Monday, August 8, 2011

The Assertive Food Phase

Hello readers! I feel like it's been a while. My toddler (wow, no longer my infant!!) has been keeping me busy. Most people would call the phase we just finished his "picky" phase - I call it his "assertive" phase. He tells me what he wants and more clearly, what he doesn't want. I want my child to be able to have choices and feel that he can control his surroundings so I've been meeting his needs. It's definitely made me a much more creative momma. Below are some of my experiments, not all successful with my kiddo but might help those of you out with your child's "assertive" phase.

Homemade chicken nuggets - organic chicken seasoned with pepper, pan fried in coconut oil with a touch of sesame oil. Half the nuggets with coated with whole wheat flour, and half with panko. Kiddo refused both but he's just generally not a fan of meat at this age. :)

Two things to note: 1.) Sesame oil has a very low flash point and so use sparingly otherwise your kitchen will be smoking. 2.) Pan-frying is a bit more difficult because of the possible oil splattering. I suggest using a recipe that allows you to bake them. I would experiment if my child showed interest but he isn't a fan.

Whole wheat wrap with turkey, avocado, spinach, banana peppers, roasted peppers from a previous batch that I froze and some dill Havarti, grilled on the Foreman Grill. Kiddo thoroughly enjoyed picking it apart or "deconstructing" as today's celebrity chefs would say. How much of it he ate is up for discussion. 

Our new favorite product - The Nibble Tray from Dr. Sears. I tried creating my own with a muffin pan, but the portion sizes were too big and kiddo liked dumping that all over the floor. For some reason, he doesn't do that with the nibble tray. Thank you, Dr. Sears!!

Dips on top, left to right: Artichoke/spinach hummus, homemade tzatziki sauce, garlic hummus.
Top section: Chopped organic mozzarella sticks
Second row: Pineapple, grapes
Third row: Beets, Sesame crackers
Bottom row: Black beans

The biggest hits were the beans, fruits and cracker and dips. This helped my little mister learn the word dip, which he now says as he dips his cracker. I have learned that while he loves organic mozzarella sticks, he wants them whole and not chopped up. Did I mention I love his assertiveness?!
Those are just a view of a few of the experiments that have been happening the past few weeks. While we have always allowed our son to have his own meal schedule, he now is snacking about once an hour and it's been working wonderfully to get some more nutrients in him, as well as put on some weight.

A typical day for us would be:

6:30 a.m. - Yogurt
7:30 a.m. - Waffle/milk
8:30 a.m. - Pineapple
9:30 a.m. - Cheese stick
10:30 a.m. - Hummus/crackers
11:30 - 1:30 p.m. - Nap
1:30 p.m. - Milk/beans/sandwich (He's in a big almond butter and banana phase right now)
2:30 p.m. - Baby carrots
3:30 p.m. - Frozen grapes (Note: We make sure to chop these up before freezing because of the choking hazard). This works wonders during the days he's teething and also works as a wonderful dessert.
4:30 p.m. - Diced broccoli (He's not a huge fan of green vegetables right now but I continue to offer them daily in hopes that he will learn to share mommy's love for them.)
5:30 p.m. - Whatever we are having for dinner and milk. Tonight it's an organic chicken salad with artichokes, roasted red peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers and a yogurt sauce instead of mayo. Did I mention he likes to eat food deconstructed? ;)
6:30 p.m. - Sliced avocado
7:30 p.m. - Milk and goodnight!

Now, while that sounds like a lot of food, he generally takes a few bites of each item. So he may eat two carrots, and then a little while later, half a cheese stick, a few frozen grapes here and there. Snacking is very healthy and completely developmentally normal at this age. Also, some days we show him the snack tray and he says "no no no!" and we leave it at that. There are days he eats a lot, there are days he picks but I think for his personality, the constant offering, the snack tray and sharing meals with him have helped to make food a social and comfortable experience for him. We also have a shelf for him in the fridge where he gets to pick from for the items that don't fit in his snack tray and also a section in our pantry, where he can reach in and grab what he wants. These are all great ways to meet his need for independence and I have seen him flourish through these methods.

To close, some quotes from my favorite, Dr. Sears:

"Snacking their way through the day is more compatible with these busy explorers' lifestyle than sitting down to a full-fledged feast. "

"Grazing minimizes blood-sugar swings and lessens the resulting undesirable behavior." While I greatly dislike his use of the word undesirable behavior (since really a tantrum is just one more way of expressing discontent), I understand what he means. I get cranky when I don't eat on time as well.

"For young children, what and how much they are willing to eat may vary daily. This capriciousness is due in large part to their ambivalence about independence, and eating is an area where they can act out this confusion. So don't be surprised if your child eats a heaping plateful of food one day and practically nothing the next, adores broccoli on Tuesday and refuses it on Thursday, wants to feed herself at one meal and be totally catered to at another. As a parent in our practice said, "The only thing consistent about toddler feeding is inconsistency." Try to simply roll with these mood swings, and don't take them personally."

Happy grazing,
Mama A

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Veggie Delight

Apologies for the lack of posting, readers! With summer here, the produce around these parts have been just beautiful. I've been taking advantage of the local, seasonal vegetables but I have to say, it takes up a lot more time to chop and slice and dice them hence taking away posting time. But, once I actually get to taste my hard work, it is SO worth it. This post is an ode to my recent vegetable medleys as well as *hopefully* inspiration for you all to get out there this weekend and cook up some gorgeous vegetables! And away we go:

Proud of my handiwork with my chef's knife!

Peppers and onions prior to the co-mingling

Some very fresh kale

Altogether now

Moments before the devouring began

Carrots, Swiss Chard, Brussel Sprouts

Chopped up swiss chard, scallions and ... where'd those carrots go??

Baby bok choy, brussels and more greens!

Ah, there's them carrots. Par-boiled before the stir fry fest

Now that's some true love. <3
What's on your list to cook this summer? If you'd like to guest post your ideas, recipes and pictures, let me know and we'll share the love here.

Hope you all enjoyed some of my recent meals!
Mama A

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Taste of Crunch FB Fan Page!

Hi readers!

Just want to let you all know Taste of Crunch now has a Facebook Fan page! Please "like" us and pass us on to your friends!

I will be sharing industry news letters in the health/wellness and parenting realm as well as my own blogs. Thank you all for your support thus far and I hope you all stay with me during my expansion journey!

Happiness & health to all,
Mama A

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Which snack / protein bars are best?

So on the days I'm running out of the house and can't fit in my usual breakfast of an egg on toast, I keep a stash of snack bars in my bag. I've cycled through so many different types and have come to the conclusion that the winner is *drumroll*:

This was based on my nonscientific opinion of taste and ingredients. I'm sure by now you guys know my feelings on unfermented soy and the majority of snack bars that fall under the healthy umbrella contain soy - but Larabar does not! The ingredients are kept simple and I can pronounce all of them. This morning, I had the cherry pie flavor and the only three ingredients were dates, almonds and unsweetened cherries (although I found it slightly too sweet but that was the natural cherry flavor as opposed to unnecessary sweeteners). It contains half a serving of fruit, 3g of protein and a cool 220 calories - the equivalent to one egg on one whole wheat buttered toast. There are a variety of flavors and certain bars have up to 7g of protein so you can choose based on what you're looking for in a breakfast.

Other brands I tested out (occasionally with a bite and sometimes just a glance before I was done with them) were Clif Bars/ Clif Builders/ Clif Mojo (all contain soy), Luna Bars (soy), Myoplex (soy and modified oils), Zone (soy and corn syrup), and PowerBar (high fructose corn syrup *gasp* and maltodextrin).

The healthiest bar is the one you make at home where you can control the ingredients and experiment with flavors that play to your palette. It's also the freshest and contains no preservatives. But since I have yet to find the time to make my own snack bars (or you know, to breathe), LÄRABAR works well as a substitute. I highly recommend the pecan pie - can you believe it only contains dates, almond and pecans?? Absolutely love the simplicity of this product!

Despite LÄRABAR being wonderful, I have to say, I still missed my egg on toast this morning. I'm of the camp that an egg is a perfect food and there is no better way to start the day. More on that eventually.

Buen Provencho,
Mama A

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


Not babies in the human sense, but I planted some seeds and I feel such a connection to my little seedlings! It's my first time growing anything so I decided to get seeds and a seed growing kit from the company Burpee. This year I'm attempting to grow chives, swiss chard, tomatoes and mixed peppers in the vegetable arena. I have also planted some Cosmos in memory of a beloved family member. For that reason alone, I really hope my babies bloom.

Here is a picture of the little ones, all tucked into the soil:

My number one concern in planting my own vegetables and flowers was to ensure the seeds were non-GMO. After some brief research, I realized I am not the only one with this thought! Burpee has an entire page dedicated to proving they are non-GMO seeds.

For the record, I own W. Atlee Burpee & Co.  Burpee is NOT owned by Monsanto.  We do purchase a small number of seeds from the garden seed department of Seminis, a Monsanto subsidiary, and so do our biggest competitors. We do NOT sell GMO seed, never have in the past, and will not sell it in the future.  [Burpee]
As I've ventured into this foray of sustainability, I have started to think about things I never knew existed. I wish there was a way to know a seed's history. Where did it start? Where was it grown? I know there are several non-profits dedicated to this cause now but I wish each packet of seeds listed it's history. A family tree of sorts for seeds.

I am also did not realize there were such things as organic seeds. What makes one seed organic but not the other? I always associated non-organic as associated with pesticides but since I'm growing them without pesticides, what could be non-organic about my non-organic seeds? I even picked up organic soil to re-pot my vegetables as they get bigger.
Organic gardening is more than simply avoiding synthetic pesticides and fertilizers. It is about observing nature’s processes, and emulating them in your garden as best you can. And the most important way to do that is to understand the makeup of your soil and to give it what it needs. If anything could be called a ‘rule’ in organic gardening, it’s this: feed the soil, not the plant.
Hm, to be perfectly honest, I still don't quite understand the difference.

Viewing some gardening forums were more helpful because they spoke in layman's terms without all the fancy language. I see that this is another question that has come up quite often. There are two groups on this issue: the philosophical group and the fearful group. The philosophical group believes that by buying organic seeds, you are telling the company that you are willing to pay extra for organic, lessening the grip that GMO companies have on growing and slowing down their spread. The fearful group believes that with winds affecting growers, a GMO farm next to a non-GMO could potentially become contaminated by GMO seeds blowing over. To ensure that you have no such contaminated seed, buy organic. Both make sense. Just to lessen my guilt, it is true that all produce grown from the regular seed will be organic. It's just the seed itself that has the unknown origin.

So for next time, organic seeds, good to know! I will keep everyone updated of the progress of these little fellas. Until then, all advice on gardening, growing, GMOs, organics, etc. is very very welcome! This rookie could use the help!

Until the next adventure,
Mama A

Monday, May 16, 2011

Groundhog Day

This post falls under mental and spiritual health in the realm of healthy living.

Back when I was in college, I was introduced to the movie Groundhog Day (late, I know!). The movie gave me anxiety and made me shudder at the thought of doing the same thing every single day. I couldn't understand what life would be like to relive the same people, the same situations, the same life every. single. day. Sounded more like a nightmare than a hit movie.

Yesterday, it was on and I realized, I didn't have my normal anxiety watching it and wondered why. I realized, much of my life is relived every day. We all have routines as adults. We get up at the same time everyday, rotate methodically through our wardrobe, pick out our one of three options for our breakfast.We have our jobs for years on end, doing much of the same tasks daily, seeing many of the same people daily, encountering many of the same situations daily. We have our commute to work. We pick: a certain side of the train, a certain car and even a certain seat. We walk down the same staircases, down the same pathways. We see the same stores, encounter the same weather. Life is just one giant pattern.

I watched the approaches that Bill Murray took, from utilizing prior knowledge to manipulate certain scenarios (imagine how helpful that would be on the stock exchange!) to winning over difficult people (that mysterious co-worker unveiled...) to being sad about the inability to move forward. In the end, he became a better person because of his daily routine. He was exposed to new people he would previously have ignored, his feigned interest turning genuine. It seems as if we go through our patterns in life and my hope is that there is a reason that our pattern is specific to us. That we are to gain something, to change a fundamental part of our being because of it. Change seems scary and routines are our safe-haven so we can stop trying. But tomorrow will come. Tomorrow in the figurative sense where tomorrow is a new step in our lives, a new coming. Not only will tomorrow come, but we will be far more appreciate of it this time around because suddenly a new path, a new seat, a new meaning will push us to try and believe.

Just wanted to share my lazy Sunday afternoon thoughts with you all. Please do share your thoughts on the matter. Would you want to re-live the same day over and over? Would you want your "tomorrow" to come with all it's uncomfortable newness and uncertainty?

Wishing you all happy and healthy living,
Mama A

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Tell Walmart: Get Rid of Toxic BPA

Another petition from FRESH, the movie that I wanted to share with you folks!

FRESH the movie

Tell Walmart: Get Rid of Toxic BPA

Bisphenol-A (BPA) is a toxic chemical that’s making us sick. It leaches into us from plastics, paper coatings and canned foods. 90% of us carry measurable amounts of BPA in our bodies. 90% of us—that means it’s everywhere, practically unavoidable. For more information on the harmful effects of BPA, check out our blog post.

Canada and the E.U. have already banned the chemical for use in baby bottles. But our government won’t protect us, so let’s change the industry, starting with Walmart. If Walmart commits to eliminating BPA, the whole industry will be forced to change.

A recent report1 gave Walmart an F rating for their lack of efforts to phase out BPA packaging. Yet Walmart has pledged to take a leadership role in environmental stewardship.

Let’s tell Walmart to stop the corporate greenwashing—it’s time to get serious about removing BPA from their products. We'll deliver your comments to Andrea Thomas, Walmart's Senior Vice President of Sustainability.


Sign here to tell Walmart: We Want BPA-Free Products Now.

Dear Andrea Thomas, Walmart Senior Vice President of Sustainability:

Bisphenol-A (BPA) is a toxic chemical with proven links to health damage. It’s present in plastics, receipt coatings and food packaging, and it’s nearly impossible to avoid, unless retailers stop carrying products with BPA.

In 2008, Walmart showed incredible leadership by banning the sale of reusable plastic bottles that contain BPA. Now, Walmart is sitting idly as other companies take charge in eliminating BPA from food packaging.

Walmart, please protect the health of your customers from a known toxic chemical: commit to removing BPA from your products. Phase out BPA in Walmart’s private-label canned goods, and ask your suppliers to do the same by changing product specifications to be BPA-free. Use BPA-free paper for receipts. Fund research for the testing and development of safe alternatives.

Your policies set industry standards and influence decisions beyond your stores. Show us that you are truly dedicated to more sustainable practices—get rid of BPA-laden products now.

The FRESH Community