11.08.2012

Kid Mealtime - Healthy Meals from a Busy Mom

I am been a mom for just over 4.5 years and I gotta say, some of those things I said pre-mommyhood just aren't sticking. I once claimed I would never feed a Lunchable to my child! The idea appalled me not only because of the excess packaging but I questioned the truth health of the meal. Four and a half years later, ummm....yeah, I have fed a Lunchable here and there to darling daughter but I still have criteria. It needs to be the snack packs that have no candy and no sugary drink. And it happens on rare occasions....such as those times of the year when work has me working extra long and I just am plum tuckered out. Other than that, I think our family is pretty healthy in how we eat.

My meal rules are simple. You don't have to eat everything on your plate (as I want darling daughter to learn when she is full and not keep eating just because there is more food on her plate) but you do need to try everything on your plate. And I don't forbid foods but am educating darling daughter on what each food has to offer such as calcium for strong bones, protein for strong muscles, antioxidants to keep us healthy, and sugary...this is only an indulgence. I feel learning that it is okay to eat sugar in moderation is important as I knew kids growing up who were forbidden to eat sugar and then devoured it like crazy once college came....and had negative side effects like battling weight issues.

That all sounds fine and dandy but what does meal time look like around my house?

Breakfast: I am often out of the house when darling daughter eats breakfast and on weekends with her I really do try to make it special. Banana pancakes are one of her favorites and I love making them because she will run away from a banana any other day. But mushed up inside of a pancake equals pure delight! And yep, I sneak them in smoothies here and there. But on most days she loves a bowl of cereal and has pretty good taste going for "adult" cereals. Yes, she is tempted by those colorful boxes of colorful, sugary kid cereals and yes, when Grandma was here she was treated to Lucky Charms. And guess what? That box was never finished and as much as I hate food going to waste I couldn't implement the rule to finish the cereal box before opening a new one. Who wants to enforce eating sugar?

Lunch: Preschool means making lunches and making lunches takes time as I make them almost daily for myself and darling daughter. I do strive to use leftovers from dinner in our lunches but this takes preparation and foresight as I make lunches before I make the night's dinner. But keep in mind, leftovers don't have to necessarily been eaten for lunch the next day. The day after works and I find darling daughter likes those meals spread out a bit more...and who wouldn't? But her typical lunch may be a half of a turkey and cheese sandwich - must be with mustard. Some veggies - not cooked please and that includes mushrooms. She never wants those cooked and I hear her teachers are quite delighted to see her devouring her raw mushrooms slices at lunch. And sometimes something crunchy like a few pretzels, some rice chips with seaweed on them, etc. Yes, my child LOVES nori....she didn't acquire that taste from me. In fact, I really don't know where she learned she liked it but who am I to argue with eating nutrient-rich dried seaweed?

Snacks: She gets one at school from the snack calendar that students provide on assigned days. The school picks the snacks, the parents deliver. And you know what, they are all healthy except for the once a month birthday celebration where they get a little cake. They implemented this to decrease the amount of individual celebrations and cupcakes coming to school. Ironically, at school darling daughter seems to love the bananas and peanut butter she claims to not like at home. Go figure! And here they get some juice but I know they buy low sugar varieties. At home she tends to like crunchy snacks so perhaps cheese and crackers, pretzels, and the occasional bag of chewies for some shopping trips. I really try to encourage healthy snacking as she sees me eating a lot (marathon training makes me quite hungry) and I want her to establish healthy eating based on her needs so portion size is really important! Think just 4-5 small pretzels. P.S. I really do enjoy making lunches more now that we have matching Laptop Lunch kits!

Dinner: I make a weekly menu and try to incorporate a variety of foods and vegetarian days. The hits are turkey meat balls, mini wontons, broccoli, peas, cranberry sauce, pumpkin soup, lentil soup, spaghetti (although currently darling daughter is in a no sauce please stage), and enchiladas (my guest post to another site-I really need to add this to my site and update). I am notorious for sneaking veggies into anything and everything even though darling daughter does love veggies. And I have found the key to a less stressful mealtime is to include darling daughter in the process from selecting veggies at the store or local farmer's market to prepping the food. Once I got consistent with this she is better at dropping her toys and running happily to the table. I think the main reason is because she knows she will love it! And on Girls' Nite when dear hubby is working later, I often take it easy and make nachos for us or nachos for me and a treat for her. Last night she delighted in some Princess soup, which by the way, half went into her lunch for today and I only give her a portion of the broth to cut down on salt. P.S. Click on links above for recipes.

Homemade with less sugar
Drinks: I pretty much offer two drinks. Water or milk and nope, she is not allowed to drink milk all day. Her cups hold about 6 oz at a time, if full, so usually that is the limit to milk but some days she is just craving it more so I allow another partially full cup....and we drink fat-free milk and sometimes soymilk. She loves water, especially with ice, and will drink it plain or with lemon, lime, or mint. She always gets water packed for her school lunches. And what about juice? It is a rarity in our house but if she does get some, like when she was sick recently and wasn't drinking anything else, I dilute it with water 50:50. And honestly, I think it tastes a bit better this way...think flavored water.

Daily Gratitude: I am thankful that this morning's cane fire wasn't anywhere near where I needed to drive. It is nice to avoid the smoke.
Daily Affirmation: My body is healthy and functioning in a very good way.
Now that is a big squash!

9 comments:

  1. I like the idea of having them at least try everything instead of having to finish it all. The only time I make them finish everything is if they are asking for more of something else. Not sure if that's good or bad, but I mostly don't want them to waste the food already on their plate when they are trying to get more of another (usually one they like more) food.

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    1. I totally see where you are coming from as just the other night darling daughter asked for more cranberries when there was still brussels sprouts on her plate. She does like the brussels but I ended up letting her eat more cranberries and then the last bit of broccoli. I figured she was opting for another healthy veggie so why not? Plus it was only one big sprout but I guess if it was more I may have reconsidered....

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  2. That's great that her school is good about small treats once a month. L is only 2 1/2 and does a mother day out program two mornings a week, but for every kids birthday, the parent brings a treat, which for September was once a week, huge cupcakes or giant cookies... it drives me crazy! I wish schools/programs were more careful with those extra sugars. Great job teaching your daughter healthy habits!

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    1. Thanks! It is an ongoing learning exercise for both of us but well worth it. I just wish soon she will stop looking at my green smoothies with such odd expressions. ;)

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  3. I think your 'rules' sound really good. And I agree about the bit of sugary indulgences... NEVER is unrealistic.

    Enjoyed reading your post even though I am not a Mommy, I knew there would be some good ideas there.. .and there are!

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    1. Thanks Elle for the support! I feel if things are black and white it makes it too hard to live well. We all need a little leeway in life....

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  4. Hey! I found your blog through A Healthy Slice of Life because I'm the mom of a one-year old and love checking out what other families feed their kids.

    I just wanted to make a small note: Raisin Bran is notorious for having amongst the highest sugar count of all breakfast cereals! Not trying to be obnoxious and my little guy has probably had worse, just pointing it out in case you didn't know.

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    1. So very true! Those raisins are covered with sugar so we usually stick to Shredded Wheat, which can become quite sugary as well. And she just started loving Rice Krispies but our go to is a cheerios type of cereal that is organic. ;)

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  5. I love the idea of nixing the clean plate club! I also hope Hailey grows up to be an adventurous and intuitive eater. I think tasting everything on the plate is a great idea! Thanks for linking up :)

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Mahalo for your comments!