Is Your Tot Refusing to Eat? Entice Him With One of These Dips.

When Mason’s being a picky little pill at mealtime, I add a dip to the mix, and watch him dig in. Last night, for example, he was more interested in his toy cars than dinner, so I added a dish of hummus to his tray, and suddenly he was gobbling up the strawberries, blueberries, grapes, and multi-grain crackers on his plate. (Sadly the pasta sat untouched, but you can’t win ’em all!) Sometime he eats dip by the spoonful, but since we give him healthy dips, I don’t mind. These ideas have worked for us. Any of your own ideas to add?

Eggplant Dip — Multi-grain crackers, bell pepper, tomatoes, chicken.

Cucumber-Yogurt Dip — Bell pepper, carrots, cucumber, tomatoes, chicken.

Ketchup — Mason likes everything better with ketchup.
(I like Annie’s natural ketchup because it doesn’t have sugar or corn syrup.)

Hummus — Try it with chicken, bell peppers, carrots, cucumber, and apple slices.
Make it or buy it at the store; we like Sabra’s classic and roasted red pepper hummus

Peanut Sauce — Try it on chicken and lamb.

Guacamole — Try mild to medium guacamole on carrot sticks, toasted pita wedges, and tomatoes.

Photo: Eggplant Dip, BHG.com

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First Girl Scout Cookie

Mason tried his first Girl Scout Cookie, a rich and chocolaty thin mint, over the weekend. In the few seconds that it took him to devour it, he managed to cover himself in chocolate, from his cheeks to the tips of his toes–no easy feat considering that he was sitting in a high chair. I think we had as much fun watching him as he had enjoying the treat. The look on his face was absolute bliss, and I’ll never forget it.

Girl Scouts were a big part of my childhood. I was in the local troupe with some of the other neighborhood girls, and we sold the cookies door-to-door every year. Like Mason, my first GSC was a thin mint at home, and I loved every bite of that chocolatey goodness. It was fun to relive that childhood memory though my son. (If only they made gluten-free cookies, I could still enjoy them…hint, hint Girl Scout Cookie Bakers!)

Where were you when you had your first Girl Scout Cookie moment with your kid?

Gluten-Free French Toast From Your Freezer

Lately we’ve been in a breakfast rut. I feel like we’ve always eating some combination of these breakfast ideas or muffins, and Mason seems as bored with our staples as I am. This morning I decided to make, er, heat up frozen, gluten-free French toast sticks that I discovered the last time I was at the grocery store. They toasted up crisp and were lightly spiced with cinnamon. I added a little bit of organic maple syrup…delish! Even Mason ate almost his entire serving. They’re not a replacement for homemade French toast, which we’ll keep making on the weekends, but they’re a great solution for us on busy weekday mornings. Yum!

What are your go-to breakfast ideas for weekday mornings?

Gnocchi with Broccoli, Peas, and Cheese Sauce


Looking for a yummy, easy lunch idea for your tot? Perhaps the dish I fed Mason today will inspire you. He’s been eating a lot of pasta, so I decided to make a easy veggie toss with gnocchi (tiny potato dumplings) for a change. The gnocchi and veggies all came from my freezer (super convenient), and I was able to steam everything together in minutes. Annabel Karmel’s rich, homemade cheese sauce only took about five minutes to stir together; you can also use tomato sauce or pesto as a topper. For added convenience, store-bought variations of both work just as well. Enjoy!

Ingredients

Gnocchi
Peas, frozen or fresh
Broccoli, frozen or fresh
1/3 cup grated Cheddar cheese
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 cup milk

Directions

1. Prepare cheese sauce; we like the basic one from Annabel Karmel’s Top 100 Baby Purees: Melt the butter in a saucepan, stir in the flour to make a smooth paste, and cook for 1 minute. Gradually stir in the milk, bring to a boil, and cook for a few minutes over low heat until thickened and smooth. Stir in the grated cheese until melted. (Recipe makes 8 ounces of sauce.) Set aside.

2. To cook the gnocchi, follow instructions on the package. Set aside.

3. Steam broccoli and peas. Bring water to a boil, reduce heat, and cook together for 3-5 minutes. Drain veggies and rinse with cold water.

4. Mix gnocchi, cheese sauce, and veggies together. Serve immediately.

Toddler Favorite: Japanese Egg-Salad Sandwich

Best for Babies 12+ Months

Last week I asked for your toddler’s fave recipes via the High Chair Times Facebook page. I’m hoping to start a weekly or monthly series, “Toddler Favorite,” in which I highlight some of the special dishes you make for your tots. After all, I’m constantly searching for fresh, fun recipe ideas for Mason–and since many of you mamas are on the lookout for new ideas for your tots, I thought that perhaps we could inspire each other. Think of it as a mom-to-mom recipe swap! (Email your ideas to me through this blog; your recipe doesn’t have to be original–but if it’s not, please give me the source so it can be credited properly.)

The first recipe in this series is a Japanese Egg-Salad Sandwich from Aesook, a super talented (and sweet) mom whose son Logan is in Mason’s class at school (that’s Aesook and her little man, right). A little about Aeesok: She was born and raised in the port city of Yokohama, Japan, and she married and moved to the United States in 2005. Today she’s a Web Designer and Developer here in New York City, and she runs the gorgeous Asian-fusion cooking blog Working Mom Cook Fusion So many cute, creative ideas. Be sure to check it out when you have a sec.

Aesook tells me that little Logan loves this egg-salad sandwich for breakfast, and she sometimes makes it into a teddy bear shape, or wraps it in plastic wrap decorated with polka dots. Logan’s daddy loves the recipe, too. Looking forward to making it for my family this weekend!

The recipe:

Ingredients (serves2)

1/2 Tablespoon brown rice syrup (sugar)
1/2-1 teaspoon soy sauce*
2 Tablespoons mayonnaise
1 Tablespoon Japanese cucumber minced
1-2 Tablespoons onion minced
2 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and crushed
4 slices white sandwich bread

Directions

1.Sprinkle salt lightly over cucumber and onion and leave them until soften.

2.Gently squeeze the marinating liquid from the cucumbers and onion.

3.Mix all the ingredients together.

4.Spread egg mixture on bread.

5.Trim crusts from bread.

*Note: Soy sauce (“shoyu” in Japanese) is a fermented sauce made from soybeans (soya beans). I usually get organic soy sauce from asian grocery super market.

Have a toddler-friendly recipe to share? E-mail me through this blog.

Feeding Baby: Are Finger Foods Healthier Than Purees?

It’s no secret that I love to puree. It’s my favorite step in the whole baby food-making process. So I was surprised to discover that a new British study found that my baby may have been privy to  extra health benefits if I had skipped the purees and moved straight from bottle to finger foods. According to the British Medical Journal, researchers examined the eating habits of 155 British children and learned that self-fed babies eat better, preferring carbohydrates such as pasta, breads, and rice, versus their puree-fed counterparts who favor sweets. They also determined that self-feeding may help ward off obesity since babies can stop eating when they’re full; spoon-fed babies may get an extra spoonful or two than they really need or want. Of the babies studied, 93.5 percent never had a choking incident.

Granted, my puree-fed child (that’s him, covered in pureed avocado when he was six-months-old) is going through a applesauce-raisin-and-graham-cracker-only phase this week, so it’s hard for me to say whether he truly prefers grains to cookies, and I have to work to make him gain weight, but maybe I would notice some divine difference in his eating habits if I had resisted the allure of my blender. At least I can take comfort in knowing that both puree-fed and self-fed babies studied exhibited the same degree of pickiness (see Bug’s menu of choice above…sigh).

Overall, I think this study does raise some compelling points about self-feeding. It could be healthier for your child, and it’s certainly less time-consuming for you. A friend of a friend’s baby transitioned from breastfeeding to whole fruits and veggies beautifully, and my friend talked about following in her footsteps. As a first-time mom, I didn’t have the guts to pitch Mason’s carrot puree and hand him a carrot instead–but I admired what I considered to be brave and maybe equal parts daring and crazy. (Mason once choked on pureed chicken and I was so traumatized I double-pureed all of his meats from then on!) Now that I’m braver and more experienced at feeding babies, I see the wisdom in giving them whole foods first to see how they respond instead of automatically starting with purees. At the very least, it’s one less transition for them to make. Would you have felt comfortable giving your five-month-old finger foods the first time you introduced her to solids?

Throwing Food: Not Cool, Mason. Not. Cool.

Last night I sat and watched as Mason tossed–no, flung–his steamed broccoli, piece by piece, onto the floor. He grinned while he did it, and he didn’t even pause when I implored him to stop. He simultaneously ate mac ‘n’ cheese and cantaloupe with his other hand, so I knew he was still hungry. (We need to keep his weight up so I let him hang on to his plate; if he weren’t eating I’d take it away.) He just didn’t want the broccoli on his plate, simple as that. When he’s in an especially charitable mood, he places food that he doesn’t want in my hand and folds my fingers over instead of throwing it (a little quirk he started over Christmas, at my in-law’s house), which I find funny and preferable to the alternative. Spending 10 minutes after every meal on my hands and knees scrubbing the floor is not my idea of fun.

Truth is, it makes me crazy when Mason throws his food. It’s like tossing money down the drain, and it makes a mess. Also it irks me to spend time preparing a meal and then watch half of it end up under his high chair, in his toy pen, and in a million other places that I won’t see until we have company over. Last Sunday, for example, I suddenly noticed a little stash of dried peas behind the end table, about 10 minutes after our friends Ali and Doug arrived, and about two minutes after Mason popped one in his mouth. I had to fish the shriveled pea out of his mouth in front of our guests, who now probably think I’m the worst housekeeper in the world. At least Bug didn’t bite me. I try not to freak out when he throws food, and I definitely never laugh when he does it–I don’t want to encourage him and I suspect he already thinks it’s a game–but it’s so frustrating.

On Saturday I shared a food-throwing incident on the  High Chair Times Facebook page, and several of you said you could relate. “Oh my goodness, that drives me INSANE!!!” Kate said.  “More food goes on the floor than it does in [my daughter’s]  mouth,” Saranda added. Yep, that happens in our household, too, Saranda. Lindsay got it exactly right when she said, “I would swear my son thinks that food throwing is the next Olympic sport!” So does mine, Lindsay, I feel you. Jennifer, on the other hand, said she’s rolling with it: “At least [my] dog is enjoying it.” Looks like Mason’s going to get a dog sooner than we had planned! Thanks, Jennifer:)

Any tips for putting an end to food throwing? Want to vent about your own food throwing frustrations? Dish here!

Photo: Shutterstock, Picsfive