimes, wishes come true. Enter Hazon‘s Setting the Table, a new program happening here in Brooklyn (again, our apologies to those who don’t live in our esteemed borough). If you’re an expectant parent or have a child ages 0-2, you’re eligible for this awesome series. It’s four cooking classes taught by experienced chef (and local mom), Molly Weingrod. They’ll teach you how to think about cooking for your family, how to cook together, and even what kind of food to buy. You’ll think about what it means to cook sustainable and healthy food, and learn about how that can have a positive impact on your family. You’ll make meals to eat that night at class, and have leftovers to take home and freeze for when you need them. And if you’re a parent, you know that having ready-to-go food in the freezer is key.

There’s a November session and a December session, but the spots are filling up quickly, so sign up now! Families who took the class this past spring were surprised by how amazing it was to actually cook together–they’d cooked for each other, but never with each other. Turns out it’s pretty special. Look at how happy that real-life couple in the photo is!

After I learned about this program, they’d totally convinced me to sign up. Who’s with me?

Sep 6 2011

The Power of a Clean House

By at 4:12 pm

Turns out that vinegar, baking soda, and lemons are more powerful than I thought.

As my past roommates can attest, I’ve never been what you’d call a neat-freak. I’m a little bit messy. (Not dirty-gross, just messy-cluttered.) And I never worried about that. Of course, I liked having a clean house, but I didn’t like having to keep it clean. So life was just cluttered.

But then we had a kid. And whatever level of messy I used to be is nothing compared to what my life is filled with now. Two-year-olds generate a massive amount of mess. (If you’ve ever given your 2-year-old rice, you totally get where I’m coming from.) So I’ve started thinking more and more about cleaning up messes, and how we do it.

We recently moved into a new apartment, and we very much needed to clean our dishwasher. (Though you might think that’s a self-cleaning product, it’s not.) So I googled “how to clean a dishwasher” and discovered that the best way to do it is really just with white vinegar and baking soda. And elbow grease. So an hour later, I’d removed a lot of gross stuff from the innards of my dishwasher (and a few pieces of porcelain and broken glass–thanks so much, people who lived here before us) and had an incredibly clean dishwasher that now cleans dishes better than any dishwasher I’ve ever had.

So now I’m wondering about those simple things I always have in my house: vinegar, baking soda, and lemons. Is it better to use those around young children than the harsh chemicals in traditional household cleaning products?

Help me out Kvellers–how do you clean your home? And what else can I do with vinegar and baking soda?

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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