Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Let's Talk. Food.

We have triplets. Toddler triplets.

I'm not sure if I've mentioned that before.

They are 20-months old and at an age where they eat anything and everything in sight. Sometimes, the things that they ingest are MEANT to be consumed. Sometimes not. But, I've already spent enough time dwelling on that.

The point is ... we are always on the look out for healthy food to feed these children whose appetites are increasing.


Three small children, who I could once nourish entirely from my breastmilk, are now eating us out of house and home. We went to Costco today and spent TWO HUNDRED DOLLARS on food. Mostly fresh fruit. All of this fruit will be gone by Monday of next week. I can guarantee it.

Our children love fresh fruit. Pineapple, apples, oranges, mango, strawberries, blueberries, bananas, peaches, pears, kiwis, watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew, grapes. Did I miss anything? If so - they love that, too. Unless it persimmons.

Since we've weaned the babies from bottles, I think that William's body composition has gone from 98% milk to 99% fresh fruit. That's pretty much all he will eat.

The girls, however, will eat anything that we put in front of them. But as the babies have grown older - they have become better at eating. As such, my dilemma is, what do we feed our children that is:

1) Healthy

2) Fast & easy

I fear that question is an oxymoron.

When they were first learning to eat solids - I was extremely cautious about what I fed them. If they were eating grains - they were whole grains. Everything was fresh. No canned foods. I tried to do organic as much as I could. But within reason. I couldn't see spending $4.00 for a pound of bananas when I could spend $0.88 for the non-organic variety.

Does this make me a bad mother? Let's not go there. Please, forget I asked.

Slowly, but surely ... the following "foods" have crept in to our repertoire. It all started at Costco with a bag of Famous Amos chocolate chip cookies. No kidding.

I'm truly embarrassed admitting this, because these foods are the epitome of processed "crap" I swore up and down and a million times around - I'd NEVER feed our children.
  • Kraft Macaroni and Cheese. It gets worse. Kraft Easy Mac because I'm usually too strapped for time to boil a pot of water.
  • Hot Dogs. The good news is - they are turkey franks. Although, I have NO idea what part of the turkey these things come from.
  • Tyson Teriyaki Chicken. A close examination of this "chicken" reminds me of a sponge.
  • Yummy Yummy Dino Buddies Chicken Breast Nuggets. The monster sized value pack from Costco. What are they? Breaded chicken sponges, in the form of dinosaurs.
  • Eggo Waffles. Need I say more?
  • Aunt Jemima syrup on top of those waffles, noted above. I actually spent $11.00 on a small bottle of "real" maple syrup and Charlie - who is FROM Canada - didn't like it. He said it was too runny and didn't have the "flavor" he liked. I think the "flavor" he is referring to is derived from corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, cellulose gum, caramel color, salt, sodium benzoate, sorbic acid, artificial flavors and sodium hexametaphosphate devised by a team of highly educated chemical engineers.
  • Peanut butter. Jiffy. I tried the "real" kind - and it was GROSS. We eat 56 ounces of this stuff, each and every month. I know that this volume will only go UP with time. Isn't peanut butter a staple in every child's home?
  • Kirkland Brand Chemically Altered American Sliced Cheese. I don't think that's what it says on the package - but that's what it is. Charlie has recently informed me that this cheese, which we use at least 3 to 4 times a week in our babies' grilled cheese sandwiches, is translucent. The orange is most definitely a color that they add.
  • Heinz Ketchup. OK, that's not too bad, provided you eat it in moderation. Our children actually scoop it up on their spoons and eat it like it's soup.
  • I'm sure there's more, the kind of stuff that would make you gasp "Oh my HEAVENS! Not THAT!!!" But, it's late and my mind is foggy from the day.
We do TRY to provide healthy foods. We'll make baked spaghetti, using whole grain pasta. I make the "real" oatmeal - the kind where you have to actually boil water. We make omelettes and toss in lots of vegetables. We try to give them fresh vegetables whenever we can, including home-made french fries (Yukon Gold potatoes diced and baked with a dash of salt) and raw corn-on-the-cob. But, I fear we are stuck in a bind of giving them the same food ALL the time. Quesadillas. PB&J. Grilled cheese. With varying "side" dishes, that come from a can and/or involve mixing a packet of "flavoring."

Now for the irony. Our children, eat far better than we do. They get three (3) square meals a day, plus snacks. Meanwhile, our dinner tonight consisted of left over Yummy Yummy Dino Buddies Chicken Breast Nuggets, popcorn, a bottle of Chardonnay ... a bowl of Rocky Road ice cream for me, and an ice cream "drumstick" for Charlie. You don't believe me? Here's the proof.

So indulge me. Please. Feed me your ideas on healthy food - easy to whip up - that I can feed our growing children. And us.

Or, at least tell me that feeding them this *stuff* isn't all that bad.


  1. I guess they haven't been around "Aunt Grace" lately...

    Just recently my Brian started to "request" "chocolate Milk" and "ice cream". When denied the poor deprived child screamed for his Beloved Nana to come to his rescue! "She'll give it to me! I want my CHOCOLATE!"

    Now you know my Mother alias Aunt Grace, also known as Nana who when she was dieting WE ALL had to diet!
    Only advice I have is to keep them away from Aunt Grace's Carolina Chocolate Cake and you might do okay.
    Cute Pic's and story. Love Ya.

  2. The best thing my pediatrician ever told me was, "The bottom line, is they have to eat." That was when I was crying because my infant was dehydrated and wouldn't nurse and I had called La Leche League for breastfeeding help and they told me that I needed to walk around all day without a shirt on and my baby in a sling. What?! When my baby started peeing crystals, the guilt about giving him formula *gasp* dwindled. He later nursed just fine, and - despite all the talk of babies not being able to go from breast to bottle interchangeably, he did. THAT in itself was a blessing.

    My point is that we set such a high bar for ourselves, and we naturally want only the best for our kids. But the bottom line, is that we do the best we can, and really it all comes out in the wash, so to speak.

    The other best thing I've heard about feeding kids came from my mother-in-law, who said, don't stress about what they've eaten TODAY, but look at their consumption over a FEW DAYS, or a WEEK - you will be surprised at how much balance is really in their diet. It's true. And if you ever look back and, see, whoa! they need less easy mac and more broccoli, then you can make little adjustments.

    It sounds like you are on the right track with fresh fruit. Make sure they get their protein somehow (that's the tough one with my kids), and don't fret about the processed crap - just balance it out with nutritious options. I've seen so many times - the kids that are allowed no "crap" at home are the ones that literally gorge themselves sick at birthday parties or load up on pure junk food on school trips because there was no flexibility or "fun" food at home.

    One book that I REALLY enjoyed when my first boy was your kids' age was "First Meals" by Annabel Karmel. Some of the food was a little "froofy" for my time schedule, but what I loved the most was all the information she gave about the age groups, what to reasonably expect in the way of pickiness and portion size, and some practical ways to make nutritious food appealing to little one. I highly recommend it.

    Wow - sorry to blab so much - can you tell I've been known to obsess about the whole food thing a little?

    Good luck - and just Relax. The fact that you care about it and notice what they're eating is the big thing.

  3. when I was weaning my first baby from breastmilk to solids she was old (15months ish) because I was scared about having to feed her. Silly?, maybe normal. We all want what's best. Sounds to me like you're doing pretty good! Fresh fruit is great. My kids love veggies and fish and almost anything I fix. Mac and Chesse, PBJ, and even (GASP) sugar cereal, are staples around here next to the "healthy" stuff. Maybe variety is the answer?

  4. That sounds just like my house. My twins are now 2 and they could live on fruit alone. I thought our Costco bill was high, but with 3 toddlers, my hat is off to you. It sounds like you are doing great.

  5. Jenna-
    Our pediatrician said that at this age, kids only really get one good meal a week. If there was an olympic sport for food tossing, Shayna would win a gold medal! Good Luck!

  6. Trader Joes has LOTS of great pre-prepared foods and even more selection in the frozen section... we've tried everything from mini-quiches to dim sum to thai chicken rolls.
    also, the frozen fruits and veggies are great quality, can be microwaved quickly and tossed together with any of the various sauces TJ's has!
    Try them out and good luck!


  7. I don't have to much advice, because, honestly, you are doing a great job. I also wanted you to know, that you aren't alone in your efforts and guilt to feed your kids right. :)

  8. I feel like I'm in the same boat as you. My twins have almost the same taste as yours too. Our meals consist of easy mac and cheese ('s quick and easy), Campbell's chicken noodle-o's, turkey spaghetti, eggs, toast, Tyson chicken bites...lots of fruits and some veggies (broccoli, corn and green beans go over HUGE in our family). All I can say is that our boys eat better than my 8 yr. old daughter EVER did. She still won't eat a single vegetable or fruit. Just so you feel a little comfort, my daughter is a very healthy, muscular little girl. We just try to make sure she eats protein and pasta, drinks her juice and takes a vitamin. Things could definitely be a LOT worse. You're doing a great job!

  9. Sounds like a great menu. Tonight, I am having Ham and scalloped potatoes. I must confess I bought the package of dried scalloped potatoes and doctored it up with veggies and then added Ham. Next I will make some cheese and ham Quiche.
    I just made a salad of Mozorella cheese, fresh basil and tomatoe, with a sprinkle of olive oil.
    I love to get the big meats and then make 10 things out of it.
    Next comes ham and bean soup.

  10. Like the other comments said, don't worry about it too much. At least they're getting their "five a day." Some kids won't even eat five things a day.

    By the way, I love the toys in the back ground of the high chair pictures. I think I would feel right at home at your house:)!

  11. Fake maple syrup? How can my brother do that? Try the real stuff one more time . . . please!

    Don't underestimate Eggo. The company makes good whole wheat waffles and multi-grain waffles.

    Have you tried the "Caesar-salad chicken" from Trader Joes? It's great for anything in which you would use chunks of delicious, cooked, seasoned chicken.

    Another idea is to go to a good food store and buy items from their pre-made dinner selections, such as cooked salmon, salads, etc. You deserve to take this "shortcut"!

    Actually, I think you are doing an awesome job of feeding the children. How many other kids out there eat so much fruit, yogurt, whole wheat breads, and peanut butter?

    Much love, Aunt Susan (formerly the sister of your husband who does not know about good maple syrup!)

  12. I think we all have that dilemma of what to feed our kids. You are doing a great job getting them to eat!!

  13. P.S. If you do nothing else, pick up a roasted chicken from your local grocery. They are inexpensive and very good!

  14. I think you're doing great! Sliced turkey from the deli is healthy and quick. My daughter loves canned black beans, rinsed and smashed a bit with a fork. Really healthy source of protein. But, she also eats (is given way too much processed sliced cheese, canned ravioli and vienna sausages. Don't beat yourself up, or I'll have to feel guilty, too!

  15. Jen - oh, how I envy that your children eat so much! And such great variety! And so much fruit!! My son, who is two won't eat anything but apples! And even those - just a few slices a week... ughhhh

    If they like hot dogs - there are some organic natural chicken or turkey hot dogs at Whole Foods.

    Have you tried making a large batch of some meal that you like and freeze a part of it? I know - making more takes more time - which you don't have - I know...

    My twins have just discovered Eggo waffles (whole wheat - does that count?)- please don't tell me they're that bad... please... Oh, I forgot to mention - I put Nutella on the waffles... how bad is that?????????

    SO please don't beat yourself up - you're doing a great job! Much better than I - and I only have twins...

  16. You are not a bad mother! Kyle somedays will only eat popcorn, no matter how hard I try to get him to eat meat, veggies and fruit. I have found that he loves to snack on peas........the frozen bag kind. We get a large bag of peas and scoop out a small handful, add just a small dollop of margarine and a 1/4 pinch of salt....and microwave for approx. a minute. He will sometimes eat two bowls of them. You might want to try that as a quick veggie snack.

    He also loves raisins and wheat thins. You may have to broaden your horizon on choices, but you can still stay true to yourself and the kids with healthy ones.