Posts Tagged ‘ fresh vegetables ’

Toddler Being Difficult at Mealtime? Try This Smart (& Easy) Tip.

Friday, April 27th, 2012


On Tuesday, I interviewed Jennifer Shu, a pediatrician and co-author of Food Fights: Winning the Nutritional Challenges of Parenthood Armed with Insight, Humor, and a Bottle of Ketchup, for an article–and I admitted that I’ve been having trouble getting Mason to eat his fruits and veggies lately. I explained that he happily eats the good stuff at school, which she attributes to positive peer pressure, but not at home. She had plenty of tips, but the one I tried first? Take him grocery shopping.

I’ve heard that tending a garden with your kid could make him eat more healthfully, but it honestly didn’t occur to me that shopping for food would be intriguing to a 20-month-old. Dr. Shu explained that participating in the process of selecting the food and even seeing it before it’s cooked could make Mason more interested in eating it.

I thought back to our baby food days and how we used to wander around the farmer’s market in our quest for organic produce to puree. I have no idea whether that experience, back when he was so young, had any influence at all in helping him become such an adventurous eater as a baby (he was into curry at nine-months-old), but we certainly bonded during those outings. And then somewhere between work and our crazy schedules, I started ordering most of our groceries online to save time. So Mason’s only real connection to the food was helping me unload it from cardboard boxes. Which he loves, but it’s just not the same.

That night we headed to Grand Central Market after I picked him up from school. The place is inside Grand Central Station, in the heart of NYC’s midtown East neighborhood, and it’s filled with stalls brimming with fresh produce, meats, spices, and cheeses. We browsed the fruits and veggies and I let him hold different things while I explained what they were. He was most interested in a mixed fruit salad of strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, and mango, so we purchased it. Then we headed over to the fish counter and picked up a shrimp-and-bell-pepper salad flavored with cilantro and lime juice, as well as a calamari salad with peppers, onion, and jalapenos. Mason appeared to have a great time–and he spent the entire commute home eating strawberries and mango. I was absolutely thrilled. Once we got home he ate shrimp and calamari.

Wow!

Not to sound like a loser but the meal made my week. Dinner was FUN. And, honestly, it’s been a while since I’ve been able to say that. My plan now is to take him shopping every week and really the different fruits, veggies, and meats–and let him help me choose what to buy. And then he’ll hang out in the kitchen while we cook it.

Any mealtime tips of your own to share?

Photo: Fresh fruits at a market via Adisa/Shutterstock.com.

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Tuesday Timesaver: Frozen Veggies & Fruits

Wednesday, July 6th, 2011


Use frozen veggies and fruits instead of fresh. It’s that simple if you’re looking for a shortcut. You don’t have to wash frozen veggies and fruits, and many of them don’t need to be chopped (think broccoli florets, corn, and spinach) or peeled (think peaches and plums). Frozen veggies and fruits don’t spoil before you have a chance to prepare them. You can still go organic if you’re shopping in the freezer case instead of the produce section of your supermarket, and you’ll save money going frozen instead of fresh in winter. Additionally, frozen fruits and veggies might be more nutritious than fresh, according to an article published by EatingWell.com, because fruits and veggies are frozen at their peak ripeness when they’re most nutrient-rich. (This assertion was also supported by a study that was released by the UK-based Institute of Food Research last March.)

As an aside, I avoid canned produce, generally. In some cases, such as green beans, it can have much higher levels of sodium than fresh or frozen. And fruits are oftentimes packed in a heavy sugary syrup. If you’re going to go the canned route, be sure to check sodium levels first and buy fruit that’s packed in water, not sugar.

Of course, I’m not advocating that you give up fresh veggies and fruits for good. For anyone who likes to cook, there are few things more pleasurable than a lazy Sunday afternoon at the farmer’s market in search of seasonal gems. Furthermore, if you’re buying fruits and veggies locally chances are they’ve just been picked and the produce is still nutrient-rich. I’m just saying that if you’re tight on time (and what mom isn’t?) there are distinct advantages to going frozen, at least some of the time.

I go both ways. I love chopping veggies and fruits, and chilling at the farmer’s market, so I purchase fresh produce every week — but my freezer is also packed with frozen veggies, especially green beans, peas, peaches, broccoli, and asparagus. I puree both frozen and fresh produce, and I chop and steam both types of produce for healthy finger foods. For my money (and my time), cooking with both fresh and frozen produce is the way to go.

Editors Note: Oops, I goofed when I scheduled this post so this week’s Tuesday Timesaver is coming out on Wednesday! Mommy brain:)

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