Easy and Fun Oktoberfest Foods that Kids Love!

Pretzels, sausages, and other good food make Octoberfest a great time to show kids how to enjoy good food.

Oktoberfest parties can be fun for kids, and a time for them to eat well and try new foods. My family proved it can be done!

So many families enjoy the sights and sounds of Fall. It’s colorful, cozy and most of all FULL of candy and sweets. Besides candy and pumpkin specialty sweets, how can we get our kids to eat a decent meal when they are flooded with creepy, gooey, pumpkin-y treats?  And on top of all the sugar and chocolate, what really stinks, is that fall is the time of year they need nutritious food the most so they don’t come down with a case of the “Ick” (aka cold and flu).

But I have been around the block a time or two with kids and food, from extreme picky eaters as clients, to kids at birthday parties that won’t even try a cupcake due to it’s color and shape. Fall food for kids is a walk in the park, and this park is full of beautiful leaves and tasty treats. So no worries; it’s harvest time!

Why Oktoberfest?  Using Creativity to Feed Kids.

My kids are pretty good eaters, but I have to be honest. I work with them a LOT on growing our own food, knowing our farmers, teaching them how to bake and cook, and setting the expectations that they eat well in order to get sweets. Oktoberfest is one fall party that is going to make my job easy.

First off it’s a party. A great big harvest party, and except for the beer, it is one party that has lots of delicious food as a focal point that is kid-friendly. With a little research and a look in my Slovak family cookbook, my imagination and party plans start to seem very, very possible.

Even better yet, my cousin is throwing a picnic this weekend and I have hinted about the Slovak and German family roots we share as a reason to have ethnic food. She gets the hint and starts planning the menu, but with some minor reservation. She needs to feed almost 10 kids and isn’t sure how to turn Oktoberfest food into kids’ food. I assure her that we can easily transform the picnic into a family memory that will include the kids.

Why Family Makes Food All The More Delicious

It isn’t a secret that eating with family makes families stronger. But as a developmental therapist, it’s often forgotten that parental example of eating is one of the strongest indicators of how well (or poorly) a child eats. This says that parents and family, including siblings, set the example for the kids. Family members that realize the impact their eating habits has on future generations usually choose to eat more mindfully.

So getting together, sharing food, and being social are key factors in teaching kids to eat. So picking some foods that are healthy when having a family meal or a party is essential.

A Pot Luck is a Lucky Pot.

If everyone can bring a dish that is built around a theme, with the goal of making for a delicious meal, then how could a family party not be successful? Duplicate foods, too many of one item such as desserts, and food allergies make the modern family party a little tricky.

It was best for the host, my cousin, to check in with all the guests ahead of time to see if there were any food allergies before planning. She discovered that we needed to address gluten free and dairy free options.Then the menu can be developed and volunteers can be asked to bring specific foods. For our family Oktoberfest, my mom had already offered to bring 2 dozen pierogies. Off to A delicious start!

Kids can try these sausages and enjoy Octoberfest while eating well.

Bratwurst is a tasty choice for Oktoberfest!

Brainstorming an Oktoberfest Meal for Kids

It’s always a good idea to have a plan when hosting a party, especially when kids are involved.

Now for some there may be no need to go beyond the buttery pasta pocket filled with potato and cheese that is the classic pierogie, but being realistic about what kids might find tasty, and also what they might need in terms of well balanced nutrition, my cousin and I come up with a few ideas for kids food.

Oktoberfest Food

There are so many choices when it comes to Oktoberfest foods. With options ranging from bratwurst sausages to German potato salad, we have a good start. Add in pretzels, cider, spaetzle (fried noodles), pierogies (stuffed dumplings),  sauerkraut, simple Instant Pot pulled pork goulash, cucumber salad, stuffed cabbages, and more. My German, Hungarian and Slovak ethnic ties of a few generation ago make this menu a dream! This is a super easy meal plan endeavor.

But how to make this all kid friendly? Easy.

Octoberfest food for kids can be easy and delicious.

A meal of Bratwurst and mashed potatoes (WITH toppings from the mashed potato bar) make a great meal for kids. Just add mustard!

Super Easy Oktoberfest Food For Kids

Here’s the list we came up with, which we easily assigned to family members to bring the day of the party.

  1. Bratwurst Sausages cut up in small bites and a gluten free pretzel stick to use as a handle to dip each bite in stone ground mustard
  2. Slovak breaded and fried chicken thighs
  3. Pierogies (stuffed noodles and butter)
  4. Spaetzle Fake-Out: Instead of fried noodles, just make noodles of any shape and add melted butter and kraut
  5. Pretzels and dipping sauce
  6. Mashed potato bar with toppings including kraut, both organic cold garlic and hot, diced sausages, cubed brats, butter, salsa, cheddar cheese, and pulled pork goulash.  Serving glasses were available to make the mashed creations look like ice cream sundaes!
  7. Pulled pork goulash (Instant Pot)
  8. Hot dogs wrapped in dough (what some call Pigs in a Blanket)
  9. Cucumber Salad (Slovak style with vinegar and paprika)
  10. Apple cider and water to drink
Sausage or hot dogs are always a weiner!

Sausage in dough clothes make a fun food for kids at Oktoberfest! They are always a wiener!

Now most of these foods are easy to make and with a quick internet search they are easy to create from a good recipe. But our family has some true favorite recipes to share. Here is one my cousin made that was AMAZING!

Simple Instant Pot Pulled Pork Goulash

This recipe was made using the Instant Pot manual function.

Ingredients
2-3 pork loin or butt roast (bone in optional, cut in half if too large for pot)
2 T ghee
½ onion (chopped)
2 cloves garlic (minced)
Sliced white mushrooms (12 oz)
Penzey’s Steak Seasoning
2 T Hungarian Sweet Paprika
1 can diced tomato (14.5 oz)
3 cups organic beef broth
1 jar roasted red pepper strips (drained)
Ground black pepper

Instructions
1. Set Instant Pot to Sauté function.
2. Trim all visible fat from roast. Cut in half if too large for pot.
3. Add ghee to instant pot when ready.
4. Sprinkle pork with steak seasoning.
5. When ghee is hot, brown pork on each side until nicely browned, could take up to 10
minutes. Brown in batches if halved.
6. While pork is browning chop onion, prepare mushrooms, and mince garlic.
7. Remove pork to a plate.
8. Add onions to pot and sauté for 3 minutes. Sprinkle paprika over onions and add garlic.
Stir and brown for another 3 minutes.
9. Stir in mushrooms and brown another 5 minutes.
10. Return pork and add diced tomatoes, roasted pepper strips, and beef stock to Instant Pot.
Lock lid and cook on manual function for 60 minutes at high pressure. Let pressure
release naturally.
11. Shred pork using two forks. Set pot to keep warm until serving time.
Suggestions
Add ½ t caraway seeds in step 9 optional
Roast your own red pepper
Serve over mashed potatoes with dollop sour cream
Cook in slow cooker for 8-10 hours on low, or high 4-6

How Our Family’s Oktoberfest Celebration Helped the Next Generation Eat Better.

After the celebration, it was clear we had some solid new food our whole family enjoyed. My daughter told me she had a blast, and loved all the amazing and wonderful food. She said this to me the next day without me even asking. So a shout out to my family -“You are one Oktoberfest inspiration for the next generation of kids! I am proud to be Frau Melissa in this group of Eastern European Foodies!”

Kids’ Food Winners for Oktoberfest

The sauerkraut and black forest cake were the clear winners at our Oktoberfest celebration, but the Goulash came in a very strong Third.

Sauerkraut, sausage, and black forest cake are all foods our family loved!

Octoberfest food that our family loved. Sauerkraut and sausage took first place.

Chocolate cake is an easy and delicious Octoberfest food!

The Black Forest Cake was delicious and an easy new food for kids to explore. It took 2nd place this Oktoberfest!

Soup is warm and an easy new food for kids to try.

Kids love soup, so this goulash was an easy new food for kids to try. It took 3rd place, but it was so good I took seconds.

Sausage, breaded hot dogs, black forest cake are all food kids love at Octoberfest!

Visit Swami Mommi on Pinterest to share a pic of what easy food you cooked for Octoberfest, or let us know how it went! Hopefully your family and especially kids found it wonderful!

Avoid Constipation: Don’t Make the #1 Baby Feeding Mistake (I did!)

A feeding guide for parents to help their kids with constipation.

We all make mistakes, so here is my lesson learned. Hope this story helps you feed you kids with confidence.

If you are ambitious enough to start your baby early on homemade pureed foods or if youare able to find a high quality fruit puree at the grocery store, why not try organic pears? I always start babies on pears when they are transitioning to first foods. Well, of course that after I realized that they were so important.

Starting out as a new mom, I was overtaken by cute baby food books, and stressed to be the best feeder ever since I was a feeding therapist by trade. But I forgot about all those foods that were so good and relieving constipation. I didn’t start with them. So when my baby got constipated from drinking too much cows milk, I was stuck.

After quickly thinking what food would help, I started trying them with her. Due to all my effort to get her to enjoy feeding time, with everything from puppets to silly spoons, she took to them pretty quick. But it still took a few days, and we had to wait it out. Thanks to our doctor’s recommendation, we were able to reduce her cow’s milk intake, switch her over to goats milk, and with the added laxative type foods, she was OK.

After that, I made it a point to talk to all my families about getting laxative type foods into their babies and kids diets. Just in case they should need it someday. Sure these foods have great nutrient benefits too, but on a real basic level, I wanted the babies and kids I saw to have these laxative foods on their menus.

There are several types of laxative foods I like and my top 10 are below:

Top 3 Foods that Relieve Constipation in Babies and Kids:

  1. Prunes
  2. Peaches
  3. Pears

The Three P’s in Pooping; prunes, peaches and pears is what I like to call these awesome three fruits. They get things moving weather in solid form, pureed or in juice form. A little mindful parenting and planning should be all that is needed to get your kids to tolerate these foods early. Feeding them regularly will get your kids the road to a healthy digestive system.

Focus on Pears for Constipation Relief

I really want to focus on pears with the main reason being that pears are a safe food to start very early. The other reason is that pears are usually very well tolerated by the youngest of kids.

Peaches and pears should be tired as well, but focusing on pears gives you a template on how to approach feeding these laxative rich foods to your littlest.

Let’s explore why pear work great for babies first, then move into more ideas for older kids.

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Can we do something about this constipation?

Pears for Babies: Great Constipation Relief

#1: Why is pear puree a safe first food for your baby?

While working as a developmental therapist, the Speech Language pathologists would never worry if a little pear juice got in the airway of a child with which they were working. They always told me it was the safest choice because it was most like saliva. I thought that little nugget of insight was quite brilliant. So I used it…and with good results.

#2: Do pears have a laxative-like quality?

Something you probably already know, but just in case you don’t, pears are a great laxative. This goes for adults and children alike. Pear juice, pear puree, and pears all work well to get the mail moving. After a nice meal of pears, most kids and babies have no problems with constipation. If they do, or if their constipation is a consistent problem, the simple pear remedy might not be enough. It’s time to consult your pediatrician.

However, if you are simply wanting to start baby on solids, and you really aren’t concerned with constipation in baby, it’s a great food to try. It can be easily pureed to an almost liquid consistency if it’s put through a good food processor. Add some breast milk or formula for added taste familiarity for baby, and you are all set!

how to help a baby who is constipated, baby laxative

Texture/Consistency Considerations When Feeding:

I usually start transitioning to solids with a texture that is most similar to breast milk or formula. Most nearly a liquid. I always want the first tastes to be fun and an adventure for baby, so giving them a liquid like consistency to start with will not be hard for them to manage in their mouth. I am interested in taste when first transitioning babies because they are still getting their nutrition from the breast-milk or formula they receive.

Over the weeks and months that follow, the texture and consistency can move away from liquid and more towards a true puree, smooth in consistency at first and then with very small lumps. Make sure that the texture is safe for your baby, as each baby has different skills and abilities. I always lean on the side of caution. Go slow, take your time increasing the texture and consistency, and enjoy this very fun time with baby.

I also highly recommend that moms use their finger to provide the puree. Mom’s pointer finger is safe, familiar, and easy for baby to hug and hold while exploring the puree taste and texture. A very small spoon can be used too, but it’s really not necessary.

Sensory Play During Feeding:

Play is the way babies and kids learn. So when babies are still learning about food, they will play with it in order to figure it out. They will actually explore it with their hands and mouth and even rub it on the tray and their hair (yuck!) But let them go at it, it will make them feel like food is just like so many other exciting discoveries they are making each and every day. It really does help them in their development.

I often use toys that babies enjoy so we are combining something new (the food)  with something familiar (the toy) so baby feels comfortable and enjoys the experience. Even a cool spoon would work. It’s really important that baby can touch the food, smell the food, and get to know the food. I always encourage messy eating, and want those little fingers covered in food by the end of a feeding. There will be plenty of time for manners later. This is food exploration time!

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Once babies enjoy the taste, they will usually take it again and again. But remember it can take a baby up to 15 trials to accept a food. So, don’t ever give up too soon. Keep trying the food, even if at first your baby makes silly faces. Actually, silly faces are what I find part of the fun! The face I get almost every time a new food is offered says something like, “Oh my, what in the world is that!”

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DONE! Yum!

Once baby  enjoys pears, you will have a natural remedy to take care of all the important business that happens on the diaper changer. What a difference a poop can make when it comes to a pleasant kiddo! Easy pooping makes for a happy and content baby.

Pears for Kids: Great Constipation Relief

The great thing about getting you kids started early on pears (and prunes and peaches) is that you always have them in your back pocket (literally!) when they need some constipation relief. I know many mom’s would suggest prunes first, but they are not as easily tolerated as pears. Picky eaters even like pears more frequently due to their mild taste. Also, its easy to add pureed pears to other foods like applesauce, pudding and clear soups.

Pears are also really easy to make into cute food. When you kid is down in the dumps from not being able to poop, and meal time is just not that appetizing, fun food is in order. Maybe a pear bug, or a pear dog. Maybe some great whole grain (I still pick gluten free grains) pancakes with pear eyes and a berry nose. Pears are easy to cut up and make into silly shapes. Maybe try a rice-cake with peach jelly, pear strips for hair, prune eyes and nose, and a real peach slice for the smile. Your creativity is the limit.

A pancake with pear eyes and a berry nose to make kids have fun while eating.

Pears are easy to cut into playful body parts for food. Kids love it!

For very picky eaters, no matter what age, there may be either behavioral or issues or issues with gut health present, so consulting as many resources as you can might be helpful in not only getting your kids to eat laxative type foods, but food in general. I have seen many kids struggle when they are not given whole foods from the early feeding years. Also I have seen some kids personally not tolerate foods that are highly allergenic such as wheat, milk, corn and soy, among other. Once they eliminate these foods they do much better, and they often have more frequent poops.

The good news is that now days, so many kids have food issues, that many products are available at grocery stores that were once hard to find. The key here is to still decrease the amount of processed foods, and increase the amount of whole foods. To help you get your family headed in the right direction I have included your very own copy of my Free Feeding Guide: Happy Eating Essentials.

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Thanks mom! A huge poop! I’m ready to take on the world….let’s go!

Let us know at Swami Mommi if you tried pears with baby or if you found another laxative-type food that worked for constipation relief with your baby!

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Dont’ Miss Blueberry Season! Create A “Blueberry Party” This Summer That the Whole Family Will Enjoy With This Easy Blueberry Guide. Plus Free Music!

Blueberry season fun and free music for kids

Weather you are trying to teach your baby good eating habits from the start, thinking mindfully about your summer, or just want to have some summer sensory fun with your family, blueberries are the way to go. They are jammed with nutrients and anti-oxidants and are easy to work with in the kitchen. Plus, a trip out to the farm for U-pick blueberries is a great way to show our kids exactly where our food comes from everyday!blueberries muffins

Ideas for Family Activities that Center Around Blueberries

This past fall we went as a family to pick apples on a nearby farm, and having had such a great time with the experience, we decided mid-July blueberry picking was worth a try. Two trips to the farm, 13 pounds of blueberries and two cans of sweet cream later, we find that we are quite a natural picking bunch!

Our first trip was in 90 degree heat, and we literally all almost melted. My husband with the spray bottle, my daughter with her sun hat, and myself with the bottled water in the middle of the blueberry fields to pick the plumpest of blueberries. But all of our “cooling provisions” could not sustain us in the heat, and we left with a mere 5 lbs of berries. Actually, we ate so many directly off the bushes, it was probably more like 5 1/2 lbs.

Several days passed, and my husband’s idea of berries and cream had hit full stride.  We were soon to run out of berries and I knew we would be back in the fields soon.

Friday came with wild storms, and a cooler weather forecast for the weekend. When I suggested that we go pick berries, there were smiles all around. This time, the weather was breezy and sunny. We spent a good hour in the fields and left with 8 pounds of blueberries. On the way home we stopped for another container of ice cream ! Yum!

One other great benefit of picking our own blueberries, is that it gave our family time to slow down and do something quiet and mindful. Slowing down and going into a field of trees with a real clear purpose of collecting food, facilitates mindfulness and calm. Focus is just easy. Stress seems to drip away, and clarity of mind come quick. Blueberry picking for us was a pure delight. It might be for you and your family too.

So here’s a few ideas to make blueberries an “event” in your home too. I start with berries and cream, progress through berry muffins, and end with a song we sang while in the fields. I posted the song so you can learn and sing as a family too!

Berries and Cream

This is super simple. Here’s all you need to dig in!

Fresh blueberries
Vanilla Ice Cream or whipped cream ( I like coconut cream!)
Cute dessert bowls for fun eating!

blueberry muffins for kids, toddler recipes, blueberry toddler recipes, baby food

Gluten Free Blueberry Muffins

(or try a regular recipe if you are not gluten intolerant)

1/2 cup organic canola or safflower oil
1/2 cup maple syrup
11/4 cups soymilk (or rice milk)
4 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup Sucanat, date sugar, maple sugar, or org. unrefined sugar
4 cups brown rice flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups whole fresh-picked (or frozen) blueberries

Preheat the over to 350 degrees F. Oil a 12-cup muffin pan or line it with paper liners and set aside. In a small bowl, mix 2 teaspoons maple syrup or sugar and 1 teaspoon brown rice flour as a topping to drizzle over the muffins just before putting the muffins in the oven.

Mix the oil, syrup, soymilk, vinegar, and vanilla in another small bowl. In a separate, larger bowl place the sugar, flour, baking soda, baking powder, nutmeg and salt. Sift the flour to ensure there won’t be clumps. If you are good with the mixing, and feel it is consistent throughout, you really don’t need to sift. It’s up to you!

Whisk the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Do not overwork the batter. If the batter is stiff, add 1 teaspoon of milk at a time. Fold in 2 cups of blueberries and do not overwork the batter or it will turn blue. (This actually could look interesting if you dare try it!)

Spoon the batter into the muffin cups and sprinkle with the topping mixture prepared ahead of time. You may place a few berries on top of each muffin to make them extra juicy on top.

Bake for 20 minutes and rotate the pan a half turn to ensure even baking. Bake 5-6 minutes more or until a knife inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean. Let cool for 15 minutes, remove from the pan, and let cool completely on a wire rack.

(This muffin mixture was adapted from “Simple Treats: Wheat-Free and Dairy Free Guide to Scrumptious Baked Goods by Ellen Abraham)

A Blueberry Song That Makes for A Recipe Of Fun!

Once we were out in the fields, we had a blast with this song! With each verse I would pick a blueberry and put it on baby’s  belly button. We would cover it up with her shirt and after each round of the song, we would look to her bellybutton to see if she was the blue belly button girl! She loved it and asked for more over and over again!)

The next day, and for weeks to follow, we were singing this song and having fun with these berries in baby’s highchair. I cut them so they were not a chocking hazard, and baby got a great snack with tons of great nutrients and anti-oxidants.

Check out the audio of the song Blue Belly Button Boy here.

Chorus:
There once was a blue belly button Boy (girl)
Boy oh boy was his belly button blue
If you could see blue belly button Boy (girl)
You would say it’s the bluest too!

Mindful Summer Activities for Blueberry Season

This song is great for preschoolers and elementary kids as well. They sing it each and every year once they learn it. It’s like a good Christmas song that is learned and then used over and over, year after year. You’ll be sure to get this song stuck in your head, and sing it every summer or whenever you eat blueberries!

feeding baby, baby food, baby puree, developmental milestones for feeding

Feeding Milestones: What You Need to Know to Feed Your Baby and Toddler Blueberries?

Feeding a baby who is just starting solids should try blueberries in a very liquid type puree. Some recommend steaming fruits and veggies before making puree, but I never did. Baby didn’t have any difficulty so I never bothered, but if your baby seems to have digestive difficulty with them, I would suggest giving them a little steam.

Once baby turned toddler, I could cut the berries into tiny bites and put them on her tray. I would usually cut them in half and then cut them again to be extra sure they were not a choking hazard. Remember to do whatever you need to insure your baby or toddler is working with a safe texture or size during feeding. If you aren’t sure what is safe, ask you pediatrician.

I also use puree blueberries and small blueberry bites to practice with the spoon too. Babies and toddlers love the challenge of getting the berries into their mouth and they love to taste the reward too!

So have fun this summer, with baby and the whole family. Make blueberries an annual “Event” in your home for some real down home fun and for a family of happy eaters!

 

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Mom Mega Hack So Your Baby Is a Happy Eater (even if you are picky yourself!)

feeding baby solids .jpg

If you take the time to eat well when you are pregnant, you win and your baby wins.  Sure, you get a healthy start to postpartum, but you also have a healthy food habit you can pass on to your baby when they start eating solids! Double win.

If you are pregnant, a new mom, or a mom with kids already, eating well sets a good example, right? If your whole family is already eating well, then you have surely experienced the benefits.

But what if you are a picky eater yourself? What if you are struggling with an eating difficulty or with unhealthy habits you learned when you were younger?  Hey, it happens.  But it’s never too late to make a fresh start.

picky eater toddler recipes

Research indicates that kids who get the “picky eater” label statistically often have parents who are “picky eaters” too. Now, this is not in all cases of course, but it is an indicator.

Isabella, my friend and therapy colleague, found in her own work with children with feeding difficulties that moms often don’t model healthy eating habits, but expect their kids to eat well. Jacki, when asking one of the moms she works with if she herself would eat a piece of steak she was trying to get her baby to eat, her response was “Heavens No!”

If you’re in fact a healthy eater, you undoubtedly have the advantage here. But if you are picky, or struggling with what to eat, then let’s talk Whole Family Feeding.

Feeding My Family

Whole Family Feeding uses foods that are already in the meal, and uses them to feed baby too.  This is a MEGA time saver and hack because you have so little time as a mom.  Who can really make special dishes for baby everyday, in addition to a family meal?

The main benefit of Whole Family Feeding is baby food of course, but the example that the family sets while eating instills, on a very basic level, what happy eating looks like. It’s a social thing.

So, what if you are having a hard time gobbling down carrots, corn and chicken? The first and most obvious solution is to try to make small changes that work for you. If it is more serious than that, work with a professional that you trust to make gains in happy healthy eating for yourself.

A second solution, which is not quite as obvious, is to make a family food plan. Talk with your spouse and come up with a meal plan that adds new and nutrient-rich food to your weekly meals. Adding new foods slowly, over time, will change things for your family. Do your best personally, work with your family, and place importance on Whole Family Eating. Every family member can make a difference in setting a good example.

It might take awhile to see the changes, but eventually you will see them.

baby puree messy eating is ok

When it comes to making food for baby, it’s really simple. Just makes sure to plan one or two items per meal that baby can try. The food would be in their regular form for the family, and then made baby safe, via puree, grinding or chopping.

So let’s break it down.

Whole Family Meal Planning:1-2-3

#1: It’s a Mindset: Old Fashioned Food

You know what the old times are, right? When people sat down and ate? I’m talking my grandma and great-grandma here. Think about how people during the early 1900’s ate. If you have some family history you can remember on this topic, great! If not,  I’ll share my grandma’s daily meal ritual. It rocks, and she wasn’t even a super great cook. But she got the job done. (She was a Rosie the Riveter.  No kidding!)

Rosie tries baby food recipes and does it!-316691_1280

Rosie the Riveter symbolized the  American World War II effort that women put forth, working in mills and factories at jobs that were earlier only for men.     Tough work!

Every day she would have a small breakfast and lunch. Dinner, however, was another story. There was always a salad on the table, a broth-based soup for a starter and a piece of fresh fruit and occasional sweet for dessert. The meal itself was a meat, a starch and a vegetable. The meat was usually a roast or chicken that lasted a couple of days and veggies were sometimes frozen or canned, but there were always veggies.

Do I do this every day?  No. BUT, I do try.

I usually aim for something close to this during the week. Sometimes a salad starts the meal and if we’re on the go, I cut out the dessert till we return home. I usually don’t work with canned veggies, which adds time, but frozen and fresh veggies of some sort usually make it to the table.

#2. Plan and Buy Food Ahead of Time

Plan a few meats, a few veggies, make some broth, and buy salad greens and a dressing you like. Pick your favorite fruits and a dessert or two.

If you want, assign them to each day of the week.

DONE.

You can do it!

#3: Cook 

Make ahead. Make the same day. Whatever works in your schedule.

I personally “want” to make ahead but have not mastered this yet. The point is that once you make it, leave time to pull one or two items from the meal to serve baby. A good mashed potato or a smashed banana can really work well. Just make sure you add slowly to baby’s diet, so he accepts a food and tolerates it before adding more foods

baby food recipes

What about days that are just too hectic to cook? Going to a restaurant can be easy if you think about planning for the whole family. Pick a place with many home-style selections that everyone can benefit from.  Planning for the whole family becomes a habit. It just takes a little practice.

So should you start planning when you’re pregnant? YES!

how to stay fit and healthy when pregnant

Here is why eating well and feeding the whole family is a good idea when pregnant:

  • Eating habits support health in mom so she can have energy during pregnancy and postpartum.
  • Once baby is born, good food choices are in place. The amazing but also busy time when baby arrives is change enough. Have meals made ahead and frozen, or have someone else cook! Pregnancy is the time to plan.
  • Babies eat what they see the rest of the family is eating.  Mom, you are the example. You go mom!!!
  • When you are pregnant, you have more time to learn about foods. Organic, non-GMO, grass-fed, non-RBH milk, food color/dyes, preservatives, etc. should be in your grocery buying language. It’s important to know your food source if you can, and over time, you will know how to save money doing this too.

And it may seem obvious, but no matter where you are in your parenting journey, you can start planning family meals, and making food for your whole family that makes a difference. You CAN have HAPPY EATERS in your family. We’ve seen it done.

To support all of you who want to give this a try, here are two resources I personally can’t live without!

#1: Feeding the Whole Family: Whole Foods Recipes for Babies, Young Children and Their Parents

  • I found this lovely cookbook by Cynthia Lair, and it was a major help to me. So many recipes for the whole family, and specific instructions on what to set aside and prepare for baby.

#2: Environmental Working Group: This group helped me be a smarter consumer.
They explain what you are buying, from a perspective of best and safest products for the consumer. Find them at ewg.org

Please let us know here at Swami Mommi if you try this out with your family! We wish you all the best of Happy Eating!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Superbowl Sunday Cooking With Kids: Easy Potato Skins for the Whole Family.

baked potato skins

Cooking for kids can be downright CRAZY, not to mention when it’s Superbowl Party time! So I did something even CRAZIER. I enlisted them into my kitchen. Now my food making team is as ready and tough as the football teams we are going to watch this weekend. Less stress for me, and more fun for the kids! They love it!

We’re talking “cooking with kids” instead of  “for the kids”.

You might find this a smart move, but it didn’t come from me. After my daughter got downright tired of me complaining about how much cooking I do earlier this week, she got out her Junior Chef cookbook from Paragon Publishing Junior Chef Cookbook and found this great recipe for potato skins.

I had no idea she planned to do it right then and there.

With some items for dinner already started, I was happy for the help. Her baby sister would soon be  ready to eat and I thought these little fancy twice baked, already mashed, potatoes would work.

And it did work. These skins were actually an amazing success! These delicious little bundles could working for a party, a lunch box with a microwave near by, or for football  Sundays. Here in Steeler Country you always have to be prepared for game day. Great Pittsburgh football food is a must.

The best part of this easy to prepare food is that it help meal planning. Mom, Dad, kiddo and baby all loved them. One kid makes them, and everyone gets to eat.

Here is what you’ll need:

4 large Potatoes (we used red, and they even worked fine.)

1/2 stick butter (we used Earth Balance)

4 oz. thin sliced ham, turkey or chicken

Salt and Pepper (to taste)

4 oz cheese optional

Recipe: (for safety a grown up is needed for oven work, piercing with fork and cutting)

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F/200 degrees C/gas mark 6.
  2. Prick potatoes with a fork and place on a baking sheet.
  3. Bake in the oven for 60 minutes, until they are soft inside and the skins crisp.
  4. Remove from oven and cut potatoes in half once cool
  5. Scoop out the soft insides into a mixing bowl. Don’t damage the skins.
  6. Mash the potatoes and add butter, salt and pepper.
  7. Place the skins on a baking sheet.
  8. Lay a thin layer of meat of choice on the bottom of each shell.
  9. Spoon the mashed potato mixture on top to fill the shell.
  10. Grate the cheese and sprinkle on top.
  11. Place them back in the oven and cook for 15 minutes more until the tops are golden brown.
  12. Serve and Enjoy!

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Despite the time it took to bake the potatoes, and the curtains I have to replace due to extensive butter splatter (I’m not kidding), this recipe is a winner.

Feeding Baby: How Do I Feed My Baby Solids?

Everyone loved these Potato skins, and baby could pick up little potato balls I molded myself from the potato mash. Baby found them easy to smash even without teeth!

Most importantly, make sure this texture is right for your baby. Always adjust the potato mash to what is right, even if you have to puree it in a food processor and a little milk, etc. Safety First!

Easy to make into balls, and no lumps. This is my “Potato Rainbow” for baby.

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My little one had a fun time with the potato rainbow which ended up being a great fine motor task for my baby who is obsessed with using her pinch to pick up everything these days! When I use this for football Sunday, she will enjoy herself as much as all of us adults chowing down on ribs!

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Mindful Meal Planning for the Whole Family

The whole family loved them! And what pride my “junior chef” experienced after they were all eaten. She could not believe that she cooked something for baby, as well as a food the rest of the family enjoyed as well. Who said a little mindful meal planning for our football parties wasn’t possible? Now I have proved that it is!

Heck, that’s mom’s job, right?

Thankfully, not anymore.

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Smash it up even a third time for fun! These went down in a minute and baby was looking for more. Out of luck, all gone.

This recipe was a happy accident for us.  As for my immediate meal planning, these are going down in history this Super Bowl Sunday with a big side of baby back ribs! This is one Superbowl party food that kids can cook! Enjoy!

 

Easy Ways to Have a Corny Summer !

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Our kitchen is spotlighting healthy foods in an effort to make a Nutritional “FARM”acy we can use when meal planning.  A CORNY undertaking no doubt which makes this weeks focus of corn all the more relevant. Good things are in the foods we eat, and we want to know what they are. We want to know how to cook them up tasty, and as an added bonus were asking kids why they love them! So get your cutting board ready, whether you have a picky eater or athlete to feed; this week we are focusing on CORN! (We prefer Non-Gmo Corn.)

What’s In Corn? : For good energy, corn provides the B vitamins: B3 an B5. There is vitamin C and zinc for healthy immune function. Folate is present for reproductive health along with fiber for good heart health and good cholesterol levels. Corn also contains beta-carotene and magnesium.

How To Eat Corn:  Corn can be ground into meal and used as a flour, but the most nutritious form is the corn grown fresh on the cob. With Non-Gmo fresh corn cobs hard to find these days, it’s good to know that canned and frozen sweet corn retains most of nutrients found in the fresh cobs.

Why Do Kids Love To Eat Corn?: Kids are saying that they “love corn on the cob”, “love to eat frozen corn kernels for a fresh summer snack”, and “love corn on the top of a salad to make it look colorful!”

Check out the Swami Mommi Pinterest page for great corn recipes, ideas for picky eaters and corny side dishes!

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5 Minute Valentine Freezer Candy: Filled with Protein for a Healthy Snack!

Boxed and ready to eat, this snack is a Love filled delight! I wanted more, and decided to make a second batch!

Boxed and ready to eat, this snack is a Love filled delight! I wanted more, and decided to make a second batch!

This was so easy! So quick! So full of good stuff to eat- full of protein and anti-oxidants while also being GF/DF/Egg-free!! The Valentine Solution for keeping the whole family on the right track to good nutrition!

It is also a great kids activity! Super easy so they could really do it themselves. A great way to have fun and help kids learn about cooking and sharing the Love this time of year! They will probably request these for their lunch box too!

Ingredients:
1/2 cup nutbutter (peanut, almond, cashew, etc.)

1 1/2 tablespoons Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips (I use Enjoy life because they are allergen free) or other chocolate chip variety

1 1/2 tablespoons Dried Goji berries

1 tablespoon maple syrup

Mix well and spread into a small freezer proof dish or mold into any shape with a candy mold tray. I used a plastic tray with little hearts. ( I would try silicon next time to eliminate the small bit of effort I had to use with the butter knife to pop them out of the tray. )

Wrap in wax paper, box, or tie in a pretty bag with ribbons. That is if you can wait to eat them! We ate 2 or 3 before they even hit the Valentine Box!

Enjoy! These are Yummi!

Warming Up Winter: Acorn Squash Sundaes Toddlers Love and Kids Can Help Make!

Warm Acorn Squash

It’s cold. Kids are inside. Tummies are growling. Time to have some quick and yummy fun! Squash Sundaes are the answer.

This recipe is super easy and can be tailored to any eaters needs. Toddlers can eat it pureed, and older kids can help make it. It’s warm, comforting, and fills the corners of hungry bellies. I used it as a dessert, but it can fit easily as a snack or even better, a warm healthy breakfast. Plus, did I mention it is jammed with nutrients and other good stuff to keep families healthy when it’s cold outside? Oh…it is!

Ingredients:

Acorn Sqush

Olive Oil

Blender or food processor (to puree for early eaters and toddlers)

Cranberries, pecans, butter (Earth Balance), maple sugar to taste

Any other additions or substitutions that you think might work, such as walnuts, raisins, maple syrup or cinnamon

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Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Cut Acorn squash in half, scoop and discard the seeds, and with about 1 tablespoon olive, coconut or grape seed oil coat the inside of the squash. This helps it stay soft and not burn while cooking. Depending on the size of your squash, cooking times may vary, however with a medium squash it took about 40 minutes to roast on the middle oven rack.

After the squash is roasted, let it sit a few minutes until you can easily scrape out the flesh. It makes a great mash as it is being scraped out of the rind, but if you need it to be pureed for your early eater or toddler, use a food processor or blender. If you don’t you may encounter a few strings or textured parts that are not safe. Additionally, kids can’t really help with this part of the recipe, as using the stove and scooping out warm squash is not safe either. However, kids do love to push the buttons on a blender, as long as they are well supervised.

Once the squash is in a bowl it is easy to get kids involved. I recommend setting out a couple small bowls with the cranberries, pecans, butter, walnuts, raisins, etc. so they can add in their favorites. If it is for the whole family they can add in what most of the family would like, or each child can get a bowl and make an individual “Squash Sundae”. Add more or less as each person desires, use them as toppings or mix throughout.

That’s it. Simple, easy and very little clean up! Tomorrow morning I’ll be trying this for a healthy breakfast, and I hope you too get to try it during these cold days of winter!

Getting Kids To Be Mindful of Their Food with Old Fashioned Juicing

mindful parenting includes mindful eating

Making old-fashioned juice is simple. It teaches kids to slow down and nourish themselves.

My grandma lived to be 93 years old. Her secret? Mindful eating.

My grandma used to eat an orange a day, and regularly had the manual orange juicer out on the counter of her kitchen. I remember this growing up and am thankful that she showed me how to juice oranges when I would visit her. Juicing took longer to make, but it slowed me down, enough to be mindful of this great memory some 30 years later.

One key ingredient in raising kids to be mindful of the food they are eating, is to actually cook and make food along with them. Slowing down to cook, in a non hurried way, will stand out to kids and make a statement in their hurried world. The statement we as parents are making is that our kids are worth the time it takes to make good and wholesome food.

Being mindful of the food we eat, setting examples of making food that is nourishing, and cooking with our kids is what happens when we as parents are mindful of the food we eat. In turn, we give kids the gift that will last their entire lifetime. The only catch, is that there is window of opportunity in which they will follow this example and learn. A good rule of thumb, is the earlier you as a parent demonstrate mindful eating, the better.

Mindful Food From My Grandma’s Kitchen:

I had known nothing but carton juice till then and tons of processed food. It was in vogue at the time to eat food that was already made what you brought it home. But the juicing skills developed when I was a child have proven a great bonus for my family now.

With the extra time at breakfast, we have taken advantage of our old fashioned orange juicer. It’s fun. Its tasty. And it’s nutritious. Thanks Grandma!

Not only did my grandma juice her own OJ she also cooked. Each and every day. I remember a silver metal pot within which cooked the most fatty and delicious pot roast. Salads, soups and a fruit dessert were never left out of the late day meal. There was good homemade food almost all day long. Juicing just got things started.

Cooking with our kids taches our kids how to eat mindfully.

My mindful grandma had so little time, but she made sure to cook good nourishing food.

One might think my Grandma bought into the 50’s housewife ideal I’d have to tell you strait that she did not. She was anything but the 50’s housewife. She worked in the Steel Mills during the war -a Rosie the Riveter type job. She wrote her own books, invented board games for kids, and divorced her husband despite having 2 kids to raise.

I figured if my grandma could make time to juice and orange and cook, I could too.

What Is In Orange Juice That Makes it So Healthy?

These days,  I know much more about what is in oranges and vitamin C too.

Much of my information comes from a book called “The Vitamin Cure for Children’s Health Problems” by Ralph Campbell, M.D. and Andrew W. Saul, PhD. It’s a great book with topics well beyond Vitamin C, but an excellent place to start if Vitamin C is a topic of curiosity. I like it because they site every single research article they use in the appendix.

I started by wondering how much vitamin C there is in a glass of raw fresh pressed orange juice and I found it to have about 124 mg of Vitamin C. I found this on nutritiondata.self.com so it so I figured it would at least be a good estimate. My next question? Is 124 mg enough? Too much? Too little?

After reading Dr. Campbell and Dr. Saul’s book, I think it to be a bit low, however the jury is still out on what is a good dose for each individual. In addition to body size, other factors such as stress can increase the need for Vitamin C. So juicing 1-2 times a day sounds about right.

What I found interesting was that animals produce their own Vitamin C, but humans do not. We are relying on our food to do the whole thing! If that doesn’t put the pressure on us moms and dads in the kitchen, I don’t know what would? Mindful nutrition is so needed in our American households!

Also important to digest is the fact that when someone has a viral cold or flu, the need for Vitamin C increases dramatically. Hopefully, they had good levels of Vitamin C to begin with, but if they have a full-fledged cold or flu, they were probably low. Adequate levels of Vitamin C tend to ward off colds before they begin.

Even more important is Vitamin C’s action on blood vessels. There is evidence in the literature that suggests it strengthens the walls of the blood vessels both small and large. Also white blood cells can concentrate Vitamin C levels up to 8 times as much as blood plasma levels, which can be very important when they are busy fighting infection. That is of course if there are levels of Vitamin C that are adequate to meet such a demand.

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In addition to it’s many general benefits, it apparently is an aid to healthy vaccinations. According to research by Banic, Vitamin C  “improves the immune response from vaccinations.”

Beyond daily diets, Vitamin C can help us raise healthy kids. If we parent mindfully and cook with our kids, they too will be mindful kids related to food. Let’s slow down and juice. Let’s slow down and cook some slow food. It will taste great and our kids will be more thoughtful about their own food choices.

Looking back I have to thank my grandma, with her juicer and pot roasts and mindful eating. She lived to be 93. Let’s see if I can make it to 93 as well!

Shepard’s Pie for Baby, Toddler, and the Whole Family.

 

Leprechaun Beard

It might be the night before St. Patrick’s day, but the point of this entry is that it is the night before…..not the night after. Time still remains to make a family tradition out of this very green holiday. Serious or silly, recycled (green) or newly constructed, this occasion can be one that brings families together to enjoy each other.

This year we are making leprechaun beards out of construction paper and string, creating homespun tall tales about St. Patrick’s Day, and making some yummy food! Shepard’s Pie for the whole family. Once it’s cooked toddler will love it too. I remember last year I pureed it for baby but this year all the parts of the pie make for great finger food. It’s good for baby’s first foods (pureed), toddler finger foods and the rest of the family too!

In addition to some hearty Irish Food, one tradition I always try to honor on St. Patrick’s Day is getting together and connecting with friends. Franz Schubert said “Happy is a person who finds a true friend” and this year I reached out to my dear friend Kristen to see what she and her family were up to in Charlotte, NC. She is an amazing friend and I am one lucky lass to know her. Continue reading