Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Toddler Tuesday: Don't Give Up...

 ...on foods you don't think your toddler likes.  It's been a gratifying week.  Toddlers have weird taste buds and weird moods to go along with those strange taste buds, but you never know what they will fancy one day to the next.  So even if you think your little one definitely will not like, or has even refused more than once, a certain food, don't give up--keep offering.  Meghan ate devoured two different foods this week that I didn't think she'd ever really love.

   My general rule with any meal is that I always offer something I know Meghan will like--for her it's cheese or fruit--so that I know she's not going to go hungry because she doesn't like what I'm offering.   There will be something for her to eat that she almost always enjoys.   The rest of her meal may consist of something she occasionally likes and occasionally refuses, and then something she has always refused, or something new.  I don't give up on offering the foods she has previously refused.
   Another strategy I have is to offer the same food in a different way.  Sometimes something as little as cutting a food differently will make a big difference.  For example, sometimes I'll cut a sandwich into little fingers, like this:
Other times I cut them into little squares like this:
 Pictured is one of Meghan's favorite sandwich combos:  mashed avocado+nutritional yeast.  Yum!
     This week I was reminded that these are two good strategies when Meghan happily ate a whole bowl of oatmeal and asked for seconds.  Even though Meghan rarely eats oatmeal, I have continued to offer it to her on occasion.  She will usually only eat a few bites.  Continuing to offer it to her (it's familiar)+a new cooking method=a new food Meghan loves!  

     I switched it up a little when I discovered an interesting oatmeal recipe on the blog Kath Eats Real Food.  I eat oatmeal for breakfast almost everyday.  I usually just microwave old fashioned oats, add some fruit and cinnamon, and call it a day. (No wonder Meghan didn't like it!)  This recipe calls for whipping sliced bananas in the oatmeal you cook on the stove.  The result is a wonderfully light, creamy texture.  Love it.  So does Meghan.  I basically followed Kath's recipe, but just added some cinnamon in at the end.  (Did you know cinnamon helps regulate your blood sugar?  Gotta have cinnamon in my oats!) Here's what I did:

Whipped Banana Oatmeal
Adapted from KathEats.com  

1/3 cup old-fashioned oats
1/3 cup soy milk
1/2 banana, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon chia seeds 
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Combine the oats, milk, chia seeds, and very thinly sliced banana in a sauce pan over medium heat.  Let it sit for a bit until it starts to steam or bubble, then vigorously stir to whip the bananas into the oats.  Keep stirring until it reached the desired consistency.  When it is the consistency you like, stir in the vanilla and cinnamon and serve.  You can top with whatever you like or eat it alone.  The whole process takes less than five minutes from start to finish!  Here's my little one enjoying her whipped oatmeal:
Notice the bowl of strawberries?  I always offer something I know she'll like!

The second surprise this week came when we were eating dinner.  I made a side of kale chips for Tim and me, but didn't put any on Meghan's plate.  I just assumed she wouldn't touch the kale and having it on her plate might even make her mad.  Once I started eating mine, however, she looked over at me and said, "Chips! Chips!"  She heard the crunch and assumed it was a chip.  You know, a real chip. (Meghan loves crunchy things; whenever we have tortilla chips she insists on eating them, too.)  Then she said, "Meghan chip! Meghan chip!"  I shrugged my shoulders and handed over a kale chip, thinking she would probably spit it out.  Not sure why I assumed this; kale chips are delicious and she doesn't have any set notions about green things being bad.  Once she had one, she couldn't stop.  She wanted more, more, more.  She ate all I had on my plate and then still wanted more.  Huh.  Who would have thought?  
That got me thinking.  Why did I just assume she wouldn't like kale? Because I wouldn't have touched it before the age of 25?  Maybe I would have liked it, too, if someone would have offered it to me at a young age.  So I decided to go ahead and take the kale plunge.  I added it to her beloved smoothie repertoire.  I mixed it in with her favorite combo of banana+peanut butter.  I have tried it twice so far.  The first time, she drank the entire smoothie and asked for more.  The second time, I got really ambitious.  I added more kale.  I filled up the entire Magic Bullet cup.    
Meghan helped mix it up. 
With double the amount of kale, Meghan still liked it.  She drank almost her whole smoothie, but I could tell it wasn't her favorite.  She didn't ask for more. I'll probably stick with the smaller amount of kale in the future.  Here's the original recipe (approximations, I didn't measure):

Kale Smoothie 
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup plain yogurt
one large handful kale (deveined and torn into small pieces) Filled up about 1/2 the Magic Bullet cup
1-2 tablespoons peanut butter
1 banana
1 tablespoon ground flaxseed meal (optional)  
4 ice cubes  

Mix kale and milk in blender until the kale is broken down and you have a green mixture.  
Add the rest of the ingredients and mix until smooth.  Enjoy!

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