THE DIRTY DOZEN: PRODUCE 101

dirtydozen1Organic…non-GMO…pesticide free…free range…locally grown…who know grocery shopping could be this complicated?  My mother surely did not anticipate this.  As a young child, she would take me to the farmers markets.  “This is how you pick a “good” one,” she would say.   She chose fruits and vegetables based on how they looked or smelled and how they fit into her menu for the week.

One topic we never talked about was organic versus inorganic.  Amazingly, this question is now part of the mainstream parental consciousness.  Being one of these parents, I have reached several conclusions (for now).

One, eating fresh nutritious food is more important to me than only eating organic foods.  So if that means I am preparing non-organic green beans for dinner, I will live with that.

Two, when possible, I try to reduce the pesticide and chemical exposure whether in my food or in my environment.  I do this by reviewing the “dirty dozen” list of produce, while I am shopping.  The Environmental Working Group (www.ewg.org) has a great foldout card (included in the post) that helps me choose fruits and vegetables with lower pesticide content.

A few years ago, an apple was an apple (with or without wax/pesticides).  Fortunately, now we know better (although we have a long way to go).  Finding good resources of information is important.  Two resources of mine are http://www.ewg.org and http://www.healthychildren.org.  What resources do you use for nutrition-related information?

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PICKY EATER SERIES PART 3: SUPERFOODS

food imageBefore I became a mom, I pictured my family gathered around the table, enjoying my freshly cooked meals.  Yeah, I imagined I was a modern-day June Cleaver.  Then I had a reality check.  My kid was not enjoying the food.  In fact, I began to dread meal times because that meant having to listen to hours of whining, spitting, crying, and gagging.  After two to three bites, she was done with her meal.  One day she would eat something, the next day she wouldn’t even touch it.  I have never been the “you-better-finish-your-plate” type.  But, wasting food was not acceptable to me.

I decided I had to be creative, and that is when I came up with a list of super-meals that give a lot of nutritional bang in tiny portions.  Of course, every kid’s palate is different and it changes with age, so we have to roll with it.  Getting a variety of vegetables and proteins into their diet is the hardest part.  Here’s what I came up with:

Finely dice the following vegetables: 1 onion, 3 garlic cloves, 1 squash, a handful of green beans, 2 tomatoes, and 2 carrots.  Pan cook or bake two chicken breasts and shred or dice chicken into very small pieces.  Boil your kiddo’s favorite pasta.  In a large pot, heat olive oil on medium heat and saute onion and garlic lightly and then lightly saute the rest of the vegetables.  Pour 6 cups of water or stock.  Simmer the ingredients and cover until well cooked.  Put in already boiled pasta and cooked diced chicken.  Add more liquid to get the consistency desired.  If you are vegetarian, you can substitute chicken with lentils, beans, or diced tofu.

One thing I have learned is that there no competing with fresh non-processed food.  Soups and stews work because they can be made freshly, quickly, and easily.  Children have a small attention span, and one bowl of soup is way less distracting to them than a plate full of food items.  I think there is something satisfying in the slurping of soup (for all ages).  Don’t you think?