Saturday, July 24, 2010

Veggie Wars

Rach - I'm envisioning you and Caleb in a little French cafe -sipping cafe au lait, eating pastries, all while C plots where to find a French thrift store- if they in fact they exist- if they do I'm sure that Caleb will soon be sporting a 'new' circa 1970s Parisian cardigan. We are also holidaying right now. I use the term 'holidaying' because we really are living the good life - we are staying in the Okanogan in a 2 bedroom air conditioned cottage, on a golf course, with a plethora of pools. I have to confess a twinge of Dutch guilt that we aren't spending the week camping in our new 1976 Trillium, but Coby's addiction to consuming dirt, rocks and sand is making me thankful that our camping this summer will consist of a few days at Cultus in August.

Several days after posting my admittedly smug expose on what to feed your 3-year-old, the following conversation occurred between me and my 3-year-old -

Finn: I don't like vegetables
Me: Vegetables taste good
Finn: No, candy tastes good
Me: Vegetables make you grow strong
Finn: I am strong

At this point I conceded. Round 1 Champion: 3-year-old

Round 2

Fortunately, Finn's definition of a vegetable is still abstract. I leveraged this to my advantage in serving him (with no mention of the V-word) tomatoes and yam fries (with dip of course). He also pounded back a plate of gnocchi with pesto and broccoli for lunch today.

Round 2 Champion: Mommy

3-Year-Old Yam Fries

1) Peel, then thinly slice a yam into thin wedges. IMPORTANT: MUST LOOK LIKE FRENCH FRIES

2) I used an average sized yam and tossed it with about 2 tsp of olive oil and a good sprinkle of sea salt.

3) Roast at 375 degrees for about 30 minutes- stirring every 10 minutes or so. Make sure that you flip them all to get some crispiness.

These taste great with Spicy Yogurt, or Finn's condiment of choice: ketchup.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Feeding your 3 year old

Well Rach-

While you're off frolicking on the continent, I am pulling my lone editorial weight and will be doing some parent-friendly posting. Today's post will be on feeding your 3-year old. Now, I've only actually been feeding a three year old for about a month, so I suppose a more apt title would be feeding your small child.

Now as I write this I realize that I am fortunate, no I am blessed, in having a 'Good Eater.' Sharing snack and mealtimes with a toddler is fraught with enough drama and mental energy, that if any readers have picky eaters my heart goes out to you. Here are some ideas that are working for me-

1) Dip. If you want your child to eat veggies, or pretty much anything, try incorporating a dip into the meal. Homemade tzatziki has been one of my favourites nutrition wise, but in a pinch ranch dressing is the answer. I often mix equal parts of ranch dressing and yogurt.

2) Cucumbers, especially cucumbers and dip. I've never been a huge cuke fan, but I'm coming around. They are the easiest veggie to give a quick rinse and slice. They are easy for kids to hold and eat. Lunch at our house almost always has a side of cucumbers.

3) Assume that your child likes things. They'll be quick to tell you if they don't like something, but if you present new things without a fuss they might surprise you - Finn's been eating sushi since he was one.

4) Melted cheese. Finn will eat almost anything that has melted cheese on it. I'm slowly trying to make the switch from orange cheddar to white cheddar, I keep hearing awful things about dyes. Pizza buns for lunch are a great way to sneak in some veggies.

4) Pancakes. You can put lots of things in pancakes - banana, squash, oatmeal, grains.. Even most picky eaters like pancakes. I top them with plain yogurt, nuked frozen blueberries, and a bit of maple syrup. I used to good ol' Aunt Jemima but have been coming around to using natural sweet sources in place of manufactured ones.

5) Popsicles. In the summer you can't go wrong with homemade juice popsicles. I have a confession. If I need 10 minutes to myself I send Finn onto the deck with an 'ice pop.'

6) Chop veggies fine and cook until soft - big chunks in stir fries, sauces, or stews are just begging to be taken out. If the texture is fairly consistent than Finn won't notice the veggies. If your child is picky you could take this a step further and puree veggies to add to sauces (yes, I have to do this for my husband).

7) This is a big one - and often a royal pain- but child participation in the food preparation goes a long way in their willingness to eat what they've helped to make. Finn helps with certain jobs: mixing, mashing bananas, even grinding my coffee beans. That said, having a 'helper' doubles or triples the time and mess involved, so I often stick to nap-time dinner prep if I'm pressed for time.

8) Fruit for snack - sweet and tasty. My children would eat fruit all day (and sit on the you-know-what-all-night) if I let them. If your child doesn't love fruit, maybe be a bit adventurous and try some new ones. I freeze blueberries in the summer and add them to porridge every morning, put them into yogurt and use them for baking. My friend makes her kids smoothies with fruit and yogurt and they get a lot of fruit in that way.

9) Homemade is best. I know that you know this, and if homemade isn't your thing don't hate me too much, but remember that packaged foods have lots of sodium, additives, sugar. From boxed cereals to granola bars to crackers. Now I feel mean - But even if you don't bake you can cut back on packaged food in-take - fruit and veggies are the ultimate non-packaged foods. Or trade with your best friend who loves to bake but hates to clean. I would totally trade a batch of cookies for a mopped floor.

10) Plain yogurt. You can ignore this one if you want, I know that those tubes of yogurt are awesome.. however (angel on shoulder admonishing you).. flavoured yogurt has lots of sugar. Lots. I like to control 'invisible' sugar intake and add jam or honey to sweeten it myself.

11) Play with food. Make sandwiches into faces. Finn and I like to put on Raffi's Banana Phone and have a little dance party whilst eating our bananas (yes, I am an embarrassing mother - Finn has started realizing this and has to at times remind me in public 'Don't Dance Mommy'. It's not my fault, all my best moves come from rocking the oldies with my dad or from Barbie Dance Party). Check out Pancake Dad if you really want some cool pancake ideas.

OK, that's all I have right now. This is one post that I would love to create some dialogue on - feeding your child is unfortunately not a formula, and I know that everyone reading this who is currently feeding, or has fed a small child, will have ideas for me and other readers. So please comment with any great strategies!

Stay tuned for: Feeding you baby. And maybe, if I can hide from Mike for a few days: Feeding your picky partner.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Allie's Lemon Coconut Dahl


I miss you! I wish that I'd paid a bit more attention to your itinerary- I would like to follow you biking along the canal, or scaling the Eiffel Tower - or standing on the streets of Amsterdam on Sunday in a sea of disgruntled oranje soccer fans. Anyway, if not in real time you're still a part of my imaginary holiday. Not that I'm needing an imaginary holiday; Mike has a busy summer laid out for us, complete with jaunts to the island, a week poolside in Vernon, a few days camping, concerts, a date to the Lion King musical.. we won't be bored. It's just that very occasionally I get a bit nostalgic for B.C. holidays (Before Children). When an overnight stay didn't involve a mini-van full of baby/child props and back-up clothes for the back-up clothes for the back-up clothes..

I am finally posting my go-to dahl recipe. I got this recipe from my friend Allie back in our Western days (University of Western Ontario that is, sorry folks, I'm not a cowgirl). I struggle with cooking Indian food - I love to eat it but can never get the flavours that I am striving for. Part of the problem is that in Calgary one of my colleagues and friends was Ismali, and after hearing about my love of Indian food she took to bringing me yogurt containers full of dahls and curries to sample. When I was pregnant with Finn Harsha thought that she was personally responsible for the health of my unborn babe. Anyway, over the years she tried to teach me her ways - she even took me to an Indian grocery store to stock me up with all the necessary spices- and while my spice-knowledge improved, alas I could never quite replicate her wizardry with a curry.

Back to Allie's dahl. This is the one Indian-'inspired' success I have every single time I make it. There is something about chucking a can of coconut milk into any recipe that guarantees awesomeness. Try it, think of a recipe, mentally add a can of coconut milk and tell me it wouldn't taste amazing. OK, I'm getting carried away (please don't put coconut milk into your spaghetti sauce). I was going to post this a few months ago, but after Heather commented on the unappealing photograph that was Broccoli Crepes, I realized that the dahl shot was way beyond unappetizing. So, here is my attempt to make the aesthetics of this dish congruent with the taste.

Allie's Lemon Coconut Dahl
This can be served as an appetizer or over a bed of rice.

Saute over a slow heat:
1 finely minced clove of garlic
1 minced onion
some grated ginger (amount not specified, I often sub aprox 1/2 tsp dried but fresh is best)
dash of cumin
dash of red pepper flakes (I've used a dash of hot sauce on occasion)

Then Add:
1-2 Tb curry paste (can use a powder mix as well)
1 cup red lentils
2 cups water

Simmer for about 15 minutes, or until the lentils are cooked. Stir occasionally.

Add 1 cup coconut (I usually add 1 whole can), and let simmer for another 15-20 min, until thickened. Stir in 3 Tb lemon juice and 1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut (can skip the shredded coconut). Season with salt and pepper to taste. At this point I often leave the pot covered for a bit to let it thicken up.

To serve, top with a handful of slivered almonds.

OK, have a croissant for me, or maybe a wheel of cheese, or maybe a cone of gelato, or maybe a crepe, or maybe a glass of vino...

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Well Moochy, I'm off. The panniers are packed, the bike dismantled and shoved into a cardboard box, and the house as clean as it's ever been. No, the Asian family will not be coming to stay in my suite for the summer. Unfortunate to miss out on the extra cash, but best in the long run as they would likely have been scandalized by the other occupants of our building--and two adults and two kids in a one bedroom is a bit of a squeeze.

Anyhow, we're excited...looking forward to bratwurst in Germany and pannekoek in Holland. I checked out the Chocolate and Zucchini blog, wherein lies an edible guide to Paris. Very exciting. I will send you pictures.

In the meantime, we're less than thrilled by the new security measures which ban you from bringing food on international flights, leaving us vulnerable to whatever comes out on a plastic tray...
Goodbye my Mooch, keep posting. Sorry for my lapses. I loved the gift. I did call you about it but you were about to host a child's birthday party, which would have made a great post, actually.