83 posts categorized "Feeding"

The Pressure of Production: how far does it go?

January 29, 2014

A text was followed by an email, with basically the same message.  Short, sweet, urgent: "What are tips for increasing production?"  Sent by my sister-in-law, first-time mom to a four-month old, now back at work as an elemtary teacher, she wanted to know every trick in the book to keep supply ample, abundant.

We have an archive chock full of advice for pumping, so look there for discussion on the classic working mamas nursing conundrum or for the mama who pumps a lot.

Does production wane as the babies age?  But, even more importantly, how we navigate and negotiate this constant pressure to produce, the constant burden to make more milk to nourish our young, the everyday need to make sure our babies continue to mark progress tracked by ounces and pounds.  It is a worry and a stressor, and it can certainly mess with supply.

At what point do we introduce supplements?  At what point to we throw up hands and say: "I just cannot make enough for you, baby girl, as much as I love you and as much as I want to make more."  It's not for want that many of us cannot supply.  Have you experienced this pressure to produce?  Have you accepted other non-nursing avenues to nourishment for our littlest ones?

"I'm not that hungry"

October 07, 2013

"Will you PLEASE eat?"  This sentence I utter several times each day to my 9-year old.  She often responds, "I'm not hungry."  I find this virtually impossible.  She has a full schedule with sports practices 2hrs a day, 4 days a week.  She is an active, playful child, always running, scootering, or rollerblading around the neithborhood with her free time.  She picks at her meals, taking mere bites of food.  She is adventurous enough, loves to try new things, eats healthy servings of fresh fruit and veggies.  She likes proteins like cheese, salami and nuts, and she doesn't have a sweet tooth like her older sister (who can eat a dozen cookies in a sitting if the opportunity arose).  I fear she is not eating enough!

Could it be a situation like "Picky Eater! Food Rut!" wherein I need to come up with new snazzy food options?  

Other picky eater posts:

Ideas to encourage more volume for my active child?

Does your family dine together? How often?

September 16, 2013

It's dinnertime!  We are a few weeks into the new school year, and the schedules are getting a bit hectic.  What I realize: we only have one evening during the Monday-to-Friday stretch when we can all sit down and have dinner as a family, a calm time when we can catch up over our days, check in on school, friends, new developments.  Only one evening?  I feel it is not enough.

It's said that sitting down to a family dinner eases family stress, makes for happier children, even results in teens who are less likely to smoke, drink, or use drugs.

I believe it.  I want to have it.  How many evenings during the week do you manage to sit down to a dinner with the kids?

Throwback Thursday: What's for Lunch?

September 05, 2013

Back to school means back to packing lunch. Daily. (For many.)  Dig into the archives for tips and ideas:

Find ideas & feel free to suggest more.

Lunchbox Dilemmas

August 16, 2013

As soon as Spring Break hit a few months ago, I knew I would need to replace my girls' lunchboxes that had been doing overtime for two years. I found myself completely sucked into a thread on the *Portland Mamas FB group that had been discussing lunchboxes for the last two days, which caused the topic to resurface in my head. This is big stuff, folks. I like newfangled technology as much as the next modern mama, but sometimes I just wonder if the metal Rainbow Brite lunchbox of my childhood was really just fine.

My oldest had been carrying a Blue Q bag that originally contained a birthday gift. She was more into the bag than the gift so it became an accessory as part of her daily ensemble. I have to admit that in a world of the Thermos, insulated sides, waxed canvas, removable liners, and 100% machine washable, I was suspicious! As the months dragged on, that super cute polypropylene bag did its job, and did it well. It suffered endless half-empty, half-closed containers of applesauce, sticky fruit leather, and tuna fish smeared all over the inside. At first, this stressed me out, but after a quick rinse and a wipe with a soapy sponge, the smell would go away and the bag would be ready to go for another day.

Continue reading "Lunchbox Dilemmas" »

Eating the heat

July 08, 2012

No sooner does it turn warm than we all realize why we like living here: heat does have its drawbacks. Yes: my clothes on the line are drying super fast! No: I don't feel much like engaging in slow cooking enterprises that take all afternoon. Dishes that get us through the rest of the year, like tacos and chicken soup and chili, seem too much.

And often, we eat little between a mid-morning breakfast and dinner. The boys and I snack on fruit and chips and salsa and hummus. Come late afternoon, I know I need to fix them something and no one has the slightest idea what they want.

My go-to, especially when there are friends about, as is often in the summer. One of our frequent visitors is a vegetarian, and another is very picky, so bread-and-cheese combos are the best for him: grilled cheese and carrot sticks and cherries is dinner they all can eat happily (and boy do those cherries disappear). My other standby choices are terribly dull: hamburger patties and roasted or parboiled-plus-butter veggies. Whole-wheat spaghetti with sausage and tomato sauce (for my boys) and cheese (for the visitors). Hot dogs with baked bean-style lentils (we have lots of lentils and they were a hit with the boys!). Fried eggs, scramble eggs, boiled eggs. Bread with butter and honey.

Soon we'll have corn on the cob to boil and eat with butter and tomatoes to roast and cucumbers to slice thin for sandwiches and crudite and chop for dips and gazpacho. But in the meantime, I'd love a few ideas... what was a hit with your crowd? What do you feel like fixing when the thermometer crosses the hot-for-Portland 80F? (I'll share the recipes for the boy-approved hummus and lentil dip in an edit to the post later, promise!)

Once obese, always obese: Can we prevent it in the first place?

January 19, 2012

At the turn of the year, we love to make resolutions.  Many might like to make resolutions of the health variety: I resolve to eat better, I resolve to exercise more, I resolve to lose weight.  A few weeks might go by, and our resolutions might slip.  In fact, over a third of resolutions are broken by the end of January.

Then, there is a twist.  On January 1st, the NYT ran an article discussing new studies in the realm of obesity: once obese, are we always obese?  Some studies show that we can get stuck in a fat trap, once fat.  Obese individuals who successfully lose weight will only regain all that weight (and more, possibly) in due time.

Depressing?  Yes.

What can we do about it?  Well.  There is much focus now on "upstream public health", tackling the root of the cause, preventing the fatness before we even enter (and get stuck) in the "fat trap".  This got us thinking about programs that affect our children, making sure that programs are designed to keep them active, to make sure they have access to healthy food, to help them be safe when active.

We live in a busy, complex world.  Our lives can be overwhelming.  How can make living a healthy lifestyle easy for people of all socioeconomic backgrounds, races, etc in our modern world?  Our lives are complex, and the environments that shape our health behaviors are too.  Work, school, urban or rural infrastructure all of these these can attract us to or deter us from eating more fruits and vegetables and moderate exercise.  How can we make this utopia of walkable/bikable cities with access to affordable fresh produce for all a reality for all?  What do we, as parents, see to be barriers to that reality?  What do the experts think we can do to change?  What are your top priorities for change?  What do you do in your day-to-day life as small steps toward keeping the family healthful?

* Keep the conversation going at a screening & panel discussion of "Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead", next Monday, January 23, 6-9pm at Living Room Theaters.  100% of proceeds of the $35 ticket go towards EcoTrust's Farm to School program.

Beets for preschoolers and other good vegetable-y things

July 07, 2011

It was Citymama herself who cooked up the fresh goodies at the preschool where Everett began his tenure (until she, sadly, moved away to California). Watching small children eat pasta with eggplant tomato sauce or steamed green beans or little hummus cucumber sandwiches is so affirming it made tears come to my eyes. ("They like it. They really LIKE it!") Later, I would birth a baby who would eat carrot greens out of my farmer's market bag, raspberries right off the bushes outside, and salmon salad sandwiches with fresh onions and yogurt-chive dressing (that was today).

Last month, I went to a culinary conference in Austin. There, my friend Michelle (this friend!) organized a visit to a charter school at the University of Texas where grade school-aged kids had grown and learned to cook vegetables from a garden right behind the school. The presenters asked the kids what they had learned to love that they never would have tried before. "Sorrel," said one (!!). The next four kids picked "brussels sprouts."

So when I saw the FOODday piece by Leslie Cole in this week's Oregonian, "Taking a Fresh Approach to Daycare Meals That Kids Will Actually Eat," I squealed a bit. One-year-olds at ChildRoots eating beets, black beans, and steamed grains. Preschoolers at Maryam's Preschool eating Persian rice and vegetables. Parents thrilled... but not really doing anything nearly like this at home.

After having made some mistakes and some total victories with my own kids (and having the sort of child who has a totally unique set of likes and dislikes -- my middle son, Truman, will only eat dried fruit, and only carrots if he can see the vegetable, though he will happily eat grilled fish or sardines or pate, straight), I can say that it's not just exposing kids to a variety of freshly-prepared healthy foods that aren't hidden in other things that is important in developing healthy eating habits; but also maintaining, as much as possible, a food environment in which unhealthy choices are severely limited. It's just a fact: if there is soda in the house, my kids will drink it (same for energy drinks and prepared chocolate milk etc. etc.). If candy is offered right before lunchtime, they'll eat that and skip the salmon-salad sandwiches. If even such a mildly unhealthy choice as Trader Joe's breakfast bars or those sugary yogurt tubes (even the organic ones are pretty high-sugar and TJ's bars have less whole grains and more sugar than I prefer for the kids to have), they'll disappear before the whole-grain scones I made are even touched.

This piece is fantastic inspiration to keep me offering fresh peas and cherries instead of Starbucks treats and yogurt squeezers. I love that more preschools and elementary schools are offering kids whole grains and fresh vegetables prepared in delicious and visible ways (no wink-wink hiding black beans in brownies). I think parents (and here I include my own thoroughly fallible self) could do a better job of supporting these institutional chefs by putting a variety of recognizable vegetables and fruits and whole grains in front of our kids and keep the packaged snack food and sugary treats and breakfast food out of our cupboards. Not every child is going to become a brussels sprout and quinoa lover. But we should give them lots, and lots, and lots of chances -- and they just might end up surprising us.

Picky Toddler: only eats yogurt, apples & cereal

May 05, 2011

I've moved beyond wondering if how much he eats is enough.  Now, he's in a food rut, eating just a few things, and a whole lot of them (thank goodness).  We offer all sorts of [gluten-free] options, but the child is constantly gravitating to the same old things.  I know I've been through this before: my biggest girl would only eat yogurt & veggie booty all day long.  I know it passes.  Aside from continuing to offer new things, lots of options, and waiting for it to pass, is there anything else that can nudge a toddler off a single-track meal plan?

How much does dinner cost?

April 06, 2011

I am a finance person through and through.  It's what I do for work, and it's what I spend extra brain power on when we're at the supermarket.  And, not only do I track and calculate what we spend on food weekly, I have started to try to estimate what each dinner might cost.  Recently, I came across a new issue of Delivered Dinners in Portland and was surprised at the price tag: $45-50 per meal. Perhaps I'd rather opt for the DIY Freezable Dinners, which bear a much lower price tag.  Maybe the delivered dinners would equate to a fancier night out for the family.  To be sure, that's not what I spend on an average weekday dinner.  When we're looking for take-out, we might hit up some of those chains, where ne'er would we break the $30 point, barely even $20.

Lately, I've been doing the calculating.  Our cheaper dinners are meat-free: black beans & rice, an egg bake, tofu stir-fry with veggies over rice.  Those dinners are well under $10, probably more like $5. Meat dinners are much more expensive.  I splurged on a seafood dinner last Friday & it was the price of a dinner out!  Thank goodness, though, with the discovery of food buying clubs, I feel I am saving more and investing in great quality.

Right now, we are needing to pinch pennies more than ever, and I am always thinking: What is your *super-affordable*, healthful, and easy dinner option?  Your go-to family-pleasing meal that meets all the criteria?

How to help: planning for meals & care

March 12, 2011

Have meal-trains become more and more popular or has our community just become more tight? Perhaps a bit of both.  When my last child was born about 1.5 years ago, I was absolutely floored by the generousity of friends, life with a newborn and the gift of meals was so abundant!  

There are quite a few babies entering our lives soon and there are also families in help due to serious health conditions.  I have come across several different tools to help plan out meals: MealBaby seems to be popular, but there is also Lots of Helping Hands (which can also help with coordinating care), Take Them A Meal, and MealTrain.  Which meal train websites have you used?  Which do you like and why?

Eating for weight gain: We need to PUMP (*clap*) you up!

January 27, 2011

My little man is so very, very little.  At 16 months old, he weighs about 18 and a half pounds.   Not that we're in a rush for him to sit in a forward-facing car seat, but we have often thought that most one-year-olds will be facing forward already (good thing he mostly rides in a bike seat;  he faces forward all the time.)  He is a vibrant, inquisitive, and capable child.  He is developmentally spot on.  Still, his gain of9 ounces over a 3.5 month period was a bit alarming to us and our health care professionals.

Some have suggested that we give him Pediasure, for a bulky, reliable cocktail of carbs, fats, and protein.  Primary ingredients:

Water, Sugar (Sucrose), Corn Maltodextrin, Milk Protein Concentrate, High Oleic Safflower Oil, Soy Oil, Whey Protein Concentrate, Medium-Chain Triglycerides. 

Wait a minute.  Can't I just mix some water, milk, sugar, and oil and call it Mamasure?  Needless to say, I was not comfortable offering the Pedia-cocktail to my toddler.  Instead, I am digging deep to come up with healthful, easy-to-eat, nutritious, wholesome foods that he will love: lots of granola with coconut oil, avocados on tortillas, pancakes/waffles/biscuits with butter, whole milk products, some meats, and grains.  Lots of good grains.  I welcome your thoughts and suggestions on good whole foods that can help bulk up our little people with healthful alternatives to the Pediasure.  I also welcome links to recipes!

Eat Organic & Local on a Budget: HOW?

August 16, 2010

I mentioned the other day that our lemonade stand featured homemade product made with organic lemons and organic agave sweetener.  I did not mention that we do not normally stock these products.  My husband bought the lemons when they went out for a walk, and they were considered a "treat" for the kids.  The agave sweetener was on sale at the market and - with a Chinook Book coupon - was cheaper per unit than sugar.  

A couple of years ago, we talked about how to balance our food buying: how can we buy healthful foods on a budget?  Where are you shopping now?  How have you changed what you buy?  Are there items you buy only organic, but others you buy conventional due to price?  Do you take advantage of local fruit and veggies, canning, preserving, and freezing for later in the year?  Buying clubs are also on the rise locally.  I myself am a new member of the North Portland Buying Club, and another urbanMama (Sarah) is a member of Know Thy Food.  Perhaps you are a member of a group purchasing club in your neighborhood?

I breastfeed because....

August 03, 2010

One of the many emails that came through today caught my eye.  "I breastfeed because..." appears to be a campaign related to a new electric pump that is on the market.  New product aside, the campaign is catchy, and is directly related to my upcoming dilemma on whether or not to part from my purely-nursed 10-month old this weekend.  It's a great conversation in honor of World Breastfeeding Week.  SO: why do you breastfeed?  

Breastfeeding setting records at the Big Latch On August 6

July 26, 2010

Oregon is already leading the country in its rates of breastfeeding, and length of breastfeeding; for children born in 2006, 91.4% of babies were breastfed at some point, and 37.0% were breastfed still at 12 months, significantly higher than the U.S. average and a little higher than other progressive, breastfeeding-friendly states like Washington and California. In order to promote breastfeeding and "show everyone just how great Portland is and how much we all value breastfeeding," a group in Portland is organizing the Big Latch On the morning of Friday, August 6.

With a goal of setting the world record for 'most women breastfeeding at once,' mothers will be asked to latch their breastfeeding child on and, evidently, on-site monitors will make sure there is a firm latch. The Big Latch On has already registered a few dozen venues in every part of town, and there will be prizes and treats and, hopefully, lots of other nursing mamas. (I'm a little unclear as to whether everyone is supposed to latch on at 10:30, or at 11, but you're being asked to arrive at 10 a.m.) Even WIC offices are registered, demonstrating the wide community support for breastfeeding in Portland.

I'll admit that, when I considered how hard to push the weaning of my now-three-year-old son, I had this in the back of my mind. Right after the Big Latch On, maybe?

How much does your toddler eat?

July 21, 2010

Feeding our little folk is such a big thing for us mamas.  Especially in the younger tender ages, when we want them to grow, but also develop healthful eating habits and preferences.  I am often thinking about this these days, as my littlest is just about 10 months old, enjoy trying new foods, tastes, textures, smells.  I am a bit more sensitive about it all, as he is pretty much off-the-charts on the little growth percentile graph.... I'm talking negative percentile.  Ah, well.  I'm not too worried about it, but I do wonder what are delicious, enticing, amazingly nutritious things we could feed the littlest of the littles?  I am glad that I'm not the only mama wondering.  An urbanMama recently emailed:

I was wondering if you could do a post about what and how much does your young toddler eat?  My daughter is 16 months old and it is a constant struggle wondering if she is eating enough.

Managing allergies, sensitivities, and preferences

June 08, 2010

I know that other mamas have mentioned to me before that I may want to tame my love for dairy when it came to my babe's current eczema.  The suggestion was reinforced by the pediatrician the other day.  So, I begrudgingly committed to cutting the cheese, even though cheese and milk has become a larger and larger part of my diet as I have started to eat less and less meat.

That evening, faced with tight schedules of piano lessons, basketball practice, and bath times, my husband suggested picking up a pizza from one of our reliable chains.  Great idea!  I like to reserve one night a week for a quick and easy pizza.

WRONG.  I took the piping hot pizza out of the oven and thought "doggonit!"  Hungry, I looked sadly at our dinner.  Too exhausted to really fix anything else, I think I had salad for dinner.  A lot of it.

Continue reading "Managing allergies, sensitivities, and preferences" »

breastfeeding is best, to the tune of billions

April 05, 2010

When I first saw the news, I wanted to just, you know, sigh. It's a drum many Portland mamas have been beating for at least a decade, probably several: breastfeeding is not just great for a baby, it's cheap, and not just for a family's budget during those first several months but for society. (And I want to say here that I know some mamas want to, but aren't able to, breastfeed because of work or health reasons or adoption or just some rare bit of fate that comes between a baby and "breastfeeding success," and that I don't want to call out the mamas for whom it doesn't work out -- except to offer my sympathy and support and love.) But, says my friend and fellow finance geek Melly, a "recent study published in Pediatrics found that poor compliance with breastfeeding recommendations costs the U.S. at least $13 billion each year, with nearly all of the cost related to infant morbidity and mortality."

Well. You know if the finance geeks, the AP, the Daily Mail and Business Week and CNN and the rest of them are putting the word "breastfeeding" in headlines and -- it's not just a casual glance at the practice, they're encouraging it -- you know times, they are a-changing. And I appreciate the specificity of the facts here. Another bit from Melly's piece: "In 2006, only 13 states met the quite low 17% target set by the Healthy People objectives for mothers exclusively breastfeeding their infant through six months of age." Wow -- I know Oregon is one that easily met the target, but 17%, and we know why (poor social support, terrible workplace conditions for breastfeeding moms, tiny or non-existent maternity leaves, too many low-income working and single moms, too much -- too effective -- marketing by the formula companies). Mamas in Portland and elsewhere are working on that stuff; a press release even this weekend from the Nursing Mothers Council of Oregon offers support to businesses to give moms a place to pump at work -- see more info from Marion Rice about that, after the 'continued' link. But we can't even get 17% of moms (theoretically, quite a few more than 17% are able to stay home with their children) to breastfeed for six months, even though it's far cheaper?

Here's the part that had headline writers clucking and the news anchors squawking: "The study authors listed direct and indirect costs associated with illness and premature death due to the current poor levels of compliance compared with 90% compliance in 2007 dollars." I'll go ahead and list the ones Melly put in her piece because, they're not shocking to us who've been stressing about how easy it would be to make the beginnings of so many little lives better. Here it is:

  • $4.7 billion and 447 deaths due to sudden infant death syndrome.
  • $2.6 billion due to 249 deaths from necrotizing enterocolitis, a common gastrointestinal syndrome in premature infants.
  • $1.8 billion due to 172 excess deaths from lower respiratory tract infections, such as pneumonia.
  • $908 million due to otitis media (ear infection).
  • $601 million due to atopic dermatitis (eczema).
  • $592 million due to childhood obesity.
Umm, wow, again. And I decided in the end that I shouldn't sigh or roll my eyes or wring my hands one more time and ask, "why? how? what the heck have we done, modern society?" but just be hopeful, because to have finance geeks and news anchors and CNN talking heads well, talking about this is an awesome way to get breastfeeding more accepted. And really, money that we all are spending on ear infections and eczema and obesity and death should get us sitting up and paying attention, and then sitting back down in our favorite cozy chair to breastfeed our babies.

Continue reading "breastfeeding is best, to the tune of billions" »

Healthy Meals on the Run

September 20, 2009


I've recently found myself entering the world of the "soccer mom".  Though my spouse is the one that has been taking the lead on coordinating schedules for practices and games, this will soon change.  With two working parents, two kids participating in soccer, two evening practices per week, and game day on Friday evenings and Saturday...you get the picture!  Juggling schedules for picking up the kids from school and daycare is one thing, but to try to fit in a nutritious supper on soccer days is mind boggling. For us, there really is not even slack in the schedule to allow going home to prepare a meal and feed the kids before practice. This leaves me wondering how others cope with afterschool activities and feeding the family.  I'd love to hear your meals-on-the go ideas.  Do you feed them post practice or do you try to squeeze it in before?

Humane Raising of Meat and Dairy Animals

August 10, 2009

An urbanFamily is not quite ready to take the meatless plunge. However, she wants to be more knowledgeable about the condition and source of animal products. Any thoughts? She writes:

We are trying to eat less meat, but are not ready to go complete vegetarian or vegan. Yet as sometimes-meat-eaters, we are looking for the most humane possible sources for meat and dairy. There are the meat and dairy cases at stores like New Seasons, "organic" and "free range" labels, etc. But we're not sure how to accurately assess the conditions the animals were raised (and/or killed) under. Are there any other meat and dairy users who have advice re: which farmers/stores to support? Any thoughts on finding the most humane local sources?

Michael Pollan on feeding children

July 08, 2009

I've long subscribed to a variant of the theories out of Take the Fight Out of Food, an excellent book I recommend to those who are suffering from food issues. While I don't always execute my theories quite as they're devised in the ideal parenting lab that is my brain (ahh, if only I could be the perfect mama I have designed there!), they've been working pretty well for me. Essentially, the concept is to present a variety of healthful food options, and occasional treats, constantly expose your children to new foods, but never make a big deal out of what they actually eat. Don't set up "good" and "bad" foods; use words more along the lines of "foods that make your taste buds happy" and describe the physical benefits of other foods; protein gives you strength and makes your brain work better, etc. (And along the lines of our sweets conversation, Donna Fish, the author, has a great post on how to handle dessert battles here.)

So I was thrilled to read this interview with Michael Pollan, one of my writerly food heroes, about his now-16-year-old son and his past food issues. He was a "white food eater" when he was young; he'd eat chicken, potatoes, bread, rice, and nothing else. Upon reflection, Pollan believed this was due to his need to reduce sensory input (he doesn't say it, but I wonder if the boy was diagnosed with a sensory integration disorder). In fact, it was his son's "tortured" relationship with food that got him interested in writing about it.

About two years ago, Pollan's son began to suddenly expand his food repertoire, and after working in a kitchen for a summer began cooking seriously, and is now a "food snob" who makes a port wine reduction to go with the grass-fed steak his dad cooks for dinner. (I can only dream.)

It's a relief to a mama like me.

Continue reading "Michael Pollan on feeding children" »

Turning Over a New Year's Leaf: Snacks

January 06, 2009

149063984_1c413bdbbe New year, new resolutions? An urbanMama needs your suggestions on healthy but yummy snack ideas.  She writes:

I'm not one to make New Year's resolutions, exactly, but I do want to make 2009 a year of healthier eating in our family. Does anyone have either websites or resources to recommend re: healthy kid/family eating, or specific suggestions of healthy snack favorites? Our kids are in the 6-8 year old range.

[Photo courtesy cafemama.com]

Fruit dehydrators, anyone?

November 14, 2008

619653396 We finally borrowed a friend's fruit dehydrator this fall to see what we thought, and we loved it.  Awesome apples from the neighbor's tree and fun process with the kids.  Tasty, cheap, local snack.  What's not to love?  But now it's time to return it, and we're wanting one of our very own, natch.  I stopped by Mirador the other day, the most obvious place to snag one, but they were higher priced than I was hoping.  Some quick online searches show a bunch for under $100.  Do you have one you'd recommend?  Where'd you get it?  And for the BPA-obsessed among us (that's me!), might you know of any without it? 

And finally, the fun part: aside from the obvious apples and pears, what do you dehydrate? 

Weaning woes: Picking the right time

October 27, 2008

On mornings like today, I am so ready to wean my 15-month-old, Monroe. I got barely a wink of sleep last night; he nursed unusually often, waking every 15 minutes (or at least that's how it felt) to wail until he got some milk love. He's developed a new habit (charming!) where his hand roams while he's eating, grabbing my free nipple, pinching my stomach, sometimes even hitting me. I'm firm, I say "no" and remove his hand, but it's not a perfect solution.

I haven't even considered weaning him yet, as I'm trying a parenting practice of (within reason) being attentive to the child's needs and attributing biological need to most of his one-year-old desires. The WHO recommends breastfeeding for two years, so I'm still in the zone. And I have no real need to wean, as I had with my other two boys (who both weaned between 18 and 22 months): I'm not away from him for more than several hours at a time (and have no plan to be); I definitely am not hoping to get pregnant again soon; I don't need to take any drugs that might mess with him; and, despite the occasional lack of sleep, breastfeeding is so convenient.

In fact, breastfeeding is fine half the time, I typed this whole post while he nursed happily away. For those of you who have achieved your breastfeeding goals (you know, exclusive for first six months and keep going 'til 12 months), and had no definitive reason to stop: how did you decide when? How many of you have "done" child-led weaning? How did it go? [We've told stories about weaning and talked about weaning a two-year-old previously.]

Eating Healthy on the Road

June 12, 2008

Over Memorial Day, we started the summer off with a little road trip to Vancouver, BC.  We found a last-minute deal at a downtown hotel.  Knowing that we would be away from home for three full days, I got nervous about what to eat.  I hate to be caught off guard, with ravenous children unwilling to wait.  I, myself, cannot function when hungry; low-sugar is not a good state.  Two hungry kids, too tired and poorly fueled to walk around and sightsee, can be a real downer.  Under such circumstances, it is easy to resort to junk/fast food, just to make it to the next destination or activity.

So, I packed food like a mad-mama.  I brought bananas, apples, carrots sticks, granola bars, some milk in a cooler, packets of instant oatmeal (made with hot water out of the in-room coffee maker), string cheese, pretzel sticks, a jar of peanut butter, a couple of yogurt cups, and a water bottle for each of us to refill all along the way.  Once at our destination, I am a fan of hitting up the local market to restock with fresh local produce, milk, and other healthy snacks.

We don't have many trips planned for the summer, but I'm sure lots of you do (lucky mamas!).  Can you share your best tips and tricks on eating well while on the road?

Watch & Discuss: King Corn

April 15, 2008

Corn_3 Growing up in the Midwest, I have very fond memories of corn.  Sweet corn was something I looked forward to every year in late summer.  I do still love corn even though nowadays, it seems that corn is getting a fairly bad rap. OPB will be airing King Corn on Tuesday, April 15 at 10 pm.  Here's the overview:

"Almost everything Americans eat contains corn - high-fructose corn  syrup, corn-fed meat and corn-based processed foods are staples of the fast-food nation. Record harvests of corn are supported by a government subsidy program that promotes production well beyond market demand.

Filmmakers Ian Cheney and Curt Ellis decided to grow an acre of corn in rural Iowa and then document its path from farm to consumption. In America's industrial kitchens, they confront the realities of corn's uses: sweetening the sodas of a diabetes-plagued neighborhood in Brooklyn, fattening cattle in Colorado, making fast food cheap and consumers unhealthy, and driving animals into confinement and farmers off the land. Check OPB Independent Lens for additional scheduling."

Have you seen it?  What do you think? Are you a compulsive label reader and generally steer clear of high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS)?

Laptop Lunchbox: Have You Tried It?

April 14, 2008

Lunch A while back, I happened upon the Laptop Lunch Box concept, and was so excited to find out that it's carried locally at Mirador.  However, as I spent 15 minutes agonizing over the cost, the tightwad in me won over and I decided not to throw down $30 for a lunch container when my cupboards were overflowing with plastic containers.  Still though, I find myself googling bento sites and ogling the flickr pool for laptop lunches for eye candy (sad, huh?). Have you tried the laptop lunch box?  Is it worth the cost? I do worry that the contents will shuffle in transit and end up a big mess by the time I get to the office.  Any ideas for easy inspirational lunches besides leftovers and sandwiches?

What's for Dinner? Seeking Inspiration

March 07, 2008

We've had many discussions on meal time, but Debra's looking for some inspiration (and we can definitely relate) for dinner.  We agree that something new, something quick, and somthing tasty for the little guys and gals would be nice.  She emails: 

This may seem like a funny question, but what are you serving for dinner? I am a mom of 2 boys 2 and 4, they aren't too picky, but I feel like I am out of ideas and bored to death with what I cook every night! We aren't vegetarian (but welcome non-meat suggestions) but are on a more limited budget. Are there any great family dinner ideas floating around? I do cook one family meal we all eat and we have some set ones the boys love taco night, some Italian night (usually chicken parm and pasta), soba noodles and veggies but I need some new ideas! Any help, recipes or thoughts are welcome and I imagine it goes without saying I need it to be easier than not cooking dinner w/a 2 yr old and 4 yr old boy while daddy is at work is a challenge in itself!

The best sliced bread

March 05, 2008

Sliced bread is a great thing.  Our household does toast for breakfast and sandwiches for lunch and munch on it on many points in between.  BUT, when it comes to picking good, wholesome, affordable breads, I'm curious how you choose?  At the store, a wall full of packaged bread is overwhelming. 

A friend once told me that the rules of 3s apply to bread: no more than 3 grams of fat, at least 3 grams of protein, and at least 3 grams of dietary fiber.  I would add that we shouldn't have to spend over $3 for a loaf of sliced bread. 

What's the difference?  What do you look for?  Doyou grab and go or do you compare ingredient lists?  Do you go local over all else?  Lower carb?  Lower cost?  Any go-to brands that you always pick up?

Gelato Cups: Suffocation Danger?

January 22, 2008

We're certain that this is a common practice, the reuse of gelato cups for snacks.  This post isn't meant to cause undue alarm, but just wanted to share with you Amy's recent scary situation.  It's just a good reminder for all of us to be watchful of our little ones.  She writes: 

I'm not sure if any other mums out there have run into this scary situation, so I thought I'd try to spread the word.  You know those cute little thin plastic cups/dishes that gelato is served in at many local gelato shops... well, I've been reusing one for snacks at home.  The other day I heard a tiny squeaking sound coming from my son (who was luckily only a few feet away from me, completely in view).  He had finished his little crackers and then had put the small cup over his mouth and nose.  The cup had gotten suctioned to his face and he wasn't able to breathe.  Thankfully he was okay, but I cannot imagine what could've happened if I hadn't been right next to him.  Thanks for letting others know about this.

Any other tips on little hidden dangers lurking out there in commonplace objects?

Food Allergies in Kids: Meet Mama Robyn O'Brien

January 09, 2008

Bwbw0831_2The New York Times likens her to Erin Brokavich (a compliment, indeed!) and the two know each other.  We've all heard about the rise in food allergies among kids in the U.S.  And by now we know the 'no nut' policy at just about every child care center and school.  So who's Robyn O'Brien and what's she doing, exactly, from her laptop in Colorado surrounded by four kids?  Find out  - and get inspired - over on Activistas.

Returning to Work: Babe Won't Bottle-feed

December 22, 2007

Megan is returning to work (anxiety enough), but on top of the normal stresses, her son has been having problems feeding off the bottle.  Can you offer any help?

I am hoping that you can help me by either gaining information from other moms about how to handle this issue OR at the very least some comfort that things will work out okay.  My 3 mo old son was taking a bottle w/out too much fuss up until about 2 weeks ago.  He has now decided he will have nothing to do with a bottle and I have to go back to work in 2 weeks...AHHH!!!  I am pumping breast milk and plan to continue to do this while I work, but he still will not take it from me, my husband or anyone else.  We have tried Advent and Gerber nipples so far.  I would love to hear from other working mamas about how they handled this situation.  My pediatrician has assured me that no infant has perished because their mother went back to work and that he will eventually take milk if he is hungry enough, but I am still so anxious about this!  Any helpful hints, success stories or reassurance would be very appreciated.

Lunch at Schools - is anyone there?

October 29, 2007

Now that we've tried to figure out what's for lunch again and again, what do we do when the kids don't actually eat it?  Heather emails:

I am wondering if anyone else has experienced this. My kids are first and third graders at a Beaverton elementary school. Every day I send them with homemade lunches, usually containing things they have picked out or made themselves, yet the lunches come back every afternoon half eaten, or sometimes barely touched at all. My third grader is a bit better about finishing, but my first grader does not even come close to finishing his lunch on a daily basis. I'm not sending a lot of food, either: half a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, a piece of fruit, maybe a small container of nuts, and a small drink. I used to send more, but I couldn't stand all the waste. The thing that gets me is that he tells me every day that he does not have enough time to eat it. Whether this is true or not, I don't know, but I have to think, aren't there teachers in the cafeteria to make sure the kids are eating? Does anyone at school care that my son is there for 7.5 hours and is only eating a couple of bites of sandwich and a snack in the classroom?

Top Ten: What Should You Buy Organic

September 25, 2007

1067238765_f67f20a77e_o_2 The Environmental Working Group is a great urbanMama resource.  In their recent newsletter, they provide some great tips on packing healthy lunches.  Yes, this is a favorite conversation of ours.  But even better, is their produce list and scoring of fruits and vegetables that contain the most pesticide.  For those that use a combination approach of buying organic and conventional, this list is essential in determining which fruits and vegetables you may want to absolutely purchase organic.  The top ten worst?

  • Peaches
  • Apples
  • Sweet Bell Peppers
  • Celery
  • Nectarines
  • Strawberries
  • Cherries
  • Lettuce
  • Grapes - Imported
  • Pears

Visit the Environmental Working Group site to get the full list and wallet guide of 43 fruits and veggies! Do you have a strategy when it comes to buying organics?  Are you all or nothing?  Or does cost consciousness come into play?

Do you have breastmilk to spare?

September 16, 2007

A mother in our community is looking for help from other mothers who are breastfeeding. Janet's little son August was born 6 months ago with missing genetic material, has had several surgeries and faces a host of developmental challenges. Please read Janet's email below, and help if you can:

I have run out of my frozen supply of breast milk for little August.  still pumping, but not producing enough for his overnight continuous feed of milk through his G-tube.   I am able to get enough for his feedings during the day though.  Anyone have a freezer full of milk, or know anyone producing copious amounts that would be willing to send some our way?  Please pass on my contact info to them. Thanks a bunch, Janet Funk 503-234-2693

Picky Eater! Food Rut!

September 06, 2007

No, you don't say?!?  You've got a picky eater on your hands?  Well, I'm certain many of us can commiserate.  Peggy's looking for yummy meal ideas that might ignite the foodie in her 5 year old.  Any ideas?
We are in a total food rut. Our 5 year old would love to live on starches - potatoes, noodles, bread and crackers. It is nearly impossible to get him to try anything new. He had extensive food allergies (dairy, soy, wheat, corn, legumes, many fruits and greens, etc) and while he's outgrown most or all of them we really missed his window of learning to enjoy new foods. His 2 year old brother will, and does, eat EVERYTHING.
Regardless, we are in a complete rut when it comes to mealtime. If bean and rice burritos didn't exist we'd be up a creek! I swear they live on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, mac and cheese, berries, smoothies, and yes, the occasional chicken nugget. Well, the two year old eats much better than this, but you get the idea.
Does anyone have yummy meal ideas? Hits that work for their kids? What do your kids love for snacks? What are their favorite foods? What is their favorite protein? I'm just drawing a blank these days.

What's for Lunch? The Sequel

September 04, 2007

Is Laptop_lunch_2it that time again?  Last year, there were tons of great suggestions for lunch box healthies, but we think it's time to renew the coffers of the lunch box treasures.  This year, we are packing one lunch each for our girls, a first-ever in this household.  Our littlest girl is excited to join the ranks of other older kids, and we have just let her pick out her new butterfly PVC-free lunch box.  What are you packing in the kids' lunchboxes this school year?  What are guaranteed hits or guaranteed bombs?  How about books?  Any books with recipes for lunch box success?

Finally: Water & Juice in a box

August 08, 2007

Thank you so much Leah for passing on this most excellent info!

"I have looked for 4 years for a juice box I can live with.  The average juiceMotts_tots box for kids has as much sugar and as many calories as a soda.  I bought the smaller size which helped.  I bought the refillable tupperware containers that are shaped like juice boxes, but I still wished for the simple answer. And, today, I found it.   At Target.  Tthere is now "Motts for Tots"....it is juice plus purified water, which is what our pediatrician had always reccomended: cutting the juice in half with water.  Anyway, I bought 4 cases of it.  It's finally here.  Cheers!"

Nursing Working Mama’s Conundrum: Part II

August 01, 2007

Betsy's a working nursing mama, and her supply is dwindling.  Did you read that?  Her supply is dwindling! Ack. She writes:

Dear Mamas,

I need a friendly chorus. My nursling is 9 months old, and I'm working full time out of the house - I've been pumping as regularly as I can, but my supply is just dwindling and she's barely growing.  Here's what I'm doing, which covers just about every wives tale remedy I've ever heard:

  • - daily oatmeal
  • - fenugreek, 3 caps, 3x/day
  • - nursing tea, 1x/day
  • - pumping 3-4 times/day at work
  • - drinking liquids like they're going out of style (only one caffeinated beverage per day)
  • - eating like mad - this week, I started a dark beer per day.

My supply has dropped from 16 + ounces in an 8 hour period when I started, to far less than 12 now.

Meanwhile, the baby has gained only 4 ounces since her six month checkup, and my husband who is caring for her at home this summer (with our 3-year-old) reports herculean efforts to get her to eat. She is a social, alert, active baby who is meeting all her developmental milestones. She's just not growing much, and I want to fix that before three more months have gone by with such low weight gain; she's still on the growth charts, but just barely -and she was above the 50th percentile for size at birth. Gauging from what a let-down consists of throughout the day, and comparing that with what she *should* be eating (over 700 calories per day at 16 pounds) is rather alarming; I just don't think she's getting that much, but she doesn't seem to want more.

I want to nurse her as long as I can, but it is brutal to pump so much for so little return. Every session is an exercise in fighting off feeling like a failure (irrational, I know, but it's there). We've begun supplementing with formula, and I'm fine with that, but I don't want my husband to spend all his time trying to jam food into her gob (not that we can force her to eat, anyway).

Mostly I'm writing to whine, but if anyone can look at my tale and say "Aha - that happened to me, and I just did X and fixed it!" or "I understand. My body just quit making milk, too. It's hard."

Survey: What's in Baby's Bottle?

July 16, 2007

EWG, the Environmental Work Group, is a wonderful resource, a research and education nonprofit organization that focuses on issues about family and the environment.  From the website:

The mission of the Environmental Working Group (EWG) is to use the power of public information to protect public health and the environment. EWG is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, founded in 1993 by Ken Cook and Richard Wiles.

Anyway, one of the current projects EWG is undertaking is working to ensure that potentially harmful chemicals are kept out of the foods we eat.  The following information is direct from their website:

"Bisphenol A (BPA) is a hormone disruptor found plastic baby bottles and the lining of canned foods including liquid and powdered formulas in steel cans. While there has been a lot of attention to potential exposures from plastic bottles, our calculations suggest that BPA in formula could be a greater health risk.

EWG is preparing an independent analysis of infant exposures to BPA in formula to present to the National Institutes of Health. We need your help to gather food and weight information for real babies to understand the intensity of BPA exposure. Timing is critical! NIH is meeting in early August to make important decisions on BPA safety and use.


If your baby was fed formula, please take a few minutes to complete the survey below by Tuesday, July 31, 2007.  Please find the survey here:  http://www.ewg.org/bpasurvey

Feeding a 6mo when he 'hates' solids

July 07, 2007

Oh, wise urbanMamas, can you share some of your experiences with introducing solids to your childrens' diets?  Vivian emails:
We're trying to transition into solid foods with my 6 mo son -- cereals, pureed fruits, etc. -- as it is definitely time and i notice that i sometimes have trouble keeping up with him in terms of supply and demand... one problem: he has decided that he categorically HATES all solid food.  This is not just 'eeewww, this is a weird texture' or something, he really flips, and this from one of the most mild-mannered little guys around.  It has gotten so that he clams up whenever he sees something approaching his mouth, even though we've tried to keep our attempts low-pressure and light-hearted. Normally, I'd be very into just letting him do it in his own time, but his doctor says he needs the extra iron, and I certainly need the help in feeding this little bottomless pit!  Has anyone encountered such things? do you recommend any really 'big winners' in the baby food department?  Or should I just work on really increasing my milk supply right now and waiting until he decides to make the step himself?  Thank you so much for any ideas at all!

Best Bottles for Breastfed Babies?

June 25, 2007

Have you mamas had great experiences with bottles for baby? Jenny is wondering:

I'm going back to work in August and am planning ahead for feeding my baby pumped breastmilk while I'm at work. He'll be 4 months old. I had to pump a lot for his first month in order to supplement the nursing, but we finger fed him instead of using a bottle. I'm nervous about introducing a bottle because of the potential of nipple confusion. I'd appreciate suggestions for specific bottles and nipples that imitate the nursing experience and work well. I've done a bit of research but the options are overwhelming and it's always helpful to see what has actually worked for mamas and their babies.

Seeking Babyfood Cookbooks, Recipes, Websites

June 16, 2007

More on  getting kids to eat fruits & veggies, especially in the earlier years, an urbanMama asks:

I am wondering if any mama's out there have come across any baby food cook books or websites that do a good job of combining veggies, proteins, good fats, whole grains, fiber, etc to maximize vitamins, fiber and all that.  I know its so important when starting solid foods to remember that they are not a replacement to breast milk but a supplement.  Pound for pound nothing can come close to the nutrition of breast milk of course.  I would love to find some ideas for creative recipes that help develop their little taste buds (combining nutritious with yummy to appeal to that sweet tooth most babies have, etc) and still have well rounded meals.

Are there any go-to favorites for kid-friendly cookbooks or websites, especially for early eaters?

About Poop

May 25, 2007

Aaah, our one of our favorite topics.  It's time to talk dirty again, and Melissa wants your feedback.  She writes:

My 9+ month old daughter just recently started solids and she is really chowing down! From the jar we offer Earth's Best Organics (from the "Firsts" line) pears, apples, carrots, and sweet potatoes. From the kitchen I mix whole milk yogurt (pediatrician's recommendation) with mashed banana, and avocado with breastmilk. She is still breast feeding but because I work full time she gets expressed milk in a bottle, about two during the day while I'm away.

As you know, this switch to solids has resulted in a change in the poop texture. It also seems like the little Bean is pooping all the time! Every time I turn around she's got "the face" and seems to be pushing really hard. Her poop has become extremely thick and sticky. The combination of pushing hard and having to wipe a LOT due to stickiness has caused the area where the poop comes out to be very red and sore. She has started to whimper or cry in anticipation when we head upstairs where the changing room is, even if she doesn't need to be changed! And she cries and twists and squirms when we do need to wipe that area.

We are using Bordeaux's Butt Paste after every diaper change, and I have Burts Bees diaper ointment as well, but the problem is not a diaper rash. So I am looking to other mamas out there for suggestions for two things:

1) a salve that will heal or cool my poor baby's inner lining (a temporary fix)

2) some suggestions on solving the problem - what will make her poop less? or change the texture of the poop? or make it easier to poop? Should I change her food type? Feed her less often? I would guess she eats about a jar a day in a couple of sittings (my husband is stay-at-home dad and feeds her when she seems hungry). Is there something natural I should/could add to her food to make it come out easier?

Thanks for any help or suggestion on this indelicate topic!

Freezable Dinners: It's All About Prep

May 22, 2007

Dsc_0860_3 In our inaugural DIY-reezable dinner session, we ended the night agreeing that we should do it again.  The primary lesson learned from our first experience was that the load on the organizer to select and quadruple the recipes was a heavy burden.  We made some tweaks and planned on a future date to get together.

Mother's Day eve, we gathered at Blair's house intending to make dinners for our five families.  On the menu was:

  • Chicken Tinga;
  • Caramelized onions, sauteed mushrooms, and bacon quiche;
  • Korean spareribs;
  • Meatloaf; and
  • Cranberry walnut scones.

We emailed the recipes to the "organizer" who undertook the huge task of shopping for the ingredients.  Fortunately, Olivia came with the Chicken Tinga bagged for everyone which meant we could focus our efforts on creating and assembling the remaining meals.  The result was four yummy meals, and some terrific scones for breakfast or snacks.  With each experience, we walk away with more tips to make it easier on our busy schedules.  Some changes for our July gathering:

  • Do as much prep work prior to gathering.  Caramelizing the onions and sauteeing the mushrooms proved time consuming.  The quiche also needed to bake prior to taking home which meant additional time.  Not that we minded each other's company, but streamlining the process makes gatherings more efficient and means more time for drinking wine after.
  • Our best friend is the food processor.  I can't even count the number times we used the food processor for chopping veggies, shredding cheese, crumbing bread, etc.  The more the better and the next time we might even make sure to have more than one on hand.
  • Print out recipe labels.  Good thing JJ had impeccable handwriting, but I'm certain that on the 10th bag of spareribs, she was ready to toss the trusty Sharpie aside.  Next time we will assign someone to print out recipe labels to facilitate this step.
  • Recyclable containers.  Ziploc bags and disposable aluminum containers were used for all of our recipes.  Next time we might try to bring our own dishes and containers from home.

Do you have any great tips to share with others thinking about doing an assembly party?  As always, we are looking for additional recipes for future gatherings.

Baby Food Talk

May 08, 2007

Noelle's working on a story for The Oregonian and she needs your help.  She writes:

I'm a reporter for The Oregonian  and am working on a story about a couple of start-up companies by Portland moms who are making/selling their own lines of organic baby food. I'm interested in talking with some moms out there about their own experience with commercial baby food, in terms of selection, taste, quality, etc., and whether they like the idea of buying "homemade" organic baby food. Do a lot of moms prefer organic? Why? And maybe the most important question of all: What do babies think of the food their moms get at the store? You can contact Noelle at noellecrombie@news.oregonian.com or call 503-276-7184.


Sorting the Sweetness: Sugar, Stevia, or Splenda

April 25, 2007

Cookie When I first became pregnant with my first child, I decided to go out of my way to avoid Nutrasweet (Equal, Aspartame, etc).  I had stopped drinking diet drinks prior to becoming pregnant but occasionally ate a yogurt or other product that contained the artificial sweetener.  I noticed that each time I ingested the stuff, my head would "close" and I'd have a negative reaction.  I got a numb feeling in my head/ears and it would sound as if I was talking inside my head.  I didn't want anything that made my body react that way making it into my little one's system just as he was trying to form into a little guy.  Today, Splenda has been added to the mix.  Much like Nutrasweet, I have this gut feeling that it's been rushed to market too soon without the proper analysis of long term effects.  So my first instinct is to avoid it and also avoid letting my son consume it.

Why would this sweeteness thing be a difficult decision?  Well, to say the least, I have a horrible sweet tooth.  I LOVE candy, chocolate, sweets, and of course most of all, ice cream.  I thought at one point the artificial sweeteners would allow me the sweet flavor without all the calories.  Now, I know, that the answer is not in the sweetness but the choice of foods.  I prefer to snack now on sweet fruits and veggies (and occasionally some dark chocolate or a fluffy biscuit with honey on it).

365_042407_009c Not surprisingly, the fruit did NOT fall far from the tree.  My little guy is almost 4 now, and pretty much hops out of bed asking for candy or chocolate.  We implemented a rule that he can't receive candy if he asks for it (just to try and cut down the requests).  It is up to mama and daddy's discretion when the sugar is to be doled out.  Especially challenging is trying to keep the soda drinks out of him (this is daddy's weakness, and when the stuff is around, it's just not fair to say that the kiddo can't have it 'because we said so').  So, when I saw this product on sale at Fred Meyer, I thought "wow, a sweet drink treat with no sugar in it!"  Because it was sweetened with Stevia, I assumed it was a safe alternative.  After all, stevia is just a plant extract, so it must be safe, right?  Right??

Well, my husband (the soda addict) raised a bit of a stink, saying who knows what stevia could do to our child.  Queue the mommy guilt.  Wow, did I just make a horrible choice here?  The FDA has at one point restricted it, later allowing it but not as an artificial sweetener.  Rather they term it as a "dietary supplement."  I know that our family is lucky in that we don't have any diabetes to battle, but in learning to make good food choices, do we draw the line at stevia, or do we allow it?  My instinct tells me it should be allowed, but I'm also trying to be sensitive to my husband's thoughts as well.  What about your family, do you just stick to the natural sources (honey, maple syrup, etc), or do you indulge in the sweet treats?  Does stevia meet your diet requirements or is it a no-no?

More on Quick Eats

April 18, 2007

Hope you enjoyed yesterday's FOODday feature on do-it-yourself freezable dinners (preferably with some friends over some wine). We've encountered a couple of other options to help you have a healthful dinner at the ready at all times:

Black Radish. Chef Heather is your personal chef who will handpick every menu from scratch - taking into consideration everything from the families likes & dislikes, to what type of diet they would like to be following, to whether or not they want all organic groceries! I have clients on a weekly rotation, bi-weekly rotation, monthly rotation or just the occasional service during busy times in their lives. Every meal package is custom-designed for each client around their specific dietary, palate, and lifestyle preferences. You can choose frozen or fresh meals so while some families prefer each meal fully cooked for quick reheating in the oven or microwave - like Lime Steak Fajitas w/Avocado Black Bean Salsa - once-a-month clients can pull a pan of handmade Black & White Enchiladas out of the freezer when they know they have a busy week ahead, and it eliminates the worry of "What's for Dinner"? Black Radish, a small one-woman business, has personal chef packages starting at $250. And, Chef Heather adds that Black Radish is offering a 15% discount on a 5X4 package for all urbanMamas who are new Black Radish clients.

Cooking Accomplished. Thank you, Leah, who shares her experiences with Cooking Accomplished: "I just returned from a trip to a meal assembly place; it was something that I had been interested in for a while - it sounded like a busy working mom's saving grace. I had seen ads for lots of places, but most get their meat and produce from Sysco or someplace equally uncharming. But I saw an article in the Oregonian's FOODday section and they talked about a boutique-style place called Cooking Accomplished. The article described it as the Whole Foods of meal assembly: organic veggies, wild salmon, premium meats, a fun menu, fresh herbs and the descriptors went on and on. I was sold. I went on their website and booked a session for today. Their prices were the same as the other chain places- which suprised me - and the whole experience was so different. First of all, the owner greeted me when I walked in. She and a partner got me set up. The place was lovely. There were fresh scones and a galette sliced for us to try. One woman was having wine. There was fresh coffee. The owner, Shelley, was friendly and helpful as i began to assemble my meals: empanadas, bocatini, wild salmon nicoise salad, turkey meatloaf, and several others. The owner is a chef and she opened about 9 months ago. She offers cooking classes as well and you could tell she loved her new gig. I chatted with the 4 other women who were also there assembling and it was just a nice experience. The food itself was really special: topshelf, so fresh, and I can't wait to eat it. Tonight we're having butternut squash and apple galette and carrot ginger soup. It is exactly what I was hoping to find, and it's independently owned to boot. It's right off of I-5 and making 6 lovely dinners plus stopping to have wine and snacks took me about 45 minutes."

Recall: Earth's Best Apple Breakfast

February 21, 2007

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is warning consumers not to use certain jars of Earth’s Best Organic 2 Apple Peach Barley Wholesome Breakfast baby food because of the risk of contamination with Clostridium botulinum, a bacterium which can cause botulism, a life-threatening illness or death. Consumers are warned not to use the product even if it does not look or smell spoiled. Details on the FDA Website here.

Spicing Things Up

February 06, 2007

LeaAnn wonders how you have dealt with introducing spice to your kid's diet.  She queries:

My husband and I are long-time lovers (times infinity) of hot, spicy foods; a lot of my home cooking runs in the Indian or Thai vein. I was fortunate enough to have avoided heartburn during my pregnancy, i.e., I continued to enjoy the spicy stuff during that time.  So my daughter got frequent doses of it in utero.  And once she was here, I was again fortunate: As a nurser, she's seemingly had no adverse reaction to what I've been "inputting," so I've never really had to alter my diet.   

I've gotten conflicting advice about when to introduce her directly to the spicy stuff.  All the books - yes, those darn books again - say bland is best for some time.  On the other hand, I have Thai relatives (by marriage) who, during their visit here last fall, when my daughter wasn't quite a year old, couldn't believe that I was dumbing the food down for her.  They were insistent that I let her eat my spicy portions, right now, because that's how their own families did it.  (I have to admit that when I've been to Thailand, pre-baby, I never paid any attention to what the little ones were eating, but I've no reason to disbelieve my relatives ) Anyway, for better or worse I pretty much chickened out & decided to keep on w/ the bland stuff.  Flash-forward:  Now my daughter is 14 months old and, quite appropriately, wants everything I'm eating, and (unlike previously) won't take "no" or a distraction for an answer.  I finally gave her some very mildly chile-flavored stuff the other night, w/ predictable results:  After a second or two, it burned her little tongue or her little throat, she became, er, fiercely dismayed (can't quite describe her reaction); I had the milk handy, which helped.  Next day, same food (leftovers), same demand, same capitulation, same reaction.

I was just wondering if at this point there is any way to gently ease her down the cayenne-lined path, or if I should just stop making spicy meals at home & hide the hot sauce, or what have you.  Wondering also how other heat lovers introduced their kids to spicy food.  And please don't call CPS on me for this!