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Thursday, October 9, 2014

Veggie fries, yum, YUM!! Finger Foods, easy & FUN!

Howdy Ya'll! I'm from Texas, if you didn't know that :)

I'm very happy to proclaim that since Noah has become a better walker he actually is eating ALOT BETTER!! He's not nearly as grumpy therefore everything in our world and his is easier, including meal times.  He's back to eating his veggies on an almost daily basis again too, Weeeeehooo!!

Quick side note: I've said it before, but I will say it again. I really think it is important for us to remember that our kiddos have food preferences. Yep, they are mini people, and they get bored with food JUST like we do. I forget this.. a lot... I really do. It's not that I'm trying to be close-minded, but sometimes I forget I have literally given him the exact same meal for an entire week. I would be bored of it too. Also, I realize some days he's just not 'in the mood' for a particular food. I have yet to give up on a food altogether if he's not in the mood though... we always come back to it.

Now onto the topic for today. I have realized that kids love ANYTHING Fry-ish looking. I have deduced that it is probably related to a dexterity issue because they are easier to grab, and hold onto. When Noah was really little and just learning to eat, cooked green beans were the easiest food for him to eat. It seems like if they can get a good grip, and aim for their mouths it will eventually end up in there. Fry shaped foods are much easier I have noticed, compared to something small like peas, or beans which take pretty advanced dexterity skills to pick up and accurately place into their mouths.

Now I realize that REAL fries are yummy and salty and fatty and delicious..... THOSE reasons are the main reasons why kids like them I'm sure, but I also think part of it really is that they can hold them easily. No my kid has not had a real fry yet, if you're wondering. But he has had a TON of 'Veggie Fries'. See below some of the veggie 'fry' like foods we have tried.
The picture above is from tonight when we tried raw asparagus for the first time. I was wondering if it would go along w/ my 'fry theory'.... IT DID! I NEVER would have guessed that my little guy would actually LIKE raw asparagus, let along be able to eat it with only 6 teeth, but he did.. and he loved it. He ate his asparagus and green beans interchangeably, double fisting and eating away. Be still my happy little heart haha. The small bottom right picture in the collage is of Noah eating broccoli this week... apparently we like broccoli again, thank goodness haha. Smaller pieces of broccoli and cauliflower make fun little 'veggie trees' FYI. Noah doesn't appreciate that this is cool yet, but I used to work with inner city kids who harvested organic vegetables that they planted from a garden outside of their school. They LOVED the idea of veggies as little 'trees', try it on your kids... see what they think.

The above photo is from a couple of weeks ago when Noah was eating Zucchini and cucumber 'fries'. His favorite veggie fry by far are cucumber fries, he has yet to reject them, even on a rough day. I mean really, who doesn't like cucumbers? I usually cut the skin off, but after seeing him chow down on raw asparagus tonight, I guess I don't need to anymore? 

Other foods that  I think would be great to try making into veggies fries for your little ones (if they have enough teeth) would be: carrots, summer squash, okra, sweet potatoes (the obvious one), bell peppers, & jicama. I can't forget to mention that an additional 'healthy fry' option would of course include the fruit version 'fry' made out of an: apple, pear, peach, orange, or tangerine. 

 Now meet:  Sally the Steamer
I had planned on steaming veggies for Noahs' lunches anyways, so I went ahead and steamed the rest of the asparagus. It's just not worth it for him to choke. Have I ever mentioned how much I LOVE my steamer? Blogger world, meet Sally the Steamer, I love her. She does a GREAT job! This was definitely the very best $30.00 I have ever spent (though I think it actually might have been a wedding gift haha). We didn't get to use it for a long time because it was packed away in our tiny little apartment after we got married. But once we moved into a house, my husband pulled it out one night and we have never put it back. Did you know that an affordable way to always have FRESH-er veggies in your house is to buy FROZEN veggies? Yes frozen, they are harvested at their peak of ripeness and flash frozen so they don't spend 4-6 weeks trying to get to where they are going, losing their nutrients along the way. Think about how long it takes for a veggie to get from another country to the U.S. hmmmm......??? If you can get Organic frozen veggies for a reasonable price, double yay!! Check the drier every day for 2 weeks for loose change/bills, and SCORE you could probably afford this beauty. If you are a busy working momma like me, all you have to do is fill Sally up with water then veggies when you get home from work, turn the timer on for 15-20 minutes, go change your clothes, change a diaper, and Voila! Veggies are done!! It really is that easy! And her clean up is super easy too... I just love her. This brand is an Oster.

Now, back to finger foods... I just figured out my little man LOVES meat balls. Well... only if they are heated for exactly 20 seconds haha, but he does love them! They are perfectly sized for his little hands, AND they really do fill him up. I seriously don't know why I didn't think of this sooner. Since he can't have eggs, all I did was take some fresh ground beef, roll it in a ball, put a little bit of seasoning on them and throw them in the oven. So. incredibly. simple! I plan on making these with Turkey, and Chicken and just adding them to my usual Sunday meal prep list. You should try them too!

Before I found out Noah was allergic to eggs we also tried these gems.. Veggie egg muffins. 

They were yummy, they were delicious, they were easy to make, and they were healthier than most breakfast foods. I'm sad my son can't have eggs, but hopefully he will grow out of his food allergy. And of course he does always have my beloved veggie muffins, which are super easy for him to eat as well. 

Recipes and MORE: I think I have stated more than once that I'm not necessarily the best cook, I do try, I do. This lady though, man she likes to cook, AND she has a whole blog on toddler finger foods WITH recipes and grocery lists - wohoo! Most of the recipes include eggs which is why I didn't feature them, but feel free to give them a try and let us know if you liked them!! I plan on trying a few for sure. 

If you can think of any other foods that are healthy and easy for toddlers to eat, share away! I'd love to hear what has worked for you guys!!!

Hope ya'll have a wonderful rest of your week, and fabulous weekend!!

Love & Blessings,

The Veggie Momma

P.S. not a SINGLE patient of mine told me they didn't like veggies today. Ahhhh, it is the little things in life, my heart is happy :)

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Grandparents, Husbands, & Vacation

I haven't posted in a while because my husband and I were on VACATION last week. That's right, we escaped from life, and spent 4 beautiful days in Puerto Vallarta Mexico. It was AMAZING!!!! More about that later, but right now I so very proud to report that Noahs' grandparents are SERIOUSLY awesome!!! My mom, dad, & in-laws split duties to make sure that our little one was totally taken care of for 4 days. I'm not sure exactly what he ate for every meal for 4 days, but I know they all did their best to respect our wishes and not let him eat junk food. I set aside what wouldn't perish for lunches, and tried to make as much in advance as possible for them before I left. It was almost all gone when I got back, AND to top it off today he ate his veggies & normal food happily.

Now, I wasn't worried about him starving at all (the kid really does like to eat). However, with his strong 1 year old opinions lately, and his severe egg allergy, I did have a few reservations.  My mom said she fed him almost everything I had prepared for him, and he didn't go into anaphylactic shock, so all in all I'm thrilled ha!

This brings me to an important point... I know that it is not going to kill your kid if they eat something unhealthy every once in a while, but it doesn't hurt to let people know your health preferences for them. I'm forced to be pretty vocal because my little one has pretty significant food allergies, but allergies or not, if it's important to you let people know. I'm proud of you for working so hard to try and feed your little ones healthy foods, you should be proud too. I do want to clarify there is a difference between being snobby, and being an involved parent. You may have family/friends who can't afford all Organic all the time (if ever), and it would be wise not to judge them. They are probably doing the best they can, just like you.

Lastly, it doesn't hurt to be prepared. I have found the easiest way to ensure that my kid eats what I want him too, is to always have healthy foods with me, or available for him to snack on. Luckily most of my girlfriends are health conscious and usually have healthy snacks on hand if I forget some, but it doesn't hurt to make sure you never leave the house without something. This is especially important to remember in restaurants! SO, the moral of the story is to communicate to friends and family the importance of caring about feeding your little ones healthfully like you do, AND make sure you are prepared so everyone is set up for success! This is a good idea whether you are on vacation or not.

Remember husbands are STILL a priority!

Now, the second half of this post has nothing to do with nutrition for your little ones so feel free to stop reading now haha. Well, I guess it kind of relates... because having a happy marriage makes everything in parenting easier. Including family dinners, meal prep, grocery shopping, and meal time in general.  Nothing makes me prouder than seeing my husband prepare a meal for my son, and care about making sure it is healthy. He shops mindfully for him, he is intentional about feeding him his veggies, and he is my most valued teammate in this life. See below a couple pictures of my love and I from our trip. 

We have been married for almost 6 years, he is my rock. He is the man I prayed my entire life for, and he is my biggest cheerleader. Here is where we started almost 8 years ago! 

Simply put, he's a respected business owner, Godly husband, and incredible father. We got asked probably 7 times if we were newlyweds on our trip. It was a huge compliment to say the least. What I have noticed as a first time mom is that parenting never really gets easier. Whether it's living through all the various stages of life with your little one from lack of sleep, learning to crawl/walk, or picky eating...  Parenting is fantastic, & a huge blessing but boy can be HARD! I feel like it's a million times harder if you and your spouse aren't on the same team. I truly feel like this vacation was necessary for our marriage. I don't ever want to take him for granted, but the truth is I do. I think as moms sometimes we feel like we are carrying the brunt of the load w/ caregiving, and most of the time we are. BUT if we don't invest in our marriage, then it makes it  a million times harder to function as a united team. I loved this man first, long before my little one came along, it's so important to remember that.  

Now, I know vacation can be expensive, and you may not have the familial support that our family does to make it happen. But a vacation far away is not the point, investing in your marriage is the point. Whether it's a walk in the park, or just one night away together, it's important. It's necessary, and for me, even though I missed my little one like crazy... it was a REWARD to see my husband relax, and be loved on. Tonight, when were back in the real world and he was helping me make dinner and feed our son, I realized yet again how lucky I am to have such an amazing partner in life. We were working side by side as a team, trying to build a healthy foundation for our new family. And even if Noah had drank juice and eaten cookies all weekend, the time invested in my soulmate would have been worth it. Don't forget about your husbands mommas, they are NOT just there to bring home the bacon... or in my home, the Organic veggies. 

Love & blessings always, 

The Veggie Momma