Don’t Be left in the Dark: Teach Kids About Diversity with Mindful Hanukkah Activities for the Curious.

Hanukkahdiversitylessonsmindfulholidays.png

Experiencing Hanukkah Teaches Strong Cultural Diversity Lessons

When we experience things, we internalize them and make them our own. Growing up in a home where Christmas was celebrated, it would be impossible to ever lose my sense of what Christmas means to me. It is a wonderful, joyful, sometimes hectic, time of year, that I just love. I feel comfortable in the Christmas season, and all that comes with it.

As an experiment, I decided that I would teach my children the same Christmas traditions that I followed, however I wanted to add cultural diversity to the mix. So, from when my first child was born, we added in Hanukkah as a traditional family celebration. Long story short, the experiment turned out positive.

Starting small and adding each year, my kids are comfortable with Hanukkah as a holiday and won’t hear of not celebrating it. They have internalized Hanukkah, and with it have internalized cultural diversity and greater respect for Jewish customs.

If my kids had only read about Hanukkah from a book, I don’t think they would have gained the richness and deep understanding of Hanukkah, that they have by experiencing it each year.

Timing: When Should a Family Learn about Hanukkah?

Hanukkah is typically celebrated in the winter during the month of December. There are 8 nights to celebrate with the dates changing each year. However, if we miss a night, or even if we miss many nights due to family scheduling needs, we simply adjust the holiday to meet our time constraints. Of course, we try to honor the precise dates, but if that doesn’t work out, we would rather celebrate than miss out on the celebration and quality family time.

Finding time during the winter months is tricky, especially around the holidays. Family bonding can be a way to help kids and parents alike with emotional development and emotional regulation. Kids are often needing down time, and time with family during the holidays at home, and Hanukkah is a perfect island in the sea of presents, Santa activities, and general holiday hectic atmosphere. A lesson in cultural diversity can be a fun way to experience something new, open up communication between parents and kids, and decrease screen time. All great ways to sooth the senses this time of year.

If your family missed out on the exact dates for Hanukkah, try to catch them next year, but enjoy a few days of Jewish holiday excitement this year. During the month of December, the “celebration of lights” will bring a feeling of warmth to your home. Try my suggestions and I bet you and your family will have fun too.

Mindful Holidays: Hanukkah in Our Family Each Year

I have made it a point to teach our kids about diversity from the very start of their little lives, and being blessed with a Jewish Aunt, we couldn’t have been more gifted with various resources to make Hanukkah an enjoyable holiday to learn about. We really feel that in addition to our regular Christmas fervor, we have embraced Hanukkah with confidence in recent years.

DSC_0791

We started with the basics and so can you. Here is what you need to get started:

  1. Menorah: a picture, a felt one, a crafted one or a solid one.
  2. One book that explains the holiday in pictures (kids like this format!)
  3. One book about a Hanukkah that tells a story
  4. Easy Hanukkah food
A good way to enjoy Hanukkah is to try Potato Latkes

Potato Latkes

Easy and Mindful Hanukkah Resources For The Busy Family

You might feel like you don’t know enough about Hanukkah to actually create activities for celebration with your kids, but a few basic concepts will allow you to do so in no time. It’s like opening a door to a dark room you know nothing about. But have no fear, as somewhat slowly you can peek into the doorway, and then enjoy a look at the wonderful light the holiday of Hanukkah brings forth.

To get started, here are a few of our most favorite Hanukkah tips and tricks. These easy and mindfully chosen resources will help you understand this cultural and religious holiday. You will be well on your way to helping your curious kids enjoy some fun with cultural diversity.

Resources for a Mindful Hanukkah that Teach Cultural Diversity

Using these materials will help you get you and your kids celebrating the holiday quickly, and that is the goal. Experiencing the holiday is the easiest and most fun way to learn about it!

Menorah Resources:

First Kids Menorah Soft Toy

Menorah Coloring Page

Paper Plate Menorah

Noah’s Ark Menorah

Picture Book About Hanukkah:

My First Hanukkah Board book

The Complete Guide To Hanukkah book

Hanukkah Story Books:

Oh Hanukkah

Curious George Hanukkah

Cultural Diversity Dreidel game for Hanukkah

Dreidel is a game played by children during Hanukkah. Mindful planning can making cultural diversity easy. Dreidel is a fun game that teaches cultural diversity in a fun atmosphere.

Hanukkah Activities:

Dreidel Game

Gelt Coins Candies for Dreidel Game

Jelly doughnuts are a Hanukkah treat

Jelly doughnuts are a Hanukkah treat! A little mindful planning makes it easy.

Foods to Enjoy:

Hanukkah Treats Cookbook

Hanukkah Cookie Cutters

My Easy Vegan Potato Pancake Recipe. Get to it here.

We cook with the kids to make these pancakes each year. Toddlers love to wash the potatoes, and the older kids love to push the buttons on the food processor (with supervision for safety always). Baby can even try mashed potatoes with some sauteed and pureed veggies an butter mixed in for color and taste. Whatever age your child, cooking and eating these Potato pancakes is easy to adapt to include the whole family.

Music for Kids at Hanukkah (even if they never listened before)

Mah Tovu CD – “Only This”

A Child’s Hanukkah

Hanukkah Party with the Neighbors

This year we decided to have an impromptu party with the neighbor kids who came over for a play-date. We started off with a story about the meaning of Hanukkah from our Complete Guide to Hanukkah book, then a little dancing to Mah Tovu Music CD. For a full description of our favorite Hanukkah music click here.

After a pretty good dance session, we went into the Kitchen to make Easy Vegan Potato Pancakes. Also, known as Latkes, you can save time if you buy frozen ones at the grocery store. Dipping Latkes in apple sauce, ketchup or sour cream all add fun and taste to these little potato wonders.

We made them as a group, with the neighbor watching with interest.  First seeing how the Potato pancakes were cooked, then watching how much our kids liked them was all our neighbors needed to give them a try themselves. Next time we all voted on Jelly doughnuts!

Make sure to check out more easy ideas to make your Hanukkah great by visiting our Hanukkah Music Guide Resource Don’t Be Left in the Dark: Teach Cultural Diversity with the Best Hanukkah Music For Kids.

I hope you try some of these ideas! please share how it went. Here’s to a fun lesson in cultural diversity and a Happy Hanukkah to you all!

Save

Advertisements

Doctor Approved Feeding Tips For Toddlers Who Refuse To Eat.

Today’s post comes to you from Dr. Orlena Kerek, who recently released a book called Feeding Toddlers.: A Pediatrician’s Guide to Happy and Healthy Meal Times. Dr. Kerek wanted to share her guidance for feeding toddlers with structured mealtimes and a nutritious variety of foods! If you like the ideas shared in this article, be sure to check out her most recent book.

feeding routines, feeding toddlers

 

What is Healthy Eating for Toddlers?

If you have young children you may be wondering how I can mention the words “healthy eating” and “toddlers” in the same sentence. It is true that most children, especially toddlers, have a natural tendency for sweet and processed foods. Yep, they nag for cookies and refuse to eat anything else.

But children form eating habits from a really early age. As young as 2 or 3. So it’s a great opportunity to mold them and teach them healthy eating habits which will stay with them for life.

toddler won't eat, picky eater
And once you have a structure in place, it’s not difficult or stressful to offer your kids healthy foods.

But what exactly is healthy eating for toddlers? I’m sure you know but I really think it’s worth going over the basics. After all, it’s difficult to teach your kids to love healthy foods if you aren’t presenting them with healthy options.

cantalope is a great fruit for toddlers

In a Nutshell

Healthy eating can be summed up really easily.

Lots of fruit and vegetables. Not so much processed food.

If you stick with this motto, you can’t go too far wrong.

avacado for my toddler

A Closer Look

Lots of fruit and veggies. In fact, roughly half of what you eat should be fruit and veggies. Don’t worry if your kids don’t eat that much. They are learning. Keep presenting healthy fruit and veggies, don’t pressure them to eat and they’ll get there eventually. There are lots of ways that you can offer your kids fruit and vegetables, frozen, fresh, dried, cooked.

Protein. Around a quarter of what you eat should be protein. That’s things like meat, fish, eggs and vegetable proteins such as garbanzo beans. Kids need proteins for growing. Try to offer proteins other than meats.

Carbohydrates. These are your energy source. Things like grains, potatoes, rice and pasta are all carbohydrates. Lots of kids are “carb junkies” and that’s fine. They need energy for all that running around. Just keep presenting them with healthy fruits and vegetables as well.

Dairy. Milk, cheese and yogurt are all dairy products that are full of calcium that our kids need for making bones. (There are lots of non-dairy sources of calcium too.) Most toddlers need 2 glasses of dairy a day.

Water. Water is the best drink for kids (and adults). It is the best way to keep you hydrated. Of course other drinks are fun from time to time but they should be drunk in moderation.

Treats. All those foods that are high in added sugar and fat. Yes, I’m talking processed candy, fizzy drinks, chips, cakes. All those delicious sweet treats. It’s fine to eat these foods in moderation but they generally don’t give you much more than calories. Treats are fine but remember than moderation is the key.

toddlers that won't eat

How Do You Get Toddlers to Eat?

Just keep presenting them with healthy food options. It’s that simple. If they don’t like it, don’t worry and don’t force them to eat it. Be patient and pristine and keep presenting them with healthy food. Eventually they’ll learn to love the healthy tasty food that you give them.

Dr. Orlena Kerek

Dr. Orlena Kerek is a pediatric doctor. She is the creator and producer of SnottyNoses, a family and parenting site. She is passionate about promoting a healthy lifestyle in children, especially healthy eating habits.

She has published 3 books to help you teach your children to eat healthily. Crunch! Put a Stop to Picky Eating and Help Your Kids Love Veggies is aimed at all children. Her latest book is now available and worth a read if you are having concerns or need some inspiration Feeding Toddlers, A Pediatrician’s Guide to Healthy and Happy Mealtimes

how to feed a toddler

For more information visit Snotty Noses: Happy Parents Raising Healthy Kids.

Also, give the Toddler Rice Nutbutter Bars a try from swamimommi.com. It’s an easy to make snack that is tasty and packed with energy and a little healthy protein! Toddlers who have tried them think they are super yummy.

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.

DSC_0419

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!

DSC_0422

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!”

DSC_0423

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.

DSC_0465

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!

Save

Save

Save

Save

Feeding Baby: Happy Eating Essentials

how do I feed my baby that is picky?

Messy babies have fun when they eat real food.

This is a guide that every mom should have when they think about how they are going to be feeding baby and their family.

If you are a mom who is curious how to ensure a HAPPY eater, the tips below will help get you started on the right path. These are the essentials for feeding baby first foods. Enjoy.

12345678910

Baby feeding should be fun! We hope this guide helps you and your little one!

Save

Save

Save

Save

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!

 

Save

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!

DSC_0417

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.

DSC_0412

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!

DSC_0413

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.

DSC_0420

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!