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ice cream is not for breakfast

feeding your kids without losing your mind

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Just one more ice cube, please


Of late I’d been noticing my almost 3-year-old son had been eating a lot of ice. He points his index finger high in the air and says, “Just one more ice cube, please.” It melts my mommy soul and I almost always open the freezer and give him one. Once he’s done chewing the hard ice, he comes back with an Oliver Twist look, asking for more.

Then a few days ago, a visiting friend told me that his love for ice may be a symptom of a problem — pica, an appetite for non-nutritive foods. It turned out that chewing ice could be a sign of iron deficiency. He also drinks large amounts of water, and that set my brain thinking of other problems like childhood diabetes where kids are thirsty all the time.

In a panic I rushed him to the doctor. It turned out he was fine — he just loves ice and water, the doctor said. What a relief!

Posted by Hema Easley on Tuesday, August 25th, 2009 at 11:06 am |
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The cookie monster


Joseph may have trouble enunciating words in his ever-expanding vocabulary, but one comes across loud and clear — cookie.

Almost immediately after waking in the morning, he tries to drag me down to the kitchen pantry chanting, “cookie, cookie.” After we walk in the door in the evening, he makes a beeline for the pantry. If I don’t move, he’ll grab my hand and place it on the doorknob as if to prod me along.

If the desired treat is not forthcoming, the 2-year-old temper ignites complete with scrunched up face, red, tear-streaked cheeks, and stomping feet. It’s gotten to the point that I’ve stopped keeping cookies in the house. I’ve been trying to redirect that hunger to more appropriate snacks like fruit, graham crackers or pretzels, but I’m really wondering how long it will be before I can say the word and not have to spell it out!

Photo by Seth Harrison/The Journal News

Chocolate chip cookies made by Missy Chase Lapine of Irvington with whole grain flour, white beans, wheat germ, and half the sugar found in most cookie recipes. Lapine is the author of “The Sneaky Chef,” a cookbook about sneaking healthy ingredients into kids’ foods.

Posted by Tracey Princiotta on Monday, August 17th, 2009 at 2:22 pm |

Origami and dosas


My children are having a fabulous summer so far-—with two doting grandparents who have taken over the reins at home.

Granny (Patti) is a former art teacher, and spends countless hours creating and teaching Origami designs to the kids-—they are now expert makers of star box, parrot, elf, ladybug and numerous other designs.

The kids have also taken to eating proper South Indian fare for lunch—complete with rice, rasam, kuttu,  poriyal etc.  Besides keeping the kids well-fed, my mother-in-law  also has been treating us to many yummy “tiffin” items—some of which I take to my office for lunch!

Today is one such day:-)

Sadly, our feasting days will soon be over—my in-laws are leaving for India in two weeks, and I am dreading the cereal shelf and the cafeteria lunch:-(

Posted by Swapna Venugopal on Thursday, July 23rd, 2009 at 12:57 pm |


Breakfast of champions


Over on the Momslikeme Web site…moms are talking about the worst breakfast they’ve ever fed their kids. Answers range from pretzels , ice-cream to chocolate poptarts.

Check it out here. The main page of momslikeme is here.

As for me, I’ve noticed that my two-year-old isn’t a breakfast person until about two hours after she’s been up. Routine is milk first thing in the morning, followed up by a rejection of the Cheerios, the bread and/or bananas. I’ve even tried giving her chocolate-chip muffins, pancakes and other doughy, sugary treats. Not interested.

She comes around though later in the morning for her daily YoBaby yogurt fix.

Posted by Marcela Rojas on Friday, May 29th, 2009 at 4:00 pm |

Chicken of the sea


My daughter does not eat as healthy as I do. She’s 2 and whenever you ask her what she wants to eat, she says chicken and pasta or rice. Chips is another frequent response.

The other day when I was eating salmon and quinoa, I put a forkful to her mouth and told her it was chicken and rice. She fell for it and proceeded to finish off my plate. I felt victorious but a little guilty that I fooled her into thinking it was something that it wasn’t. I must admit though on another day when my sister was eating a tuna steak, I told her to tell my daughter it was chicken. She ate that too.

Any thoughts on my strategy?

Posted by Marcela Rojas on Thursday, May 21st, 2009 at 2:35 pm |

Oh no, not alfalfa…


I’ve been making a point of putting more sprouts in my diet. They’re great in salads and with sandwiches. But this just in, beware of the alfalfa sprout!!!

There appears to be a salmonella outbreak in the alfalfa kingdom. Read more about it here.

Posted by Marcela Rojas on Monday, April 27th, 2009 at 11:01 am |


A Movable Feast


It would be no exaggeration to say that all the major Hindu festivals of Kerala are more about feasting than anything else.

So it was fairly easy for my parents to make sure that my sister and I, second generation Malayalis (as people from Kerala are known) growing up in Mumbai, had an appreciation for Keralean culture.

My mom loves to cook, and the  three major holidays (Vishu, Onam and Tiruvadira) inevitably turn into cook-a-thons for her.

It would be no exaggeration to say that I would rather enjoy the fruits of the cook-a-thon than conduct one myself.

So in anticipation of the upcoming holiday of Vishu ( which was on April 14), we took our kids to an Indian restaurant in New Jersey last Sunday and  treated them to what I should have cooked at home.

My excuse:  Vishu was falling on a weekday and between waking up at 7:30 a.m, sending kids off to school and reporting to work at 9:30, I just don’t seem to have any time.

Posted by Swapna Venugopal on Thursday, April 16th, 2009 at 2:24 pm |

Chocolate makes her tongue wag


I let her go on Easter. All the chocolate and jelly beans she could shovel into her mouth. And you know what happened next—tongue-wagging runs around the room, circles and pirouettes, or some variation thereof. And finally, a free fall onto her face…well not quite. I caught her before her chubby cheeks hit the floor.

It was amazing to see what sugar can do to a tiny little body. She’ll eat dessert with us, small scoops of ice cream, bites of cake, but never straight-up chocolate bunnies, caramel-filled eggs and balls of sugar.

I now know what my two-year-old looks like high and it’s kinda scary. But funny, too.

Posted by Marcela Rojas on Tuesday, April 14th, 2009 at 3:47 pm |

The pleasures of Western food


Every time I cook American/Western food, I wonder why I don’t do it more often. It’s simple, no muss no fuss, and takes less than 30 minutes to prepare.

The other day I made some split pea and ham soup, and let me tell you, it was one of the simpler meals I’ve made. It took me less than 25 minutes to prep: cut onions, carrots, celery, garlic and ham, saute briefly in olive oil, add split peas, throw in some bay leaves, chicken broth and a few pepper corns and put it to simmer. While I made a couple of phone calls, read a magazine and folded a few clothes, it simmered. About 90 minutes later I was ready to serve it with some salad and a loaf of fresh bread. Voila! dinner was ready.

Given my Indian upbringing, I tend to cook Indian food more often. Yesterday I cooked a full Indian meal and it took me three hours, all of it glued to the stove.

The longer I live in the United States, the more I’ve come to appreciate the pleasures and the relative simplicity of everyday Western cooking. I’ve learned to roast a chicken, a leg of lamb, and make different kinds of soups and pastas. I even considered making a chicken pot pie from scratch, but I’m not there yet. All this is pretty good for a cook who, until a few years ago, used the oven to store pots and pans.

My kids like my experiments with Western cooking. My husband, who is one of the easiest men to feed, likes anything I cook. I’m the one who has held out for so long, craving fiery curries and fragrant pullaos almost every day. But as time goes by, I’m seeking freedom from the stove, or at least less time in front of it.

That has led me to try my hand at Western cooking, and let me tell you I’m loving it!

Posted by Hema Easley on Monday, April 13th, 2009 at 4:29 pm |


Sugar as far as the eye can see


There’s an awful lot of sugar in my house these days.

My mother-in-law sent her usual box of goodies for the holidays, including mini chocolate bars and peanutbutter chocolate cups; my trip to the grocery store these past weeks have yielded up sugared fruit slices, special cakes, cookies and coated marshmallows. Boxes of chocolates left over from Valentine’s Day sales still sit on my counter and our local ice cream parlor has been open for a month.

Thankfully, my chicks have always had access to sweets in moderation, so having all this sugar in the house is more a danger to my own health than that of my children. My kids can take or leave most of the chocolates and other sugary snacks. Why can’t I?

Posted by Randi Weiner on Monday, April 13th, 2009 at 10:32 am |


About this blog
You make it, they eat it, right?

As most parents soon discover, feeding a family is rarely that easy, whether its nursing a fussy newborn or trying to get a hot meal into a squirming toddler (or attempting both at the same time.) And that's not even the days when work runs late, the main course burns, or your adventurous little sushi eater announces from now on she will only eat food that is pink.

As parents ourselves, we've been there, done that, even learned a few tricks along the way. And we're pretty sure so have you. Maybe together we can make eating together as a family -- gulp! -- fun again.

My site was nominated for Best Parenting Blog!


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About the authors
Hema Easley Hema Easley has been a reporter for The Journal News since July 2002, first covering municipal government and then nonprofit agencies, women's issues and the South Asian and Muslim community in the Lower Hudson Valley. In her previous job, Hema was a correspondent for the Associated Press in South Asia. She lives with her husband and two sons in Orange County.
KatieKatie Ryan O'Connor, a Journal News editor and 35-year-old mother of three, never quite appreciated the work that went into feeding kids until she had to do it herself as a mother. If she had a food-and-kids philosophy it would be something like this: try your best to offer as much healthy food as possible, but sometimes fruits just have to be counted as vegetables and there are far worse things than chicken and spaghetti. Again.
TraceyTracey Princiotta, a 37-year-old mother of one, loves to cook, bake and eat, and is relieved that her son appears to be equally willing to chow down -- even if it's baby food and formula right now. Despite her husband's intense aversion to vegetables, she has high hopes of nurturing a true chowhound who will try everything at least once. And if all else fails, she's not above sneaking veggies into other foods.
Marcela Rojas Marcela Rojas has been a municipal reporter with The Journal News since January 2003. She is a native of Putnam County and grew up eating Peruvian food. She didn't realize until she was 13 that rice did not come with everyone's meal. After several years of living in Los Angeles -- where she grew a fondness for Thai food -- she returned to Putnam County where she now lives with her husband and daughter. Zyla (rhymes with Lilah) just turned 1 in March and, so far (her mother is pleased to note), loves to eat everything.
Swapna Venugopal Swapna Venugopal Ramaswamy, a Journal News reporter, started her career as a journalist in 1999 after graduating with a master's degree from New York University. Before joining the paper in 2006, Swapna worked as a municipal reporter for the Home News Tribune in New Jersey, and took a baby sabbatical to care for her two children, now ages 7 and 5. She has currently outsourced feeding her children and husband to her mother, who is visiting from India. Her friend and colleague Katie O'Connor, informs Swapna that she wouldn't mind being fed Indian food by her mother, too.
Randi Weiner Randi Weiner has been a reporter with The Journal News since 1989, having covered police, government and schools in Westchester and in Rockland. An Ohio native and 1976 graduate of Bowling Green State University, she worked for daily newspapers in Ohio and Michigan before moving east. She has tended bar and danced in a beledi troup and sat on the boards of two community theaters. She plays mandolin with the Shamrogues, Connecticuts largest Irish band. Randi lives in Connecticut with her husband and has three children.

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