I Made My Son A Picky Eater

This post is sponsored by Tyson Chicken Nuggets but it is the true story of how I made my son a picky eater.  Ok, not entirely but some days it certainly feels that way.  Tyson Chicken  - A great start to a healthy plate.

eating vegetablesMy oldest son is a very picky eater.  But he wasn’t always.  We found out about his multiple food allergies when he was just one year old.  I immediately became very aware of what was going in to his body.  And because dealing with all of these allergies was all new to me, I kept his diet very simple so that I didn’t  give him something that would hurt him.  His diet was pretty much vegan, but with lean meats.  He ate tons of fruits and veggies.  He liked beets and had lentils several times a week.  I packed all his meals, even when we ate out in restaurants, and he always had all the food groups represented, well at least the ones his little body could tolerate.

thumbs down vegetablesBut then something changed.  I got tired.  And maybe a little lazy.  And I certainly felt like he wasn’t getting to eat like a normal kid.  I remained committed to his whole food diet for as long as I could.  He didn’t have his first Oreo cookie until he was 4.  But that may have been the start of my downward nutrition spiral.  I saw how happy he was with that chemical filled cookie.  It is amazing what he can eat, without consuming dairy, that seems like it should have dairy in it.  That “buttery” taste, does not in fact, come from butter.     But as I felt more comfortable with him eating these convenient, joy-inducing foods, he began to shun the whole foods he had always done so well with.

picky eater postThis is what an ideal meal would look like for him.  I am happy to say that this is NOT what he eats at a meal, but snack time certainly contains a sugary carb.  Yes, I could put my foot down and only give him those whole foods we started out with.  I am the parent, I get that.  But when I see other kids getting to eat donuts on Sunday morning, or an ice cream cone on a Saturday afternoon, my heart hurts for him that he doesn’t get that opportunity.  So I overcompensate.  My main focus now is getting him to eat a decent amount of protein.  He doesn’t enjoy chicken (except nugget form – but even then he is very choosey about which nugget he will eat) but is limited in the dipper department.  While I make sure to make the few meals that he does actually enjoy each week, I always try new recipes in hopes of finding another meal he might like.  I cook about 5-6 nights a week.  There are certainly times when I need something convenient to feed him but want to make sure is healthy.  Tyson Chicken Nuggets are perfect for that.  I can throw them in the oven with brocoli and french fries and put a decent meal on the table in about half an hour.  I might need to get him this fun plate.  I mean, what kid doesn’t like to play with their food?  Not all nuggets are the same though.  I like Tyson because they are made with no fillers (huge!) and 100% all natural ingredients.  Texture is a huge deal for my son and these work for him.  They are crunchy on the outset but juicy in the middle and with zero trans fat so I’m ok with him eating these once a week…says the mom who lets her son have Pop Tarts for breakfast just about every morning (I get that my rationalizing is flawed).  Tyson has tons of varieties of nuggets but our family has one particular kind that is our favorite.  I buy them from Costco and they are breaded in Panko breadcrumbs.  Hands down the best nugget ever made.  They are more like a tender in their size and shape but they are ridiculously versatile.  In fact we had them last night with some spagetti and sauce for a quick version of chicken parmesan.  My mom turned me on to them and I make sure they are in my freezer at all times.

rice milkWe are working to find a happy balance in our nutrition.  This is about as much “milk” as I can get him to drink a day (it is rice milk – have you ever tried it?  He used to drink this with no issues either, but as he’s grown, his tastes have changed).

squeeze yogurtI am hopeful though.  With age comes what seems to be an outgrowing of some of the allergies.  Here he is eating cow’s milk yogurt (FROM A TUBE PEOPLE!  I almost cried when we realized he didn’t get a reaction from these.  For years he has seen the commercials on Disney Channel for Crush Cups and Gogurts but has never been able to try them.  They don’t make soy yogurt in fun containers.)  The fact that he can tolerate this opens up a new world.  This Friday I will be making him a ranch dip (using the non-flavored version of this Greek yogurt above) for his Tyson Nuggets.  Who knows.  The ranch might even help him to enjoy his vegetables again too.

*In an effort to not get to wordy in this post I may have exaggerated how bad his diet is.  While he does he a lot of junk food, his lunches and dinners almost always contain small amounts of fruit and veggies.  He’s not malnourished in any way.  But he does prefer his snacks over protein and healthy items.

Tyson® Chicken Nuggets are a great start at a healthy plate. Learn how to get a free colorful plate to make mealtime more fun!

Now that I’ve shared how I got my picky eaters to eat balanced meals, share your success story for a chance to win a $1,000!

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Tyson Chicken Nuggets. The opinions and text are all mine. Official Sweepstakes Rules.

Candy Popcorn Recipe for Valentine’s Day

Candy Popcorn Recipe TutorialFor someone who doesn’t post a lot of holiday stuff I got totally wrapped up in Valentine’s Day this year.  And most of it was last minute but I really wanted to share it.  One thing that was planned out was this candy popcorn recipe that I collaborated on with Kristin of Meringue Bake Shop.  Many people know her from her cupcakes and PushCakes.  But she is SO much more.  Twice she has made this delicious candy popcorn for parties for me and it is always a hit.  And it can’t be more perfect for Valentine’s Day.

ingredients for candy popcornThis candy popcorn recipe is totally easy.  I’m afraid to use a candy thermometer so that is why I wanted Kristin involved.  I thought this would be too hard for me to make considering I am not a great baker.  Or cook.  Or dishwasher…But color me surprised when I found out all you need is popped popcorn, sugar, light corn syrup and flavored Jello!  I will be making this.  A lot.  And then buying bigger pants.

add flavored Jello for candy flavorYou make an easy syrup mixture on the store and add the Jello for flavoring.

Add candy mixture to popped popcornSimply pour the syrup over popped popcorn and stir to coat.  Whenever I made caramel corn I buy a disposable roasting pan from the store.  It makes stirring easy especially when you’ve got hot sugar your dealing with which is just waiting to coat your finger and leave you an unpleasant burn.  Not that it has happened…This also makes clean up a cinch since you just throw the pan away when done instead of having to clean of that hard candy coating.  But this is also wasteful.  So I should really just buy a legit roasting pan.  But then I would have no where to store it.  And that, my friends, is my inner dialogue.

candy popcorn and my husbandAnd this is my husband.  I think he was feeling left out because our kids are always in posts.  He wouldn’t leave until I took a picture.  But he’s pretty cute so I decided to leave him in.  But if your husband isn’t as cute, just skip this part.

close up of candy popcorn on sheet panThen you spread out the coated popcorn on a baking sheet to finish off in the oven.  This steps makes it crispy instead of gooey.  Gooey is fine too, but a good crunch never hurt anything.  You can sort of make out some little gold hearts here.  Remember when I added stars to champagne?  Well I also had the edible hearts.  And they just make sense to use on a Valentine’s Day snack.  We added them to the popcorn before baking so they would stick to it.

candy popcorn with hearts for Valentine's DayAnd there you have it.  Super easy candy popcorn for Valentine’s Day.  Or any day.  Kid’s love this, in case you had any doubts.  And those hearts make it super romantic.

Perfect snack for Valentine's DayJust add some heart candies and homemade vanilla bean marshmallows (see I told you Kristin is awesome) and you’ve got the perfectly adorable Valentine’s spread.

Recipe from Jello Rainbow Popcorn Recipe

Ingredients:

8 cups popped popcorn (I have a microwavable bowl that I use with kernals but you can also use plain microwavable bags if you have to)

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) margarine – can also use butter but my food allergic son can eat it if I use his margarine = happy kid

3 TBSP light corn syrup

1/2 cup sugar

1 package (4 serving size) any flavor Jello – not the sugar free kind.  Gross.  We used cherry.  Amazeballs.

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with foil and spray foil with a small bit of cooking spray so it won’t stick.  Set aside.

Place margarine and corn syrup in small saucepan on medium heat and stir until butter is melted.  Add sugar and Jello.  Stir to combine and until Jello is completely dissolved.

Bring to a boil on medium heat.  Reduce heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes.

In a large bowl, mix popped popcorn and syrup until well coated.  Spread on to prepared sheet pan and spread out evenly.  Bake 10 minutes.  Cool.  Remove from pan and break in to small pieces.  Or grab huge chunks and shove them in your face.

peach candy popcornKristin made this peach version of candy popcorn for Lauren’s bridal shower.  Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

Thanks for doing this post with my Kristin!  Get excited.  Kristin is starting a blog where she is going to share a bunch more of her tutorials.  And not just on sweet treats.  She is a talented lady and has lots to share!

Image of peach popcorn by Dez and Tam

 

Frozen Treats – Summer memories new and old {Giveaway}

sour patch kids popsiclesIt isn’t summer with out a Popsicle am I right?  I have vivid summer memories of playing outside in our front yard with my older sister, our little boom box blasting The Jets and trying to get through the Popsicle before it completely melted all down your arm.  But these days Popsicles rock my world for another reason.

summer popsiclesMy oldest son has multiple food allergies.  And Popsicles have proven to be the treat that makes him feel like a regular kid even outside of summer.  During soccer season, Popsicles are the treat that each family can bring during their snack time and we know the kids with food allergies can eat what everyone else gets to eat.  Same thing with kindergarten.  While they ruled out food in the classroom to make it safer for all the kids with allergies, there were a few times where they wanted to treat the kids.  Popsicle saved the day each and every time.

kids and popsiclesPopsicle recently introduced their Sour Patch Kids flavor (which happens to be a favorite candy of my kids) which my boys are enjoying in these photos.  Just like the candy, the Popsicles are sour on the outside with a sweet center.  Doesn’t that first photo have “sour” written all over it?  But I know that if this little guy ate the whole thing that it wasn’t all that sour.  In fact, I tried these the very next day and fell in LOVE with these.  Most of the regular Popsicle flavors are too sweet for me.  These have the perfect amount of tang for me.

popsicles are the perfect summer treatIt makes my heart so happy to see my kid with a cold treat.  Hopefully one day he’ll outgrow his allergies and he’ll be able to try other sweet frozen treats.  Until then, I know that as long as I have a Popsicle for him, he won’t feel left out.

As some of you may know, I’m have a wicked sweet tooth.  I am not a big ice cream eater in the sense of eating it out of a tub because they are usually so plain.  I prefer an ice cream bar of some sort.  Usually there are several flavors mixed together and some type of crunch which tickles my fancy.  So I was super excited to find out about some new treats by MAGNUM, Breyers, Good Humor, Popsicle and Klondike.

unilever ice cream brands imageIf you head over to the One2One Network’s Facebook page right now, you can enter to their daily drawings for coupons for these awesome brands and enter to win a year’s worth of frozen treats!  And I am pleased to give away five full value coupons for these five participating brands ($25 ARV).  Just leave a comment on this post and I will choose a random winner, one week from today, on Thursday, September 13, 2012.

Here are some of the yummy treats you could use your coupons for:

Breyers has introduced their “Blasts” line which mixes their high quality ice cream with your favorite snack aisle treats such as Oreos and Reeses.  Klondike has added additional flavors of their popular Choco Taco treat.  Popsicle has added delicious selections to their Yosicle line including the Duos pictured above.  MAGNUM has created mini versions of their delectable treat as well as a Mochaccino flavor that I am dying to try.  Good Humor has taken your favorite candy and made them in to ice cream bar form.  Yum.

Visit each brand’s website directly to see all the flavors they have created.

MAGNUM  .  Breyers  .  Good Humor  .  Popsicle  .  Klondike

*This is a sponsored post by One2One Network.  Product and additional incentives were provided to me.  All opinions stated are my own.

Muffin Top Chronicles: What I ate this week

So it has come to my pants and my attention that I no longer possess will power.  My sweet tooth runs my show and I have an insatiable urge to snack.  Like, all day.  Which is new.  I never used to be a snacker.  So while I decided that I am on the way to fatsville and need to add working out (What the eff, middle age.  Remember when I could eat moderately and not work out and although I couldn’t model bikinis I could work a shortish dress with no unsightly sausage thighs?) I also decided to share what I eat.  I have to face it.  I love good food.  Good food can mean two different things.  Either it means it tastes really good or it is better, more healthy, for you – and still tastes good.  Join me on my journey won’t you?

I won an ice cream maker at the end of last summer and hadn’t used it yet.  So with the boys out of school for summer I decided it was finally time.  The egg and milk allergy really hinders the ice cream process.  But then I found this recipe for 4 ingredient Ice Cream by Two Peas and Their Pod and my world has been rocked.  You guys, this is SO GOOD, super creamy!  And so easy.  I will be making this again and also modifying to try other flavors.  My son loved it!  Coconut milk is good fat, right?  Isn’t that what THEY say?

After my personal chef experience in Palm Springs I knew that I would be eating this chocolate avocado pudding again.  It is natural, it is rich, yummy and satisfying.  And I know there are fats in it but whatevs.  The heart wants what it wants.

A while back our friend made lemon sorbet.  It was delicious.  My oldest son liked it and he usually won’t eat anything citrus flavored.  So I stole some lemons from my parent’s tree and made this recipe.  It did not disappoint.  What did disappoint is that I turned stupid the two times I have used my ice cream maker.  When I moved my fresh, frozen treats to a plastic container to freeze, I absent-mindedly placed the containers in the fridge instead of the freezer.  Two different times on two different days.  The first time I caught myself within minutes.  But color me surprised when I went looking for the sorbet to eat and it was really lemon soup in the fridge.  I ate it anyway.  Don’t judge.

On the flip side, for all the desserts I have been eating, I am also OBSESSED with roasted brussels sprouts.  I’ve been making them every 3 days.  I’ve been changing up the recipe a bit you know, so it doesn’t get weird.  My fave way is with bacon and a bit of maple syrup.  But on account of because I have been eating so much of it, I’ve taken out the bacon and added a touch of strawberry balsamic vinegar to add some sweetness.  I’ve also warned my husband if I develop some odd medical ailment to first look to my excessive sprouts consumption.

My sister found these taquitos on pinterest.  They are a lot of work.  For me, not your average human.  I am a very lazy cook.  I have half a mind to casserole this.  But the first time we ate it my husband threw around flippant terms like, “best thing I’ve ever had” and “oh my gosh these are the best things I’ve ever had.”  I’ll probably keep rolling these for the time being.  They really are good and they hold up great as leftovers.

I don’t like turkey.  And I really don’t like ground turkey.  There are two recipes using it that I like.  One of them is this Teriyaki Turkey stir fry from Rachael Ray.  I don’t usually serve it in a lettuce wrap, but over rice instead.  This is SUPER easy, SUPER tasty and I like to think it is a little bit healthy.  I always add frozen edamame and this last time I even added broccoli.  It is really versatile and you can change it up based on your family’s preferences.  I try to make my own teriyaki sauce to keep the sugar and salt lower but the bottled is really convenient.

So that is what has been big on my table this week.  I’ve decided that every cellulite dimple tells a story and I’m going to share them with you.  No, not my cellulite.  What I’m eating.  Are you on Pinterest?  Follow my “Get in my belly” board to see what I’m finding tempting.  You can also follow my “Drink Up” board as there are tons of delicious looking summer cocktails there.  You can follow my “beautiful food” board but I am never going to make those recipes.  They are just super pretty to look at.  You know, like David Beckham.

Photo Credits:

Gothic Eaters 

Coconut Milk Ice Cream

Chocolate Avocado Pudding

Lemon Sorbet

Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Taquitos

Teriyaki Turkey

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Palm Springs Plan: Personal chef and so much more

I had the pleasure of meeting Michelle Globis of The Palm Springs Plan a few weekends ago when my family took a little vacation to Palm Springs.  The family that we rented the house with suggested we look in to hiring a private chef for one evening so that we could all really enjoy the vacation without having to do tons of work.  Done.  Through a friend of my husbands, we found out about Michelle and we contacted her to see if she was available.  Luckily she was free for the night we wanted and I spoke with her over the phone about my son’s food allergy requirements.  She was so easy to talk with and made me feel completely comfortable that she had a handle on what he could and couldn’t eat.  The interesting part about working with her is that she follow a Paleo diet.  It is also known as the Hunt and Gather diet or Caveman diet.  I won’t go in to detail but it is basically a diet consisting of everything that man survived on before man got crazy futzing with crops and processing.  I really didn’t know too much about it but I was confident that we would love whatever she came up with.  I left it up to her to set the menu after telling her a few items we knew we didn’t want.

She showed up in the early afternoon with everything she would need to prepare and serve not only our dinner but also some appetizers and a beverage.  She served us this AMAZING basil lemon and lime ade.  I must have had at least 5 glasses of it.  SO amazingly refreshing.  She made a quick guacamole which we ate with plantain chips (as regular chips are out of the question on a Paleo diet).  Plantain chips, although they resemble bananas, are not sweet.  These were fried lightly in coconut oil and were the perfect accompaniment to the dip.  They have a potato like quality that made them feel substantial and satisfying.  I am totally going to give these a shot at home.

Along with the guacamole and crudite, she also made endive with a kalamata olive tapenade and another version with an artichoke heart salad.  Yum!  And I had never tried French radishes before but I am certainly going to seek those out.

Although I was kept pretty busy with one sick child and another one intent on keeping me from sitting down on vacation, I was able to chit chat with Michelle while she was preparing the dishes.  She is a wealth of knowledge and I found out that she is a food educator and works with several non profits on healthier eating.  Partially as a result of my son’s food allergies, I have become really interested in how food affects our health and shapes our lifestyles.  I could have talked with Michelle for days about all of those issues.  And she is just an amazing women.  I loved hearing about her background and world travels.

Hey you guys, bacon is totally part of the Paleo diet.  Grass fed beef with no nitrites, nitrates, etc. so you are getting really good bacon.

Our first course was a caesar salad with roasted heirloom tomatoes, and bacon with a delicious creamy dressing.  Because of the egg in the dressing and my son’s food allergies and kid’s general disregard for things that they aren’t that experienced with, she made the most amazingly simple and equally delicious vinaigrette for their salads.  I’m not kidding, she used a really good, fruity olive oil and some lemon juice.  I know this is going to sound odd, but it sort of tasted like frosting.  It was sweet and rich with the brightness from the lemon.  I am on the look out for that olive oil now.

She prepared 3 side dishes to go along with our main course.  She made mashed cauliflower which mimics mashed potatoes.  It had a depth of flavor that I wasn’t expecting which I think partially came from the fact that she used a homemade stock and other tricks to really up the ante.  I had several helpings.  Another side was this asparagus, mushroom and bacon saute.  INSANELY tasty.  I had several helpings of this too.  Michelle doesn’t judge. :)  The final side dish was cooked carrots.  I forgot to take a picture of these.  I even had more of those.  Watching her prepare these dishes was a good reminder that you don’t need to cook veggies very long which is totally something I need to work on.

For the main course Michelle prepared lamb chops.  Amen.  She worked with me to find the more well-done chops which is my preference and was not offended that I had that request.  Anyone who dines on meat with me knows I don’t like pink.  But by food knowledge (most of which I have gained from hours of tv watching of The Food Network and Bravo food themed shows) tells me that lamb chops should not be over cooked, pink is ok.  But I still don’t want to eat it.  The other awesome part of having lamb for dinner is that it is not something I would cook at home.  So it really was like getting a restaurant dinner in the comfort of your own home.  And for those of you with kids, you know that going to dinner at a restaurant is not something that is relaxing or even, at times, enjoyable.  And I didn’t have to get dressed up.  Word to your mother. Although refined sugars are not part of the Paleo diet, Michelle made sure that we had some dessert options.  The chocolate pudding she made for us was served in these adorable green vintage glasses with petite spoons.  Totally a girl after my own heart.  She nailed it with all her serving dishes.  Now let’s talk about the pudding.  Cocoa powder, avocados and a natural sweetener.  It was so good!!!!  I’m a dessert fanatic and this really excited me because it was such a revelation.  I can have dessert and get those intense flavors I love but they can be made in a healthier way.  The avocados provide good fats to your body and it was rich and creamy without adding processed ingredients.  I have made this twice since we’ve been home.

Along with providing personal chef and nutrition coaching services, Michelle also makes some ready-made items that can be purchased from her website.  These macaroons are one of those items and they are delightful.  Full of flavor with a really nice consistency these cookies were an awesome accompaniment to the pudding.

Even though my son didn’t get to eat the food that was tailored around his allergies, the adults thoroughly enjoyed the dishes that Michelle made for us.  I am so glad to have met her and hope that any of you who are planning a vacation to Palm Springs will consider having her over to cook for you!

*This is not a sponsored post.  I did not receive a discount and wanted to share an awesome experience with my readers.  Check out Michelle’s website for more info about what she can help you with and if you happen to see it, check out the July issue of Palm Springs Life Magazine to see her featured.