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ice cream is not for breakfast

feeding your kids without losing your mind

Chocolate makes her tongue wag

April
14

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
Category: Uncategorized

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The pleasures of Western food

April
13

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
Category: Uncategorized

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Sugar as far as the eye can see

April
13

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
Category: Uncategorized

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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
Category: Uncategorized

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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
Category: Uncategorized

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“It looks a little disgusting, but tastes good.”

April
2

One of my favorite dishes, growing up, was a side of sauteed spinach with shallots.
It’s a basic, no-frills recipe that tastes delicious.

All you do is pour two tablespoons of coconut oil (any vegetable oil will do, but coconut oil makes it swoon-worthy) into a heavy-bottomed pan, and when the oil heats up, add a teaspoon of mustard seeds. When the seeds splutter, add half a cup of finely chopped shallots, and two slit green chilies. Wait for the onions to become translucent, about three minutes. To this, add three cups of chopped spinach and cook it down till it looks to be (sadly) about 1/4 of its original quantity. Season with salt. It tastes great with white steamed rice.

I know I am not very scientific in my recipe telling. But I will provide you with the White House Chef Cristeta Comerford’s variation (as I like to call it) of this recipe, which the New York Times recently published. I tried it out last week, and although one is a sauteed dish and the other a soup, they taste curiously alike.

My 8-year-old daughter’s response was equally curious:
“It looks a little disgusting, but tastes good.”

The White House No Cream Creamed Spinach

2 pounds baby spinach, washed and cleaned
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 shallots, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
Salt and freshly ground pepper.

1. Blanch half a pound of spinach in salted, boiling water. Immediately, “shock” the blanched spinach in a bowl of iced water. Drain and squeeze out the excess water. Puree in a blender. Set aside.
2. In a large skillet, sweat the shallots and garlic until translucent. Add the rest of the spinach leaves. Toss and saute until wilted. Fold in the spinach puree. Season with salt and pepper.

Posted by Swapna Venugopal on Thursday, April 2nd, 2009 at 1:30 pm
Category: coconut oil, coconuts, cooking, cooking with children, rice, spinach

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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
Category: Uncategorized

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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
Category: Uncategorized

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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
Category: Uncategorized

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Late-night dinners

March
27

My work schedule has been eccentric over the years, but I still manage to gather the troops most nights for a sit-down dinner.

The downside is we end up eating closer to 9 p.m. than anything else. I used to tell the babes that we subscribed to the European model and let them graze until I got home and could make dinner. Ah, the stories we tell our children!

Recently, we’ve been stretching dinner out even later. My youngest, unlike her siblings, actually has some major after-school activities and she doesn’t get back from them until 9 or 9:30 p.m. Thankfully, her sporting season is over now, but she’s substituted driver’s education and we still see her closer to 9 p.m. when we all sit down for food before going off to our usual night-time activities.

So it was with a sense of unreality that we all sat down to dinner at 6:30 p.m. one day earlier this week.

First there were the vampire jokes (The Light! It Burns!!!). Then there was the quietness — no phone calls from people who refuse to remember we eat late and call us at 9 p.m. Then there was the sense of eating lunch instead of dinner. And there was the unexpected free time when the food was gone and it was hours before everybody’s usual bedtime.

With the days getting longer, we’ll probably be seeing more of each other in the daylight even with our usual dinner time, and the traditional daylight jokes will be trotted out and tried one more time. For us, it’s one of the rituals of summertime. Other families may change their winter plastic tablecloths for summer ones or use brightly colored plastic plates. We hone our vampire jokes.

Posted by Randi Weiner on Friday, March 27th, 2009 at 9:53 am
Category: Family Funnies

| | 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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