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A date with a date

April
8

We have officially entered the “I want what you’re having” phase. JD could have cleaned his plate, but as soon as he sees either Dad or Mom chow down on something, he’s clamoring for a bite — or two or three. Ahhh…the joys of life with a 20-month-old.

So it was no surprise the other day when JD helped himself to a date from a package Dad left on the desk. What we weren’t prepared for was how much he like it. And how quickly he asked for “mo” while tapping his fingers together (his daycare teaches some sign language to toddlers to help with communication). He packed away 4 dates (the already pitted kind), and would have gladly eaten more if we hadn’t pulled the plug.

The next morning, while putting on his coat, he spied the container of dates — now living on the top shelf of the bookcase on the desk. He began pointing and jumping up and down. He immediately popped the first one in his mouth and began looking for another. This time we stopped at two in anticipation of breakfast in a half-hour.

JD has always liked his fruits and vegetables, but we were truly amazed at how completely he took to the dates. There was no hesitation, no “let me test this out” nibble. Guess I’ll be buying more of this Middle Eastern treat this weekend.

Posted by Tracey Princiotta on Wednesday, April 8th, 2009 at 1:49 pm |
| | 1 Comment »

Check out what Oprah’s serving up today…

April
6

Mommies and blogging have hit the big time. Today on Oprah, the queen of media will be discussing mommy bloggers.

The show is called “The Secret Lives of Moms” and among the guests featured will be Heather Armstrong of Dooce, Mindy Roberts from The Mommy Blog and Heija Nunn from The Worst Mother in the World.

I guess mom blogs are today’s rage since Oprah’s tackling the topic. And why would they not be. We’re all always looking for information, camaraderie and ways to make our childrens’ lives (and ours) happier, healthier and more productive. Moms rock and every single one of us has a story to tell or a lesson to learn.

Blog on moms (and dads)!!!

Posted by Marcela Rojas on Monday, April 6th, 2009 at 2:15 pm |
| | 2 Comments »

Eat a plant, save the planet?

April
1

I recently finished reading “Food Matters,” by Mark Bittman. For those of you who don’t know it, it’s a part self-help, part cookbook whose premise is that if you eat less of certain foods, specifically animal products and refined carbs and more plant-based foods as close to their raw state as possible, you will not only lose weight and be healthy but you will also save the planet.

The earth-saving idea being that our food production, including our meat consumption (we Americans eat roughly 1-pound of meat per day while Africans eat an ounce a day) and our use of two big crops, corn and soy, used to make high fructose corn syrup, soy lecithin, etc…is polluting the environment with pesticides, hormones, methane gas and destroying the soil.

I found the book pretty fascinating and have been trying to eat less meat as a result. My niece who is 15 and an avid softball player has also switched to a largely vegetarian diet because she said meat slows you down.

As I’ve been digesting all this information, I came across this study released today that argues that adolescents who switch to vegetarianism may be hiding some eating disorders. While the article says it is recommended that young people stick to a vegetarian diet, it is when they suddenly become vegs that parents should find out why. Interesting stuff. Check it out here.

Posted by Marcela Rojas on Wednesday, April 1st, 2009 at 2:17 pm |
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Stop…don’t eat that pistachio!

March
31

The FDA has put out a warning that people should not eat any foods containing pistachios. They are investigating whether pistachios are linked to a possible salmonella contamination.

For more on the story, check it out here.

Posted by Marcela Rojas on Tuesday, March 31st, 2009 at 10:56 am |
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A tale of spurned peanut butter

March
30

My daughter just had her 2-year-old checkup with the doc on Friday and he gave the go-ahead to let the peanut butter and fish flow. Not together, of course, but you know what I mean.

I never quite understood the difference what the magical age of 24 months as opposed to 23 months would make on eating fish or peanut butter. Either way, I stuck to the doc’s orders. My niece was allergic to peanut butter as a baby so I figured why chance it.

After a hellish doctor visit and 45 minutes of crying later, we found ourselves at the must go to McKinney and Doyle restaurant in Pawling for lunch. When we ordered, the waitress suggested macaroni and cheese or peanut butter and jelly for the lil one. Of course, I jumped on the PB&J, excited that she would get to enjoy for the first time, a classic.

I was certain she would love it. In moments, the waitress plopped the plate in front of her, a peanut butter and  jelly sandwich dripping with said ingredients, in quarters with the crusts cut off. Who wouldn’t want it?

Zyla grabbed a piece, took a bite and in an instant all my hopes of watching her enjoy a new flavor in her mouth, not to mention reliving a childhood and college staple, were dashed.

“I don’t like it,” she said staring straight into my eyes and with that tossed the poor little crustless quarter back on the plate.

I couldn’t believe it. My daughter who’s father makes quadruple-decker PB& J sandwiches. For shame. Who doesn’t like PB&J? Certainly not my co-worker who pretty much eats a PB&J sandwich or two every day for lunch.

But no, Zyla wouldn’t even give it a second chance. There was only one thing left to do—eat it myself. But not even that (she’s at the age where she wants to do everything mommy does) could tempt her.

Incidentally, she wouldn’t try the fish I ordered either.

We’ll give the peanut butter—and fish—another try in the near future. But for now, I guess the kid doesn’t know what she’s missing.

Posted by Marcela Rojas on Monday, March 30th, 2009 at 4:35 pm |
| | 1 Comment »

Old-fashioned chicken nuggets no more

March
4

One of the few things my youngest will eat in any form is chicken nuggets.

Or so I thought.

For years, her default meal at fast-food restaurants and our local fish place was chicken nuggets; when I do my weekly grocery shopping, I usually pick up a package of frozen nuggets to have in the house for after-school or those days my husband and I have things to do at dinner time and the kids are on their own.

This past Sunday, the usual nuggets I buy, which have a gluten-free coating, weren’t where I could find them, so I picked up a box of the old-fashioned nuggets we used when our youngest was still in single digits. That night, I had my usual baked/fried chicken meal, so the nuggets weren’t out of their box until lunch on Monday.

I made 6 of the old-fashioned nuggets. My youngest ate three of them, then stopped.

“These taste like fast-food nuggets,” she said.

“And?”

“Well, we had real chicken for dinner last night .. and we don’t usually get this kind any more … and I don’t like them.”

I believe she’s developing a palate.

Posted by Randi Weiner on Wednesday, March 4th, 2009 at 11:14 am |
| | 1 Comment »

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No need to hide broccoli in a brownie, just give it a new name.

March
2

Supercalafragilistic spinach. Mysterious mushrooms. Zany zucchini. This is how some scientists think kids will eat their vegetables, by renaming them.

A study recently published in Live Science showed that when veggies were given “cool” names, like X-Ray Vision Carrots kids preferred them to say, plain old carrots. Other studies found that adults were also easily swayed by the food name game.

I found this thinking similar to putting a bar of soap in a pretty package. It’s all in the presentation.

Check out the article here.

Posted by Marcela Rojas on Monday, March 2nd, 2009 at 2:08 pm |
| | 1 Comment »

Comfort in hominy

February
25

My daughter has this affinity for hominy. For those of you who don’t know what hominy is, it’s dried maize. You boil it and it pretty much tastes like a giant flavorless corn kernel.

My mother turned my daughter on to it. As my mother gets older, it seems to be her one comfort food. I think it reminds her of the corn she ate when she was younger in Peru. Peruvian corn is a lot different than the cobbed variety we’re used to here. It’s white, not sweet at all and the teeth are three times the size.

Personally, I think plain hominy is inedible. It could be good in a sauce but that’s not how my mom and daughter eat it. They share it as a snack, like popcorn, with a hunk of cheese almost every afternoon.

It’s funny when I think about this little tradition grandmother and granddaughter have. I know that I may think it’s disgusting now, but one day, hopefully way, way down the road, when my mother is no longer with us, I will cherish the memory.

Who knows maybe I’ll pass it along and eat hominy with my granddaughter some day—if I’m lucky.

Posted by Marcela Rojas on Wednesday, February 25th, 2009 at 5:27 pm |
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Everyday fancy dishes

February
24

I got a phone picture the other day from my oldest, who sent me a shot of two water classes with painted pheasants on them.

“These are to match the dishes,” she had messaged with the photo.

Shortly before she moved to her own place, she and I visited a consignment store looking for a couch, and found a set of hunt dishes in a cabinet with a price tag that I can’t remember, but with a pattern I can: half the plates had pictures of pheasants on them, the other half had, I believe, grouse.

We then discussed the use of special dishes for special occasions, with reference to the bone china set she inherited from her grandmother and which were too good for myself and my siblings to use when we lived at home, or when we came to visit after we grew up and had families of our own.

My oldest planned to use the china for her everyday dishes, but kept getting flack from everybody she mentioned it to: coworkers, friends and acquaintances. I was all for using the dishes. What good are dishes that nobody uses? She was waffling, but still planned to use them for important guests.

Probably the single reason why they’re still sitting in the hutch in her living room is because she, like other people in her state of life, doesn’t actually make food and sit down at a table and eat it.

I had suggested she get in the habit of making dinner a sit-down affair, even in her singlehood, as a sign of respect for herself. And by all means, she should use her fancy dishes.

We plan to visit on Sunday, after her new couch is delivered. I’m curious whether she’ll invite us for dinner, and whether her dad and I are important enough to bring out the good dishes.

Posted by Randi Weiner on Tuesday, February 24th, 2009 at 4:49 pm |
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The honey-coated cough

February
18

My daughter recently came down with a pretty nasty cough. It’s been going on for about a week and my wise old aunt told me to give her a mixture of 1 tbsp. honey and 1 tbsp. lemon, heated together.

Being almost 2, it was her first taste of honey and she liked it. But what’s even better is that I think the concoction might be working, sorta.

Her cough is kept at bay completely during the day, but at night—and only when she lays down to bed—is a whole different story. She hacks for a good half-hour in  her sleep. It’s painful just too watch. I rub this special Baby Vapo Rub on her that appears to give her some relief. But the rest of the night she’s restless and whimpers.

Anyone have any other natural cough remedies?

Posted by Marcela Rojas on Wednesday, February 18th, 2009 at 3:46 pm |
| | 2 Comments »

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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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