We started our April with a nice birthday to mark Little D’s 2nd year. It’s hard to believe that we are officially out of the baby stage. Yes, there’s a tinge of sadness but we are glad to be moving on. Someday in the not-too-distant future, we will be diaper free.
Inspired by last week’s post I’m going to try cooking a whole chicken. But I’m going to try it first in the slow cooker. I’m also going to make a big batch of homemade spaghetti sauce and freeze what we don’t use. Add that to my birthday on Tuesday, and it’s a big week!
After turning g the big 4-0, and becoming a mom, my birthday expectations have changed. First, I don’t celebrate beforehand like I used to. It is not my birthday until the actual day. And all I really want is a nice, mellow day with people doing some mundane tasks for me.
My wish list? No tantrums, some time to myself, hearing from good friends and someone else preparing dinner for me. So Tuesday is dinner out.
For more meal plan inspiration see Org Junkie.
What’s Cooking This Week
Monday: Make your own Quesadillas (cheese, beans, chicken, tomatoes, spinach — kids like beans and cheese) with guacamole
Tuesday – Dinner out!
Wednesday: Slow Cooker Whole Chicken with potatoes, carrots, bread and salad (some fruit too)
Thursday Spaghetti with homemade pasta sauce and meatballs, sautéed green beans (I steam it first to make it soft enough for little D) and bread
Friday: Salmon topped veggies, mac and cheese, and fruit salad
Salad: my Pecan, cranberry, apple & feta cheese salad (totally addicted!) adapted from this recipe.
Little Helpers — Good or Bad?
I’ve been having Big A help in the kitchen lately. I realized that I was slacking in this area. Even on the days I’m home, I always seem to be rushing to get dinner ready so we can get the kids to be at a decent time. But now, most nights, Big A is helping while Little D spends time with Daddy.
But I’m not doing this to get Anna to try more foods. I notice that sometimes she will and other times she won’t. The real reason I want to have her help? I want cooking to be a natural part of her upbringing and not something she has to learn when she’s older.
This is really my strategy for all things food. I just want my kids growing up preparing and eating nutritious foods — and non-nutritious foods in moderation. I don’t make a big deal about them having to eat healthy. As they get older I will gradually educate them about nutrition in developmentally appropriate ways. But I believe the best education is doing and seeing over and over. Basically, it becomes a habit that they enjoy.
And a big part of food preparation is grocery shopping. I take both of my kids shopping at least once a week with Little D recently getting into the “helping” action. But having a 2-year old help can also be hazardous.
For example, the Trader Joe’s near us has little grocery carts for kids. Big A was all over this when she first saw it, so she always grabs the cart and we put some food in it (for smaller trips that’s all we use). A few weeks ago, Little D decided he wants a cart too. So now I have both of them running for a cart the second we get in there.
The first time we did this, the first part went surprisingly well. I just told Little D to follow his big sister. When we got to the checkout line, I reminded him to give the food to the check out person. He helped by putting the food up.
But then it was time to put the little carts away as they don’t allow them outside. Little D holds on to his cart for dear life and glares at me.
“We need to put the carts away now, we will use them again next time,” I told him in a loud and clear voice.
Little D looked at me and held on even tighter while his cute little eyes fill up with tears.
“I’m taking the cart now,” I calmly said as I gave it to Big A to put back. Little D fell to the floor in an all-out tantrum. One of his best.
Everyone stared but not in a bad way. There were lots of knowing glances from parents who have been there. We’ve been a few times since this happened and the tantrums get shorter and shorter. Little D is slowly learning how to shop.
News — FDA Decision of Food Dyes
After the FDA took two days to deliberate they decided by a vote of 8 to 6, that there is insufficient evidence to put warning labels on foods that contain dyes and petroleum-based additives. See this article for more of the details. The FDA did acknowledge a potential link between food dyes and hyperactivity:
For the first time, FDA staff said Thursday that studies suggest artificial dyes may exacerbate problems for some children who already have attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder. About 5 percent of U.S. children suffer from the disorder, according to federal estimates
While this isn’t the greatest news, I do think that consumer demand can change things. Just recently Fritto Lay announced it will be taking artificial dyes out of most of its products. Why? Because that’s what consumers want — and it’s showing up in sales.
What do you think about the FDA decision?
Want to create your way to meal plan in a way that works for you? Get step-by-step help in Maryann’s book The Family Dinner Solution.
Happy Belated Birthday wishes !
There’s lot of yummy meals planned this week.
Have a wonderful week.
Maryann Tomovich Jacobsen, MS, RD says
Thank you Rona! Actually, my birthday is not until tomorrow ; )
What a great idea to have your kids help in the kitchen not only as an encouragement to try new food, but to teach them from an early age how to make cooking a part of their lives. If you’re looking for future post ideas I would love to read a series on how to implement helping in the kitchen, such as suggestions for tasks for a variety of ages. Thanks as always for a great blog!
Maryann Tomovich Jacobsen, MS, RD says
Megan — that’s a great idea. I plan to run a series on educating kids on nutrition. Maybe I can include info on meal prep too.
Happy birthday!! Good luck with your roasted chicken. In my pre-veg days that was one of my favorite meals.
Have you ever tried Salmon Patties with your kids? That is one of my kids favorite meals. Google the Bisquick Heart Healthy Salmon patty recipe – that’s the one I make. I’m not sure what made me think of that tonight, but I had this urge to share it with you. 🙂
As for the dyes, I don’t care what the FDA says. I eliminated them from our diet long before we found out my daughter had autism and we’ve never suspected ADHD. I always just thought it was nasty to have so many chemicals in your food.
Maryann Tomovich Jacobsen, MS, RD says
Thanks Goodfoutain! That recipe looks awesome. Do you use the dill or ranch dressing?
Neither dill nor ranch. We didn’t eat them as a burger. They didn’t like them that way. My older likes to dip them in Dijon mustard. The younger just eats them plain. I make them smaller than ‘burger-size.’ Also, you can bake them in the oven and they turn out almost as good. Not quite as moist, but pretty good.
Charlotte Bernal says
I have to admit that I have not read all the research on this (ok, none of it really), but how can these artificial colors NOT be bad for us? We are surrounded by chemicals and artificial stuff and it’s true that a lot of the times they make our lives better — or at least more comfortable — in some way. But I like to think of it as a simple risk/benefit case. What are the risks versus what can I get from it? Whereas I acknowledge some risk from the dyes used to color my hair, there is also a big benefit! What really is the benefit from these food colorings? Making cheetos more appealing? Do we need this??? No, this is only good for the food companies trying to make money from feeding us this junk. We lived in Europe for 3 years recently and the EU has taken a much stronger stance against this (as well as GMO ingredients, which is another story). That experience has now made me suspect of the “green” lime yogurts we can buy here in the grocery store. It really looks fake and UNappealing now. I know that there are many foods that would look unappealing without the dyes, but maybe we really shouldn’t be attracted to those anyway!
Vince Alvarez says
Thanks for the post!
And I think it doesn’t matter what the FDA says. We can enact much faster, better, lasting change in the food industry with our purchasing power than any top-down bureaucratic mandate. Even labels won’t stop some parents from buying that junk for their kids and themselves. The best solution is to educate people and then let them choose with their dollars which items they want to stay on the market.