Sunday, August 3, 2014

MAMA Hacks -- or how I fed my children when I just wanted to get a nap!

This morning I put cherry tomatoes on their breakfast plates, for the 3 year old and the 8 year old. We had Zucchini ham breakfast scramble, and I just tossed 2-3 cherry tomatoes on the plate with it, for them to pop into their mouth at 8 am this morning. Seems extreme to many North Americans but I assure you the rest of the world has more vegetable intake than us and they eat them at breakfast too.

This practice of feeding them the healthiest stuff they might otherwise turn their wee little noses up at began when I had an AHA!! moment one late dinner evening in Griffith, Indiana. I commuted on the train into Chicago's Miracle Mile for my busy jobs with long hours, and I tried religiously to be home by 630pm but that meant they were very hungry when we walked into the kitchen of our ranch style home. In fact after too many nights of take-out, carry-in or take-away dinners, I came up with this Mama Hack.

I knew what I was making for dinner, a two week menu posted on the refrigerator. But the children sat at the kitchen table with big wide blue eyes staring at me as I cut up the ingredients and began cooking. They would ask for bites of the components of dinner as I prepared it. I glanced in  my well-stocked but small pantry, and spied a can of large butter beans. I opened it up, drained the beans, rinsing them off and laid a layer of large beans that look like Lima beans on a small luncheon plate and put it in the middle of the kitchen table for the two kids to snack on while I was chopping veggies for our quesadillas on the menu. When I looked back the plate was empty. My two small children ate a can of beans, one at a time, with their fingers. Well, why not? Beans are protein, carbs, and fiber -- and hold good nutritional value. We'll call that their "appetizer portion".

I made their quesadillas filled with good food, and fried it in a pan while they happily picked up beans and filled their grumbly tummies.  After that I made sure that for each work day we had something ready to go to put on the table the minute they walked in the door from the sitter's home with me. Often times it was a pretty plate of beans, and sometimes it was a bag of raw veggies (like baby carrots, snap peas, or romaine hearts). For the romaine I merely rinsed one, gave it 4-5 quick chops into bite size pieces and then squeezed out some dressing or hummus on a plate and they dipped it with their fingers. Remember, single mama, high food prices in Chicagoland, no access to the farm we're on now, and we'd been out of the house for 12 long hours by the time we walked in.

So if you are in a similar or relevant situation and can use a mama hack, try opening a can of green or butter beans or whatever you think your children may start to nibble on, drain it, and put in on a plate in the center of the table, and pick one up and eat it and say yum, those are good and turn your back. Something good may happen!

Next post:  Kelli's Breakfast Summer Breakfast Scramble

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