Is the Spice not so Nice?

12 06 2013

One of the common questions I receive from families introducing new foods to their toddlers is whether or not they should be adding any spices to foods that might make the food “too hot.” Minus Cholulu,Tabasco, Sarrachi, supercharged curry powder, and Wasabi,any spice is really fair game. I always recommend that families dial down the amount of spices used for a portion of the meal that they are making for the family. For example, if you are making a stir fry that calls for hot sauce, just take a small portion of the meal out of the pan before adding the hot sauce to the remainder of the dish. This way, your toddler will see that he is being served (and essentially eating) the same meal the rest of the family is – minus the heat!
Don’t be fooled though! Toddler LOVE food with flavor – which so many of us tend to shy away from. Try some of these spices and fresh herbs in cooking to maximize the flavors of some of your toddlers favorite dishes:
Garlic Powder, Onion Powder, Italian Seasoning, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, nutmeg, fresh or dried basil – even cilantro! You will be surprised how a little bit of flavor goes a very long way in the battle against picky eating!

WTNH Homemade Baby Food Segment

17 05 2013

Spinach: To serve or not to serve, that is the question.

17 05 2013

Spring is here (I hope) to stay, which means time for me to rethink and revive our dinner choices. It is so easy for me to get stuck in a routine of offering the same foods with just a slight variation over and over again. When I feel like this, the fist thing I do is take stock of what side dishes (i.e. carbohydrate/grain, fruit, veggies) I am serving with the main part of the meal and consider my alternatives. This past week, I made a bold move and decided to serve sautéed whole leaf spinach with familiar chicken and rice. Both of my kids have eaten spinach in foods such as soups, sauces, and in some meat dishes like meatballs and meatloaf, but have never been offered spinach as a stand alone side dish. It’s not for lack of opportunity – I make it for myself weekly, but I always take the easy way out and make them broccoli instead simply because I know they accept it. Right or wrong, it’s what I have chosen to do for the sake of getting green into them! But, last night, that ship had sailed because I was determined to offer spinach – to everyone.

Now, knowing my audience, I sensed there would be some resistance. However, my goal was not for them to actually EAT the spinach; instead, I framed my goals as follows:
1.) EXPOSE them to something new
2.) Use as an opportunity to teach manners surrounding food refusal (i.e say No thank you, and go about the rest of the meal appropriately)
3.) Continue my quest to test the theory that it takes 15 times for a child to be exposed to the same food before they are willing to accept it on a regular basis (for the record, this has worked for most foods/meals in my house for my cautious eater – time has seemed to resolve most issues with trying something new).

Once I was confident that I would not over react to any potential reaction from them, I called everyone to dinner, sat, and watched:

My son, almost 9, came and sat down, asked with a squeamish look on his face “What is that?” I replied, “spinach”. He just shrugged and started eating the other items on his plate.

My daughter, now 5 1/2, approached the table, caught a glimpse of the dark green blob on her plate, and began to scream. Not only was she crying out “What is that?” with some tears (backed up against the dining room wall mind you), she picked it up in her hand to remove it from her plate, and plopped it on the table. Splat (it really has such a distinct sound!). My son was practically in tears, bent over laughing, and my husband was searching my face for a reaction.

I let the situation play our for about 30 seconds without saying anything, as I watched her sit in her seat and approach her plate. I knew there were two possible situations that could happen next: 1) She would refuse to eat anything else on her plate, or 2) Settle down and try to eat the familiar foods on her plate. Once she was seated, I told her very firmly that she could not behave that way at the table. Instead, she should just say no thank you, and eat something from her plate that she does like. She just gave me a dirty look and sat for a few minutes before she picked up her fork and ate the rest of her dinner. Interestingly, by the end of the meal, she responded to my commentary on how she has in fact seen and eaten spinach before – like in the meatball soup (Italian wedding) many, many times. She said “I like spinach in soup”.

So, by the end of the meal nobody ate it – but me. However, dinner time was successful in that everyone ate and talked… and got a first glimpse of the leafy green that will be coming back to their plates some time real soon.

Love Kitchen Explorer’s on

23 01 2013

My Friday Lunchables

12 01 2013

After taking the plunge and trading in my blackberry for the iphone 5 last night, I was faced with a task that caused about as much anxiety as the Sprint Clerk telling me “every once in a while, we lose people’s contacts  during a phone transfer – but it doesn’t happen that often!” Exsqueeze me? Say What? Thump thump went my pulse, as I waited the excruciating 59 seconds it took to keep my contacts, well, intact.

The task? Packing lunch for school the next day. It was 9:30pm, I was headed to Target for bread and “stuff”, and I was shot. I seriously considered the idea of forcing my kids to buy hot lunch every Friday (they have always adamantly refused: My son tells me his friend got pizza with cheese that was blue and had a hair on it. I am sure that is half true, but I don’t know what is worse, the blue part or the hair part).

So, determined to find something nutritious and easy, I jetted in towards the bread aisle and passed the refrigerator case of lunchables neatly stacked with an assortment of varieties. How enticing I thought, as always: Two for six bucks and I could be free of spreading, slicing, packing, washing, ziplocking, and cleaning up crumbs. Twenty minutes closer to The Soprano’s rerun’s (or my newest medical journal article on why vitamin D is still so important).

Not willing to give in, I decided to make my own lunchables, and picked up the following:

1.) CRUNCH PAK Foodles, with apples, grapes, and pretzels (for my 5 year old)

2.) CRUNCH PAK Caramel Apple Dippers (8 year old)

3.) 1 box of Teddy Graham’s Oatmeal Raisin Soft Paws (pre-packaged)

4.) Chobani Champions Vanilla Chunck Yogurts (4 pack)

I got home, grabbed their lunch boxes, placed the Foodles pack in my 5 year old’s lunch box, added a Chobani yogurt, added the Soft paws, and filled up her water bottle. Zipped and Done. This left one Turkey and Cheese to make, then I popped in the caramel apple dippers, 1 Chobani Champion, Water bottle, and 2 Cookies.

Having four items prepacked and ready to go really sped up the process! I was happy with the nutritional content, and both boxes came back almost empty.  Next Thursday you might see me sneaking into Target to make these my regular Friday Lunchables.


Baby Gators Like Peas

11 01 2013

Check out this great review on Peas from a mom, Joanna, who has been in the trenches with picky eaters! They are hosting a giveaway for a free copy!

Sorry Joanna, love your blog and thank you so much for the fair review – but GO BUCKS! Do baby Gators like BUCKEYES?

Pittsburgh Tribune Herald Press release on Peas!

4 01 2013



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