Archive for the 'parent category' Category

Save Money, Keep Food Cost Down

We all know that food is costing more and more.  But with a little planning and a few simple recipes your food dollars can go farther.  Many foods that we buy are made from a combination of oil, sugar and flour.  Sugar and flour are relatively inexpensive.  Although they are not nutritious foods, unless your flour is whole wheat, they do serve a purpose by providing delicious sources of energy.  Other grains, such as brown rice, oatmeal, corn and quinoa are also inexpensive when purchased in their raw, unprocessed form and supply many valuable nutrients.Learning to cook these grains is easy.  Most require only a pan, water and heat.  For exact measurements of water and grain read package labels or check your favorite cooking web site.  These grains can make great main courses, side dishes or breakfasts.

Many of us eat grain products in the morning.  Why pay $4.00 for a box of breakfast cereal when for the same $4.00 you can buy more than 5 pounds (15 cups) of flour, which will easily make 7 batches of cookies or muffins or 10 loaves of bread?  Top bread, preferably whole wheat, with any nut butter and fruit such as banana, strawberry or thin apple slices.  And bread making is easier than you might think.  The easiest method is with a bread machine.  If you want to get more involved, go to your local library and take out the book “Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes A Day”.  It really works.

Many, if not most, breakfast cereals are processed white flour and sugar so devoid of nutrients that vitamins and minerals need to be added in, thus the term “enriched”.  Boxed dry cereal is certainly convenient, but for a change of pace and a boost in nutrition you could try mixing oatmeal, and maybe some nuts and raisins, in the evening with yogurt, refrigerate and then eat it the next morning.  If you want a hot breakfast warm it up, adding milk 2:1 of the oatmeal mixture, simmering until most of the milk has absorbed into the oatmeal.

As for snacks, most are puffed (air) and fried grain products.  They have generally no redeemable nutritional qualities.  Instead try popping some popcorn, at only 6 cents per 1 ounce serving, that’s the most economical snack available.  Popcorn can be prepared on the stove in any lidded pot or in an electric popper (with oil or air popped).  If you are popping in oil, no butter or oil needs to be added.  If you are using an air popper, add just enough oil or butter taste.  Try adding flax seed oil after popping for added omega 3 oils.  To add even more nutrition and flavor use nutritional yeast instead of salt.  Nutritional yeast has great B-vitamins and zinc.

10 Days or 10 Years


I have been advising parents and child care workers that a young child (ages 1-5) may need to see a new food 8-10 times before they may choose to eat it.  This
recommendation is based on peer reviewed studies from the best nutrition based
journals.  I guess none of these studies had enough time or money to study children over ten years.  Well I did. Granted my study population consists only of 1 child, my son.  However I have seen remarkable new food preferences and habits develop over the years, with a crescendo this year when he voluntarily started asking for and eating broccoli, eggs, and mixed green salad that includes raw spinach, carrots, jicama, red peppers and other vegetables.

My son’s case is even more poignant, as for 3 years he had not grown in height and he preferred fun foods to most healthy foods.  Last fall he was diagnosed with
Crohn’s, an autoimmune disease that strikes at the digestive tract.  Many children with Crohn’s have stunted growth.  Then my son started receiving treatment for Crohn’s.  He started to grow (3 inches in 9 months), and started to eat a wider variety of foods.  I believe that now that his body can absorb the nutrients it needed to support growth; it demands that he consume them.

So, keep eating what you want your child to eat.  Offer a variety of foods.  Give no food more or less distinction beyond being a healthy food or a food just for fun.
Then sit back and watch the show.  I have seen my daughter gravitate to dairy foods, which she had previously shunned, as she reached her pre-teen years.  This is a time when the body needs more calcium and without knowing this she asked for cheese, pizza, and yogurt.  My son has gone in and out of wanting raisinsin his lunch.  When he didn’t want them he told me that he hates raisins.  But then some months later he would ask for them.

Keep doing what you know you should do.  It may take 10 days or even 10 years for the message to sink in.  But once a child chooses to eat a food, they will eat it for a lifetime.  This cannot be said for foods a child is forced to eat.


Beverly Pressey is a Registered
Dietician with Master’s degrees in Education and Nutrition and
specializes in working with care givers of babies and children.  Beverly
has worked with individuals, presented at conferences, consulted with child
care centers, taught continuing education and college classes, and presented at
numerous parent groups.  As an experienced counselor, cook, teacher,
speaker and a mother of 2, she has a realistic understanding of infant/child
eating patterns plus the perspective of a busy parent.  Beverly lives in
Seattle, Washington, find out more about her and her book at




Rewarding with Food

Food is so ubiquitous in our culture, rarely is there a gathering of people where food is not offered, either for free or sold.  Because of this we must be mindful in how and when we offer food, especially fun foods.  We don’t want to turn fun foods into coveted foods.  Healthy eaters eat fun foods, but eat healthy foods most of the time.  Fun foods can become coveted foods when they are offered too infrequently or are used as a reward.

My son played well at his soccer game and his coach said, go out for an ice cream cone.  And we easily could have, it was a warm day, about snack time, and we were in no hurry to get home.  So do I reward th good playing?  Yes, absolutely.  I told my son he should be proud of himself for playing well throughout the game.  I told him I was impressed to see how he kept after the ball,  attempting to score 3 different times as he and the goalie struggled over possession of the ball.  I told about seeing him passing to his team mates and playing his position.  I told him I heard him calling out to his other team mates.  This is one very valuable way to reward your child, without food.  Let them know you saw and heard what they did by retelling the story.  Let them know why they should be proud of themselves for these actions.

Now, you could also go out for ice cream, or not.  But be mindful.  If you only go out for ice cream as a reward for impressive, or unusually good behavior you are using food as an incentive or reward.  If you go out for ice cream, or offer any other fun food, as part of other activities, then the food is not seen as a reward.  Then fun food is just that, food we eat for fun on some occasions, but not necessarily special occasions.

Mixed Marriages

There are many mixed marriages out there.  Carnivores are married to vegans, vegetarians are married to omnivores, raw foodists are married to those who only eat locally grown food, fast food junkies are married to those with lactose intolerance.  So how can a person plan for family meals when each adult has specific food rules, and how to raise the children?

I am all for exposing children to the food traditions, likes and preferences of all adults involved in raising a child.   As the children get older they will ask why certain foods are eaten or not eaten by certain individuals.  This is a great time to discuss food choices, values, traditions and preferences.  Let your children know why you are an omnivore, vegetarian, etc.  Then let them experiment with the foods and ideas presented at your table.   If meat is serve for one family member it should be available for the kids.  If a child wants to follow the lead of the raw food parent, for a meal, a day or forever, let them.   Forcing a child to eat only the foods of one parent or caregiver, when the other parent is eating different foods at the meal can be confusing and sometimes upsetting to a child. Don’t have someone the odd person out.  Don’t extend more or less  value to the choices of one person over the other.

As I have advised against making special food for a child, you don’t want to make special food for a spouse or partner because they only eat raw food.  Make meals that are inclusive.  Have two hearty side dishes, each representing a different food path, or make a main dish representing one type food selection with a side dish, salad or soup representing another.  Perhaps a large raw foods salad, grilled fish and local corn on the cob.  Everyone can eat what meets their own needs.

Enjoy the variety we are fortunate enough to have.  Keep an open mind to the choices of others.  For best healthy eat  a variety of whole simple foods.  Your and your children will thrive,  whatever you choose.

The Newest Baby Gadget on the Block

In the past several weeks several new moms asked me what I thought of the Beaba Babycook.  I didn’t know what it was, and I have still not seen one or used one.  However, I did watch the video supplied by the distributer, Williams Sonoma. I can definitely see the appeal, this machine has a pleasing curved design and is a very happy white with lime green highlights.  Out of the over 200 customer comments, the average score was 4.75 out of 5, so most customers are happy with it as well.

This machine steams and purees small amounts of food, all in the same bowl.  That’s all it does, and it costs $150.00.   I have news for people; with a steaming basket ($8.00) and any pot with a lid, you can steam food just as fast.  If you want the food smoother, place it in a small serving bowl and smash it with a fork, or really purree it with an emersion blender ($20.00-$50.00).  Or use the food processor or blender that you already own.  How hard is that?

Keep in mind, there are many foods that are appropriate for a baby that don’t need steaming.  Try smashing a ripe banana or avocado.  Pour off the juice from (organic if you like) canned fruit (works great with pears, peaches,  and apricots) and blend.  Don’t want canned food, buy a bag of frozen (organic) fruit, remove the appropriate amount and let it defrost for a few minutes. Then blend this or mash with a fork.  This works great with mango, berries and peaches. A baked potato, squash, yam or sweet potato is a great food for a new eater.  Low or no sodium canned, drained beans such as garbanzo, black, navy, red, or white are all great for babies once they have been pureed with an immersion blender, a food processor or a blender.  No blender, thin some refried beans with water and serve.  None of these foods need any heating or reheating.

What many new parents don’t realize is the short amount of time a baby needs purred foods.  A baby who starts to eat solids at 6 months is usually on to semi solids, like over-cooked noodles and carrots, by the time they are 8 months old. By one year most babies are eating finger foods, like dry cereal, grated cheese, fish sticks, tofu, peas and saltines. Additionally, new babies don’t eat too much at any one meal, usually around 1/4 cup of food.  A parent’s enthusiasm for making baby food usually is greater than the amount of purred food a baby will consume in 2 months of eating purees. One medium  squash can easily make 3-4 cups of puree, that’s 12-16 meals.

I applaud parents who want fresh, pure, unadulterated foods for their babies.  These parents are usually concerned not just about their child, but the environment as well.  One way to protect the environment is to not buy a plastic,  made in China kitchen gadget  to make food for a baby for 2 months.

New Foods For New Babies

Food introduction for new parents can be daunting.  There are many books, charts and experts to tell you what to do and how to do it.  But by observing your child you will know more than the experts.  To get started, here are several simple reminders:

  • Make sure your child is ready for solids.  You will know when this happens as your child will, all of a sudden, intently focus on you when you eat.
  • Offer any food that is the proper consistency.  (Think applesauce, or a little thinner.)  You don’t have to start with rice cereal, or offer vegetables before fruits.  Meats or fish, if they are moist and the consistency of applesauce are as good as pureed carrots or blended bananas.  The only food NOT to offer is honey, either room temperature or cooked into a food.  Honey may contain a heat-resistant botulism that can be fatal to infants.
  • It is not your job to get your child to eat.  Just offer a small amount of food on a small spoon—if your child opens his or her mouth, put the food in.  If your child pushed is out with their tongue or gag after 2 tries, stop.  Decrease the thickness of the food. 
  • A grimace is not an indication that your child does not want the food again.  Watch what your child does when you offer the next spoonful.  Only top feeding when your child does not open his or her mouth when the spoon approaches, pushes the food away, or keeps looking away. 
  • Offer only one new food every 3rd day.  After each new food look for signs of allergy, including but not limited to vomiting, rash, swelling of lips or tongue, or diarrhea.  If there is any breathing difficulty, call 911 immediately.
  • Mindful parents don’t entertain at mealtimes and don’t distract the eating process with games, video or music.  Let your child set the pace of the feeding.  Let them decide when they have had enough to eat, whether they ate nothing or more than they have ever eaten before.
  • Your child knows best what they need.  Remember that children’s eating patterns are inconsistent.  Eating a certain amount one day does not mean that the child will usually eat this amount.  Eating or rejecting a food one day does not mean they will eat or reject the same food any other day.  Food acceptance and quantity will change day-to-day and meal to meal.