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Food Adventure Friday- Cooking with Kids

26 April 2012

Want your kids to try new foods?

Help them to become more comfortable around a variety of foods.

Give them a sense of pride in what they've made.

Make food and eating about fun and togetherness instead of something that is the source of conflict or fear.

Cook with your kids.

Even if they make a mess.

Even if it doesn't turn out perfectly.

Need some more inspiration? Check out these link parties who shared their links during last week's Food Adventure Friday.

Happy Whimsical Hearts, has a link up called Happy Little Hearts are Baking:

Young Living Oil Lady and Adventurez in Childrearing co-host Kids in the Kitchen.

And, of course, link up here... Share the adventures you've shared with your family that involve food. How do you make food fun for your family? What new foods or recipes have you tried? What successes or failures have you had?

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Link Up! Food Adventure Friday- Fun With Kitchen Tools

19 April 2012

I always loved helping my mom in the kitchen as a kid. When I think back on my kitchen memories, many of them involve using kitchen "tools," such as the mixer, vegetable peeler, can opener, or citrus juicer. However, my favorite tool is one that I had forgotten about until recently... the sifter!

When my mom baked, she always sifted all of the dry ingredients and doing this for her was one of my absolute favorite "jobs"!

I've done quite a bit of "recipe" surfing lately and I don't believe that I have ever seen a recipe that mentions sifting any of the ingredients.  However, I've noticed that, every once in a while, my baking soda doesn't blend as well as it should and I get an awful bite of a muffin or other baked good, that has the distinct bitterness of baking soda. I think that sifting would solve this problem; however, more importantly, I think that it would add to my own childrens' enjoyment in the kitchen.

I believe that the more the children are involved in the fun of cooking, the less "fear" they have of trying new foods. One of my kids' favorite ways to help in the kitchen is to use the food processor and they are willing to try anything that comes out of it.

Here they are eating (and loving) freshly grated raw zucchini!

I am also a big believer in letting the kids use measuring spoons and measuring cups. I usually put my oldest in charge of spices. It's such a fabulous way for her to learn about spices (and it's an excellent way to learn about fractions in a hands-on, practical way.)

Using the oil sprayer is another favorite "job." Don't let her less than enthralled expression fool you :)

Carrie at Making Lemonade (one of my favorite blogs) posted this week about her favorite kitchen gadgets for getting kids involved in the kitchen. I love her ideas, and she has definitely given me a few new ideas to my "wish list."

What are your favorite kitchen gadgets for getting kids involved in the food prep? Do you have/ use a flour sifter?? Share your ideas in the comments. And for even more inspiration, check out the kitchen gadget link-up over at Centsational Girl.

This post is linked up to: For the Kids Friday, TGIF, Fun Stuff Friday, and Kidz in the Kitchen
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Help for a Fussy Baby- Part 2

In my last post, I talked about my quest to help my fussy baby which started with trying everything in my "bag of tricks," and ended with the seemingly miraculous discovery of gripe water...

Although the gripe water helped, it began to seem like more of a bandaid, than an actual "fix" to the problem. Gripe water helped when I gave it to him, but didn't have any lasting effects. He seemed to be having a particularly difficult time at either his 3 a.m. (ish) or 6 a.m. (ish) feeding. He would cry at the breast, make choking sounds, and generally "thrash around" in pain. Sometimes the gripe water would help to settle this when it happened, but it didn't prevent it from happening in the first place.

At this point, some memories started to make their way through my sleep deprived brain, and I recalled that these symptoms were quite reminiscent of symptoms experienced by my third child.

My third little one had fluid in his lungs in the hospital. It wasn't a big deal, but they did put him under a heat light and tell us to make sure the lay him on his side rather than on his back. It seemed to clear up before we left the hospital. However, after a few weeks at home, I noticed that he was making chocking sounds, as well as a straining sound (called strider) when I laid him down after (particularly a nighttime) feeding. I was concerned that this was related to the fluid in his lungs, so I took him to the pediatrician and she sent me to a specialist who performed an endoscopy on him. 

The endoscopy was horrible! They had me hold him down while they shoved a tube- forcefully- down his throat. He screamed and screamed and all I wanted to do was scoop him up and get him out of there as fast as I could. My reward for putting my baby through all of this torture was a diagnosis of reflux and a perscription for "baby" Zantac. I left the hospital crying and apologizing to my baby.

Although I am not opposed to using medicines when they are necessary, I generally try to seek a natural solution first, so I called a natreopath/ nutritionist/ pharmacist who has a radio show in Pittsburgh who both my mother and I had consulted in the past. He made several suggestions which made a big impact:

He first asked me to look at my diet and cut out the two most likely offenders- chocolate and dairy. He also suggested that I hold the baby upright for 30 minutes after each feeding and that I take digestive enzymes and a probiotic. These changes made a huge difference, but required constant diligence. I could eat cheese, but if I drank even a little bit of milk, ate ice-cream, or indulged in a chocolate covered pretzel, his symptoms were much worse. If I "got lazy" and tried to lay him down before a whole half hour had passed, he would choke and gag and struggle.

It was this same choking and gagging that I was starting to notice with my newest little guy. I would lay him down at night and he would choke and gag and eventually cry. I'd pick him back up, rock him, calm him, maybe even feed him again, but then, when I'd lay him down, it would start all over again. My husband and I had some long nights before I realized that maybe he had reflux as well.

I cut the chocolate and dairy (mostly) out of my diet, started taking digestive enzymes and probiotics and started holding him upright for 30 minutes after eating. I also stopped changing his diaper after he ate- even if he really needed it. Unfortunately, if I laid him down, even for a minute or two, he would begin to "reflux" and it took a long time for him to recover from this. Laying flat on his back (particularly at night) was always a problem so we had him sleeping in an inclined bassinet. Sometimes he would still have a painful episode and I could usually calm him with some gripe water. 

I was pulling out all of my tricks and they were (mostly) working- but he was still what I would call a "fussy" baby. My mom then reminded me that, in addition to taking probiotics myself, I also gave probiotics directly to my third child. I would open a capsule, wet my finger and then dip my finger in the powder and let the baby suck it off. This seems to be the final piece of the puzzle. Unlike the gripe water, it has a lasting and seemingly cumulative effect. I have even "cheated" and had a little bit of chocolate and was able to lay him down after only a few minutes of holding him upright.

Perhaps I have finally found my fussy baby cure, perhaps, at two months he has just finally reached a developmental milestone, or perhaps everything will change tomorrow... All I know is that I got 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep last night and woke up to a happy baby.

So, what does all of this have to do with teaching your kids to be good eaters? Check back next week when I will share some information I have found about a potential link between babies with reflux and future eating problems.

Disclaimer: Links to Amazon are my associate links. I receive an advertising fee if you make a purchase after following this link.
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Help for a Fussy Baby- Part 1

18 April 2012

I've had a difficult time keeping up with blogging lately. While there are a number of reasons for this, one of the major contributing factors has been that I have a fussy newborn.

This has meant that I have hands that are too busy holding a baby to be able to type, and a sleep deprived brain that really couldn't put together intelligible sentences, even if I could sit down long enough to "put them on paper."

Since this is my fourth child, I've learned a little with each one and have a few tricks up my sleeve... it has, however, taken all of those tricks (and more) to finally get some help for my fussy little boy.

Using What Worked With Baby #1
Before we had our first child, my husband and I watched a video adaptation of "The Happiest Baby on the Block," by Harvey Karp. I highly recommend this book or DVD to any new parent. It gave my husband and I a set of tools that immediately helped us to feel more competent as parents. The tools and tricks we learned were very helpful with our first few children. My favorite was realizing the importance of swaddling for helping a baby to feel secure. (This was made even easier when we discovered swaddling wraps!)

However, our usual bag of tricks was just not working for this little guy. We still swaddled him and sometimes used white noise, etc., but for him swaddling only worked to keep him calm, not to calm him in the first place.

A friend suggested (and let me borrow) her Moby wrap. Both this and our Baby Bjorn have been very helpful, but they still mean that I have a baby attached to me at all times, and they don't really provide "night time relief."

Generally, if nothing else is working, I always resort to nursing. My mom suggested that, perhaps, he sometimes just needed to suck, and not really to nurse. I agreed, but couldn't get him to take a pacifier. My mom tried and, go figure, he took the pacifier from her. Once I knew he would take it, I was able to get him to use it occasionally, but only if he was just a little fussy, and only for a short time.

However, it still seemed like he was fussing because he was in pain. As a parent, there is nothing worse than seeing your baby in pain, so I kept searching for a solution.

Taking Tips From Baby #2
My second baby had a lot of gas. When he fussed, I assumed that gas was the problem and gave him Mylicon. I thought that perhaps gas was the problem with this little guy so I looked up "gassy baby" on the internet and saw that many parents recommended gripe water instead of Mylicon.

I bought some gripe water and gave it to him using a medicine syringe. The gripe water was a big help. Whenever my little guy would start to fight and struggle (generally right after a feeding), I would give him a little bit of the gripe water and he would seem to calm almost instantly. It also seemed to help him sleep. The first day that I gave it to him, he slept for 5 straight hours at night and then 4 straight hours during his first nap. I was certain that I had found my miracle! (FYI this has also been a "miracle cure" for baby hiccups!)

Although the gripe water helped, this was, unfortunately, not the end of the story.  Read the rest in my post, "Help for a Fussy Baby- Part 2"

Linked up to: Refresh Your Nest Friday, Shine on FridaysTGIFFun Stuff Friday, and Kidz in the Kitchen
Disclaimer: All Amazon links in this article are my affiliate links. If you make a purchase through the link, I will receive an advertising fee.

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Food Adventure Friday- April 13: Link UP!!

13 April 2012

I love all of the ideas that I have discovered through Food Adventure Friday!  The ideas that all of you link up, inspire me to try new things with my family.

Several Week ago, Repeat Crafter Me shared this fabulous idea for a rainbow fruit and cheese plates.

This idea inspired a fun after school snack, "Make Your Own" Rainbows...

Here are a few of the most inspiring links from the last Food Adventure Friday...

A House of... Learning, Prayer, and Little Ones posted about this awesome bug lunch (this is only one of the creative dishes she served)! My kids would love this and it was based on one my favorite books!

Last week we made the whole wheat bread from Adventures of a DIY Mom. It was the best homemade whole wheat bread I've ever had, so now I'm very excited to try her DIY Angel Food Cake!!

I'm also quite excited about this tip shared by Highhill Homeschool... My daughter loves to cook with me, but won't even come in the kitchen if I'm cutting onions- This may be the solution to our problem!!

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An "Eggstra" Special Lunch

03 April 2012

This fall I made a fun lunch for my daughter at least once a month... however, as winter wore on and I anticipated the birth of my fourth child, both my energy and my creativity declined.

Now, with a 7 week old, I'm still lacking in the creativity department, and so, I need to seek inspiration from others. When I saw the "Egg-celent Lunch," on Dixie Delights, I knew that I had found the perfect inspiration for a lunch that would make my daughter feel "eggstra special."

The best part was that I didn't really need any special supplies (except plastic eggs) and I could use whatever lunch items I found in my pantry and fridge.

This lunch contains: strawberries, grapes, cashew butter and jelly sandwiches, chick peas, shredded carrots, ham, dates, raisins with pumpkin seeds, goldfish cookies, and heart shaped cereal. On the top of the carton I wrote, "An Eggstra Special Lunch for an Eggstra Special Girl."

My daughter loved her lunch. She said that EVERYONE loved her lunch. She said that even the principal loved her lunch.

She also said that I'm awesome... Maybe this will inspire me to get back on the fun lunch bandwagon. After all, it's not every day that your 7 year old tells you you're awesome :)
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The Chicken Nugget Fascination: How About Quinoa Nuggets?

02 April 2012

I find it fascinating that nearly all picky eaters seem to love chicken nuggets.

What is it about the nugget? Is it the size? Is the the "dip" factor? What did picky eaters eat before chicken nuggets were invented?

I've been having fun exploring quinoa recipes lately and decided to try making a quinoa nugget. Would it have the same appeal (so far.... no.) I'm still working on getting the flavor just right, but thought that adding "dips," might make it more fun.

I served them with ketchup, mustard, salsa, and mayonnaise mixed with Frank's Hot Sauce (the best dip in my opinion.)

My kids said that they were ok, my husband said they were definitely better with the hot sauce dip... I'll keep working on the recipe and post it when it gets better reviews :)

Have you cooked with Quinoa? What spices work well? Are your kids nugget fanatics?

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This Week's Meal Plan- How to Stretch a Rotisserie Chicken

Since the birth of our fourth child I've been having a little trouble keeping up with everything, so I decided to try to simplify our meal plan this week. One of the easiest dinner plans I discovered is to buy a rotisserie chicken (I buy it at BJ's Wholesale) and use it for several meals. This week, one $5.99 chicken will be stretched over 4 dinners and one lunch!


Rotisserie Chicken, Steamed Broccoli and Uncle Ben's Long Grain and Wild Rice
Make Your Own Salads (with Rotisserie Chicken)
Cheesie Mac
Chicken Corn Soup and Homemade Bread
Grilled Cheese with Guacamole and Bacon with Chicken Corn Soup


Leftovers (Cheesie Mac, Soup)
Refried Bean, Cheese, and Avocado Quesadillas, Grapes
Cashew Butter and Jelly, Apple Slices
Macaroni noodles with peas, butter, and Parmesan cheese
Egg Carton Lunch
Quinoa Nuggets


Teddy Bear Toast (I used Cashew Butter), Blueberry, Banana, and Coconut Milk Smoothie
Green Monster Muffins, Pina Colada Smoothie
Beanie Pizzas
Mini Quiches and Strawberries
Fruit Cereal, Sausage


Veggies and Spinach Artichoke Hummus
Quinoa Cookies
Ants on a Log
Roasted Chick Peas

This Post is Linked Up To: Meal Plan MondayGood Cheap Eats and Money Saving Mom

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