Toddler vs. Vegetables: Grits

I continue to record the many ways that I have experimented successfully in the kitchen to get my 18-month-old daughter to eat her vegetables. If you’ve been reading then you’ve seen several muffin recipes and I did promise that I wouldn’t just include those!

This grits idea was actually inspired one day when I was making some egg muffins. We had a veggie tray leftover from a party. There was broccoli and cauliflower left over and I had just gotten a Ninja food processor. This food processor has led to quite a bit of fun in the kitchen. I threw the broccoli and cauliflower into the processor with the idea of putting them into some egg muffins. And I did. But, as I was pulverizing the cauliflower I noticed how much it looked like grits!

Evie loves grits. She doesn’t get them often because I never think to make them. I did cheat and buy some instant although I am somewhat embarrassed because the ingredient list is long and I try to keep our, but especially her, foods to recognizable, natural ingredients. Oh well. I won’t buy it again. I got sucked in by a sale.

Back to the cauliflower – I added them to some of those grits! Evie loved them! Who knows if she could tell the difference but it was about a 50/50 mix. Not only can you mix the cauliflower into the grits at whatever ratio you want BUT you could probably make 100% cauliflower “grits” and flavor with your preferred butter and/or cheese.

I have some other ideas about how to use cauliflower and I am curious about making pizza dough with it. I look forward to trying these and sharing their results!

Toddler vs. Vegetables: Smoothies

green smoothieSmoothies provide a wonderful way for adults and kids alike to get in several servings of fruit and vegetables. The “green” smoothie became popular several years ago and for good reason. You can throw in the green of your choice (spinach, kale, etc.) into the blender with your smoothie ingredients and boom, you’ve included a serving of vegetables. We prefer spinach at our house because you cannot taste it and because we always have it in the freezer. We like spinach salads, spinach smoothies, sauteed spinach by itself or mixed in with rice, pasta and other dishes. We also put spinach in our eggs and egg muffins.

Smoothies are super easy to make! Just throw your ingredients in the blender and press go! I recommend adding greens, fruit (some frozen for texture but fresh works or a blend of the two), and a liquid (juice, almond milk or water). We also either add yogurt or protein powder most days for an extra punch of protein. Really, it just depends on what we have in our fridge and freezer and our preferences! My husband likes his smoothies with juice, I prefer mine with protein powder and water. Evie gets whatever we make that day!

You can make a super thick smoothie and put into your own refillable pouch for easy sucking down for the kiddos. I typically just pour a little bit of mine into a cup with a straw for Evie. She actually gets really upset if I don’t share with her.

Toddler vs. Vegetables: Oat Muffins

oat muffins with vegetables and fruit

Enjoying her oat muffins for breakfast

I will admit that the majority of what I make in order to sneak in those veggies is done in a muffin tin, preferably my trusty silicon mini muffin sheet. I need more than one. You can find similar ones here. They’re convenient to grab, pack and easy for toddler hands to hold and bite into. I don’t have to spray them and things don’t stick. It’s great. Like I said, I need at least one more.

When I do my food prep for Evie, I tend to make more than one recipe. One will be in the minis and one will be in a standard muffin pan. Today, I made egg muffins and some oat muffins. These oat muffins are so versatile you can use almost anything just make sure that you include enough binder, a fruit for sweetness and a vegetable (that’s the point).

Oat Muffins

Here is the basic list of ingredients:

  • oats (I use plain and often toss in a package of flavored like apple cinnamon for that added sweetness since I never add additional sugar)
  • an egg
  • carrots (raw or cooked)
  • apple or pear (raw or cooked)
  • splash of milk

That’s it, the simplest version. Mix together and bake at around 350 for 10-15 minutes. Most weeks I use these ingredients because I can always count on having them in our fridge and pantry but I often add other items like:

  • melted butter or coconut oil (used instead of milk often)
  • crushed nuts (I prefer pecans but have used almonds)
  • apple sauce
  • avocado
  • flour (can be used with the oats or instead of, any flour you have)
  • spices like cinnamon and nutmeg (I never add sugar but if you’re making for adults honey or maple syrup would be tasty)
  • nut butter

You can pretty much use any fruit or vegetable with this BUT I think there are some that just naturally work better than others. Today’s mix was butternut squash and banana. The great thing about starchy foods like these is that they help bind the other ingredients. You can forgo an egg if you have enough other binding ingredients if you are looking to stay vegan. Here are some other good options you can sub or add:

  • banana
  • butternut squash or any kind of winter squash (cooked)
  • sweet potato (cooked)
  • pumpkin (cooked or canned)
  • any kind of berry, whole or pureed (but whole they will potentially change the texture)
  • zucchini or yellow squash (cooked or raw)

These muffins are a great way to minimize food waste as well. Similar to how I use whatever cheese I need to use before it spoils in our egg muffins, I tend to throw in whatever fruit or vegetable I have on hand before they go bad. The idea for these muffins actually came from some carrots that Evie decided she didn’t want. You know how it is, you make a cup of carrots knowing that your kiddo loves them and then they refuse to eat them… I could eat them, yes, but my food tends to come second place. So I threw those carrots into a bowl with a bunch of stuff and behold, you have the first generation of these muffins!

 

Toddler vs. Vegetables: Nut Muffins

Another muffin! I promise I won’t just post muffin recipes but you can see other muffin recipes here:

This recipe was inspired by the oat muffins that we make often. It’s just a little twist! The base for this recipe is nuts instead of oats! I understand that many people are afraid of giving their child nuts due to allergies, but I have always been on the side of giving allergens early to hopefully avoid allergies rather than avoiding them. We introduced eggs, peanut butter, dairy early on. This is totally up to each family and how they feel, as well as, their family health history. If I had a nut allergy, I might have felt differently! I also probably wouldn’t have nuts on hand all the time.

I noticed that most of Evie’s regular snacks are extremely carb or processed food heavy like goldfish, cheerios, animal crackers, etc. Now, I am not against carbs by any means but I strive to provide her with a balanced diet, same as I do myself! If I eat bread or pasta for one meal I try to not eat it for another that day. It’s all about balance. Some people avoid carbs for weight but please do not think that has anything to do with my decision to somewhat limit them for Evie.

As you might be able to tell from my lack of strict recipe following, I’m a little bit of an experimentalist in the kitchen. Who knows why I try what I do except that I just have something on hand and it needs to be used. In this case, I had a lot of pecans in our freezer from my grandparent’s yard.

I love my little Ninja food processor so I threw a bunch of pecans in it and pulverized them – basically, I made my own coarse pecan flour. From there I added many of the same ingredients that are in my oat muffins (sometimes even oats themselves). Here is the basic recipe:

  1. Put pecans, chopped raw carrots, and cut apple into a food processor and grind 
  2. Add an egg
  3. Mix
  4. Put into muffin pan
  5. Bake at 350 for 10-15 minutes

Like most of my recipes you can add or sub whatever you have in your kitchen! I’ve added oats and flour to this recipe. I’ve yet to try it with different vegetables or fruit but I’m sure there are several great options worth trying. If you try a great version and it works well please let me know so we can add it to our repertoire!

Toddler vs. Vegetables: No Bake Nut Balls

no bake peanut butter carrot ballsWe continue to struggle to get Evie to eat her vegetables. She used to eat so many and now I feel like I have to mask every vegetable to get them inside her little belly. Last night I fed her carrots by hiding them in a rice and quinoa mix. Tonight I put black beans in her pasta with red sauce. For lunch she ate several of these no bake nut balls I made over the weekend.

Once again, Evie refused to eat her carrots. Seriously, I can’t even think of any other veggies to even try to get her to eat. I feel like I’ve tried everything readily available to me. So, I had a plate full of carrots that I wanted to use but I didn’t want to fall back on the same oat muffins I’ve been making. I didn’t want to actually cook anything so I went to Google and found this recipe: http://kidsactivitiesblog.com/61752/bake-carrot-balls which inspired what I would do next.

Like usual, I didn’t really follow this recipe but it was great inspiration.

I threw the probably half carrot’s worth of cooked carrots in with a full raw carrot – I only had one in the fridge – into the food processor. I think added about 1/4 cup of pecans – I didn’t measure, it’s just the last of the bag we had. I threw in some raisins because that’s the only dried fruit I had on hand and I processed it until I could tell it wasn’t getting any finer. I then put all of that in a bowl and put in 3-4 spoonfuls of peanut butter. I kept putting it in until I could tell it was enough to keep everything together in balls.

Here are the ingredients in list form:

- cooked and/or raw carrots (1-2)
- handful of raisins
- 1/4 to 1/2 cup of pecans (or other nut)
- peanut butter (or any nut butter)

peanut butter carrot no bake balls ingredientsI did not have shaved coconut like the inspiration recipe calls for so I pull out some animal crackers and processed them until fine for our finishing coat. Graham crackers would also be a good substitute for this coating. Once my mix was together, I formed them into balls and rolled them in the cracker dust.

 

As I rolled I found myself making them smaller and smaller. The first ones were a great adult bite but I needed smaller for an Evie bite.

no bake carrot peanut butter ballsOnce I had everything rolled, I put them in the fridge! That is actually a lie. Evie and I both tasted some and deemed them good. They do stay together once they’ve been refrigerated overnight. They are also easy to pinch and then re-roll which I have done to make some of the larger balls smaller for Evie’s little fingers and mouth.

These have made great snacks (for Evie and Mommy alike), lunch in and lunch out. Today, we took them to the park and they were great for her to eat on the go. We paired them with a pouch that included some additional veggies, and lots of grapes. I really like that these have a lot or protein and healthy fat in them plus a healthy dose of vegetables.

no bake carrot peanut butter ballsThey were fun and easy to make. I can see these being a regular in the future. When she is older, I can only imagine how fun it will be to have Evie help me roll them and dip them in the cracker crumbs. These would probably freeze really well too.

Toddler vs. Vegetables: Pouches

I have not blogged in quite a while. When you have a baby, life just gets a little crazy and honestly, I just felt like my time was better spent elsewhere. There was also an element of just not having anything to say. Okay, so having a child provides lots of things to say but there is that lack of time thing again, desire for privacy, and preferring to share those things with my friends and family rather than the world. I actually do write 4-12 blogs per month but they happen to be for clients and not for myself.

This messy girl enjoyed her dinner!

This messy girl enjoyed her dinner!

Recently, I have been asked by several of my mom friends about Evie’s eating habits. Not because I’m an expert but we just use each other as sounding boards through the different stages our kiddos are going through. We just want the other mom to help us feel like our life is normal. Help! I’m frustrated! Does your kid do this too? What are you doing about…?

Through these conversations I discovered my desire to blog again. I’m going to begin this series of keeping track of what I have done to help my toddler like veggies and when she refused to eat them, get her to eat them anyway. I’m calling it “Toddlers vs. Veggies.” Hopefully, this is helpful for other moms out there and gives me a little bit of a personal outlet (what is that again?). Plus, I really enjoy cooking for my family. Please take it for what it is, one mom just writing about trials and errors that work for her family, or don’t work. I’m not an expert and do not want to be judged as one. One of the things that keep me from blogging about parenting is because there is SO much judgment out there. We are all just doing the best we can. Let’s just all agree that it is important for our children to eat their vegetables and that it can be incredibly difficult sometimes!

kale chips, toddler

Evie eating kale chips

Evie, our daughter who is 18 months old now (OMG), is a really great eater and has been from the start. Breastmilk, purees, table food. Veggies, fruit, beans, etc. She loves food. This morning between the hours of 7:30-11:30am she ate, 1 breakfast pouch, 1 banana, 1 scrambled egg, 1 teething cookie, 3 mini oatmeal muffins, an undetermined amount of corn puffs and raisins, a lunch pouch and half a sunbutter sandwich. I may be missing something in there too. I felt like I could not keep up. “Eat, eat!” was constantly coming out of her mouth.

This leads me to my first topic: Pouches. You know the ones, they are at your grocery store, Target, baby supply stores, Costco, you name it. How did our parents live without food pouches? You twist off the cap, it goes into their mouth and gets sucked down. Three seconds later they have ingested a few servings of fruits and vegetables. When Evie was eating purees only I would even put some on a spoon for her. When she was younger I made most of my own pureed food. If you have a blender, it’s super easy. But the pouches were great on-the-go. They are so great for when you are traveling, out running errands, at the park (like today) or need an easy and fast way to satisfy your toddler’s grumbling stomach with something healthier than goldfish. Who else’s child would subsist on goldfish if they could?

toddler, food pouch

Pouch in one hand, snack (probably goldfish) in the other

Right now Evie eats 2-3 pouches a day and it’s more because she eats more than we anticipate and also because she knows where they are stored in the cabinet and gets them out on her own. It’s not worth the meltdown to say no. Plus, they’re healthy. We always buy organic – now that I think of it, I’m not sure there are non-organic options! I prefer ones that are veggie heavy because she eats a lot of fruit and dairy anyway. She would happily eat fruit and cheese every meal.

There are two things I don’t like about some pouch options.

1: Additives. We only buy options that have fruit and vegetables only. The only additive I accept is lemon juice. There are some others in some of the ones with yogurt and grains in them but we try to keep them to a minimum. Sometimes, I feel like a hypocrite because we don’t always buy organic produce. It’s just not always available or affordable. We try but it’s not always possible. And then there are the processed snacks that we let Evie have like those goldfish. They are completely processed and who know what the ingredients are. I guess I try to control what she eats when I can.

toddler food pouches

Our favorite brands are Plum, Happy Baby or Happy Tot, Ella’s Kitchen and even the Target brand. Some brands, like Earth’s Best, are labeled organic but they sneak in additives that I cannot pronounce.

2. Meat. This is just a personal preference but pureed meat just sounds disgusting. I wouldn’t eat it so I don’t buy it for Evie. She likes meat, fish, beans and dairy so I feel like she gets enough protein.

Fortunately, Evie does not only eat store bought pureed food from the store. My next several posts will be recipes that are tried and true at our house that Evie loves and ensure that she is getting a well-balanced diet.

Things I Didn’t Know to Expect About Pregnancy

1. You actually feel your body growing, stretching, especially in the ligaments. It doesn’t feel good.

2. You will forget what it felt like to not be pregnant.

3. You will cease to be able to see your nether region. Grooming with become a by touch exercise or you will cease to care at all because you cannot see it.

4. Nipple and breast soreness and pain.

5. Your boobs may get bigger but not actually feel or look bigger to you because they’re now right beside a much larger stomach so they look proportional or small in comparison.

6. You may not have any food cravings at all.

7. Period symptoms, like cramping, don’t go away, they just become pregnancy symptoms.

8. Being pregnant just becomes normal. Feeling arms and legs with real bones becomes normal.

9. Those are real human bones in there and when they kick, you can definitely tell.

10. Your belly will move and it will be visible to not just you but to others.

11. You may cease to care about all the email updates and stop reading about what size fruit she is. Besides, they seem to shop at a totally different grocery store.

12. It takes forever. You will feel like you’ve been pregnant forever and everyone else will tell you it feels like you just told them yesterday.

13. Who knew what a bloody show, a perineal massage or bottle are. And who wants to think about them at all. Not me.

14. Stitches.

I’ll keep adding to this list!

34-36 Weeks

There has been a lot going on the last few weeks, it’s no wonder I just feel tired. But they’ve been good, celebratory, fun things. Now, I’m just ready for time to rest and this baby to arrive!

September 20, at 34 weeks, my mom and a good friend (my little sister from college) threw me a baby shower in Charlotte at my mom’s house. It was great to see friends who live there and also family. Thanks to both Mom and MCK for throwing such a cute shower for us! 10712197_861128434834_1285581383_o 10711844_861128479744_2106610325_o

That weekend was a nice, relaxing one where I got to really spend some quality time with my parents and younger sister. We even took a long walk around the neighborhood on Sunday, after which I had a minor scare and this had to happen:10709717_861295090854_692574300_o

I walked, took a hot shower, and should have waiting to put my rings on but out of habit slid them right on my finger and my finger turned purple and started to swell. Thankfully I was able to remain calm, although a part of me wanted to panic, and my dad made me hold a bag of frozen peas above my head until he could pull my band off. The weather has cooled off and I think I could maybe put them back on my finger but I’m playing it safe and wearing them around my neck. I’ve been told this is pretty much unavoidable at a certain point so I’m going with it.

At 35 weeks, P’s friends decided he needed a “baby bachelor” weekend. Basically, just a boys weekend to celebrate (read: commiserate) the loss of his non-parent status. A couple of friends came in from out of town and several local guys participated. Friday night we had a cookout for couples. The boys played golf on Sunday, rented a bus from a random neighbor and went to the Clemson game. And the left-out ladies (boo-hoo, not really) went to Sky Top Orchard on Saturday and had a girls night watching chick-flicks, Hocus Pocus, and eating cheese and fruit. I even stayed at a friends house in the neighborhood so that P could have his true bachelor weekend. I had planned to stay out Sunday too but everyone had to hit the road so we just laid around the house and cleaned up after the party. He had a really great weekend and so did I. It’s funny because now that its football season he’s a lot more social and drinking more and I can’t remember if this is the way football season has always been or if he really is scared that once baby girl is here his life is going to change that much, at least in terms of him being able to watch football with a beer in hand.10395829_862712225904_2789918699571232127_n 10354950_862672011494_4960066155258911656_n

This past weekend – 36 weeks! – two of my very best friends traveled into Greenville for our final baby shower. MD hosted and cooked/baked everything from scratch – avocado salad, apple cake, mac ‘n cheese muffins, butternut squash wrapped in bacon, yum. And ASC surprised me by flying in from New Orleans for basically 24 hours just to attend. She mopped too which was awesome because I don’t think my back would have enjoyed mopping right now. About 15 local friends came to the house and I think everyone enjoyed themselves. Afterwards, I should have rested but I couldn’t help but start organizing everything we got and then doing all of the baby laundry up to 3 months that we have. Such cuteness.10686907_864670311884_1604099174425897342_n 10670170_864774587914_3362553692905413350_n 10712775_864774368354_2279781935453507679_n

Yesterday I hit that “I want everything done” mode. Well, not everything, like the touch up painting in the nursery but I wanted all of our duplicate gifts exchanged and our hospital bags packed! After work, I went to Target and Babies ‘R Us to exchange and buy what we needed and them got my bag all packed up to go, except for a going home outfit for me (what do you wear home from the hospital?) and pulled P’s stuff together (just need a bag). It’s only Oct 7, we still have 3+ weeks to go and I’m afraid this month is going to be so hard. Waiting and waiting some more. I’m not the most patient person. I don’t want her to come before she is ready, in terms of health, but I want her to come! I really hope she’s born in October and not November. I think more waiting would just be unbearable!

Saying No.

At my pre-natal Centering Group yesterday we had a really good, unplanned discussion that came up when talking about post-natal care. I think the midwife thought the convo would mostly being about physically healing after labor but as we started talking about our questions and concerns one of the other moms brought up a subject that is also sitting on my mind. Getting everything done. Balancing it all. Learning how and when to say no to people. She and I are both in executive level positions and there’s no one for us that we can just hand items off to. We will have help but it’s just not possible to expect any one person (or team) to be able to step into our shoes so that we can check out for a bit. So we both know and plan on having to stay on top of emails and projects even right after our babies our born. Now, I know that my office is going to do all that they can to allow me time to learn, experience, and enjoy first learning how to be a mom but I also know that I will be back to responding to emails and calling the office daily as soon as I am home from the hospital (or maybe as soon as I am physically capable). My hope is to truly take 1-2 weeks where I can be somewhat silent but I know that I’ll just be trying to figure out how to do it all, just from home and with an infant with an as yet unidentified personality and needs.

I am awful at saying no. The last several months I’ve been saying, once our last baby shower (this Sunday) is over the rest of the month of October is just ours. We have our 2nd wedding anniversary and the baby is due this month so I just want no plans. Nobody come visit, we’re not going anywhere, etc. So when P asked me if it would be okay if two of his work colleagues/friends from out of town could stay with us next weekend I really, really want to say no. We only have so many weekends left and no I don’t want to have people at our house for the 4th week in a row. But I feel awful saying no. People keep telling me that now is the time to be selfish because there won’t be time after the baby is here but it is so hard. I hope they realize that asking two people on the verge of having their first child on their anniversary weekend to put them up is just not ok (which they probably don’t realize because I doubt P put it that way) and we don’t have to give an answer at all.

I’m hoping that I manage to find a way to balance everything. I know it will be hard and I know that it will be different for me than any other woman because my situation is different and my baby will be different. There has to be a way though. And I’m going to have to get used to saying no and not feeling this heaping guilt because of it.

Week 33

Quick work update: I don’t know that I have mentioned it here previously but I have been working a lot of hours lately, definitely more than I’ve ever worked before. 8 (8:30am to 5-5:30pm) hour days were pretty typical for me with a break for lunch a few days a week to go to bootcamp at the gym but since around June I’ve been working more like 8:30am to 6 or 7 plus working weekend hours and more evening hours than I used to. I am certainly not complaining, as a business owner being busy is a good problem to have but as a pregnant lady looking into a very different future, it’s hard to imagine how I’m going to keep up. My plan to play it by ear and go with the flow and just get done what I can get done. Work responsibilities are definitely going to change. It’s actually been a pretty good thing for me to be working hours other than just 8-5, around appointments and other things, because it has shifted my thought process and how I think about when I should be working. I know that once Baby Girl is here I will just grab the hours when they’re available (hopefully on some sort of a schedule). Luckily, most of my clients also tend to email me at all hours of the day and night so the transition shouldn’t be difficult for them. I am struggling with being out of the office so it’s also been good for me to see that it keeps on running when I’m out. Just some thoughts I want to remember in the future.

On to baby update! We are 33 1/2 weeks along so moving into a 6 week countdown. Are we ready? Yes and no. We still need some items (baby monitor, Rock ‘n Play sleeper, her crib sheets, more diapers, first aid kit, etc.) but the car seat is in the car (not professionally checked yet) and the nursery is mostly done. Mentally, I’m over being pregnant and don’t think you’re ever just ready to be Mom. photo 3 photo 4

Yesterday was my pre-natal appointment and the midwife said my growth and weight gain has been text book. I think she doesn’t agree with me having weekly ultrasounds – she thinks BG is growing fine. Hopefully tomorrow’s will be the last one. We get another growth scan and am hoping for a release from weekly visits. Last week the ultrasound tech gave us a 3D view of her little face because I waited so long for my appointment (of course, it came with an extra charge too but I can’t say it’s not worth it). She’s apparently a thumb sucker!photo 2

Baby Girl at 32w6d

Baby Girl at 32w6d

Here are some belly updates. I’m definitely feeling large and in charge these days. I’m up to 147lbs (started at 125) and will definitely hit my minimum gain of 25-30 lbs by the end of it. I was gaining a half pound per week but apparently I am up to 1.5/week now. Must be all the football season nachos and wings – hopefully it means she’s also had a growth spurt! Maternity pants that aren’t full panel are being avoided or are remaining unbuttoned – hoping this isn’t a problem as Fall weather has appeared.photo 2

33 weeks

33 weeks

33 weeks

33 weeks

She has also really started moving  her limbs – no one tells you how that changes in terms of feeling when they’re actually real, hard bones! Last weekend P had his hand on her, rubbing, and all the sudden it was like an elbow popped out! It was really strange yet cool. She is definitely flexing her muscles which is awesome for a proud momma but also feels very very weird.

We had our first baby shower 2 weeks ago in VA with P’s family and it was really nice. It was owl themed and super cute. His aunt and cousin always make their parties adorable. We got some really cute outfits, a pack ‘n play, quite a few blankets (a couple handmade that were really impressive), and a variety of other recommended Mom accessories. It’s wonderful having so many experienced mothers in our family – lots of hand-me-downs and lots of good advice and shared knowledge.photo 1 photo 2 photo 3 photo 4

This weekend is our second baby shower in Charlotte with my family and some old friends. We are lucky to get to have three to cover the three geographical areas that we have family and also our local friends in Greenville. I’m excited about them and getting more and more excited about having this baby!

P and I went to an all day (9-3) birthing class last weekend at St. Francis, even though we are delivering at GHS. I liked their class description better although come to find out from another expectant mom in my pre-natal group that the video and teaching tools were the same. I think P is actually glad he went and learned a lot about what we have ahead of us. And I learned he gives really good back massages! I feel a lot better about him being my birthing partner and support team (with help from my mom and BF) because now I know he kind of knows what to expect. It was good for both us and a bonding experience for us too. I’m more and more grateful for him and know he is going to be a wonderful father.