Wednesday, March 31, 2010

WFMW--Increasing Fruit & Veggie Consumption in my Kids

It's been ages since I did a WFMW but I've been having such success with this food rule, I had to share.

We have instituted a rule in our house: if you want dessert, you need to have consumed at least one fruit and one vegetable serving today. I have explained that it is about getting your body the nutrients it needs to keep healthy and strong, and it is a choice, not a punishment. My one son rarely has problems with this rule. He eats a very varied diet without even thinking about it much. My other one, though, has a very limited number of fruits and vegetables that don't make him gag. More on my despair about that another time.

But...what's been working for me is one of the "Food Rules" from Michael Pollan's new book. I haven't even read it yet, but some magazine I read (O? The New York Times Magazine? probably the latter) covered some of the rules he puts forth in his book. One was, in effect, No snacking in front of the TV, ever--unless it's fruits or vegetables. Studies (and hello, every living being's experience) have shown there is something hypnotic about being in front of the TV that makes hand go to mouth without even registering fully what it is that is being consumed. That doesn't seem like a good thing. But I decided this might be our second exception to the "food only at the dining room table" rule. (We have that rule to keep things neat, because we have a dog who understands that food on the table is Not Hers, and also because we had ants--eeeuw--and they were easier to control with all food in one area. The first exception, btw, is popcorn during family movie time.) Happily, the dog does not enjoy fruits and vegetables and doesn't bother with them on the floor.

So a few months ago, I thought I'd try this theory. While the kids were watching something and I was preparing dinner and having a small panic attack because I had severely underestimated the timing, I quickly cored an apple, took it to the kids in small bowls, and put them down next to them without saying a word. Half an hour later, with dinner under control, the bowls were empty. No muss, no fuss, calmer bellies for the boys, and fruit consumed. What a joy!

There are limits...I can't sneak anything past the Very Fussy One with this--he still won't eat what he does not eat. But overall it's been a big success--and increasing my kids' fruit and veggie consumption is working for me! What's working for you? Go share at We are THAT Family and find out what's working for others, too!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

MPM--Sorry, I Lied Edition

Hello, my faithful readers! Sorry, I lied to you two weeks ago. We did not have an Irish fest...we left for Disneyworld that day and had a magnificent vacation, watching the kids' cousins in the local high school band as they marched down the middle of Main Street USA at the park! So fun. Highlight for my kids: the Jedi Training Academy, where they were on stage actually battling Darth Vader. Hard to come home after battling the biggest bad guy in the galaxy, but they are adjusting.

Our best meal there, by far, was at Boma, in the Animal Kingdom Lodge. It is an African-inspired buffet. Highlights included tasting fufu for the first time (I have read about fufu but never got to eat it), an awesome carrot-ginger soup, and an excellent papaya, grapefruit, and avocado salad. Lightly dressed, the citrus kept the avocado yummy and the textures were very complimentary. So far, I haven't found a papaya to try it at home, but this recipe looks closest. I also tried this Ina special and it was awesome but too salty, even for me, who adds salt to almost everything. (I actually have below-normal sodium levels, which is a blessing for how much I like my salt!) And, of course, they still had my beloved breakfast pizza. It was a great vacation in every way, and re-entry has been a it of a bummer.

I don't even have much official menu-planning to do here...we finally finished the freezer thaw job so we're just going through th rest of the Dinner A'Fare meals--also by choice so I can prepare for Easter. I'm getting the ham but also making macaroni and cheese and the carrot mousse--nothing hard, but time intensive when it's for an intimate family gathering of 45.


Monday: stuffed pork chops, mashed potatoes, broccoli

Tuesday: chicken with cilantro cream sauce, rice, asparagus and scallions

Wednesday: flank steak with gorgonzola butter, baked potatoes, broccoli

Thursday: leftovers

Friday: Good Friday, so not sure, but not much.

And in the midst of this, the kids are on break and their activities continue unfazed so we'll see how that all works out. Soccer ended today until the fall, which is a bittersweet blessing. Starting next week: baseball season! Woohoo! So lots to look forward to here. Hope you are feeling the same and spring is inspiring you where you are!

For more inspiration, check out the amazing folks at I'm an Organizing Junkie! (She would have been proud of me cleaning out my garage this weekend though we are all still sneezing up a storm from it! I have also re-discovered my mother's Mixmaster--originally my grandmother's--I'm looking forward to cleaning it up and seeing if it will work...)

Sunday, March 14, 2010


Oh, can you feel spring where you are too? We have spent so much time on the playground this week. My dog, who loved the snow too, is ecstatic. And I can feel my body make Vitamin D, I swear. Then the rain came and we hunkered down for a few more wintery meals.

This week is another freezer/pantry extravaganza. Other than a fun Moms Night Out at Dinner A'Fare last week I decided to try a Lenten fast on food shopping. It's made a real difference. I'm not going crazy on it or anything--I have certainly purchased things--but I am sticking to a list and making meal plans before I shop, not after. (I usually like to "see what looks good" and then plan but you know what? everything looks good and then I have too much food.)

Monday: out with friends for pizza

Tuesday: black bean tacos for us, regular tacos for the kids

Wednesday: Irish fest! Irish soda bread and shepherd's pie. (But I'll be thinking of green spaghetti.)

Thursday: leftovers

Friday: out to dinner--woohoo!

Last week was really up and down. It was a good thing the old reliable spaghetti and meatballs were on there because some things didn't go well at all. There was only one total fail, but there were lots of little ones. I made the asparagus and scallions on Sunday and they were so good I made it again, but the next asparagus was so nasty tasting I'm off it for a long time. So it was that kind of thing. The only big fail was the Feta Shrimp but it was a doozy. That could have been many things; I tried a new kind of frozen shrimp (from Trader Joe's--I love my usual one from them); I didn't read carefully to see I needed fire-roasted tomatoes, which I don't eat, so I used regular...yada yada yada...too many little tweaks turn in to an inedible mess. So while I hate dumping a pot of uneaten food, I consoled myself that it doesn't happen often. And the boys were ecstatic--I was going out that night so I think my husband served soft pretzels and applesauce for dinner. I forgot I was making a friend mac and cheese on Wednesday so I didn't get to do the mushroom & spinach dish I meant to, and the chicken, while easy and liked, was kinda bland. (Of course my answer is always: throw some cheese on it! but this is not a good strategy all the time.) Even one of my nights out was funny. We went to a beer dinner at one of my favorite ever restaurants, but this time I was not impressed with the food. Granted it would be hard to live up to the memory of our first dinner there, which was a truly transcendent experience, and it was fine, but not as amazing as I was hoping for. My other dinner out was honestly just as good for a third of the price. (For my locals, it's easy to overlook Sligo if you aren't looking for Irish music, but the winter salad, the lamb and Guinness stew, the winter boxty, and the apple tart were all terrific--especially for $22 per person for all that!)

So next week is bound to be better--right?! On to it--and for more inspired, less cranky meal plans, don't miss I'm an Organizing Junkie for the best list on the web!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

MPM--Marching Along

Happy new week, meal planners!

One thing I forgot to mention last week, in the midst of my snow-addled meat fixation, was that we had the vegan sweet potato chili from the Year of Crockpotting blog in the post-freezer mess. And it was awesome. I was dreading it--I don't know why--I think I thought it would suffer from comparison to my other chili, or be too soon after, or too freezer-burned. None of the above was true. And while it was instantly deveganized by my husband with sour cream and cheese, it was terrific.

Meanwhile, now that one freezer is done, I'm working on the other. It was fine, but it was just time to rotate the stock. Lots of chicken was in there, so guess what dominates this week? At least my grocery bills are down. And (ahem) I'm going to another freezer-meal place this week so it's time to fill again. Out with the old, in with the next.

This week:

Sunday: Chicken Wellington from Super Suppers, rice, asparagus broiled with scallions (yum)

Monday: we're going out (woohoo!); kids will have pizza.

Tuesday: feta shrimp from Glorious One Pot Meals, salad, broccoli

Wednesday: baked chicken breasts, salad, spinach and portobellos with papardelle

Thursday: I'm out; boys will probably have spaghetti and meatballs.

Friday: Splendid Table's salmon pan roast, rice (scallion cilantro rice I'm hoping), tarragon leeks

Saturday: Leftovers,

Sunday: this steak from The Bitten Word; baked potatoes; salad; asparagus and scallion recipe from The Splendid Table

Last week went really well. The Frugal Foodies (from Two Fat Als) came through again with the pesto and sundried tomato chicken roll-ups. They were excellent. Despite liking pesto, my kids didn't really go for it but my husband had two and loved them. And seriously, could not have been easier and used up stuff in my fridge. Total winner all around.

I also tried a new for us recipe from Glorious One-Pot Meals. I was aiming for the shrimp with feta since I have a glut of feta (hello, this never happens in my world) and spinach. But I did not have couscous or a zucchini and I am not confident enough to start changing things up without trying them once first, so I went with New World Shrimp instead. SO easy--couscous in broth in the bottom of my Dutch oven; toss frozen shrimp with some wine, olive oil, garlic, & thyme; dump in pot; sprinkle chopped tomatoes, parsley, and lemon zest on top; bake. Done. And yummy. Again, not exactly bursting with flavor, but lovely in a mild way and again, had all those things in the house already. (I'm doing well on that piece of Lenten inspiration.) And after I hunt down a zucchini, the other half-pound of frozen shrimp ig going directly in to trying that other recipe.

Have a great week, and don't forget to check out I'm an Organizing Junkie for great menu ideas!