Make-Believe Mac ‘n Cheese

My son will go through stages where he will eat anything I serve him; and other times, he will only eat macaroni and cheese.  He began to ask for his, “out-da-blu-box, mommy.”  I’m not sure of the who, what, when, where and whys; but somehow I said good bye to organic bunny macaroni and cheese (it’s white).  Except, I can’t buy the blue box.  My daughter is allergic to sodium phosphate.  What is one to do?  I like the whole wheat option and I want real cheese without additives.  Mommylution: make believe mac and cheese.

The following recipe is a happy compromise of  a healthy, cheesy, whole wheat, creamy goodness that will satisfy even the pickiest of eaters.  Added bonus: a whole serving of vegetables too!

Ingredients:

  • 1lb box whole wheat macaroni pasta
  • 4 oz Monterrey Jack cheese or medium cheddar
  • 1 1/2 cups carrots
  • 3 Table spoons milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Directions:

  1. Steam carrots (in baby steamer, microwave, or stove top).  Cook Pasta, set aside.
  2. Add cheese, milk, salt and blend puree consistency.

Sauce Ingredients before blending

 

Make Believe Sauce - After Blending

3. Pour sauce into cooked pasta. Mix well.

 

Cheesy Goodness & Whole Wheat Pasta

4. Serve & Enjoy!

 

Delicious!

Doesn’t it look like the real thing?

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Easy Lunch Ideas for Kids

From the time our children are able to eat something besides milk, we routinely ask ourselves as mothers: what am I going to feed this child?  At the beginning, I would ask myself things like… When should I wean my child off breast milk? What kind of formula should I buy for emergencies? Rice or no rice cereal? Organic food or conventional? How many types of foods should I introduce my baby to at one time? Is it too soon to introduce this… and so on.babyfood

By the time my daughter turned one, I felt it was as much of an accomplishment for me as it was for her to reach that 1st year milestone.  I had not gone mad, crazy, or obsessed with what to feed my child. I just went along and made baby food at home that seemed age appropriate.

The child that ate everything soon became aware that she could have choices.  Welcome to the “picky-eaters” club, I thought.  The search for answers to why my child became so choosy with her food became a quest mission to find creative ways to get her to eat a good, healthy, wholesome diet.

My toughest fight is lunch at school. Other kids bring store-bought lunches, pre-packaged foods, sugary snacks or the school’s fast-food catered lunch.  She constantly asks me to order her lunch from school or she’ll point at a packaged lunch at the grocery and say: “those are the ones my friends have.” I’ve realized that the way to make a child really want something is to make it the forbidden fruit.  My daughter is surrounded by “fun” looking food; and in truth, no kid wants to feel left out.

I’ve since looked at the whole picture and have asked myself: what would make her belong?

Lunch lesson #1: Kids eat with their eyes.

In less than five minutes I create my version of a store bought lunch: real cheese, whole wheat crackers, nitrate free turkey, low sugar drink, fruit, and always a little treat.  An added bonus is a packaged hand wipe since the entire lunch will be eaten with her hands. Happy Lunch Making!

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Get More Bang for Your Buck at the Best Restaurants

 

There’s not much this mama loves more than when it’s restaurant week in Rhode Island.  This little state has so many big offerings when it comes to food, but it often comes with a big price tag too!

Newport Restaurant Week  in RI once again returns, this time, with more than 40 participating restaurants March 25th through April 3rd, 2011. Scallops for dinner

Three-course lunches are just $16, and three-course dinners are $30.  Yum! 

Now…if I can just squeeze in a date night, I’m all set.

Food and Wine – What to Choose

As a mom, wife and entrepreneur, running around in a million different directions is normal. That’s why when it comes to deciding what wine to pair with my meal, I don’t have a lot of time to consider it. And I figured most other people don’t too.

So whether you’re always in a rush, like me, or simply need help determining what wine to pair with your meal, a few simple guidelines can help you make a deicion more quickly.  These are not rules, and I am a firm believer in drinking what you like, but it is true that certain flavors in wine and food pair better together than others. The idea of pairing wine and food is balance and for the two to complement each other.

Match Food Weight with Wine Weight
If you’re preparing, or buying from the market, a heavy dish (ie., lasagna) then you want to choose a wine of equal weight and body (ie. something heavier). You don’t want to select a wine that is light in body because it won’t stand up to the weight of the food. Remember, lighter foods with lighter bodied wines and heavier foods with more full bodied wines.

Consider Food Preparation and Flavor Profiles
Delicately prepared/flavored foods (ie., steamed, poached) pair best with more delicate wines. And the reverse holds true. Sauce and accompaniments are just as, or even more, important than the actual main component. The dominant flavor or sauce in the dish should match the wine. (For example, if you are having turkey with a dried cherry sauce, the sauce is more important to pair with the wine than the turkey itself.)

Match Sweetness
When pairing sweet dishes with wine, remember that the wine needs to be as sweet as or sweeter than the dish at hand.  If it isn’t, then the food can make the wine taste less fruity and astringent. So while you may love chocolate and Sauvignon Blanc, the two together do not mesh.

Balance Acidity
Foods or dishes that are high in acid (ie., tomato-based dishes) pair best with wines of equal acidity. Again, like sweetness above, the wine will taste bitter if the dish is more acidic than the wine.

Consider Flavor Opposites
If you have a spicy dish, often occurring in Asian or Indian cuisine, consider pairing it with a wine that is sweet. The sweetness of the wine will cool the spiciness of the dish. You can match a spicy dish with a spicy wine (ie., Syrah) but the spice in the wine will accentuate the spice in the dish. So if you like that combination then go for it.

As I always say, don’t fret over food and wine pairings. It should be fun. Good company is the most important, but understanding some of the guidelines of food and wine pairings can make a world of difference. Wine consumed by itself will taste completely different when paired with food.  So, have fun and experiment!

 What are some of your favorite pairings?  Do you have any questions about which foods and wines to put together?  I’d love your feedback!

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Fast Food is Not the End of the World (and I teach nutrition)

 oatmeal cookies

The little voice came from the back seat. “Momma, can Cait have your tookie?” We had just left the grocery store and I caved for a box of my favorite cookies. I deftly handed half a cookie back to the eager little hand. A few moments later the little voice pipes up again, “Cait have MORE tookie?” I said no. It was almost lunch time, and the cookies were full of sugar (those are the best ones). I was strong. I held my ground. Even as I looked at the little pout in the backseat. I knew I was right, right?
I was so proud of how we fed our babies. Breastfed until they were old enough to drink whole milk. We made all our own baby food (thanks to a great ‘family’ farm). From the start there was a fruit or vegetable at every meal. When my oldest daughter was young she could stare down even the toughest of competitors for a piece of broccoli.AMKB brocoli                    

That is why, I can’t believe I am admitting to this…I have a dark secret. Are you ready…
I love Taco Bell. Yup, that is the secret. I love it. Now I know all about the controversy. Thirty percent what? I don’t care. I have taken classes in nutrition, I teach parents about good nutrition for their children. I read blogs about nutrition. And yet…I still love Taco Bell. Why? And even worse…this could put me in parental lockup…I feed Taco Bell to my children. And they like it.
My oldest child was four before he really enjoyed ‘fast food’. Then each successive child was younger and younger until my forth gummed French fries. I am not saying we follow a drive-thru diet, it is only now and then. (I promise)  I still cannot get over the guilt and shame that I feel when I feed my children fast food. Why have we put such pressure on ourselves as parents to always be perfect and always do what is ‘right’? Who decides the rules?

 I was sitting at the soccer field one breezy evening with two of my children while one practiced. Another was practicing a different sport at another field. We had just come from three different places to get here. And I fed my kids chicken nuggets (with apple slices and milk). One of the other parents, in front of several others, commented “Haven’t you seen Food Inc? Don’t you know what you are doing to your children?” I politely replied that no, I had not seen the now infamous documentary (nor will I) and that we had a busy day. Her reply to me was “If you think you need to feed your kids fast food, then you are not managing your time well”. Well now, I don’t think I will recite that quote in my next parenting class.  Grr…
Every topic related to raising ‘our’ kids is open to interpretation. I put ‘our’ in quotes because we all have an impact on any child around us, whether our own or not. As parents, we make the best decisions we can to raise our kids. We cannot put blinders on them and completely block out the outside world and its influences. It doesn’t matter if it is what we put on their plates, how we clothe their bodies, or where they lay their heads at night, there will always be someone who feels the need to judge our choices. How we handle it is our parenting ‘legacy’.
Now I am not saying that everyone needs to feed their kids fast food. Just don’t look at me cross because I do. How about we make a pact…you don’t judge me and I won’t judge you…fair enough? We the ones that love ‘our’ kids need to stick together. It really does take a village, after all.

What are your thoughts on fast food?  Are you strictly against it or do you think everything is okay in moderation?  I’d love to get your feedback!

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