Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Lunchbox #88

Today, my preschooler's lunch featured (clockwise):

  • A couple of slices of Kerrygold Dubliner
  • Mustard for dipping
  • Some leftover slow roasted Brussels sprouts from the night before
  • Leftover roast chicken, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • Watermelon


Salad Action, and Some Grown Up Lunchboxes Coming

My oldest daughter's first year of preschool is about to wrap up. Whew! I can't believe how quickly it blew by. Since my regular lunch-packing duties for her are about to go on a bit of a break for the summer, I'd like to roll up my sleeves and concentrate on making sure that my husband makes it to work with lunches of his own more often. So, as I hinted a while back, the grownup lunchbox series will pick up where my preschooler's lunches left off.

What am I thinking of packing?

In many ways, exactly what my preschooler was eating. But, to be a little more specific:

  • Salads. Huge colorful salads dressed generously.
  • Leftovers from the previous night's dinner.
  • Animal proteins of all kinds: eggs, meat, poultry, seafood, and full-fat cheeses.
  • Finger foods - like cut produce with dip and trail mixes.
  • Some treats here and there.

So, stay tuned. :)

What food projects are you thinking of tackling over the summer?

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Lunchbox #87

Today, my preschooler's lunch featured (clockwise):

  • Steamed green beans, dressed with sesame oil, balsamic vinegar, and kosher salt
  • Half of an apple
  • Pistachios
  • Cubed mango and fresh blueberries


Saturday, May 21, 2011

Grain Free Gluten Free Almond Coconut Macaroons

These are a new family favorite, adapted from the Coconut Macaroons on the Tropical Traditions website. I love that they're rich without being cloyingly sweet.

Almond Coconut Macaroons
Makes 2 dozen

2 tbsp. honey
4 tbsp. warm water
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup Let's Do Organic Shredded Unsweetened Coconut
1 cup Sliced Almonds
1 Madagascar vanilla bean (this is an optional but fun addition!)
2 eggs

To top, combine (this is an optional garnish):
1 pinch kosher salt
1 tablespoon Organic Coconut Palm Sugar (Sweet Tree palm sugar is sustainably produced, more info here)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine honey and warm water in a large bowl, and stir gently until completely combined. Add vanilla extract and stir again to combine.

To the bowl with the honey mixture, add the shredded coconut and sliced almonds. Using a paring knife, slice open the vanilla bean and scrape out all of the seeds into the bowl. Add eggs, and mix everything together at medium speed until thoroughly combined.

Scoop golf-ball-sized pieces of the mix onto parchment paper (I used parchment paper on a Pampered Chef cooking stone). Top each ball of mix with a small pinch of the salt and palm sugar, then bake at 12 minutes. Cookies will be golden brown at the sides and just on top when finished baking.

Disclosure: This post contains Amazon affiliate links. Thanks for supporting Primal Kitchen at no additional cost to you!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Lunchbox #86

Click to see the image full size to
get a closer look at the pepper flowers!
Today, my preschooler's lunch featured (clockwise):

  • Pepper flowers! These are really easy to make - I simply cut the bottom 1/2" of these two peppers off, and then spread them to the top with Trader Joe's creamy goat cheese. A little piece of the opposite color pepper went in the center, and some romaine leaves served as the flowers' leaves. (If you're comfortable with it, you can use toothpicks to anchor the leaves to the flowers...otherwise if there's any risk they'd be forgotten, just skip the toothpicks!)
  • One piece dark chocolate
  • Baby carrots
  • Bacon...mmm bacon...

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Lunchbox #85

Today, my preschooler's lunch featured (clockwise):

  • Apple slices
  • Pieces of fried egg
  • Cucumber slices
  • Yellow crookneck squash sauteed in butter and garam masala


Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Lunchbox #84

Today, my preschooler's lunch featured (clockwise):

  • Red pepper strips with Trader Joe's creamy goat cheese
  • Sliced cucumbers
  • Whole milk yoghurt
  • 2 slices Braunschweiger liverwurst


Healthy Food Methods with Toddlers and Preschoolers: Avoiding Food Waste While Honoring Satiety Signals

I've never wanted to develop a "clean your plate" mentality with my preschooler and my toddler. My family lives - so blessedly - with enough that leftovers on my toddler's and preschooler's plates aren't always cause for argument. Since I myself struggle with recognizing satiety - the feeling of fullness - but young children naturally do better knowing "when's enough" - I'd hate to push my girls to clean their plates daily and eventually override satiety signals in their brains in favor of making sure that everything on their plate is eaten. I'm afraid that eventually they'd associate fullness with an empty plate, not a sated stomach.

I am blessed with daughters who thus far have proven to be fairly unfinicky in their tastes. My four-year-old occasionally decides - and proclaims with great seriousness - that she doesn't like something. Right now her fixation is on ginger (don't ask me why! - I love ginger), and sometimes mushrooms trip her "don't like" trigger. Overall, though, she's a good sport with trying new stuff, and her 17-month-old sister seems to be the same.

That said, while I don't want to issue "clean your plate" orders to my preschooler or toddler all the time, I still hope to avoid wasting food. While every day I find myself ironing out kinks in the meal serving process, my experiences to this point have lead me to a few methods that I use in my approach to mealtimes and snacktimes.

  1. I try to serve satiety "bang for my buck", especially at mealtime. I know that biologically, sugar and grains can spike insulin and only leave the body seeking more food a short time later. Also, fructose - the natural sugar found in fruits - entirely bypasses the insulin pathway and is metabolized directly by the liver similarly to how alcohol is metabolized, except fructose doesn't have the side effect of making one drunk. So while the fiber in fruit may temporarily offer a feeling of stomach-fullness, it won't trigger the insulin-dependent pathways that make the brain realize that it's had something to eat.

    What does make the body feel full effectively? Simple - protein and fat. So if I want my girls to feel full after the few bites that their attention spans allow during meals, I prioritize giving them proteins (eggs, meats and poultry, whole milk yoghurt, whole fat cottage cheese, etc.) and fats (whole fat cheese, Kerrygold butter on all kinds of veggies, coconut oil, avocados, coconut milk smoothies, etc.).  Bonus: fiber does aid in satiety, so fruit and veggies can help in this aspect (especially lower-carb and slower-carb choices that won't spike insulin, like berries, sweet potatoes, or Brussels sprouts). However, fruits and veggies don't always bring a whole lot of calories to the table - so I tend to see them as supplementary to quality fats and proteins.

  2. I try not to serve my girls too much of something at first - but especially if it's a new food (or new seasoning/sauce) - instead giving them enough for a few bites. If it turns out that either of them wants more, I'm happy to dish it out as appropriate.

  3. I have a general practice of not offering additional food(s) until what is in front of my child is consumed. That is, if my 4-year-old is sitting with a plateful of just-served dinner in front of her and announces that she doesn't like one of the options on her plate, I shrug my shoulders and say, "That's fine, you don't have to eat it." At this point she sometimes asks for something else that she knows is in the house (like yoghurt) - and I usually say, "No, I've fixed a nice dinner for you, and I'm not fixing you anything else until you've eaten some of what's in front of you." Then my husband and I continue to dig in.

    If she's really hungry, she usually obliges by taking a few bites. If she's not that hungry in the first place, then she might ultimately leave most of what's on her plate. (If it's a new food or flavor that she didn't like, I'll file that away in my head when I debate whether it's worth making in the future.)

    I also practice this on the drive home from preschool pickup when my 4-year-old is requesting a snack. "Did you eat all of your lunch?" The answer is almost always no. So, she has to eat the rest or at least part of what was leftover in her lunchbox before I'm going through the effort to fix new snacks.
Now, it bears mentioning at this point that both of my girls have consistently been at the top of the charts height and weight wise since birth - I'm tall-ish and my husband is tall - so it's just how they grow. Therefore, I am hardly worried if either of them decides not to eat a large meal at some point, because given their appetites they are sure to make it up in the near future. Because of their fairly accommodating palates, the three methods above have worked for me best in terms of making sure they get enough of a nutritious variety of foods - while not wasting too much in the process. I'm sure that I still have lots to learn on this in the years to come as my daughters' preferences evolve!

How do you try and manage your small children's quirks and appetites to keep mealtimes and snacktimes sane and little tummies full? What secrets can you share on encouraging your little ones to try new, healthier foods?

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Chili in a Flash (About 10 Minutes)

Sometimes you can take your sweet time lovingly crafting a meal for your family...and then there are nights like this past Thursday night - happens at our house a lot. The seasonings and veggies here produced an exceedingly mild chili, which happens to be exactly how my husband and 4-year old like it. If you like heat, I suggest adding some seeded and chopped green chile peppers and a generous amount of chili pepper.

Chili in a Flash
Serves 4 generously

2 lb. grass fed ground beef (I got mine at Trader Joe's)
1 lb. small diced variety of veggies (I used Trader Joe's Healthy 8 chopped veggie mix)
12 oz. (half a large jar) tomato sauce of choice (I used my beloved Victoria)
1/2 tbsp. cumin
1/2 tbsp. garlic powder
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
1 heaping teaspoon salt
(Note: adjust seasonings as desired)

As desired, to top:
Sour cream (whole fat, of course!)
Shredded cheese

In a large saucepan, combine ground beef and veggies on medium-high heat. (Do not drain the fat as it cooks.) Stir in seasonings, and lastly the sauce. Allow to simmer until veggies are barely tender and the beef is just barely cooked, about 10 minutes. Serve hot and garnish as desired.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Lunchbox #83

Today, my preschooler's lunch featured (clockwise):

  • Apple slices
  • Bubbies pickle
  • Trail mix: macadamia halves, Brazil nuts, raisins
  • Applegate farms uncured ham


Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Lunchbox #82

Today, my preschooler's lunch featured (clockwise):

  • Sauteed veggies from the night before, with Trader Joe's avocado salsa verde
  • Trail mix: macadamia halves, Brazil nuts, raisins, and a couple of squares of Trader Joe's 72% dark chocolate
  • Bubbies dill pickle
  • Baby carrots
  • Applegate farms roast beef


Sunday, May 8, 2011

Notes on Merrell Barefoot Pace Glove Minimalist Running Shoes, Leaving Kids at Grandma's, and Primal / Paleo Airplane Snacks

It has been a while! I've been out and about - last week was spent eagerly anticipating the arrival of my pair of Women's Merrell Barefoot Pace Glove:

I. LOVE. THIS. SHOE. Since I was able to combine a couple of coupon codes, I got these for ~$67 (they retail $100). Never in my life has a shoe felt this comfortable at first try-on. And guess what? They had arrived just in time.

I returned from a trip to Texas tonight - my first significant travelling since just before my youngest was born. The Merrell Barefoot Pace Glove took me through miles of airport walking, a 3 mile hike with friends, and life in general, as it were. There was no breaking in or socks required (as has been the case for me in my past life of relying on cushy-soled athletic sneakers) - and they are super light, around 4 oz. each. I love that they're low-profile and sporty, while protecting my feet with Vibram-material soles but managing to remain zero-dropped - that is, the heel is the same thickness as the forefoot, which is important for mimicking a barefoot walking experience.

Anyway - all this to say - if you're looking for a sneaker-style, light, wide toebox, thin-soled minimalist shoe, this could be the ticket!

Some other notes from our time traveling:
  • I had some of my first in-the-wild Vibram spottings! I saw no less than three pair of Vibram FiveFingers, one worn by a fellow traveler on one of my flights, and the other two pair worn by runners I saw while on the hiking trail with my friends. I was very tempted to chat their owners up, but let them go on their merry barefoot ways.

  • Our daughters were staying with my inlaws. Since my girls' grandparents aren't primal / paleo, I left them with lots of nutritional resources, namely:

    ~ Lots of pumped breastmilk for my nursing toddler.

    ~ Meals! I premade a Chebe pizza from Chebe Pizza Crust Mix, baked some spaghetti squash and made a meaty spaghetti sauce, mashed soft-baked sweet potatoes with butter, and baked some organic russet potatoes. These provided a lot of "instant fix" meal solutions so that my inlaws didn't need to worry about cooking, much less primal-friendly cooking, while trying to keep an eye on the little ones.

    ~ Snacks! Among them:

          HAPPYBABY Organic Spinach, Mango & Pear Spout Pouches (these are great for both my toddler AND my 4-year-old on outings since no spoon is required),

          Cherry Pie Larabars containing only dried cherries, dates, and almonds (I picked this flavor because I know for certain that my toddler's not allergic to almonds and that was the only Larabar flavor I found that had only almonds and not other nuts involved).

  • Meanwhile, my husband and I did reasonably well with airplane/airport food - not perfect, but enough to discourage us from raiding the ultra-carby selections sold on the plane and in the terminal. I had with us:

    A couple of Cherry Pie Larabars

    Justin's Maple Almond Butter, in individual packets (yay, 200-calorie portion control and TSA- friendly sizes!)

    Justin's Chocolate Hazlenut Butter, also in individual packets

    Emerald Cocoa Roast Almonds

  • We hit up the super-paleo-friendly Fogo de Chao for one of our meals with our friends - an unbelievable salad bar and all of the Brazillian steaks and other cuts of meat (like melt-in-your-mouth filet mignon) that you can hold! A little pricey given the concept, but I would very much recommend it for any special occasion.
One final thing: While browsing the drink options on one of my flights I decided that I was already sick of diet sodas (yes, water was also an option but I had elected to enjoy a few diet sodas on this trip). Not wanting to sugar bomb myself with an apple or orange juice selection I decided to give tomato juice a try - and the guy sitting next to me and the two people across the aisle asked for tomato juice. Then somebody behind me asked for it! Good grief, I had no idea that tomato juice was so popular. Anywho, it clocked in at 12 or 13 g. carbs, 60 calories for the whole can, which isn't shabby for an alternative drink choice. Can anybody tell me why tomato juice is so popular on planes?

How do you make staying with relatives a little easier for you and/or your little ones? How do you work airline travel with TSA-friendly primal / paleo snacks?

Disclosure: This post contains Amazon affiliate links. Thanks for supporting Primal Kitchen at no additional cost to you!

I was not asked to review any of the products in this post; I simply wrote my honest opinions here, which are my own.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Lunchbox #81

Today, my preschooler's lunch featured (clockwise):

Disclosure: This post contains an Amazon affiliate link. Thanks for supporting Primal Kitchen at no additional cost to you!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Lunchbox #80

Today, my preschooler's lunch featured (clockwise):

  • Leftover roast chicken
  • Organic whole milk yoghurt
  • Leftover grainless sugarless chocolate cake, with a smear of Nutella
  • Apple cinnamon applesauce, GoGo SqueeZ style

Disclosure: This post contains an Amazon affiliate link. Thanks for supporting Primal Kitchen at no additional cost to you!
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