Category Archives: Mealtime

Radishes In The Garden!

Evie planted some radish seeds in the garden a while back, long before any of us were really ready to be doing any spring gardening. The ground wasn’t prepared, but she cleared a small spot and planted her seeds. Owing to a warm winter and some surprisingly diligent watering, those seeds sprouted up and leafed out quickly!

She proudly showed me the leafy tops. I casually mentioned thinning the plants so the radishes would have adequate room to grow, and she said “But Mom, the radishes have already grown. I can see them!”

Lo and behold, a dozen fat and gorgeous radishes had popped up above the dirt.

She carefully pulled up her radishes and then took them inside to wash them off. As we stood at the sink together I felt proud and happy. We talked about what radishes taste like, how to use them, and how we could incorporate them into a meal.

We decided on fish tacos, and started making a grocery list: 1/2 a pound of cod, cabbage, limes, cilantro, tomatoes, onions, yogurt and mayo for white sauce. They were absolutely scrumptious, and everyone agreed it was a great dinner. We even threw together a quick fruit crisp for dessert with some of last summer’s apricots I pulled out of the freezer.

Next up from the garden: Will’s cabbage and garlic, Luke’s zucchini. (Zucchini plants are a hit with my kids….see last summer’s post here.)

Fish Tacos:

Baseball Night Buffet

The orange slice smile….classic!

Feeding us all on baseball game nights has been a challenge! We leave the house at 4:30 in the afternoon, not to return until at least 8:30 at night (hello, bedtime!). Eating dinner at home would mean either an absurdly early meal, or a really late night for everyone. Eating dinner at the ballpark means nachos and hot dogs all around. Neither scenario is ideal.

Tonight I packed us a picnic: cantaloupe, snow peas/carrot sticks/cucumber slices, avocado, whole wheat pita, hummus, pb&j’s, and dried pineapple and graham cookies for a treat. Will had his own dinner packed in his baseball bag, including his favorite dugout snack–orange slices!

Everyone ate, everyone ate well, and I can throw them into bed for a good night’s sleep the moment we walk in the front door. Success!

Quick Lunch: Madras Lentils and Spinach

This is my latest go-to quick lunch for busy weekdays, when I often only have the time (and the inclination) to throw something in the microwave. It’s usually dinner leftovers, but those run out. This is a great alternative to a pb&j when you need a speedy meal that’s both filling and healthy.

I buy these shelf-stable packages of Tasty Bite pre-cooked Madras Lentils at the grocery store (in the Natural Foods section at Fred Meyer) or Costco. They contain 2 servings per package, but I’ve found the whole package to be a nice amount for lunch.

INGREDIENTS:
Water, Tomatoes, Lentils, Red Beans, Onions, Cream, Salt, Butter, Sunflower Oil, Chilies, Cumin.

All you have to do is tear the top of the pouch about two inches, toss the whole thing in the microwave for 90 seconds, and then pour it into your favorite bowl.

photo 1

Like so.

photo 2 The lentils will be piping hot at this point. To boost my veggie intake for the day, and to add some crunch, I pile on a big heaping handful of spinach leaves. The hot lentils will wilt the spinach slightly, but you can return it to the microwave for another 60 seconds or so if you like your spinach softer.photo (1)Voilá! A 300 calorie lunch packed with Vitamin A, fiber, B-Vitamins, essential amino acids, and trace minerals, made in under two minutes. Throw a kiwi (or other Vitamin C rich food) onto your plate to increase your iron absorption from the lentils and spinach, and dig in!photo 4

Calories: 307, Carbohydrate: 37 gm, Protein: 8 gm, Fiber: 11 gm. Vegetarian. Gluten-free.

For The Love Of Food

This scrumptious pile of perfectly steamed crab, paired with a chilled glass of a fantastic local white wine, a bit of homemade Cajun aioli, and a plate of wilted spinach with lemon was dinner last night. And what a treat!

We picked up the live crab from a local seafood market, steamed it at home, then spent the next hour talking and eating, while picking luscious, buttery crab meat from the shells. It was tender and rich, and a dab of garlicky aioli was a perfect accompaniment to every bite. Washed down with a crisp, fruity wine…..mmmmm.

Its so satisfying to source beautiful, local, seasonal foods from markets or growers, spend some time learning how to cook and eat them, and then share and enjoy the meal with other people. To discover and appreciate all the flavors and textures and subtleties of whole foods in their natural, unprocessed state.

This is what I love the most about food.

——

You’ve been warned.

I’m trying to use up all of last week’s food before the weekend: roasted sweet potatoes, baked salmon, quinoa with red peppers, and kale/spinach salad with radishes. Not too shabby for a Wednesday afternoon!

Dinnertime Drama

I was thinking about this photo the other day during a relatively peaceful dinner with my kids. I think we were having grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup. I snapped this grainy photograph of Luke, then only 4 years old, nearly a year ago during a particularly frustrating episode of what I have dubbed Dinnertime Drama. It was when the idea of a family-life/diabetes blog first blinked into the atmosphere of my creative musings. Surely, I had thought, other families must have similar challenges. Why not share mine? At the very least, writing about moments such as these might help to quell the desperation I sometimes feel as a single parent trying to toe my own line.

Some context–Luke was diagnosed with diabetes just 6 weeks shy of his second birthday. His diet still consisted, in large part, of Cheerios, applesauce, yogurt, noodles, and breastmilk. When he returned home from the hospital several days later with two terrified parents who were just learning how to wield a syringe, there wasn’t much thought as to what he was eating so much as whether he was eating enough to fend off scary middle-of-the-night (or anytime, really) hypoglycemic episodes. The thing about injection therapy is that there’s not much room for finicky toddler food-refusal power plays when you have blood glucose-chomping long-acting insulin on board. And a 25-lb child who didn’t show symptoms of hypoglycemia until he fell into the 30’s. So it often went like this:

“You don’t want to eat that yummy couscous with steamed carrots Mommy made you?

But Mommy just gave you some insulin. Don’t you want to at least try it?

Well, how about some more Cheerios and yogurt then?”

That’s a lot of power to give a 2-year-old.

And so it went for two more years. Sure, there were a few more foods he learned to enjoy, but our opportunity to really introduce new foods and easily influence his food choices had passed with the last of his beta cells. Finally, I decided that enough was enough. Luke would no longer get a free pass to eschew unfamiliar or less-kid-“friendly” (more on that subject another time) foods at mealtime. And the time was right; his food intake was getting more predictable, his episodes of hypoglycemia less frequent, less severe, and more obvious, and most importantly he started insulin pump therapy.

The flexibility of pumping allows me to dial down the amount of insulin he receives if, say, he refuses to eat his dinner of sweet potatoes and black beans. So I instituted some new dinnertime expectations. Namely, that everyone would be required to at least try the things on their plates. No one would be served something different than what the whole family ate. And no more routine bedtime snacks. Which brings us back around to the photograph of Luke, above.

I had prepped all the kids beforehand about our new mealtime guidelines. We had talked about the importance of healthy eating and variety, and trying new things. We sang “Party In My Tummy” and did a silly dance. I served up what I thought would be a fairly innocuous meal–pretty cool (I thought) purple carrots from the farmer’s market, wild rice, and chicken apple sausage. No unfamiliar sauces, no foods mixing or otherwise touching each other on the plate, nothing green or leaf-like for this first run.

But my inner resolve began to crumble when he broke into tears at the sight of the foods he was expected to let pass over his lips. Big, pathetic, puppy-dog tears coupled with a Momma-Why-Are-You-Doing-This-Awful-Thing-To-Me expression. The other kids were relieved that this first night of “trying new foods” was actually going to result in a full belly, and were ready to move onto dessert in a flash. Sitting alone at the dinner table intensified Luke’s woefulness and all I could do to cope was to stealthily take a picture with my phone. Hopefully, I thought, I will be able to look back at this photo and see how far we’ve come from this moment.

And we have.

One of his favorite foods now is the aforementioned tomato soup. He eats some of his sweet potatoes and black beans.  I get a little thrill every time he tries something new and his eyes light up with surprise and relief. One thing that I’ve learned about Luke is that he protests changes loudly and passionately, and then eventually he will acquiesce. He no longer reacts as if I’m trying to poison him when I put vegetables on his plate. And while he still grimaces and follows bites of unfamiliar foods with gulps and gulps of water, he does try things. We have a long way to go before I will proclaim him a “good eater,” but I will voice my ideals and maintain expectations, keep things positive, and continue to persevere.