Blog

KLB Petite Couleur jpgWelcome!

I’m so happy you’re here, because it means you care about healthy food. On this blog you’ll find discussions of a range of parenting issues (like picky eating and snacking, food marketing and politics), as well as delicious recipes and menus. Enjoy!

I’d love to hear your comments! I’d also love a photo or drawing on the Getting To Yum Photo Wall – where you’ll find kids eating everything from spinach and sushi to olives and octopus. Yum!

 
ps My new book Getting to Yum is now available for purchase in the US, UK and Canada!
 

Green Machine Puree

Green Machine Soup with mouseHere’s a peek at one of the recipes in my book Getting to Yum!

This dish has a melt-in-your-mouth flavor that kids tend to accept easily. I serve it warm in little cups as a starter (following our “veggies first” rule that we usually apply at dinner).

The purees in the book are designed to double as delicious blended soups for adults – saving time for busy parents. They freeze easily–so they’re our family’s “go to” fast food — just reheat straight from the freezer.

Bon appétit!

Yummy Yellow Cauliflower Puree

Some of the recipes in Getting to Yum use spices. For example, this cauliflower puree has some turmeric in it! Turmeric is an ingredient in curry, but isn’t spicy on its own. It has a mild, nutty taste which offsets the cauliflower really nicely.

Before babies reach the age of about 18 months (later for some, earlier for others), they’ll try just about anything. ‘Open mouth, open mind!’ It’s the perfect time to introduce them to interesting colors and flavors. So that’s one good reason to try spices like turmeric now. In fact, Dr Jatinder Bhatia (a member of the nutrition committee of the American Academy of Pediatrics) actually recommends feeding mild curry to babies, to develop their palates.

Plus, there’s another reason (as Dr Bhatia points out): curry spice are packed full of vitamins and minerals! Some medical research also suggests that turmeric (an important part of traditional India Ayurvedic medicine) has numerous other health benefits.

ps I’ve never seen anything stain like turmeric. I recommend having a ‘rainbow bib’ (for food that stains) for baby, for all foods that stain…this one included!

Summer treat with my girls

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My daughters made a lovely raspberry swirl pavlova today, with whipped cream and berries on top.

It tasted even better than it looks!

(As it was their first time making a pavlova, it turned out slightly soggy, but I am proud of them nonetheless!)

The raspberries are from our garden and the blueberries are local too (we’ve had a hot summer here in Vancouver).

 

Five top tips for picky eaters

Picky eater at home? You’re not alone! Try these tips to help your child conquer picky eating.

1. Ask children to taste everything you’ve prepared, even if they don’t eat it. Research shows that children need to taste a new food, on average, 7 to 12 times before they will accept it. Looking isn’t enough — they have to taste! Positive peer pressure (particularly from other children) works wonders when it’s time for “taste testing” new foods.

2. Don’t label your child a ‘picky eater.’ Instead, tell your child they’re a ‘learning eater’ (just like ‘learning readers). Try telling your children: “You’ll like that when you’re a bit more grown up.” Expect kids to develop a wider palate and — eventually — they will!

3. Introduce your child to new foods before you serve them. Sounds silly, but often works wonders. For example, show your child a raw beet: let them touch it, and smell it. Cut it open, and let them look at the intense colour. Then try a variety of ways of introducing beets to your family. Beet popsicles are a family favourite, as is beet salad!

4. Stick with a schedule (and limit snacks to one–or at most two–per day). Once they know snacks are limited, kids will automatically adjust and eat more at mealtimes. If kids know that they can fill up on snacks, they’ll tend to be fussier at meals. Once you set your new routine, stick to it!

5. Talk less about health, and more about good tastes. Say: “Taste this, it’s really yummy”, rather than “Eat this: it’s good for you.” Believe (and tell your kids), that good-for-you foods taste good. Healthy eating habits are a happy byproduct. Broccoli? Yum!

Making food a daily ritual….with a French touch!

Food is everywhere in France, as you might expect. It’s a favorite topic of conversation, and even the subject of hit TV shows; the French version of ‘American Idol’ features would-be chefs in high-drama cooking show-downs. This is prime-time TV! And many people in France are glued to their screens as the final episodes unfold.

But food — and the joy of savoring good food — also pops up in lots of little, unexpected ways in everyday life. For example, look at this piece of paper towel. I bought it at our local supermarket (not at a fancy speciality shop). Each piece on the roll has a different recipe (this one is for a wonderful summer dessert called Granité aux Fraises). The recipes rotate seasonally (we bought this roll earlier in the summer). Even the most mundane object can be transformed by a little lighthearted nod to the pleasures of life. Savoir-vivre, as they say.

ps In case you were wondering, yes, it is only coquettish women shown on the paper towel rolls. Gender equity in the kitchen is not a strong point for the French–at least not yet. However, that’s an entirely different debate–about which I will be blogging next week!

Holiday Recipe: Roast Squash with Maple-Sage Dressing

Long Live Squash! My farming relatives had a bumper crop of squash this year, and we’ve been experimenting with squash recipes for weeks. I’m hoping this recipe will appear in my cookbook (out next year) and would love your thoughts!

 

Equipment: 1 baking dish or roasting pan, grater, blender
Preparation Time: 5 minutes
Cooking Time: 30 to 40 minutes
Servings: 4 adult servings

This is a great dish to make for babies who are transitioning to more solid foods, but who aren’t really ready to chew hard foods or chunks. My younger daughter (who took a long, long time to start chewing solid food) loved this dish, and we still love to make it on winter nights.

The ‘taste training’ element is in the dressing: the sweetness of the maple syrup and the acidity of the orange offsets the hint of sage—which pairs wonderfully with the squash.

As with the recipe for Butternut Squash Puree (above), I’ve calculated adult servings, as I am assuming you will want to enjoy this yummy dish along with your child!

1 large butternut squash
¼ cup water
1 tbsp butter, plus a few extra dabs of butter for the squash once baked
¼ cup maple syrup
¼ cup orange juice
½ tsp cinnamon
tiny pinch of sage (dried) — just a pinch!
optional: 1 tsp kosher (or sea) salt, sprinkled over squash just before serving

Preheat oven to 350F.

1. Preparing the squash: Halve the squash lengthwise and remove the seeds and strings. Rub the insides with butter (or a vegetable oil, to stop the squash from burning). Place on baking dish (or roasting pan) with ¼ cup water, skin side down. Bake in preheated oven (350 degrees) for 30 to 40 minutes or until tender when pricked with a fork. Remove from oven, sprinkle with salt (optional) and allow to cool. Place additional (optional) dabs of butter inside to melt.

2. Making the dressing: In a small pot, combine maple syrup and orange juice, heating gently (low-medium heat) for about 5 minutes. When warm, add the cinnamon and sage. Reduce heat to low, and cook (stirring occasionally) for about 5 minutes. Bonus: this will make your kitchen smell wonderful!

Serve warm, with warm dressing drizzled over top (kids love to drizzle their own dressing!).

Five Time-Saving Cooking Tips for Busy Parents

If you’re like me, life is busy. In the past, it often seemed like I was cooking in a hurry. I’d end up cooking my ‘fall back’ dishes, which meant we’d eat the same few dishes regularly. This wasn’t great for many reasons: limited variety means less nutritional diversity. And everyone got a bit bored with the same food (even me!).

When I streamlined my approach to the kitchen, it helped a lot. Here are some tips for busy parents: practical ideas that I have found really useful.

1. Plan ahead. Make vegetable soups on the weekend and freeze them; they are very quick to heat up for a meal. There are lots of great simple soup recipes in my new book (Getting to Yum); most take less than 10 minutes to make a large amount.

2. Cook once, eat twice. If you are making a time-consuming dish, make two batches, and refrigerate or freeze one for eating another day.

3. Use a slow-cooker (or “crock pot”): it will slowly cook a stew during the day – and you’ll have a delicious meal waiting at dinner-time.

4. Don’t cook every meal. Once a week, eat an “at-home picnic” with simple foods that don’t require much cooking. When we do this, we eat chopped vegetables with dips, simple salads, nice breads, cold meats, and sliced fruit. You can prepare many of these in advance and quickly serve them when you get home.

5. Delegate by asking your children to help with cooking! Most children over the age of 7 can chop and stir. They also love to eat the food that they have cooked themselves, so this is a great way to get them eating healthy food while saving you time. Younger children can do other tasks like put away cutlery, set the table, or fold napkins. They’ll have a great sense of accomplishment.

What are some of the strategies you use to save time in the kitchen?