When I used to think of a farmers market, I thought of the many fruits and veggies sold during the summer months, but that’s it. However, I took my kids to the market last weekend, and there were so many delicious veggies that are harvested in the late summer/early fall! I was so surprised! I talked to the vendor and he said that pumpkins, squash, green beans, and eggplant are just a few of the vegetables that are best harvested during this time of year. Even better, I could use my farmers market WIC checks to buy them! I can’t believe I just figured this out! I’ve missed so many chances to make healthy, delicious meals for my kids because I didn’t know this. Don’t make the same mistake I did! Use your WIC checks at your local farmers market this weekend!
Let's Eat! Archives - MOMcircle
About once each week, we have a family style meal of finger foods spread out on a large cutting board. It looks a little like a fancy appetizer platter, but is so simple, healthy, and inexpensive to make. I like to use whatever I have on hand, which generally includes lean lunch meats (warmed up for pregos and toddlers), sliced or cubed low-fat cheese, whole grain crackers, grapes or strawberries (or any other cut up fruit), and raw veggies (we like carrots or cauliflower with just a little bit of ranch ;)). The beauty of this for your little ones is three-fold: Instead of getting a plated meal, with portions chose by mom or dad, they are listening to their bodies and hunger cues, stopping when they are full.
They also get to see their parents and siblings make healthy choices. Again, since it’s not a pre-portioned plate, they are allowed to choose their own foods, which can open up even the pickiest eater to try something new. Finally, we watch as our kiddos build their motor skills and hear them discussing the best combinations to try. In other words, we witness them connecting with others. #Familymealtime becomes an interactive event, filled with healthy, kid-friendly foods and conversation. And, it has a five-star added bonus: No cooking and no dishes to wash!
Blended families are complicated in the best of circumstances, and disagreements over where, when, and how family meals happen may seem like the least of a co-parent’s worries. However, when our electronic-free, relaxing meal times turn into a circus-like free-for-all, this momma sometimes finds herself at wit’s end! But then I remember the most important thing: We are together. We are talking about our day and connecting, practicing manners, and making memories. Her stepdad and I are showing our values to this wide-eyed little person who is absorbing every word and action. None of us want #familymealtime to be all discipline because they are only little once and therefore life should be a fun adventure for them. So, I’ve found that if I turn on a little upbeat music during dinner, we are all more relaxed, and when she breaks out into an impromptu dining room dance party, I’m more prone to join in.
Remember that your words as a mom are powerful. I have to keep reminding myself of this. When I call my daughter a “picky eater,” she becomes a picky eater because it discourages her from trying new things. When I call her a “veggie monster,” she is more likely to try the vegetables I offer. Calling your child a picky eater may discourage them from trying new things at all.
You know your babies better than anyone else, so if you’re offering foods (like vegetables) you know they won’t eat, try hiding it in foods you know they like. My daughter doesn’t usually eat spinach, but she LOVES omelets. I offered my little “veggie monster” a ham, cheese, and spinach omelet and told her “I made it pretty” and she ate the whole thing and loves spinach now! The next time, I snuck spinach leaves into our homemade pizza and she ate it happily. If I would’ve said “I know you won’t eat this because you’re picky and don’t like spinach,” I wouldn’t have gotten her to eat it.
Someday, not today, I will tell her exactly what it is. For now, I know that I am giving her the gift of a lifetime. I used the power of my words, and the trick of adding veggies to something she already likes, to create a “veggie monster”.
I love it when my family is able to sit down together for a meal. We’re able to sit, talk, and laugh while hearing about each other’s week. We stay pretty busy so our family mealtime is usually only once or twice a week. Something my husband and I do so that we’re able to give our girls our full attention is put our phones up during mealtime. In this day and age, we feel the need to be attached to our phones — sometimes missing what’s right in front of us.
Since we started putting our phones away, our conversations are more intimate. I feel more in-tune with my girls’ successes and/or struggles at school. It makes me wonder what I missed when I was on my phone at the table. My daughter came home with a paper she made for Thanksgiving. It was a list of things she was thankful for. It said, “Thank you, mommy, for feeding me and talking to me and loving me.” This was reassurance that I was doing a good job.
Family meals are important to me. In fact, I wish they happened more often. Between work, taking my daughters to dance class, and going to school, it’s challenging to do all the cooking and cleaning myself. If you’re like me, I try to take on EVERYTHING by myself, and I struggle with allowing my daughters to help out in the kitchen. In the back of my mind, I know this helps them build self-esteem and teaches them how to be independent, but as they’re asking me if they can help, all I can think of is how big of a mess they’ll make and how much longer it’s going to take.
That’s not the kind of mom I want to be. 20 years from now, I want my kids to think, “How long did Mom say to cook this?” not “Mom never let me help with anything!“ So this weekend, I decided to change that. I named one of my kids the cooking helper and the other one the cleaning helper (because they also need to do the dirty work behind cooking) and making it a rule to switch duties with every family meal. Not only am I teaching my girls how to be responsible, but they’re also learning healthy recipes while spending quality time with mama.
Life is so busy and now that my son is in school and plays organized sports, it’s busier than ever. This is why I put such a strong emphasis on family dinners and spending time together around the table. This is the best time for us all to slow down and dedicate time to each other to find out how everyone’s day was, ask questions, and have conversations to make sure we’re all on the same page. Some of my favorite memories as a child happened around the dinner table, and I want to provide the same wonderful memories for my family. Our dinner table is a safe place for everyone, and I will always make sure family mealtime never gets put on the back burner.
Did you know that tomatoes are high in the carotenoid Lycopene and that eating foods with carotenoids can lower your risk of cancer?