Getting Children to Eat

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I’m a huge advocate for dinner. I cook it almost every night and there is really no predicting what it might be.

When my husband and I were first married cooking dinner was actually a sour point of our nascent marriage. Scott had been a bachelor for 11 years and for 11 years he had pretty much decided what he’d eat for dinner. Usually it was a salad. . .or some take out. This arrangement worked well for him until the new wife decided that she, armed with the wedding gift, Marc Bittman’s How to Cook Everything, was going to do just that. . .cook everything.

She thought it was an act of love. . .he felt it resembled gastronomical homicide–and it seemed a little threatening to his bachelor ways. It wasn’t that she was a bad cook. . .it just was that he wasn’t used to the cooking. . .and then the inevitable clean-up. Life was so much easier with a salad or ordering take-out.

It probably took us a good part of our first couple of years for Scott to realize that cooking was my way of showing love (oh, he could have thought of a better way. . .). And, even when kids arrived on the scene, cooking was still my norm because. . .well, have you ever taken two newborns and two toddlers out to eat. Don’t. Ever.

I remember Scott coming home from work one day and saying that one of his colleagues couldn’t believe that I cooked dinner every day. I looked at him quizzically and asked, “Well, what would we eat if I didn’t cook dinner?” And, honestly dinner time is the WORST time in a mom’s life. The kids are hungry and needy and cranky and many a dinner was cooked with literally one hand as I was holding someone in one arm while the other child tried to scale up my leg. I’d then put one child down and pick up the other and continue cooking. Rinse. Repeat.

But, on the flip side, and if you are one of those mothers or fathers who try your hardest to get a meal on the table, there is a flip side, my kids are pretty much good eaters. And, they will eat almost everything. . .well, except for Will who has a thing about tomatoes. . .and sautéed fresh spinach. . .and if truth-be-told  would have Honey Bunches of Oats for breakfast EVERY DAY if it was available.

SONY DSC
Dylan Eating Cantaloupe

So, when I read Mark Bittman’s article from the NY Times, Getting Your Kids to Eat (or at Least Try) Everything, I felt somewhat vindicated that for the past 14 years I’ve been cooking my family meals.  (Bittman’s actually been all over the media these days promoting his new book, How to Cook Everything Fast.) He is also an advocate for home cooked meals and his newest book is about how easy it is to get something on the table for you and your family.

So, how do you get your children to try or eat just about everything?

  • Cook real food. Yes they’ll eat heated chicken nuggets until you think they’ll start to cluck. . .but you replace that with a roasted chicken (it is SO EASY) or Korean Beef –another super easy recipe.
  • Offer a broad variety of food and let them decide what they like or don’t like.
  • Serve at least one healthy thing you know they’ll like but if they refuse to eat what you’ve prepared, let older kids make themselves a sandwich. Never make food a power struggle.
  • LIMIT SNACKING and GET RID OF JUNK FOOD. This is a hard one. . .but let me tell you that kids are  finickier when they are only somewhat hungry because they’ve been snacking. Food looks good to someone with an appetite and kids are more prone to try something if they are hungry.
  • Engage children and your partner in the food prep. Teach them how to do things. TALK OUT LOUD about what you are doing and why as you are cooking. Even after you set the meal on the table tell them HOW you made one of the items.
  • When the kids are older than 3: Always honor the meal AND the cook. . .have someone set the table with real placemats, forks and plates. Heck, get some of that china out and set the table with that! Light some candles!
  • Even if children didn’t like something the first time. . .serve it again and maybe again. Babies sometimes take 15 times of trying a new food before they’ll eat it. Their palates are just developing. Countless times I’ve served something that flopped only to serve it again to RAVE reviews.
  • BE UNAPOLOGETIC about cooking for your family. Never say something like, “Oh, because I’m a stay at home parent I have time. . .” or “Well, this part time job allows me to get home. . .” I’ve qualified my meal prep with these words. But the truth is that I’ve made some of these decisions in order to feed my family and I shouldn’t have to feel that my choices were somehow less than someone who chooses to work a 60 hour week. But in the long run. . .oh heck, even in the short run. . .everyone in your family will be better for that meal that you made.

Last, but not least, there is nothing in this world better than when your child walks into the house and says, “Mmmm, what smells so good, Mom!”

(A huge shout out to my mom, Judy, who had a good meal on the table almost every night and who raised a daughter and four boys who are damn good cooks! Thanks mom!)

Wouldn’t Do Without Wednesday: Baby Bjorn Bibs

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Categories Feeding, Feeding Older Children, Parenting, Preschoolers, Products, Solid Foods, Toddlers, Wouldn't Do Without Wednesday1 Comment

No parent enjoys the mess that is mealtime with young children.

Luckily, I found something to help us with that problem. As babies, all my kids wore cloth bibs during their waking hours, especially during teething, to catch all the drool and milk. We had several dozen cheap thin ones, lined with plastic on the back so they didn’t soak through. We changed these frequently as they got wet/soiled, and tossed them in with the wash. They worked wonderfully well.

However, as they began their rice cereal and then graduated to other messy colorful purees, the thin cloth bibs didn’t cut it anymore. Soft foods usually just slide right down a flat bib, and there is no mechanism on them for catching any solid foods (or food your child decides to spit out).

That’s when I discovered a new kind of bib: ones with a pocket! There are actually many brands out there, but the style is basically the same. It’s a molded plastic bib that catches food in its pocket. There are some made of just a thin piece of plastic with a flat pocket, which doesn’t seem very effective in catching any food at all. And there are some softer varieties that bend and move around with your child, which means the spilled food probably doesn’t stay put.

My favorite is the Baby Bjorn Bib. These are a little bit more rigid than the others, thicker, and sturdier. They attach around the neck via a sort of corded band across the top that you just press into the fastener at the other side, completely adjustable as your child grows or how close you want it to the neck, and much more secure than velcro. They come in all different colors, including gender neutral ones. But they are also somewhat pricey: Amazon currently lists these for about $15 a two-pack, which is a great deal because they sell for about $10 singly. th These best thing about them is not just that they are good at catching food, but they are incredibly easy to clean as well. After each meal we just rinse them off and they’re dry for the next meal. If we’re out, I just run around them with a wipey and go. And they are dishwasher safe! When I start a load of dishes, I just toss them in on top of the sippy cups and they get sanitized too.

Big Sis has for the most part grown out of using bibs. She is almost 5 after all. But sometimes at home when she knows she’s eating something messy, she will put her bib on to keep her clothes clean. But the twins have these bibs everywhere and use them at every meal. Over the years I have accumulated 9 of them: 3 for use at home, 2 at Grandma’s, 2 at in-laws, and 2 clipped to our diaper bag in the car. I wouldn’t be surprised if we get years more use out of these bibs yet!

lunchldyd is mom to 2.5yo b/g twins and their almost-5yo sister. She is also a part-time teacher.

Ask the Moms: Aversion to Solid Food

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What to do when a child won't take solid food? Feeding therapy may be the answer.

Reader Brielle had the following question for us:

I have 1 year old twins (11 months adjusted). My little girl is doing great, but my little boy is slightly delayed in some areas. One area that I’m concerned about is his diet. He. Will. Not. Eat. Food!!! He only wants to nurse! He won’t take a bottle or sippy cup. (I try every day.)

We first started solid foods when they were 6 months, and he has always been a struggle to feed, but there have been times when he will eat. But not anymore.

The doctor hasn’t really given any suggestions. His weight is right on track, so the doctor isn’t concerned about development. I feel like I will be nursing forever! I was hoping to start weaning them, but I can’t if he won’t eat anything else. Has anyone experienced anything similar? Any suggestions??

Brielle, it sounds like your son may have an aversion to solid food. Feeding therapy is available, usually through your local speech therapist. When my daughters’ pediatrician suggested seeing a speech therapist for dinnertime issues, it sounded crazy to me. I quickly realized that speech therapists work with children on all aspects of oral motor control.

Feeding therapy changed our lives. I am not knowledgeable enough to be able to predict what the source of your son’s dislike of solid foods, cups and bottles is. However, my daughter suffered from trouble swallowing (dysphagia) due to poor tongue muscle control thanks to a tongue too big for her mouth (macroglossia). A few months of tongue exercises at age 2 made mealtimes manageable and helped her get the calories she needed.

HDYDI author Goddess in Progress‘s youngest daughter has also been through feeding therapy and Marissa‘s son is working on it right now. Their situations sound more like your son’s. I’m pleased to report that Goddess’s daughter now willingly eats crackers, sandwiches, and other solid foods. Marissa’s son has been seen chowing down on a pickle!

  1. Ask your doctor for a speech therapist referral.
  2. If he/she is not supportive of your going down this path, get a list of available speech therapists in your area from your health insurance company.
  3. Document details of your feeding efforts between now and your first speech therapist appointment. Write down what you try and the details of your son’s reactions.
  4. Once you do start meeting with a speech therapist, make sure that he/she is someone your whole family is comfortable working with.
  5. Do your homework. Make sure your son does any exercises he is supposed to do. Make it fun.

Please let us know how it goes, Brielle. And HUGE kudos for having breastfed twins for a full year!

Anyone have other advice for Brielle? Your own feeding therapy stories?

 

Twinfant Tuesday: Finger Foods For Infants

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As much as I would love more than anything to remember the infant years of my twins, they have become a complete blue to me.  With a husband who works 80-90 hours a week, I was pretty much left to raise them on my own.  I was completely sleep deprived.  I would even go as far as saying that I ran on 3 non-consecutive hours of sleep a night, at the most, for the first 3 months (I hated that saying “sleep when the babies sleeps”).  But what I do remember is when my twins started finger foods around 8-9 months.

I can still remember the first time I decided to try out finger foods with my boys. As a nutritionist and foodie, I had been looking forward to this stage forever. I remember watching other parents in restaurants giving their toddlers pieces of food they could hold and eat on their own, allowing mommy and daddy to eat their meal. I was so envious as I fed my boys their pureed food and asked for my meal to go. In my brain I sincerely thought the day when my kids started finger foods would be magical. A few months later that day came…and it was NOT so magical. I was all alone and after making and offering many types of fingers foods, all of which were treated like a baseball, the three of us were covered head to toe in food. Since my kids were hungry, but didn’t actually eat any of the food I worked so hard to make, I had 2 screaming toddlers on my hands to boot. What did I do? I cried!!! That’s what I always do when I don’t know what to do next. And I have no shame in admitting it to anyone.  From that day on I developed a fear of giving my kids finger foods. But I did persevere and got through that messy eating phase just like all of you who have and who will.

It can be an extremely messy stage, especially with twins, but it is fantastic for your toddlers’ development and it builds self-esteem.  It also frees up some of your time so you can eat while they are eating (or pick up most of the food your toddler has decided to throw off his or her tray rather than eat, like I do – less cleanup later on always makes my day).

Like I said, extremely messy!!!

Little Fufu has always eaten whatever I put in front of him (and whatever I put in front of his brother).  He’s very pro-food and gets very excited about the thought of eating.  Nibbles, on the other hand, well that’s where he got his nickname.  He doesn’t really like the idea of food and eating too much, although I can’t complain as he is getting much better.  He likes to take his little fingers and tear of teensy weensy pieces of food (almost crumb-size) and veeeeerrrrrry sloooowwwwly put them in his mouth.  So I do know firsthand the frustration of dealing with a picky eater and not being able to come up with ideas to feed him or her can make it even more stressful.

It’s pretty clear from this picture which one Fufu is.  He loves birthday cake just like his mommy.

As a nutritionist and a mom, I was constantly asked what types of finger foods I gave my kids.

Here are some ideas for infants aged 9 months and up:

Dairy:

  • Mild cheeses, cubed or grated (ie: marble, mozzarella)
  • Ceam cheese, goat cheese or ricotta (on bread, crackers or rice cakes or as a dip for steamed veggies)
  • Yogurt (if using a spoon)
  • Cottage cheese, with or without fruit (if using a spoon)
  • Cottage cheese muffins or pancakes
  • Homemade yogurt popsicles

 Grains:

  • Cheerios or other low sugar cereal (ie: Bran Flakes, Rice Crispies, Puffed Corn)
  • Rice cakes
  • Crackers (preferably whole grain)
  • Pita triangles (with or with a dip)
  • Mini muffins (ie: carrot, zucchini, banana, apple, sweet potato, bran)
  • Mini pancakes (ie: pumpkin, blueberry)
  • Waffle strips
  • Well-cooked whole wheat pasta with homemade cheese sauce, tomato sauce or butter and parmesan cheese
  • Ravioli or tortellini, cut into pieces
  • Well cooked noodles (ie: soba, rice, vegetable)
  • Toast, cut into strips (with or without a topping)
  • Rice (squish into small globs to make it easier to pick up)
  • Quinoa
  • Oatmeal (if using a spoon)
  • Corn muffins
  • Homemade rice pudding (if using a spoon)
  • Peanut butter cookies
  • Polenta cakes
  • Naan bread
  • French toast fingers
  • Sandwiches without curst cut into strips or small pieces (fill with egg salad, tuna salad, peanut butter, hummus, cream cheese, mashed avocado)
  • Grilled cheese (you can add finely chopped veggies)
  • Homemade pizza, cut into strips or pieces
  • Homemade cheese quesadillas, cut into strips or pieces (can also add veggies and/or beans)
  • Baby Mum Mums
  • Cookies (preferable whole grain and low in sugar)
  • Homemade fruit and oat bars

 Vegetables:

  • Sweet potato, cooked and cubed or cut into French fry shape (season with cinnamon or chili powder)
  • Sweet potato and black bean patties
  • Roasted vegetables, cut up
  • Mini carrots, cooked
  • Peas
  • Corn
  • Asparagus tips, cooked
  • Green beans, cooked and cut up
  • Butternut squash, cooked and cubed
  • Broccoli and cauliflower pieces, cooked (can add butter or parmesan)
  • Tomato, cubed
  • Grape tomatoes, halved or quartered
  • Beets, cooked and cubed
  • Zucchini, cooked, peeled and cubed or sliced
  • Potatoes, cooked and cubed (can add butter and season with parsley, garlic and/or paprika)
  • Cucumber, peeled and cubed or sliced
  • Pickles, chopped
  • Potato pancakes
  • Roasted sweet peppers, chopped
  • Pureed vegetable soup (if using a spoon)
  • Vegetable stir-fry
  • Veggie and cheese patties or muffins

Fruit:

  • Bananas, cubed or sliced
  • Banana slices coated in pancake batter and cooked in frying pan
  • Avocado, cubed (or mashed and used as a spread on bread/crackers or a dip for vegetables)
  • Apples, cooked and cubed (or cut into French fry shape and cooked/softened in microwave for 2 min, sprinkled with cinnamon)
  • Cherries, halved and pitted
  • Peaches and pears, sliced
  • Mango, cubed or sliced
  • Melon, cubed
  • Kiwi, cubed
  • Blueberries
  • Raspberries and blackberries, halved
  • Strawberries, sliced
  • Mandarins and clementines cut into small pieces (can use canned mandarins, drained and rinsed)
  • Plums, peeled and sliced
  • Applesauce with cinnamon (if using a spoon)
  • Grapes, halved or quartered
  • Olives, chopped
  • Raisins (softened in boiling water)
  • Freeze-dried fruit (no sugar added)
  • Homemade fruit popsicles

Meat and Alternatives:

  • Tofu, cubed (marinate to add flavor)
  • Meatballs, cubed
  • Pork, cubed
  • Turkey, cubed
  • Beef, cubed
  • Chicken, cubed
  • Chicken nuggets (preferably homemade)
  • Chicken/turkey/meat loaf
  • Salmon or salmon/potato loaf/patties
  • Tuna patties
  • Fish sticks
  • Cooked fish such as salmon, sole, tilapia, halibut or haddock, flaked (you can use pureed vegetables as a sauce or just some butter)
  • Hard boiled eggs cut into pieces
  • Frittata or omelet with veggies and/or cheese, cubed
  • Egg muffins
  • Homemade turkey and apple breakfast sausage
  • Nut butters (on bread, crackers or rice cakes)
  • Beans (larger ones should be cut in half)
  • Baked beans
  • Lentils
  • Edamame, shelled
  • Falafel balls, cut into small pieces
  • Chickpeas
  • Hummus (spread on bread, crackers or rice cakes or used as a dip for steamed vegetables)

Unsafe finger foods:

  • Nuts
  • Raisins
  • Gum
  • Whole grapes, grape/cherry tomatoes and olives
  • Popcorn
  • Candy
  • Raw vegetables
  • Fruit that isn’t very ripe
  • Thick globs of nut butters
  • Hotdogs and sausages
  • Fish with bones
  • Stringy foods like asparagus or celery or stringy meat

Fufu is so happy with his plate of food, as usual.

Nibbles just poking at his.

Giveaway: Nutrition and Fitness Books

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Enter the hdydi.com Parenting Book Giveaway Feb 11-13 2014 for a chance to win 'One Bite at a Time', '42 Days to Fit' and 'Wholesome Baby Food Guide'

Welcome to Day 2 of parenting book review week! Today’s giveaway is a package of books for keeping mommy fit and baby well-fed! This one’s for all parents with wee ones, regardless of whether they’re multiples, so tell your friends with singletons too.

You can win ebooks One Bite at a Time, Revised: Nourishing Recipes for Cancer Survivors and Their Friends and 42 Days to Fit as well as a hard copy of The Wholesome Baby Food Guide: Over 150 Easy, Delicious, and Healthy Recipes from Purees to Solids.

Win this package of fitness and food books for moms at hdydi.com

Just leave us a comment on any post from this week to enter the giveaway!

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Don’t forget to let your mommy friends know!

Twinfant Tuesday: Feeding Utensils 101

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Feeding Utensils 101My twins’ first experience with solid foods was around the 6 month mark. Since then, I’ve had more than my share of of hits and misses when it comes to buying their bowls, cups and other feeding utensils.

I used to think it was just a matter of walking into a store and grabbing the cutest cup/bowl I could find. No siree! I quickly learnt the lesson that you can easily waste spend an embarrassing amount on sippy cups and bowls if you start off on the wrong leg.

To date, I know we may have gone through up to 40+ sippy cups (TWINS!) and probably the same number of bowls and plates. If I had to do it again, here’s what I wish I would have known:

  1. Plates and bowls – Should be microwaveable if you make and freeze your own baby food.  When I had bowls that couldn’t go in the microwave, I would have to defrost the foods in ceramic bowls before transferring to the babies’ bowls. For me, it was just additional dish washing that I would have preferred to avoid.
  2. Bowls – To suction or not? Yes babies have a tendency to grab their bowls, wave them in the air (because they really don’t care!) and create a food shower. Bowls with suctions on the bottom can reduce the frequency of this occurrence BUT the thing with suction bowls is that the ones with permanently attached suctions are not microwaveable.
  3. Sippy cups – Valves or no valves? There is a place for both. I recommend no-valves for when the babies are just learning to drink and don’t have enough suction power to overcome the valves.
  4. Sippy cups – What type valve? The Playtex sippy range has a valve system that consists of 2 joined pieces of rubber that fit into the spout and air hole. Guess what? My babies have really strong arms and enjoy banging their cups against the high chair tray. A few hard knocks and the valve becomes dislodged making the cup spill-proof no more. The Phillips-Avent type spouts have a different, less leaky mechanism but they are hard to suck out of. It’s a trade-off.
  5. Sippy cups – Handles or no? To eliminate problem highlighted in #4, I started using the Take and Toss Spill Proof Cups that do not come with handles.
  6. High chairs – Full versus booster? If floor space is an issue, then go for the booster type that attach to normal chairs.
  7. High chairs – Cloth versus plastic? No matter how easy to clean the cloth material is, the high chair is still going to be a grimy mess. Plastic can be wiped clean, cloth has to be laundered. Consider your laundry tolerance when choosing a high chair.
  8. High chairs – Tray washability. A lot of high chairs now boast of trays that are dishwasher safe. The problem is that those trays are not however dishwasher sized. The trays on the highchairs I’ve had did not fit into the dishwasher or the sink. If you really want to be washing the tray in the dishwasher, shop with a tape measure.
  9. Spoons’ bowl size. When the babies started solids around 5 months, some of those cute spoons had bowls that were too wide to fit into their mouths. My recommendation, start off buying spoons with smaller, tapered bowls.
  10. Washcloth. Regardless of what utensils you buy, an easy-to-clean washcloth is the cornerstone of your solids-feeding arsenal because ovens come with a self-cleaning button, babies do not.

One more free tip: Just because a baby can use a spoon, doesn’t mean you should leave them alone with a bowl of yogurt

Feeding Baby

Yetunde is the proud mom of twin girls, affectionately nicknamed Sugar and Spice.  She blogs at mytwintopia and has officially learnt to never take her eyes off twin babies with yogurt.

Twinfant Tuesday: The Logistics of Feeding Two Infants

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My fraternal twin girls just turned five on Sunday.  Over the past week, as I do every birthday, I’ve done a lot of reflecting.  In thinking back to their infanthood, the complicated logistics of feeding are still very clear in my mind.  By now they’re fond memories…but at the time, I remember any new stage bringing about great stress.  Here are the highlights from our journey…

My twin girls, born at 34 weeks, came home after 10 days in the NICU.  While we don’t have family nearby, my husband is a teacher and he was able to take an extended leave to be home with me those first few weeks.

During that time, we generally each fed one baby.  (I would breastfeed a baby, then supplement with a bottle, and then pump…rinse and repeat, again and again and again.)  During those first few weeks, we were mostly waking the girls to feed them.  On the rare occasions when I had solo duty, I woke one baby (the faster eater) and fed her, and then fed the other baby immediately thereafter, trying to keep them on the same schedule as much as possible.

As my husband neared the end of his leave, I began to panic.  How would I ever feed both babies by myself?  Keeping the girls on the same schedule was a huge priority for me, and I knew the wake-one-baby-at-a-time method wouldn’t serve us long-term.

I reached out to the only other twin mom I knew at the time for some advice.  (Actually, I didn’t know her…she was the daughter of a former colleague who lived about 150 miles from me…but she was kind enough to take my phone call at random.)  She described how she bottle-fed her infant twins, who were about three months older than my girls.  She somehow held both babies in her lap, facing the same way, her arm wrapped around one of them from behind.

Mar4'09 036
Two Boppy pillows were a lifesaver at our house!

I couldn’t begin to imagine how I’d manage my girls in that fashion, but her advice encouraged me to try propping up the girls in different ways.  I remember the look of astonishment when my husband came home to find me feeding both girls…with a huge smile on my face, to boot!

This set-up worked for us for many months, until I started giving the girls bottles in their highchairs, probably around 7 or 8 months old.

Once I finally had bottle-feeding under my belt, I was feeling pretty good about myself…until the pediatrician told me it was time to start feeding the girls cereal.  WHAT??!!!  I **just** got comfortable with milk!!!  Can a twin mama get a break??!!!

I set the girls up for their first feeding, their highchairs side by side and the husband and the camera at the ready to capture what I knew would be the most adorable faces.  Their faces may have been adorable…but the MESS they made wasn’t.

Getting Ready for the First Feeding! 051709 (2)I quickly decided I would take to spoon-feeding the girls one at a time to curb as much of the MESS as possible.  That approach I never changed, although I did have to devise a system, as one of my babes wasn’t very patient once she learned how yummy those fruits and veggies were.

While I have since read about some twin mamas who adamantly rotated which baby was fed first, I never did.  I put Patient Baby in her swing and fed Anxious Baby first.  When Anxious Baby was finished, I could sometimes put her in the swing to feed Patient Baby.  There were times, though, when I would position Super-Anxious Baby in a bouncy seat at my feet.  I would wedge my foot under her and bounce and jiggle while I fed Patient Baby.  Once the spoon-feeding was complete, I would load both girls into their highchairs for bottles.

It was not until the girls graduated to finger foods, around 14 months, that I let them eat at the same time.  And I was right there in front of them…yes, to make sure they didn’t choke…but also to try to keep the smearing of avocado cubes in the hair at bay.

So…in looking back through the trials and triumphs of feeding two babies during that first year or so…I can’t say I had a consistent, or even judicious approach.  But I did manage to experiment to find a methodology that worked for us through the various stages.  It’s OK by me that the girls don’t read this post in a few years, though.  Unless they have twins themselves, may they never know that one was temporarily labeled Patient Baby, and one, Anxious Baby.

MandyE is mom to five-year old fraternal twin girls.  She blogs about their adventures, and her journey through motherhood, at Twin Trials and Triumphs.

DSC_0761This picture was taken on the girls’ fifth birthday.  Yes, they’re still wearing bibs, as this mama still tries to avoid messes, when possible.  And yes, they’re still a mess…but in their partial defense, they requested homemade blueberry syrup for their French toast…and this mama just let them go to town.

Foodie Friday: Baked Chicken and Vegetables…and Then Chicken Noodle Soup!

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I’m sharing a recipe that I made a couple of times a month when my girls were smaller…juicy, flavorful chicken and tender, yummy veggies, all from scratch…what’s a toddler (and her mommy and daddy) not to love???  Almost five years later, this recipe is still a favorite.

This recipe uses all REAL ingredients, which is something I strive for.  And it makes enough for my family to eat two meals…plus extra veggies…PLUS stock for a small batch of chicken noodle soup.  That’s a home run for time-crunched mamas in my book!

DSC_0613Grease a LARGE baking dish (I use a big lasagna pan), and place 10 or 12 chicken legs with the skin on.  Around the chicken legs, place baby carrots (I buy the petite ones so they cook a little quicker), potatoes that have been peeled and sliced into wedges, peeled garlic cloves, and quartered mushrooms.

Finely slice an onion and arrange it over the chicken and veggies.  Then arrange pats of butter on top of the dish.  The recipe I referenced from originally called for 4 Tbsp. of butter, but I only use about half that.  I cut the butter into very thin slices and arrange it evenly.

DSC_0615Then sprinkle spices over the dish — I use a tablespoon of dried parsley, 1/2 a tablespoon of garlic powder, and fresh-ground salt and pepper, to taste.  Then pour water over everything, to about 1/2″ of the rim of the dish.  Cover the dish tightly in foil and bake in a 350 degree oven for an hour.  Uncover and bake for another 20-30 minutes, until veggies are tender and juices in chicken run clear.

I forgot to take a picture as I pulled this out of the oven (as my crew was clamoring!).  Here is the pan after the four of us ate supper.  You can see we had about half the recipe remaining!

DSC_0625This dish heats really well.  I separate the meat and veggies into one bowl, and then I strain the stock into another…and this is the dish that keeps on giving!

Refrigerate the stock, if you’d like, and it will congeal.  Skim the fat from the top of the dish and discard.

DSC_0677DSC_0680Heat the stock in a saucepan, along with finely sliced carrots (1 or 2), finely sliced celery (1 or 2 stalks) and finely sliced cloves of garlic, if desired.  If you have left-over chicken, you can shred it and add to the soup, too.  Bring the stock to a boil and add some egg noodles.  Cook at a slow boil 8 minutes, or according to the directions on the package of egg noodles.

Viola!  Super easy chicken noodle soup!

DSC_0682I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as my family does!

MandyE is mom to soon-to-be five year old fraternal twin girls.  She blogs about their adventures, and her journey through motherhood, at Twin Trials and Triumphs.

Foodie Friday: “The Rules” of Eating

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I am a rule-follower by nature.  As a first-time mom, I was quite set on following our pediatrician’s instructions, particularly when our twin girls were infants.

When it was time to introduce solids, I was extremely pedantic about the order in which our girls tried new foods…first green veggies…then orange ones…then fruit.  I took copious notes (which I still have, of course!) to keep track of how many times the girls had had green beans, lest there be some type of allergic reaction.

Our girls are now 4 ½, and I guess old habits are hard to break.

No, I’m not still recording every bite my girls take, but I am still keenly aware of how many fruits, vegetables, grains, and proteins they have every day.  It started innocently enough…replacing baby food bananas with fresh diced ones…adding in some avocados to round out their green veggie intake.

The first few months of big-people food, we ate a lot of baked fish and baked chicken.  It was easy for me to dice that for the girls and serve it with a side of veggies and fresh fruit.

It took quite a while for me to make the leap to casseroles and one-dish meals…does this mixture contain the proper amounts of protein and veggies?  Do I need a veggie on the side?  How do I log this into my spreadsheet?!?!  (I’m kidding about the spreadsheet…mostly.)

By the time the girls were about 18 months old, I was beginning to relax a little bit about what they ate.  Looking at how I still plan most of our meals, my “relaxation” is probably relative.

Breakfast religiously consists of a protein, a grain, fresh fruit, and milk.  I vary our proteins between scrambled eggs with cheese, cottage cheese, and Greek yogurt; and our grains between oatmeal and cream of wheat.  On the weekends I sometimes get a little crazy and make whole-wheat French toast to fill the grain slot.

About every other day, our lunch is two veggies and a fruit, usually with some cheese and a couple of wheat crackers.  On alternating days, I will fix a peanut butter sandwich on whole wheat with one veggie and a fruit.

I’ve relaxed my “rules” the most at dinner time.  We sometimes stick with the baked fish / chicken + veggie + fruit model.  More often, though, I make a one-dish meal…a soup or stew or baked pasta or stir fry over rice.  I occasionally serve a veggie with that; we often have bread dipped in olive oil; and I always serve fresh fruit and milk.

This model works for us.  I buy lots and lots of fresh fruits and veggies, and I try to limit processed foods as much as possible.  Most importantly, my girls eat a wide variety of foods, and I feel like they are getting a very balanced diet.

It just struck me as funny a few days ago, though, when I made pulled pork barbeque in the crock pot and served it up to the girls…with a side of Brussels sprouts and diced mango.  That’s not exactly the type of barbeque plate I grew up eating.  😉

I’m not sure if my pediatrician would be proud…or a little frightened at my [still] literal interpretation of “the rules”.

MandyE is mom to 4 1/2-year old fraternal twin girls.  She blogs about their adventures, and her journey through motherhood, at Twin Trials and Triumphs.

From the Archives: Saving on Food for Families with Multiples

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Food expenses can really add up. The Moms have talked about their approaches to saving on nutritious meals over the years.

Baby Food

Making your own baby food is one option to bring down costs.

  • Making Baby Food:  breaks down exactly how she fed her babies their first solids, including calculating her savings over store-bought food.
  • Homemade Baby Food:  talks about how she made homemade baby food work at home and at daycare. (Yes, I just referred to myself in the third person. Because I can.)

What’s your approach to saving on food?