Tag Archives: nutrition

How-To’s Day: Roasted garden roots

Our five-year-old Christopher (on the left in this photo) doesn’t eat veggies. Or anything else even remotely healthy but especially veggies. So, we put him in charge of the garden. He weeds and plants and waters and takes great pride in his little plot of green.  He still won’t eat most of the fruits of his labors but he will at least taste it. This is the same kid who won’t even lick his broccoli for a whole bowl of ice cream. That’s progress.

Christopher’s latest harvest, a whole bunch of root veggies, seemed like the perfect opportunity to get a few vitamins and minerals into his body that he is surely missing. Here’s how we did it:

Butter, salt & pepper

Step 1: Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees and line your cookie sheet with foil, shiny side up.

Step 2: Cube all of the veggies, no smaller than an inch, no bigger than an inch-and-a-half. You decide what ratio of potatoes to beets to carrots you want and cut up enough to fill the cookie sheet. One cookie sheet easily feeds our family of five.

Step 3: Peel and cut six to twelve cloves (according to your taste) of garlic in half and distribute evenly amongst the veggies.

Step 4: Cut a cube of butter lengthwise and then into pats and spread out the same as the garlic. You can use as little as a half a cube or a whole cube if you want them good and crispy. Add salt and pepper to taste — more than you would think you’d need — the potatoes suck it up.

Step 5: Roast on the center rack for 20 to 45 minutes depending on how done you like them. We do two pans for company (as seen above) and it’s important to remember to rotate them to get good browning on the top and bottom pans.

These are great to cook ahead of time if you need to put other things in the oven. Just crank the oven up to 500 degrees about 5 minutes before dinner and throw the veggies in the oven until they’re sizzling.

Disclaimer: If you know us at all, you know my husband gets credit for this recipe. If you don’t, you know now. Thanks Allen!


Pancake day!

I’m sure IHOP was excited to see me and my friend Lori coming through the door with our nine boys on Tuesday for free pancake day. But if we threw them for a loop it didn’t show. The fundraiser benefiting the Children’s Miracle Network drew a huge crowd and the house was packed before we arrived but we got a table in pretty good time.

The restaurant opened the whole back room just for us which we had to ourselves until other moms started showing up with their after-schoolers in tow. We were our waitresses first table of what she assured us would be a very long night as she gracefully filled our water glasses and catered to our crazy children.

The boys were jazzed. What kid doesn’t love pancakes? They played with their food, swallowed the contents of sugar packets and flavor tested most of the syrups while Lori and I engaged in grown-up talk at the only open end of our table. It was an awesome diversion in a bland school day and the IHOP staff was great! Thanks IHOP!

For more information about the Children’s Miracle Network and other upcoming fundraisers, visit cmn.org.

A Wake-Up Story

I am convinced that the nagging voice in your mind that makes you question putting your baby on a strict schedule, leaving him with that sitter or weaning your him before you feel ready is more than just mommy guilt. I call it intuition.

When my first baby was born and broke out in rash after rash after rash that voice told me that something in his environment wasn’t right. It left me uneasy about the ingredients I couldn’t pronounce on his jars of baby food. And it convinced me to get the kids out of the house the first time we had a pest control company come spray for the first time. All part of my wake-up story.

So we switched to a fragrance free laundry detergent, using half what the directions said and adding natural products to make up the difference. We skipped jarred baby food. And we chased the ants away with borax and baby powder.

Like any family, we go through cycles and there is only so much we can do in the way of chemical-free living on a shoe-string budget but we do what we can. Here are some of the other ways we cut out chemicals:

  • Cleaning with vinegar and baking soda
  • Limiting the use of antibiotics and other medications
  • Using cloth diapers and cloth wipes when we can
  • Cutting out products with added fragrances
  • Avoiding packaged, convenience food
  • DIY instead of buy as much as possible (granola, deodorant, detergent, etc.)

Like I said, we cycle. Lately I’ve been lazier than usual but this video, A Wake-Up Story, was just what I needed to snap me out of it.

What do you think: Fear mongering propaganda? Or a worthwhile message? I’ve heard both but I vote the latter.

What was your wake-up story?

Garbonzos incognito

Garbonzo bean cookies. Sound yummy? No? You’d be surprised. After dropping many not-so-subtle hints when the book first appeared on Costco shelves I was thrilled to receive Jessica Seinfeld’s, Deceptively Delicious for Christmas in 2007. With a picky eater at home, Seinfeld’s idea — to puree nutrient packed veggies and hide them in delicious kid-friendly meals and treats — sounded like just what the doctor ordered for our family.

Unfortunately, when it came down to physically pureeing spinach and other veggies to include in brownie batter and grilled cheese my enthusiasm for the system died off.

But one recipe stuck with us: Chocolate Chip Cookes (with chickpeas). (FYI, chickpeas = garbanzo beans.) I was nervous at first. Beans and chocolate chips don’t usually belong in the same mixer but these cookies stack up well next to any chocolate chip cookie recipe I’ve ever tasted. And I feel like my kids are actually being nourished while they snack. Even my picky Chris loves them! If you know him personally, you will share my shock of his hours old exclamation, “Thanks so much for making these cookies, Mom!” That’s right… Chris.

In light of Christopher’s continued picky-induced malnourishment and the recent loss of two of his weak, decayed teeth. I am dusting off my copy of Deceptively Delicious, determined to give it another shot.

Have you tried the book? What’s your favorite recipe?

I am a dinner cheater

I don’t have time to cook. Seriously. I chase two young children around all day, haul a six year-old to school and back and a husband to school and work, I work from home, work away from home, serve at church, help with school, sew, craft, be friendly, keep clothes on people and the house liveable… I don’t have time to cook. Still, my family needs to eat. Or so they say.

For this purpose was the Crockpot invented. Oh, Crockpot, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways…. At least half of our dinners come to us courtesy of my trusty Crockpot’s lovely warm belly. I have lots of yummy Crockpot recipes but I rarely use them because I am a huge unmotivated dinner cheater. I have a loose formula that I use for my Crockpot meals and it hasn’t failed me yet. To try it for yourself, here’s what you’ll need:

Meat. Any size, any shape, whatever you’ve got.
(dry beans or lentils work great too)
1 package of onion soup mix or some garlic salt and your favorite seasonings.
1 can of cream of mushroom soup and/or 1 C of matching boullion
optional: garlic, onions, celery or anything your heart desires

Cook on low all day or on high through the afternoon and go from there. If I have a beef roast in the Crockpot, I will add onions, potatoes and carrots about halfway through the cooking process. I served these pork chops (above) over rice. Chicken? Leave out the onion soup and mix a package of Stove Top stuffing into a can of cream of mushroom soup and craisins and spread over top of the poultry and boullion.

The possibilities are endless, the crowds are pleased and tummies are full. The only flaw is with that yummy smell wafting through the house all hours of the day, by dinner time you’ll be ready to eat and eat good!

Just eat already!

I get awfully tired of hearing the same thing from doctors or nutritional experts on the subject of picky eaters. It always comes down to: “Eventually he’ll get hungry enough to eat whatever you give him.” Not so. In fact, last year we went head to head with my three year-old picky eater on the advice of his pediatrician and he didn’t eat a thing. Not a thing. After about 36 hours I called the ped asking what to do next and received stunned silence. “Well,” He said after a minute or two, “he needs to eat something. Give him something he will eat.” That’s right. The kid won.

I am a firm believer in not coddling kids’ food phobias. I don’t feed them watered down baby food, I don’t cut the crusts off sandwiches, I don’t make a mild version of spicy dinners. My kids are regularly exposed to Mexican food (and we’re not talking the American version here), funky Italian, Thai, Korean, Greek, Chinese, Indian, Mediterranean and any other flavors that come along.

They ate quinoa salad and lentil soup as babies and have snacked on hummus, not ranch dip, with the family for years. They’ve tried all the greens; bok choy, Swiss chard, poblano peppers and a wider variety of fruits than many adults.

I don’t make special food for my picky eater. Unfortunately, the kid just doesn’t eat. He’ll strike whole meals, sometimes more on a regular basis until he can manage to swipe a hot dog from the fridge, which he will eat plain; bun-less and flavorless. His favorite foods are spoiled for him with the addition of anything green or black. That includes herbs or spices of any kind. One of his few standbys, “smashed motatoes” are ruined by the addition of any spice other than salt. Green foods are bad, along with veggies of any kind. Most fruits are yucky. Many meats don’t make the cut. I have no idea what to do with this kid. I’m this close to pulling out Jessica Seinfeld’s Deceptively Delicious hide-the-pureed-veggies recipe book for something other than her fabulous garbanzo bean chocolate chip cookies (yummm) but I’m pretty sure he won’t go for it.

Any suggestions?

A fish oil capsule a day keeps PPD at bay?

Remember all that fuss a couple of years ago about ADD symptoms being caused by nutritional deficiencies in some cases? The theory behind this is that the brain cannot function properly without the vitamins and minerals it uses to create neurotransmitters and that our kids eat too much junk. Makes sense… our bodies have to run off of something and we Americans are known around the globe as crummy eaters. As a side note: I was tested last year and found to have a zinc deficiency after complaining about skin and nail problems. Zinc. Apparently we need all of those vitamins and minerals that are listed on the side of that vitamin bottle buried in the back of my cupboard. Not only that, but we’re supposed to get them from a “balanced diet” because our bodies and brains have a better chance of using them that way.

So, I’ve recently learned that some doctors, naturopaths, and dietitians are having success in treating cases of postpartum depression with nutritional supplements and dietary changes. During pregnancy, our reserves are depleted by all of that human-growing going on. We cut out entire categories of food that make us sick, we lose lots of nutrition during labor and delivery and then start nursing a baby who will grow entirely off what we eat and our reserves while we eat quick, easy, non-nutritious foods. The chances that we consume enough vitamins to grow a strong and healthy baby and a strong and healthy mom are slim.

Even some of the nutrients we do manage to absorb are thwarted from combining with other nutrients to improve brain function by stress hormones. What new mother isn’t stressed out? Low serotonin levels are, apparently, often to blame for bouts of tearfulness and anxiety and can be sometimes be remedied by dietary and lifestyle changes. This is the same logic that is behind placentophagia, the practice of mothers drying, crushing, encapsulating and consuming the placenta after birth; although some doctors say that the placenta loses most of its nutrition in this process.

And did you ever feel like you “fell into a deep, dark hole and just cannot muster the energy to get out”? Low nor-epinephrine leves can be the culprit here and fixing adrenal and thyroid levels can do the trick. As a postpartum thyroiditis sufferer myself, I can attest to that!

Find more information on this here, here or here or google “postpartum depression and nutrition”.