Thursday, January 6, 2011

Toddler dinners revamped

Lately, I've been struggling to get Aaron to sit down at dinner with us.  It seems he's been more interested in playing than eating - that is, until he's really hungry. Then all he wants is a bowl of Cheerios.  Ah, the wonders of toddler nutrition.

Enter this amazing book I got for Christmas (thanks Mom!):  Feeding the Whole Family: Cooking with Whole Foods by Cynthia Lair.  It's full of really interesting recipes with great ways to customize them for the little folks in the family.  It has a few great chapters on feeding babies and establishing healthy eating habits among older kids. And it's inspired me to try some new, healthy ingredients - which has been really fun!

My favorite part is that Cynthia Lair doesn't lay on a guilt trip. She encourages families to make changes slowly, so that they'll really stick. And she advocates for communal eating.  In other words, it's healthier for your kid to indulge in cake and ice cream at a birthday party than to worry about it ruining their diets.

So far, we've made a few changes recommended by the book that have really made a difference in our dinners.  I try to include A in some part of the preparation - choosing a tablecloth color, bringing utensils to the table, or helping with some prep work in the kitchen.  He's so much more willing to sit down with us if he feels like he's contributed to the meal. 

I also always make sure there's something on the table that I know he will eat - a bowl of applesauce, a slice of bread with butter, some cantaloupe.  I originally thought this would deter him from eating what I cooked, but it actually keeps him in his chair initially, and when he's finished with what he likes, he'll usually try a few bites of the other offerings. 

The recipes have been fun too!  So far I've made quinoa, which didn't go over that well with A, but was a huge hit with Paul.  Last night we had stir fry using the peanut sauce in the book.  A got to help me make that one.  For his plate, I picked out individual vegetables and some cubed chicken before mixing everything together, then gave him a bowl of peanut sauce for dipping. (Another tip from the book: toddlers aren't crazy about mixed up foods, so separate things when possible.)  He did pretty well with the chicken, mushrooms and carrots on his plate. Next, I'm planning a trip to the Asian grocery store to pick up a few new ingredients - miso, nori strips and some udon noodles.

If you're a mom struggling to inject some nutrition in your family's diet, this is the book for you.


Gary's third pottery blog said...

I was just telling my wife the story of how I met you at the store years ago, your husband, and Nora Smith too, blahblah blah, and the baby mug and all. And I scroll down and see! Is there another baby on the way? :)

The Hall said...

Very true. Scheduled to arrive in 10 weeks or so!

Alison said...

Thanks for the book recommendation. I'm struggling with the world's pickiest eater right now - he has about 3 things he'll eat consistently. Oddly enough, we went out for sushi this weekend and discovered that Liam loves miso soup - go figure!