Good Eats

When we were a family of three, it was relatively easy to plan and prepare meals. My diet is atrociously limited (I eat poultry, but I do not eat red meat, pork, or fish), and my relationship with vegetables is virtually non-existent, but I was able to cook for the hubs and for Isabella with relative ease. Often, I would make three separate meals-one for each of us (ridiculous, I know), and I even had a baby food blog. I loved experimenting with nutritious and organic recipes for Isabella. She didn't always love them, but she ate enough of them to supply her with a pretty healthy diet.

Such were the milk-and-honey days of a one-child household.

And now? There are two more eaters in the house. I use the term "eaters" in the most liberal sense of the word, since they actually fling more than they eat. Not only are these two far pickier eaters than Isabella ever was, but finding the time to cook for all five of us is more of a challenge. Dinnertime is Crazy Time in my house, and rarely is the hubs home before it's time to eat so I'm almost always cooking (or microwaving) with three kiddos under foot or screaming in the next room.

Our meals are boring, repetitive, and not always entirely healthy. I am bound and determined to change this, and I'm not alone. I have been reading a lot on this topic on quite a few blogs lately. It seems there are quite a few of us who want to change our families' diets to make them healthier, and full of less processed, less last-minute, less pulled-from-the-back-of-the-refrigerator foods. Jamie, fellow mom to twins and a toddler, asked me awhile back for some healthy recipes, since she knows I do the organic thing, and that feeding my kids good and "real" food is a big deal for me. Of course, I referred her to Mush, my long-dead baby food blog, but I also told her I'd blog about some of the healthy and kid-friendly things we do eat.

That said, I think we both could use all the help we can get.

I saw Food, Inc. over the weekend. Seeing this movie reaffirmed my belief in healthier eating and in buying organic for the kids (in spite of the high cost). This movie also has made me want to seek out as much sustainable, non-factory farmed, grass-fed beef and hormone-and-antibiotic-free poultry as I can (and to reduce the amount of meat and poultry we eat overall too).

And so, I started immediately.

On Saturday, I made these zucchini muffins, except I reduced the sugar by 1/3 of a cup, and substituted one cup of wheat flour in place of one cup of white flour. All three kids loved them. The recipe made 48 mini muffins plus two full-sized muffins.

I am now on the lookout for a healthy and low-sugar granola bar recipe. If you have one, please share it!

I realize this will be a baby-steps process. Meal-planning, baking, and cooking healthfully takes a great deal of time, and I barely have time to brush my teeth. But I figure if I start by giving the kids a zucchini muffin for their afternoon snack instead of a handful of baby puffs for the twins and a high-sugar granola bar for Isabella, that's a good start, right?

I would love to hear what you're feeding your family. If you have an easy, healthy, low-sugar, kid-friendly breakfast, lunch, dinner, or snack recipe that you wouldn't mind sharing, I would love to have it. Oh, and if nothing I've written here resonates with you, and you just want to throw up now because of the hippiness of it all, you can let me know that too.

15 Responses to “Good Eats”

  1. # Blogger Stephanie

    Have you visited Feeding Little Foodies yet? She has some great recipes on there (though I don't know if there are any for granola...)

    Although - her little one (yes, just one) is only 1 year old, so there seem to be lots of homemade applesauce/pudding/smooth food recipes on there. I'm waiting for her boy to grow up a bit more so her recipes will get more toddler-y.

    As far as granola recipes go, the book "Feeding the Whole Family: Cooking With Whole Foods" by Cynthia Lair has a good looking recipe, Maple Butter Granola, p. 82(though I've never tried it). And so does The Petit Appetit Cookbook by Lisa Barnes (p. 180).  

  2. # Blogger Rachel

    I do think it is something 'going round' about meal planning. Although I am cooking under rather constrained circumstances at the moment (everything is a fortune here, can't buy meat without spending 3 to 4 times what I would spend in the U.S.), I have been fantasizing about what I'm cooking to cook when I get back to NY (and real supermarkets! with stocked shelves! and vanilla extract and baking soda!), and even got my husband to agree to cooking a -full- meal per week (i.e. not delivery, not sandwiches, not eggs, something that requires more than 1 serving spoon too). I'm planning to post a list of dinner ideas later this week - although it's still quite short.  

  3. # Anonymous Ness at Drovers Run

    Oy you. Stop raising the bar okay!? :)

    (says the woman who has just taken off her APRON) after having cooked up a massive spread for tomorrow.  

  4. # Blogger Mom24

    Good luck! It's hard, isn't it? You're smart to attack it now, you think their eating habits are ingrained now, it only gets worse.

    I want to see Food, inc. very badly. I'm a little scared though. I think I will never want to grocery shop again.  

  5. # Blogger Jesser

    It is great to see more and more of this everywhere I go! I think my husband thinks I've gone a little batty, baking our bread (which has yet to turn out anything that isn't dense and icky) and such.

    I have made Ellie Kreiger's energy bars which are AWESOME and really filling. Tabby loves them. My sister has also made Ina Garten's granola and raved about it, but I have not tried it myself.

    We eat lots of different things. I am on a quest right now to get rid of the processed stuff (Diet Coke doesn't count, right?) and eat less meat as well. This week we're eating Ina's Lentil Soup (minus the sausage), stuffed acorn squashes (these were amazing), salmon with lemon relish and crustless broccoli cheese souffles. We snack on fruit, peppers & carrots with hummus and pickles, muffins, the afore-mentioned granola bars, and string cheese. Ben eats mostly what we eat with some modifications since he has a kind of gag-reflex issue. Squash is by far his favorite food and we roast a few for him each week right now and just spoon it onto his tray.  

  6. # Blogger shokufeh

    I don't have any specific suggestions, but I send you a cheer. My brothers were somewhat picky eaters, though in different ways from each other. My mom's tactic with one was to hide his nutrients in muffins, and with the other in soup. Puree anything enough and it can be tucked into either.  

  7. # Blogger Christine

    Good luck! I saw Food Inc. too a while back and it made me enraged.

    I don't know if you like lentils, but one of the few vegetarian meals my husband likes (besides those covered in cheese: bean enchiladas/pizza/baked ziti/etc.) is lentil soup. Basically brown lentils, onions, carrot and a can of diced tomatoes simmered with a dash of cumin, salt and pepper, until the lentils are tender. Top with a spoonful of greek yogurt (we're partial to 2%) and some chopped fresh cilantro. The yogurt and the cilantro make it in his opinion. Serve with pita or brown rice if you're so inclined.

    Wishing you the best and hoping you can expand your horizons into veggies. :)  

  8. # Blogger Christine

    OH also, if you have a crock pot, it's pretty easy to do a whole chicken in their with some assorted veggies, and due to the fact that it cooks at a low temp for a long time the meat comes out tender enough for the babies (it was actually too tender for us, but juicy and flavorful.)  

  9. # Blogger Veronica

    Let me know and I'll put in touch with my sister. Her macrobiotic-ness makes her 100% a healthy mom and feeds my nephew accordingly.

    She also makes a lot of food from scratch so if you do want recipes from her, let me know.  

  10. # Blogger Debbie

    Yikes! 1 & 1/3 cup of sugar? So glad you halved that!

    I'm always on the lookout for at-home baked options that my boys wil eat. I refuse to let Fussy 1 & Fussy 2 get the best of me.  

  11. # Blogger Jamie

    Yay! Thank you for this post!

    If I had an abundance of time, I'd say that a group of us should start a website with toddler-friendly, healthy meals. Maybe it would be doable if we had enough contributors.

    Thanks for the recipes, and to everyone who commented for the recipes, links, and cookbook ideas! Much appreciated!!  

  12. # Blogger Jesser

    Oooh! I love Jamie's idea about contributing on a healthy food site. Wonder if anyone else is interested ... I definitely need another project. ;)  

  13. # Anonymous Anonymous

    The first principal should be that barring any food issues kids eat what the family eats for dinner. Study after study shows that the best indicator of food behavior is what is modeled by the parents. (of course there are always exceptions but overall this holds true).
    I make meals every night. I don't use prepackaged foods and prepare any 'meal starters' myself. I freeze fresh veggies in the summer so that we have yummy produce all winter and I read labels to be sure that I am buying food I am comfortable with. I also run my menus by a dietitian. Who suggested I 'beef' up things like tomato sauce by adding white bean puree to it. I make roast chicken once a month and shred all the chicken and freeze it, that way I have it on hand to make quick meals or to use in meals. Once the chicken is roasted I use the carcass to make stock. This way I control the salt content. I make all my own whole wheat pizza dough (and freeze it in balls) as well, Jim McNair has a great recipe. I made the Ellie Krieger granola bars, YUMMY but gooey not like the Kashi ones my kids love. I meal plan carefully and with pet food and toiletries my grocery budget is about 100-130/week for 4 people and 3 animals. Beans are a fabulous source of protein too. I would be careful about a vegetarian diet as your kids need to get complete proteins but as long as you research what you put together should be able to go meat free quite a bit, which is far more sustainable. We are meat free 2-4 times per week. I also try to buy meat in bulk and when possible from people I know.  

  14. # Blogger Pregnantly Plump

    I would love to know what works. Little Elvis' pickiness just gets worse and worse. When we try to force things it usually ends up in tears, and other than smoothies, he can detect when I've snuck something healthy in.  

  15. # Blogger Sunny

    I wish I did have some suggestions for you! Between the challenge of trying to cook with a toddler whining at me (my hubby doesn't get home until later, like yours) and his pickiness, we are just in survival mode. In the future it will be more possible, I just hope I don't ruin him in the meantime.  

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