Sunday, May 24, 2009

Deceptively Delicious

Ok guys, in my last post I said I'll tell you about some of my cookbooks and how I "sneak" in some extra veggies in my kids diets.

For the most part, my kids are good eaters. True there is a lot of food they can't eat because of their allergies, but they actually eat a good variety of fruits and vegetables. They love to snack on yogurt, bananas, strawberries, raisins, cantaloupe, watermelon, tomatoes, and raw carrots and broccoli. I have found if I just buy these foods and keep them where they are accessible to the kids, that they will choose these alot faster that some of the junk food that is also in our pantry! (Don't get me wrong, my kids eat their share of gummies and potato chips but I definitely try to balance it out with things that actually have nutritional value.

As far as fruit goes, I offer it with usually every meal and I don't make a big deal about it. I put it on their plate and if they eat it fine, if they don't fine. I've found the more times I offer it, the more and more likely they are to choose it. They also love to dip stuff, and I mean dip anything. I can give them a bowl of fruit and give them a little yogurt as their "dip" and they will go to town.

I've also found, that the more I stress to them "eat your ___fill in the blank" the less they are to eat it. So I put their food on their plates and if they eat one thing fine, or if they eat everything, that's great. But just because they say they don't like something I still put in on their plate, and if they don't touch it, I still put in on there next time and the next time and the next time. And after a few times, you can almost gaurantee they'll try it, and usually end up liking it. (This is how Noah finally got to eat green beans)

I also don't force my kids to try something they are adamant they don't want to try. There are a lot of articles out about kids with food allergies and that there bodies have a natural "aversion" to certain foods. If a child tells you repeatedly they don't like or want to try a certain food it could be more than just preschool stubborness. It could be a natural reaction of their body trying to protect them.

However, there are some things that it doesn't matter what I do they wouldn't try it. Such as spinach. So when I make homemade vegetable soup or spaghetti sauce or another tomato based sauce, or chili, etc, I will take a huge package or organic baby spinach (found in Kroger's produce section with the salads) and I layer it in my rice cooker and let it "wilt". Then I dump it in the blender and puree it up until it's the consistency of baby food. Then I stir it in the soup, sauce, etc and let it simmer. You can not even detect that it's in there with most tomato based foods. Trust me, I'm a picky vegetable eater and I'm actually having to train myself to eat some of these vegetables that are good for me as well!! I've done the same thing with carrots, squash, and sweet potato. You just pop it in a rice cooker until the veggies are tender and puree them up in a blender or food processor.

Homemade pizza is another favorite at our house. You can purree veggies up and add to the pizza sauce, top with part skim cheese and veggies as well. I also make my dough homemade and you can throw in some flaxseed meal and whole wheat flour and use olive oil to coat the pan. The kids LOVE it!!!

My kids LOVE manwich, I mean seriously they love it. So I will cook it with lean ground beef or turkey, add the manwich from the can and then add in the carrot or squash puree and put it on a wheat bun and they are never the wiser!!!

I also make them homemade pancakes usually a few days a week. Granted, pancakes in themselves are not so healthy (sugar, flour, etc) but I have pureed bananas and flax seed and added to their pancakes and they never knew the difference (nor did Travis I might add)
Noah also loves blueberry muffins, which I will add extra blueberries (antioxidants) and flax seed to as well.

You can also add pureed cooked cauliflower to mashed potatoes and sweet potato or squash puree to macaroni and cheese.

One of my kids favorites is chicken nuggets. However, frozen chicken nuggets to me don't appear to be very nutritious. So my version is to buy fresh chicken breast strips from the grocery. Cut them into small "chunks". At this point you would normally roll in egg but I substitute fat free buttermilk and then dip in a mixture of flour and ground flax seed (high in fiber and omega 3) and then I fry in canola or olive oil. They love them and they are healthier than the microwave version.) I sometimes dip them in panko (plain Japanese bread crumbs) and bake them instead of frying them.

However, these methods do not work quite as well if you rely on a lot of convenience foods to feed your family. I have learned that for my kids, they almost always will eat the "from scratch" versions of food better than the frozen/canned/boxed variety. Also, it is safer for us in the food allergy department. (Less risk of cross contamination in manufacturing plants) So I've just got in the habit of doing most of the baking (biscuits, cornbread, muffins, cookies, cakes) from scratch as well as almost all of their meats (chicken strips, etc) It's also cheaper, but it is more time consuming.

I also hide pro biotic supplements in their milk and I add a pediatric dose of fish oil (Omega 3 and 6) to their orange juice. (For more information about this I suggest researching online or your doctor or pharmacist) DO NOT USE A FISH OIL SUPPLEMENT IF YOUR CHILD HAS A FISH/SHELLFISH ALLERGY. In fact, don't try these supplements at all without speaking to your pediatrician,etc. We discuss everything with our allergy specialist and also we have a wonderful pharmacist who helps us with some natural dietary supplements for the kids.

Anyway, just a few tricks that I've learned over the past few years and how it works for my kids.


Brooke said...

Wow. You are such a better mom than me!! Good for you!

The Butlers said...

Those are some really good ideas Jessica...thanks! Isaac can be a pretty picky eater sometimes, but like you said, if I just keep putting it on his plate sometimes he will eventually decide he likes it. He will actually eat spinach leaves, but he won't eat a carrot no matter what I give him to dip it in. Another thing is sometimes if I freeze fruit Isaac will eat it better. He loves frozen blueberries (Ethan however hates them...he says, "don't ike booberries!").
You mentioned the Japanese bread crumbs...where do you get those? I have looked before and can't seem to find them.

Us said...

Super ideas. I will certainly try them...Clay is SUPER picky, thanks


Wanda May said...

Try turnips in mashed potatoes, they are delicious.