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Kid Mealtime - Healthy Meals from a Busy Mom

Posted Nov 08 2012 12:01pm
I am been a mom for just over 4.5 years and I gotta say, some of those things I said pre-mommyhood just aren't sticking. I once claimed I would never feed a Lunchable to my child! The idea appalled me not only because of the excess packaging but I questioned the truth health of the meal. Four and a half years later, ummm....yeah, I have fed a Lunchable here and there to darling daughter but I still have criteria. It needs to be the snack packs that have no candy and no sugary drink. And it happens on rare occasions....such as those times of the year when work has me working extra long and I just am plum tuckered out. Other than that, I think our family is pretty healthy in how we eat.

My meal rules are simple. You don't have to eat everything on your plate (as I want darling daughter to learn when she is full and not keep eating just because there is more food on her plate) but you do need to try everything on your plate. And I don't forbid foods but am educating darling daughter on what each food has to offer such as calcium for strong bones, protein for strong muscles, antioxidants to keep us healthy, and sugary...this is only an indulgence. I feel learning that it is okay to eat sugar in moderation is important as I knew kids growing up who were forbidden to eat sugar and then devoured it like crazy once college came....and had negative side effects like battling weight issues.

That all sounds fine and dandy but what does meal time look like around my house?

Breakfast: I am often out of the house when darling daughter eats breakfast and on weekends with her I really do try to make it special. Banana pancakes are one of her favorites and I love making them because she will run away from a banana any other day. But mushed up inside of a pancake equals pure delight! And yep, I sneak them in smoothies here and there. But on most days she loves a bowl of cereal and has pretty good taste going for "adult" cereals. Yes, she is tempted by those colorful boxes of colorful, sugary kid cereals and yes, when Grandma was here she was treated to Lucky Charms. And guess what? That box was never finished and as much as I hate food going to waste I couldn't implement the rule to finish the cereal box before opening a new one. Who wants to enforce eating sugar?

Lunch: Preschool means making lunches and making lunches takes time as I make them almost daily for myself and darling daughter. I do strive to use leftovers from dinner in our lunches but this takes preparation and foresight as I make lunches before I make the night's dinner. But keep in mind, leftovers don't have to necessarily been eaten for lunch the next day. The day after works and I find darling daughter likes those meals spread out a bit more...and who wouldn't? But her typical lunch may be a half of a turkey and cheese sandwich - must be with mustard. Some veggies - not cooked please and that includes mushrooms. She never wants those cooked and I hear her teachers are quite delighted to see her devouring her raw mushrooms slices at lunch. And sometimes something crunchy like a few pretzels, some rice chips with seaweed on them, etc. Yes, my child LOVES nori....she didn't acquire that taste from me. In fact, I really don't know where she learned she liked it but who am I to argue with eating nutrient-rich dried seaweed?

Snacks: She gets one at school from the snack calendar that students provide on assigned days. The school picks the snacks, the parents deliver. And you know what, they are all healthy except for the once a month birthday celebration where they get a little cake. They implemented this to decrease the amount of individual celebrations and cupcakes coming to school. Ironically, at school darling daughter seems to love the bananas and peanut butter she claims to not like at home. Go figure! And here they get some juice but I know they buy low sugar varieties. At home she tends to like crunchy snacks so perhaps cheese and crackers, pretzels, and the occasional bag of chewies for some shopping trips. I really try to encourage healthy snacking as she sees me eating a lot (marathon training makes me quite hungry) and I want her to establish healthy eating based on her needs so portion size is really important! Think just 4-5 small pretzels. P.S. I really do enjoy making lunches more now that we have matching Laptop Lunch kits !

Dinner: I make a weekly menu and try to incorporate a variety of foods and vegetarian days. The hits are turkey meat balls, mini wontons, broccoli, peas, cranberry sauce, pumpkin soup , lentil soup , spaghetti (although currently darling daughter is in a no sauce please stage), and enchiladas  (my guest post to another site-I really need to add this to my site and update). I am notorious for sneaking veggies into anything and everything even though darling daughter does love veggies. And I have found the key to a less stressful mealtime is to include darling daughter in the process from selecting veggies at the store or local farmer's market to prepping the food. Once I got consistent with this she is better at dropping her toys and running happily to the table. I think the main reason is because she knows she will love it! And on Girls' Nite when dear hubby is working later, I often take it easy and make nachos for us or nachos for me and a treat for her. Last night she delighted in some Princess soup, which by the way, half went into her lunch for today and I only give her a portion of the broth to cut down on salt. P.S. Click on links above for recipes.

Homemade with less sugar
Drinks: I pretty much offer two drinks. Water or milk and nope, she is not allowed to drink milk all day. Her cups hold about 6 oz at a time, if full, so usually that is the limit to milk but some days she is just craving it more so I allow another partially full cup....and we drink fat-free milk and sometimes soymilk. She loves water, especially with ice, and will drink it plain or with lemon, lime, or mint. She always gets water packed for her school lunches. And what about juice? It is a rarity in our house but if she does get some, like when she was sick recently and wasn't drinking anything else, I dilute it with water 50:50. And honestly, I think it tastes a bit better this way...think flavored water.

Daily Gratitude: I am thankful that this morning's cane fire wasn't anywhere near where I needed to drive. It is nice to avoid the smoke.
Daily Affirmation: My body is healthy and functioning in a very good way.
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