Saturday, November 19, 2011

The truth about failed breastfeeders

Our lovely second boy was born just over a week ago and really has been a pretty great baby so far...except that he won't breastfeed. He can't attach, he won't suck, and consequently I'm not making much milk, but he's a big and hungry baby (born 9lb 2oz). So I've had to face the fact that this little guy is going to be formula fed plus whatever I can pump out, which in the absence of a sucking baby is not a great deal.

When I'm at my most rational, this is all fine with me. I had the same situation with Leo and I can now see that he has turned out healthy and happy which is all that you can ask for in a child. However, when I am feeling a little bit more fragile (which is not an uncommon side effect of the sleep deprivation that comes with a newborn), any question or comment about why I'm not breastfeeding instantly has me wanting to burst into tears. This is not to say that I can't recognise that the questions from family and friends are well-meaning or just genuinely curious about why my one-week-old baby is having a bottle. It's just that it is perhaps a more emotive subject for me, and I assume other failed breastfeeders, than would be instantly apparent. Because of this, I just dread anyone even raising the topic with me even if I know the intention is in no way sinister. I think it's sort of in the same vein as asking people who are desperately trying to conceive why they haven't had kids yet - but obviously that issue is more sensitive again.

The thing is, I really wanted to breastfeed and I promise I gave it a red hot go. I know as well as anybody that breast is best and that it is the cheapest and most nutritious way to feed a baby. I won't go into graphic detail but it's fair to say that pretty much the only thing I did in my four days in hospital was try to get milk out of me and make the baby drink that milk. I know that I am reading into people's questions more than is intended but I can't help feeling that there is always a suggestion that there is more that I could have done and if only I would persevere it would happen.

With Leo I went to two breastfeeding clinics, spoke to five lactation consultants, took prescription medicine and herbal supplements, and expressed milk every three hours to get my supply up (which really messes with your sleep) - and now I know that this sort of perseverance doesn't necessarily make it happen. It also results in you being more tired and stressed than you would otherwise be with a newborn. Not to mention that on top of this you are spending hours sterilising a mountain of breast pump and bottle feeding paraphernalia.

I guess all I am trying to get off my chest (pun intended) is that for new mums struggling to breastfeed, and no doubt short on sleep, regardless of the intention, it is worth steering clear of lengthy discussions around the benefits of breast milk. The truth is that we know the benefits of breastfeeding and we want to do it but if we can't achieve it, at least we can move forward to raising a happy, healthy child.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Too much information! Or maybe not enough?

I've had a booming week for discovering random facts about nutrition - mostly due to a book that I am reading called "Eat Your Heart Out" by Felicity Laurence, but also some radio news from today.

According to ABC radio today, hospital admissions for kids eating disorders have trebled over the last decade which has led some groups to point to the influence of the media and photoshopping. I think this is a bit of a stretch as there are so many factors that influence children's eating habits and body image.

Mia Freedman came out with a very sensible response on the program saying it's really a parent's job to provide good role modelling as opposed to just saying the right thing. Mia basically said that it may be ineffective to be telling your kid to go out and climb a tree when you are working on your computer eating a tim tam (bit close to home I might add). The segment didn't give a good summary of how widespread eating disorders are among kids or what causes them but the growth stats for eating disorders were a bit of a shock.

However, not as shocking as some stats from the UK that are in Laurence's book that state that British children in the UK aged five to nine years consume an average of 106 pounds (say about $150) worth of confectionary in a year and a similar amounts worth of soft drink. I hate to think what the equivalent figures are in Australia where childhood obesity rates sit around 20% and our overall obesity rates are higher than the UK.

The outcome of the radio segment was that parents need better quality information on nutrition for themselves and their children and I'd tend to agree. But where should this come from??

Taking it easy on yourself

With only three days until my due date for number two (an inside baby that has been lovingly named 'Pompf 'by child number one) I have been reflecting on how you keep a family fed when operating on no sleep. I actually remember having the distinct thought that I would never be able to cook a meal again in the first sleepless days after Leo was born. The baking dishes full of lasagne and pots full of apricot chicken that were delivered by friends and family could not have been more valued.

I've discussed it with a few other mums as well and it seems that the answer is to just get through it and don't worry about it too much. The very wise words I heard today were "the first aim is to get everyone to eat something healthy and if that fails, the second aim is to get everyone to eat".

This came into play last night when for some unknown reason, Leo didn't want tortollini bolognese - I'm sure I've mentioned this sort of event before but who knows what goes on in toddlers fickle little heads. In the end, there was a late supper of weetbix and watermelon which is not the worst outcome (noting that lunch had consisted of lollies, sausage rolls and some plain white bread at a third birthday party therefore this was actually a considerable step up).

So here's looking forward to the coming months of makeshift meals, hopefully without too much sleep-deprivation fed guilt! As is my mantra with housecleaning with small children, you are probably better off temporarily lowering your standards than stressing about the situation.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Eleanor's top ten for travelling with toddlers

We have just returned yet another overseas trip with the toddler (yep, I know that sounds smug but it's probably not as glamourous as multiple overseas trips without a toddler). From previous experiences I've certainly learnt a few things about how to manage the whole situation but also how to relax a bit and let some unhealthy meals/snacks through to the keeper.

It's not all about tricks and tips though so I thought it would be worth recapping the pros and cons of travelling and feeding kids in my one-off ,top ten findings from travelling with toddlers and their tummies. First five good things:

1. If you pack some good healthy snacks, they are often super keen to eat them (we went a lot of places with chopped apple, dried apricots, rice cakes, and wholegrain muesli bars).
2. You never know when you might stumble over a new food that they are surprisingly prepared to try. For this trip there were egg sandwiches, naan bread, scampi (like prawns) and banana bread in the new food favourites.
3. You don't have to do the cooking all of the time, so if food is rejected it's not as personal (except maybe for poor Grandma Jeanne who slaved over the hot stove).
4. There may be occasional opportunities to utilise peer pressure "Look, Charlie loves eating that nutritious wholegrain cereal - would you like some as well?"
5. Whatever happens you can always use the justification that you're on holidays to ease your guilt over any bad food days. For example, it is totally normal to eat chocolate pastries for breakfast in France and I'm sure they are supportive of multiple ice creams as well.

And then there are five not so good things...
6. You will never be able to predict how a slight difference in foods overseas will lead to rejection. For example weetbix and apples don't taste the same in the UK and therefore cannot be tolerated by a toddler.
7. No matter how hard you try, sometimes a toddler is just going to want hot chips for dinner over the gourmet pot of mussels (pommes frites anyone?)
8. Your best intentions in bringing healthy snacks can sometimes lead to toddler obsession with looking in your bag "what you got in your bag Mummy?"
9. You can't always stop well meaning friends/relatives from feeding the toddler biscuits 10 minutes before you were going to serve them a bowl of vegie laden pasta.
10. No matter how much of a pep talk you have given yourself not to worry about what the toddler is eating while you're away, you may find yourself jet-lagged at 5am documenting everything that they have consumed for the past three weeks and trying to identify how many of these could be considered a plant-food, let alone a vegetable.

So there you have it. It's not all bad but it also won't be perfect. If all else fails, I still recommend falling back on whatever healthy food it is that they will eat. One of ours is this super easy and quick gnocchi that only requires two saucepans!

Eleanor's Hidden Vegie Gnocchi

500 gms gnocchi
1 onion, finely sliced
1 zucchini, finely grated
1 handful spinach finely chopped
Half a jar of pesto

Boil a large pot of water and cook the gnocchi according to the packet instructions
Meanwhile in a separate pan, fry the onions over a medium heat in a teaspoon or so of olive oil until softened. Add the zucchini and spinach and stir until wilted and softened.
When the gnocchi is cooked, add it to the vegies and stir through the pesto.
Serve with parmesan cheese

Friday, June 24, 2011

Yum cha - a parent's best friend

Today I have a hankering for dumplings and it inspired me to reflect on a very successful visit to the Shark Fin Inn in Little Bourke St last week. I think it is one of the best dining options when dealing with a toddler or even smaller little people! Or do I just tell myself that because I like to go to yum cha regardless?

A friend had proposed an 11am Sunday yum cha sitting following his going away party on the Saturday night. For him, this turned out to be a bad decision as he was out on the town until 6am but for us it was perfect! Kids seem to be pretty much ready for lunch by 11.30am (which it was closer to by the time we all got in there and seated).

There are a few aspects that make yum cha perfect kid food. Firstly, the food is there instantly which is an important first step for feeding kids (it's the same reason that all my handbags now have boxes of sultanas in them). Secondly, kids can pick whatever takes their fancy which for Leo is mostly prawn dumplings. Thirdly, you don't get any weird looks if you bring you're own kids food in as well. I tend to bring some chopped up fruit so when there is a slow patch where nothing is taking the toddler's fancy we can keep his interest going. Finally, if it all seems to be wearing thin, you can easily pack up and go at any point and it doesn't really affect anyone else - others can keep grazing or hang around for dessert without it feeling weird.

So if you're organising a lunch with multiple kiddies or just looking for an easy outing with a smaller group, (oor like me you are jjust crazy for dumplings) I would strongly recommend hitting Chinatown!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Why you should trust other parents

In a weird paradox, I often seek advice from other parents about what they are successfully feeding their toddlers but simultaneously think to myself "that wouldn't work for us". I included an example of this in an earlier post where I was convinced that a cookbook recipe for 'green rice' that was supposedly a favourite in the author's household was going to be rejected by our toddler (and probably my husband). In that case, I was entirely wrong and all of it was happily eaten.

Today I was wrong again in exactly the same way. We are pretty much out of fresh food in our household (it's Friday) and while I had enough to pull together a chilli con carne (inions, mince, tomatoes, beans) I had no rice just tortillas. I remembered a friend telling me how much her toddler loved burritos a while back. At the time, I had rejected the idea thinking it would be too messy and too confusing to explain - my husband even has trouble folding them. However, as I mentioned, I was happily proven wrong. All family members successfully folded and ate their burritos and I even managed to hide bonus vegies in the chilli.

It's funny how much energy I expend trying to convince the toddler to try new things but it turns out I am the one nervous about change. So recommend any of your successes to me and I am going to try them from now on! I have learnt my lesson - trust other parents, they have been there before.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Why you should never shop when you're hungry or pregnant

I think most people know that it is not advisable to do the grocery shopping when you're hungry as you tend to end up buying too much food (or eating potato cakes in a shopping centre food court). Unfortunately the same useful messages haven't come out about the perils of shopping when pregnant. I was caught by surprise on the weekend when I somehow came home with frozen hash browns, nacho flavoured corn chips and mini-boost chocolate bars (which I convinced myself were for my workmates but are now sitting in my bottom desk drawer in the office).

I am usually I very disciplined shopper and totally know to make lists and a budget and to stick to them but somehow the black arts of product placement overcame me just this once. I've never really subscribed to the concept of cravings but it seems this time it is my only excuse. Something in my body desperately needs orange colouring, MSG and trans-fats (and wouldn't mind a post-dinner cheeseburger).

So pregnant ladies be warned - the supermarket knows your weaknesses and they will get you!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Chop and they will come

I always love reading about other people's small successes (or large ones for that matter) when it comes to kids eating' - the time that someone's little one non-chalantly ate a piece of brocolli after never touching anything green before or announced that chips make their tummy feel yucky and they would prefer some soup.

I had a success on the weekend with not just my boy but my husband too. After a junky dinner of fish and chips (we were at the beach to be fair), I suggested having some chopped up apple for dessert. Both husband and boy rejected the idea but I pushed ahead regardless thinking I could at least get some fibre into myself. However, no sooner was the apple chopped up and on the table than it was demolished and the boy requested some more.

This was a happy reminder that it is only my job to present healthy food and everyone else will decide what and how much they eat (of my dessert mind you). It also confirmed my belief that a chopped up apple is at least twice as appetising as one in the fruit bowl...

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Why I cried into the mac and cheese today

I don't usually stray into personal territory on here - it is a kid's nutrition blog after all. However, today I had one of those moments of clarity that reminded me why you bother.

I was chopping up brocolli into suitably small pieces to hide in macaroni and cheese and I thought to myself - why do I always make such an effort to squeeze an extra vege into everything? I know there are lots of people out there who eat mac and cheese minus the greens as a normal meal and in fact I'm pretty sure we did as kids sometimes for lunch growing up (Dad didn't think pasta was an appropriate dinner food). We also often had pizza, fish and chips or cheese toasted sandwiches for dinner and my sister and I are healthy people with great attitudes to food and eating right. This is certainly no criticism of my wonderful mother who is also an excellent cook, it's just that sometimes Mum was tired and Dad was a big supporter of takeaways.

Then it hit me, it's not even just about what kids need to eat and how they learn about food. It's about what the parents eat too. Dad died of bowel cancer - surely one of the most diet-linked ways along with heart disease and other obesity-related illnesses. Dad wasn't obese or anything, he just really liked refined crap like donuts, hot dogs and pretty much anything that had been deep fried and now he's not here to see my son grow up and do all the things that a grandfather should havea chance to do.

This might not have made me me cry in a normal week but as I am pregnant and full of whatever hormones that makes you overloaded with, it was all a bit much. At the very least it was a good reminder about why I try so hard - I want to be here as long as I can and I want this for the family as well. It's worth the effort.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

I'm not a scientist but...

As you may have guessed from the theme of this blog, I can't help but read articles about nutrition when I stumble across them and Sunday papers are a popular host for this topic. So this morning I was reading the Sunday magazine of the Age newspaper, I was drawn to an article by Michelle Bridges, of Biggest Loser fame, about whether genetics plays a role in weight problems (sadly it's not online yet so I can't make the link).

The article starts out by saying "I am not a scientist". No problem, I'm not a nutritionist either but I like discussing stuff around the food and nutrition. However, I'm a bit nervous that a series of scientific conclusions are drawn from some research that Michelle has read and the way her arguments are played out.

The thrust is that "it's not the genetic cards you've been dealt, but rather how you play them that determines much about your physical health and wellbeing." I actually like this bit of the argument as it's a good message that people can control their own health destiny and that eating right and exerising can improve your health - even if that is a bit of an obvious message.

The bit of logic that concerned me was that this therefore dispels the "fat-gene" theory which suggests some of us are incapable of losing weight. Whoa,whoa, whoa Michelle - are you trying to say that people don't have different metabolisms?? She goes on to note that the Biggest Loser trainers manage to get weight off people even when they claimed nothing worked. Sure they did, but these contestants had also never been able to take 12 weeks off work before to exercise and be cooked healthy, nutritious meals all day, every day.

I think it's a important, and only fair, to acknowledge that some people find it much harder to lose weight than others and that this is kind of a "fat gene", and that this means some people need more or less food and exercise than others. I think we've all met someone who can shovel it in and be rake thin (I live with one of these people). Metabolism rates are real and shouldn't be dismissed as a lame excuse.

Recognising different metabolisms seems to me to be such an important thing when you're feeding kids too. It's easy to worry that you're little guy is eating too much when he has had three breakfasts when you've just met someone who said their kid wouldn't even have a cup of milk in the morning. However, kids seem to know better than grown ups what their bodies need (when offered reasonable food choices of course).

It seems to me that teaching kids to eat and drink when they're hungry is an important step in making sure that they have a healthy attitude to food into the future. But as I said, I'm not a nutritionist...

Monday, April 25, 2011

The art of the hidden vegie

Some time back I mentioned that I never intended to be the sort of parent who hides vegies for their child (or the sort of parent who bribes their child with food, or the sort of parent who distracts a child with food etc etc). Yesterday I realised that, while Leo does still actually eat a wide variety of vegetables, they are now all of the hidden variety. I genuinely can't think of a vegie that he would pick up and eat on its own anymore - unless you would count potato/sweet potato in hot chip form and the very occasional snow pea. This despite my clear, pre-baby vision of a child who would munch celery and carrot from a re-usable container made from environmentally friendly plastics while wearing spotless organic cotton outfits.

This hidden vegie realisation came when we were having a roast dinner on the weekend at my Mum's house and Leo looked at it all like it was a plate full of foreign substances. I often present him a dinner like this but always with at least one thing that I know he will eat (i.e. fish cakes including hidden vegies that he will eat served with three unhidden vegies that he will probably leave). So, of a full plate full of roast, he ate two mouthfuls of potato and half a slice of bread. Lame.

I've shared a couple of my best vegie hiding recipes on here before: chicken stir-fry, shepherd's pie, and pumpkin lasagne and I thought it was probably time to throw a new one in the mix. Here is my recent burger recipe - you may need to adapt depending on the size of the vegies that you use:

Eleanor's Hidden Vegie Beef Burgers

500gm lean beef
1 onion grated
1 small zucchini grated
1 small carrot grated
1 egg
Bread crumbs
Olive oil
4 wholemeal burger buns
4 slices tasty cheese
Tomato relish
Oven chips and snow peas to serve

Mix beef, onion, zucchini, carrot and egg in a bowl. Add bread crumbs until the consistency is easy to handle and not too sticky. Form into four (or more) patties.

Heat a small amount of oil in a frying pan and fry the patties until they are cooked through. Toast the buns under the grill until golden. Make the burgers up to your taste with cheese and relish etc. If your children are more open minded than Leo, you could obviously add lettuce, tomato, beetroot, goji berries etc. Serve with chips and snow peas.

Friday, April 8, 2011

The "at least its better than Maccas" clause

I've recently realised that sometimes I can convince myself that I am doing something good by rating my decisions against a very low bar. For example, I don't get much aerobic exercise but I figure tai chi, pilates and walking to the train station are more than some people who don't do anything at all - like this is a good standard to compare against. If I eat a chocolate bar I tell myself that there are people who eat them every day so one is not so bad. Similarly tonight when I decided I wasn't really up to cooking, I made some homemade pizzas for the boy and me (Mr Williams was out for Friday night drinks) and figured well, at least it's better than Maccas. Not a very high standard, but when I gave Leo a cup of milk and some apple slices I figured it was passable. It's probably worth noting that Maccas has already realised this is all that is required to knock over parental guilt and will sell you a cheeseburger with milk and apple slices too if that's what it takes to get you in the door! I'm not sure if it's worth writing a recipe out for my pizzas but I do find they are a big hit with the kiddies. It is literally just wholemeal pitta breads with some low sodium pasta sauce, ham and cheese (or anchovies, olives and roast capsicum for me). It's probably quite sad but I convince myself as there are tomatoes, onions and mushrooms in the pasta sauce, it's pretty much a balanced meal. But hey, as I said, it could be worse...

Friday, April 1, 2011

Can veganism kill kids?

I really have never blogged about anything too serious in the past, but I have to say the media articles over the last few days about the French vegans who are being charged with their baby's death had me amazed and concerned - not about veganism but about questionable media practice. Let me say up front, I am not a vegan but I do generally believe that a vegan diet can work for most people if managed properly. This French family's situation a bit more tricky that the papers make out. While it would seem easy to conclude straight up that a vegan diet is inappropriate for small children there is a lot more to going on here. Firstly, the parents had decided only to feed the baby breast milk for nine months even though she wasn't putting on enough weight. Secondly, they ignored the symptoms of bronchitis which were picked up in a routine nine-month check up and only decided to treat it with some questionable home remedies (I don't know what a cabbage poultice is). Thirdly, the parents are not believers in supplementing their vegan diet to get vitamin B12 which is generally accepted as something that a vegan diet cannot provide. Interestingly, a Canadian article I read clearly stated that that the cause of the baby's death was pneumonia-related illness (the bronchitis no doubt) and that the subsequent autopsy showed vitimin deficiency. However, when the issue was relayed in the news in Australia, the wording had changed to say that the baby died suffering from vitamin deficiency - which is technically true but misleading in suggesting that the vegan diet was the cause of death. This suggestion concerns me because I have read plenty of sources that say a vegan diet can be managed even for small children but that it needs to be carefully monitored and should be supported with vitamin B12 supplements. The French parents were not making any sensible decisions from the information available - they were not offering a diverse diet to their child, they were not offering vitamin supplements, and they were ignoring professional advice and not seeking medical advice for an obvious illness. So while I think it is absolutely reasonable that these parents are being held to account for the neglect of the wellbeing of their child, veganism really shouldn't be on trial here. That is an issue to be dealt with elsewhere and ideally backed up with research and evidence if it is to be deemed totally inappropriate for young children. I say veganism doesn't kill but that it is a choice that needs to be made with the backing of nutritional advice and a serious commitment to the health needs of the people involved. Ok, serious blogging over - next time I'll tell you about the wonders of "space food".

Friday, February 25, 2011

If only brocolli tasted like biscuits...

A colleague of mine sent me this article which starts with the no-surprises statement for any parent of a toddler "given a choice between raw brocolli and a salty cracker, 18-month -old children will invariably choose the tastiest: the biscuit." Ok, so no news here. Then it goes on to explain that if an adult says "yuck" to the biscuit and "yum" to the brocolli, then the child does not, as you would hope and pray, think "that brocolli must be rockin", instead according to this research, they think "that adult must have strange taste that is different to mine." It seems these small children are cleverer than we thought. Damn! I've invested so much time in being a great role model who loves crunchy, carrot sticks and it seems that all this will have achieved is making Leo think I am a bit strange. I tried to work out how this could be used for reverse psychology - so I maybe should say that the salty biscuit is yummy? But soon realised that the whole point is that children are very smart and cannot be fooled that easily. I guess the only take away message here is that you don't want to force vegetables to compete with biscuits. We sometimes have to keep this in mind at our house when we want to have some garlic bread with pasta - the bread has to come out after most of the pasta has been eaten because just like brocolli vs biscuit, there is only one winner in the battle between buttery, hot white bread and vege-laden, wholemeal pasta!

Monday, February 7, 2011

You gotta eat your spinach baby!

Well, those scientists have done it again - as outlined in this article spinach has been found to be good for we thought all along. As it turns out, it's not the iron that makes it so special but rather, the nitrates. Admittedly, I can't understand the scientific explanation for this but apparently the benefits can be cancelled out by mouthwash - weird hey?

I love hearing this because spinach has proved to be, in my experience, an excellent hiding vegetable. I quite like to sneak it into all things containing mince like spaghetti bolognese, chilli con carne, shepherds pie, and even an unconventional san choy bau.

Here is the shepherd's pie recipe that has been working for us lately - enjoy!

Eleanor's sneaky spinach shepherd's pie

500 grams lean mince beef
half a jar of low salt pasta sauce (we use Stromboli)
One handful spinach finely chopped
2 cups mashed potato
1 handful grated cheese

Heat the oven to 180 degrees
Brown the mince in a saucepan and add the pasta sauce
Simmer for 15 mins then add chopped spinach
Pour mince mixture into a pie dish and cover with mashed potato
Sprinkle with grated cheese
Bake in over for 30mins or until golden on the top

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Time for a rant

I like to think that one of my main areas of expertise is how to travel successfully with small children. Leo has been on a ridiculous number of flights in his short life (it's well into double digits) and some of my first blog entries were about how to feed a travelling child. So my ears pricked up when I noticed this article in the age today about how to survive a flight with an infant.

I don't have any issue with the article itself, although I am hoping that the author is exaggerating what an ordeal it was for comic effect - it was only a one hour flight! But if you look in the comments section, there is so much in there that makes my blood boil. I cannot believe that there are so many people out there thinking that all parents of young children are selfishly and needlessly dragging their children onto flights when other travellers are "entitled to travel in peace".

Obviously it is pretty indisputable that sitting next to a screaming child for a long haul flight can be pretty irritating. However, I don't think there are actually many parents of little ones flippantly booking their child in for an uncomfortable airplane experience without a reasonable justification. For us, it has been visiting grandparents so they can spend time with their first an only grandchild, not to mention the uncles, cousins and other relatives. For others it might be for work or a wedding of close friends and family but I struggle to believe that anyone is doing it just to piss other people off.

So this is why I think articles, and the range of blogs that tackle this issue, should be applauded as their only aim is to help the next parent of a small child who needs to travel and make the experience a little bit smoother and a little less teary. Rant over!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Fussy in their own special way

The thing I have been noticing recently is that while all good eating children are about the same, fussy eaters are all fussy in their own special way. I have been reading a book by a nutritionist who is absolutely convinced that kids are only interested in raw vegies and so all the recipes are based around meat and salad. I've got the totally opposite experience where everything needs to be cooked (and preferably hidden). Similarly, a lady at work was telling me how much all kids love carrots -mine doesn't!

To add to the degree of difficulty, Leo's list of things he will eat seems to change weekly at the moment so I never know what is on and off the menu. So I was thinking that the best kinds of sharing recipes are the ones that can have things added and taken away depending on what your own special fussy kids are into.

Here is a basic fried rice that was successful tonight for us but can easily be adapted if your little one is feeling more or less adventurous!

Eleanor's Basic Fried Rice

2 eggs, beaten
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
4 cups cold cooked rice
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon ginger crushed
4 slices ham, chopped
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
4 spring onions chopped
2 teaspoons sesame seeds
Soy sauce and sweet chilli sauce to serve

Heat a wok over high heat and add half the oil. Briefly cook eggs until they form an omelette.
Remove from pan and chop egg into small chunks.
Add the rest of the oil to the wok and fry the garlic and ginger for 30 seconds.
Add the rice, ham, peas, egg and spring onions and cook for about 5 mins until all heated through.
Serve with sesame seeds, soy sauce and sweet chilli sauce to taste.

* If your little one will eat onion, carrots, zucchini or corn - these are all excellent additions. Add any additional vegies to the wok with garlic and ginger and cook until softened.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The confessional...

I have to come clean - today I took Leo to get a happy meal from McDonalds. I can't even pretend I didn't have any food in the house. I had dinner planned with ingredients in the fridge but a playdate with cousin Frankie went overtime and I just couldn't face racing around trying to get the cooking done before Leo got too hungry and went crazy.

To make matters worse, Leo was soaking wet from an afternoon where he was not only in the pouring rain but also in a wading pool. Consequently he was just wearing the only dry pair of shorts available and some sandles and looked like a drowned rat.

So wouldn't you know it, as we trudged back home - me with a giant bag of Maccas and Leo carrying his happy meal - I ran into an old school friend. I was super embarassed because this is the first time she had met Leo and he couldn't stop talking about his burger and had his shorts half-way down his bottom and I just didn't feel like the model of good parenting in the circumstances. My friend kindly texted me afterwards to let me know that she was actually on her way to get KFC and hoped that no judgement would be passed in either direction!

It's bizarre that I feel this level of guilt about feeding my child a burger - especially as those canny people from McDonalds will now package it up with some juice and apple slices. When I was young, my parents took me to get a cheeseburger once a week so I would eat some red meat and I see this as a totally acceptable thing to do.

So I can only hope that my guilty admission will make others feel ok about resorting to fast food now and then. Gaz and I have decided that once a month is totally fine and I would definitely totally recommend choosing the apple slices in the happy meal - it makes it much easier to sooth your conscience later!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Why Christmas is just like international travel...

I was thinking last night that the Christmas/New Year period for us has been just like the last time we went to the UK although thankfully without the 24 hour flight involved. There have been all sorts of late nights, lots of social events with hardly any kids, and heaps of parties where the only thing that appealed to Leo was bread, meat and Christmas cake (and biscuits and chips if they're available). This was also Leo's preferred menu when we were overseas with unfamiliar food.

So I've been back on my travelling tactics - in particular bringing lots of snacks and focusing on the healthy things you can get them to eat at other times.

My current favourite snacks that fit in a handbag are Bellamy's apple snacks (just dehydrated apple slices that are crunchy) and the apple flavoured wholegrain rice cakes that you can get in the baby section of Supermarkets. I read a book about kid nutrition recently that suggested that most kids love raw vegies (ha!) but if you are lucky enough to know one of these children remember to pack some brocolli and radishes for them.

As for healthy things that they'll eat other times, for us it is still avacado on grainy toast and porridge at breakfast time and when all else fails, bring out the bolognese!

I think the main thing that reminded me of travelling was just having to relax about everything that is out of your control - it's just more important to have fun during the festive season. I hope you had a good one!