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

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