Category Archives: Food and Nutrition

Dinner winner: 7 tips that got our toddler to eat

My sweet Little Bean (which is one of her many nicknames, and much less visually confusing than “A”.) has been challenging at the dinner table, but we seem to have gotten into a good routine lately.  After lots of stress about food, we’ve found a few things that work for us.

1) Give a very small portion on her plate, and have extra set aside to top it up. Too much food on a plate can be overwhelming visually, and seems daunting.  She seems to enjoy it better when she can clear her plate and then ask for more.

2) Everyone at the table eats the same thing, and we sit down and eat together as a family. Seeing hubby and I eating something will encourage her to give it a try. Sometimes she prefers to sit on our laps and eat right off our plates, which is also okay, though not always convenient.

3) If she gets dramatic about not eating something, stay calm and don’t give attention to it. Instead, turn conversation to anything else – toys, her day, whatever – and keep eating.  This is sometimes easier said than done, especially when she’s shouting “I don’t want it!” and turning her head and flailing her arms in front of her face.

4) Include her in the dinner conversation. It’s a family meal, and when she gets to participate I find everything goes more smoothly.  Even when it’s just asking her what sounds an animal makes.

5) Try presenting things differently. Little Bean HATES cooked vegetables but loves them raw. With pasta, she prefers the noodles plain, and having the sauce on the side like a dip. Even cutting things into different shapes, or steaming instead of pan-frying, or just organizing on the plate can make a difference.

6) Remember that she knows when she feels full, and respect that. This is the hardest for us, since my daughter has always been at the bottom of the growth chart for weight and eating has been a HUGE stressor for hubby and I. But, also, announcing that she’s full means that she’s done, and doesn’t get to snack later outside of her normal routine. She still has to sit at the table and hang out with us if we’re not done eating. We leave the table at the same time. Sometimes she’ll pick at what’s on her plate some more, which is fine. We’ll leave it out for her until we’re all done and put all the dishes away at the same time.

7) NO tech at the table. No phones, no TV, nothing. It’s our time to connect with each other, to talk and make eye contact. This is NOT negotiable in our house.

It has taken some trial and error to get to this point.  Dinner time is still not flawless, but it has improved a lot.

What tips or tricks would you suggest for a picky eater?

Enjoying a Canada Day poutine with daddy.

Enjoying a Canada Day poutine with daddy. Photo courtesy Daddy’s Twitter account.

Stirring the dry ingredients

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving to my fellow Canadians!  I have so many things to be thankful for, starting with my wonderful family.  We are all happy and healthy, and that really is a lot to be thankful for.  I’m thankful for our cozy home, our two ridiculous dogs, and the love and support of our extended family, both blood relations and the chosen relations. I’m thankful for the small things too: the last crop of raspberries from our back yard; the fun creative outlet that is making jewellery; and, those deliciously quiet moments where everyone else is napping.

I originally wanted to do something exciting today with the family, since hubby and I are both enjoying the long weekend.  I thought of going out somewhere, but couldn’t decide on anything that A would really enjoy.  So, we stayed in and have been playing and enjoying time together at home.  It wasn’t all playing with the Little People farm and banging on A’s drum – I took a look through the pantry and found all the ingredients we needed to make some banana bread!  I got A to help by pouring ingredients into her bowl and stirring the dry ingredients, which she did with much care.  I brought her little table into the kitchen so it would be at the right height, and she loved helping out almost as much as she enjoyed tasting the finished product! Those who know me know I’m not much of a baker, but if it helps get A enthusiastic about the kitchen and preparing food, I’m willing to learn.

Stirring the dry ingredients

Stirring the dry ingredients, most of which stayed in the bowl.

Recipe review: Sesame and Panko-Crusted Chicken

Like a lot of families, it’s easy to fall into a rut with dinners.  Hubby gets home with A about a half-hour before she starts getting hungry, which doesn’t leave a lot of time for cooking or being creative in the kitchen.

I hunted around online for some toddler-friendly recipes and came across this one on Red Tricycle, which ended up being a huge hit.  It was easy and quick to put together.  Since it’s baked, it’s way healthier than traditional breaded and fried chicken.  The chicken came out moist inside, and the breading was nice and crunchy.  I had to make two substitutions: I only had about a half cup of panko crumbs so I made up the difference with regular bread crumbs; and, I used skinless boneless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch strips.  It was delicious, and I look forward to trying it again with just the panko crumbs.  It would also be tasty with some dipping sauce, perhaps some plum sauce.  Click the link in the recipe title to go to the original page.

“Crunchy-Crunchy” Sesame & Panko-Crusted Chicken

Ingredients

  • 1 kg (2 pounds) chicken wings or drumsticks
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1 cup fresh or panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup sesame seeds

Optional:
Thai sweet chilli sauce
Cajun seasoning

Method

  • Preheat oven to 400F.
  • Wash chick and pat dry. Rub all over with a little salt.
  • Place the beaten egg in a shallow dish. On another plate, mix the breadcrumbs with the sesame seeds and some salt and pepper to taste.
  • Dip each piece of chicken into the egg, drain off excess, and coat it well with the breadcrumb mixture. Press the breadcrumbs firmly onto chicken so that they adhere properly. Repeat with the rest of the chicken.
  • Arrange the chicken on the baking tray and bake in the oven for 45 minutes, turning halfway while cooking, until chicken is golden brown and cooked. Transfer to a serving plate and enjoy while hot and crunchy!

Optional:
When the chicken is cooked, brush some sweet chilli sauce all over the chicken and bake again for 2-3 minutes until caramelized.

For a spicy twist, omit the salt in the breadcrumb mixture and substitute with 1 tbsp cajun seasoning instead, and a pinch of cayenne pepper for extra heat.

Baby Cereal Pancakes

I wanted to try something different for breakfast today, so I whipped up some baby cereal pancakes.  I found the recipe on http://wholesomebabyfood.momtastic.com/ , and it was a huge hit!  Here’s the recipe as found on the website:

1 cup whole wheat flour (this will make a dense pancake; you can use 1 1/2 cups of all purpose flour if you prefer)
1/2 cup uncooked commercial baby barley cereal from the box (or rice commercial baby cereal) 
1/2 cup uncooked commercial baby oatmeal cereal from the box
1 cup formula (or another liquid such as milk) 
1/2 cup mashed banana (or fruit of your choice) 
1 tbsp melted margarine or butter (unsalted type) 
3 egg yolks 
apple juice (about 1/2 cup) or use water if you prefer

Add cinnamon, nutmeg, dash of vanilla or other flavorings if you wish.

Mix all ingredients together and add enough juice to make pancake consistency. Cook on your cook top in a frying pan as you would with “regular” pancakes. Cooking these baby cereal pancakes on a griddle will work better as you will have more control over the temperature and will be better able to keep the temp. at a constant heat. 

**Freezes Well**

I used whole wheat flour, and added a tablespoon of baking powder to fluff the pancakes up a bit more.  I used mashed banana, which I don’t think I’d use again.  I found wetter spots in a couple of the pancakes from where there was a little banana clump.  Next time, I’d either puree the banana first, or swap it for something like blueberries, or maybe some applesauce.  I also used 1 cup of oat baby cereal, as that’s what I had on hand.

My darling little A gobbled up her pancake and asked for a second.  Success!  Moments of enthusiasm about food are few and far between.

Baby Cereal Pancakes

Mmm, pancakes! The fork is still a work in progress. 🙂

Forget it, cupcake

We went out to visit friends this past Monday and had a great time.  Dinner was great, we exchanged a few presents, and A even let herself be held by someone other than her parents.

Trish, our hostess, makes fabulous cakes and cupcakes. (You can find her work here).  She passed along a few mini cupcakes to us so we could celebrate A’s birthday with some yummy homemade goodies.

After lunch, I decided to see what A thought of her cupcakes, and put one out for her.  She considered it for a moment, and then started crying.  I immediately removed it (What else could I do?  I ate it.) and she calmed down.  Kids have weird things that set them off, and cupcakes are apparently one of A’s.

A and the offending cupcake

A and the offending cupcake

Self-feeding and reusable pouches

All throughout A’s life, feeding has been a bit of a struggle. We had a tough time getting a good latch when she was a newborn. A lactation consultant recommended a nipple shield, which worked wonders for us. Eventually she got better at nursing and didn’t need it anymore, and it was nice to simplify breastfeeding a bit.

Once we started solid food, we had a whole other set of challenges.  We had to find the right spoon.  She’d only eat her cereal if it was slightly warmed. Some days she didn’t want it at all. We slowly introduced vegetables and fruit, and she definitely has her favourites.  I’ve tried finger foods with mixed results. I’ve cooked a few recipes online that get gobbled up one day and shunned the next. It seems that A is consistently inconsistent.

One thing hubby and I noticed recently is that A is more interested in the spoon. She grabs at it, pulls the contents off, smears her food all over. She doesn’t seem interested in using the spoon to eat, though. She loves to feed herself (when it’s a food she likes that day), and is a big fan of cereal O’s and the like.

We had an epiphany when grandma was telling us about a day they had spent together. She had given A one of those pouch-style store-bought baby purees, and A had grabbed it and stuffed it in her mouth and eaten most of the contents. I went online that night and ordered a set of refillable baby food pouches from squooshi.com.

Once the pouches arrived we gave them a wash & tried one out. We filled it with a favourite puree, and after a few moments, she figured out where dinner was and chowed down. Success!

Like always, she has remained inconsistent. If she’s in a mood to eat, she’ll make quick work of the puree. If she’s not then it becomes an exciting projectile. At least it makes less of a mess than an open container or a bowl.

The pouches are easy to fill and straightforward to use. Their website has recipes that I’m looking forward to trying. We didn’t buy the filling station but filling the pouches by spoon or pouring usually works quite well.  They’re also pretty cute, with cartoon penguins, pandas, walruses, and monkeys printed on them.

It’s great to have the pouches in our food arsenal, and on days where A is exerting her independence, they are a fun and cute way to get her to eat.

What methods/tricks have you used to get your little ones to eat?

Squooshi

Mmm, lunch! Also, pointing is cool.

Disclaimer: We bought these ourselves & weren’t influenced by anyone.  Except maybe the penguin, he’s pretty persuasive.

Biscuits in the oven, gonna watch ’em rise

I’m not much of a baker.  My cookies are often black on the bottom and fluffy things tend to come out pretty flat.  In my opinion, cooking is an art, and baking is a science, and I’m much better at art in the kitchen.  Go figure, since I got great marks in chemistry class way back in high school.

However, in the effort to get A to eat more at the table, I’m trying my hand at baking.  Specifically, the Cheese and Broccoli Muffins from this site:

Cheese and Broccoli Muffins

6 cooked broccoli florets, chopped
6 grape/cherry tomatoes, chopped
4 oz (1 cup) grated Cheddar cheese
8 oz (2 cups) self rising flour (or – to reduce salt levels – use all purpose/plain flour plus 3 level tsp baking powder)
6 fl oz (3/4 cup) milk – use whole milk, or breastmilk/formula if you prefer
3 tbsp olive oil
1 egg, beaten

Pre-heat the oven to 375 deg F, 180 deg C.
In a bowl, mix together the flour, cheese and chopped broccoli.
Add the chopped tomatoes, milk, oil and egg and blend thoroughly.
Grease a 12 hole muffin tin and spoon in the batter.
Bake for 25 to 35 mins until golden.

Please note that these muffins will be fairly dense and moist.

Cheese and broccoli muffin batter

The batter was stiff but easy to work with

Cheese and broccoli muffins

Letting the muffins cool. They look tasty!

I went with the formula option since A isn’t on whole milk just yet & I didn’t have any breastmilk pumped. I also only had whole wheat flour, so added the baking powder and crossed my fingers.  I tested them at 25 minutes and they were dry in the middle, so I took them out to cool.

Success! There were a few crumbs left over, but A ate most of a muffin. Woo hoo! They weren’t quite as moist as I was expecting, but A seemed happy enough to eat one so we’ll call that a win.

Post-muffin baby

All that remains is a few crumbs and a baby heading towards a food coma. 🙂