Thursday, January 29, 2015

Recipe For Getting Picky Eaters to Eat Veggies

            It came as a total surprise, but I think I finally discovered the magic formula for getting my kids (and hubby!) to eat veggies for dinner, without all the usual whining and complaining.
            I know many of you have kids who were born loving salad, and prefer green vegetables over candy. But, for those whose kids are like mine, I want to share a secret I stumbled upon last night.
            My family has always been the meat and potato kind, the plainer the better. Which is really boring to cook for. Being a sanguine personality, I like to try new recipes. Having picky eaters has greatly hindered my cooking experimentation.
            The meat and potato dinners usually have the plain meat in one corner of the plate. Then separated, so nothing touches, are the potatoes, and separated again, some type of vegetable or fruit. The problem with this setup is the veggies are on full display for everyone to comment about, critique, criticize, and separate out what they don’t want.
            Last night I tried something totally different and it worked. I made ‘Mom’s-Cute-Crock- With- Hidden-Veggies-Pasta-Bowls.’ I told the kids they were Pasta Bowls.
                       The key ingredient, and it is a must – no substitutions – are these                                       incredibly cute crock bowls.

            They are probably sold everywhere, but I bought mine at Costco. They come in six fun colors, have a handle, and are just so cute. The key is the opening of the crock bowl is smaller than the belly of the bowl.
            Here is the recipe I threw together. I boiled bowtie pasta. While it cooked I made some marinara sauce. I was then inspired to throw a bunch of veggies in the sauce. So, in went diced tomatoes, onions, mushrooms, slivered carrots and half a bag of spinach. I stirred it all together. Then, I mixed the pasta and the sauce together in a large bowl.  I carefully ladled the yummy veggie pasta sauce into the crock bowls. For the two who like cheese, I topped theirs with mozzarella and melted it in the oven.
            An interesting thing happened. As I was waiting for the two crocks that were in the oven, the non-cheese laden bowl sat on the table. Usually, we wait for everyone to get to the table to pray and then eat. As it seemed like it would be a while for the others to arrive, the sans-cheese boy began to dig in and eat his. Normally, I would have stopped him to wait for everyone. But he has eating with gusto and never said a word about all the veggies. I was shocked! Didn’t he know there was at least a cup of veggies in his saucy pasta crock? No, he didn’t. He couldn’t see them because the opening was smaller and it all looked like pasta and sauce. He ate and ate and ate.
            Next the cheese lovers arrived. Who could resist the cute crocks with melted cheesy goodness on top? They ate too. Nobody complained. Nobody commented about the veggies. Crocks were devoured.
Score one for the Mom!
            I’m thinking all meals from here on will be served in these cute concealing crocks! There is no limit to the veggies that could be added and hidden, and then eaten as part of the pasta bowl.
            Here is the recipe. May you have great success in hiding vegetables for your kiddos to devour as well!

Cute-Crock-Pasta-Bowls-With-Hidden-Veggies  (aka Pasta Bowls)
1.     Buy cute crock bowls.
2.     Boil any type of pasta according to directions: penne, bowtie, gluten-free
3.     Make spaghetti sauce: homemade, store bought, or combination
4.     Sauté, or throw in raw, any veggies you have on hand: canned or fresh tomatoes, carrots, spinach, asparagus, kale, mushrooms, zucchini, onions, bell peppers
5.     Mix all together in a large bowl. Then ladle out portions into the cute crocks. Top with cheese, if desired. Melt 2 minutes in oven or microwave.
6.     Sit back and be amazed as they eat all those veggies!

              Please share in the comments if you have a healthy veggie recipe that kids love.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Parenting Isn't For Cowards

         Dr. Dobson, from Focus on the Family Ministries, says, “Parenting isn’t for cowards.” My husband and I wholeheartedly agree. We have four kids, an older daughter, an older son, and twin teenage boys.
When they were younger, the twins:
-       Had RSV at five months and were on oxygen at home for many weeks.
-       Would stand up in their cribs and pull off the wallpaper above their cribs.
-       Tore down and destroyed the mini blinds in their bedroom.
-       Locked the babysitter out of the house when they were 2 years old.
-       Stuck candy in our friend’s printer.
-       Broke one of our friend’s lamps.
-       Turned on the sprinkler system during their older brother’s first high school baseball game and the umpires had to stop the game until we could turn them off because the umpire, the players and all the fans were soaked!
         Yet, even with all this, they did not compare to how difficult it was raising our strong-willed daughter.
         The day after she was born, the nurse came into my hospital room to give us instructions. She said, “With most newborns you can hold them any way you want. Your baby, however, only wants to be held upright. She cries when you hold her any other way.” The nurse demonstrated how our baby was quiet when held upright and began to scream when she was cradled in her arms. “Your baby already knows what she wants,” she said.
         Little did we know how prophetic her statement was. Our daughter challenged us from an early age, about almost everything.
         When she was 15 months old she started throwing a fit every time we put on her socks and shoes. She would lay on the floor crying and screaming and then throw her shoes off. She would fight against me when I tried to put them back on. She would cry and scream something I could not understand. I asked her what was wrong and she would cry back these unintelligible words. When I was finally able to decipher what she was saying, I didn’t know what it meant. She kept screaming, “On the wrong!”  What was on the wrong? Her shoes?  I told her they were not on the wrong foot. They were correct. With her shoes off, she would pick and pull at her socks as if there was a sticker or something sharp in them. I would take off her socks, turn them inside out and feel inside them. Nothing. Were they too tight? I could not figure out what was wrong.
         As she sat pulling at her socks, her Dad eventually understood. With great patience, he bent down and adjusted the seam on her socks so it lined up straight across her small toes. Finally, she was quiet.
         “What? She was that bugged and agitated by the tiny 1 ½ inch seam that went across her toes? Who ever heard of such a thing? How could that be something to be so bugged about?”  I asked.
Her Dad spoke up, “It is a thing. It bugs me if the seam on my sock is not lined up correctly, either.”
         Thankfully, after about four months of “On the wrong!” and us repeatedly adjusting her socks, she was able to put them on herself and adjust the seam to her satisfaction. It was a good thing she was incredibly cute, and despite everything, we loved her immensely.

         Isn’t this how we are sometimes? We become believers and commit our life to follow Christ, only we already know what we want. We want to do things our own way.
         We disregard the Bible, His love letter to us. He knows what is best for us, and tells us His plan for our life. Yet, we buck and fight Him about doing things His way.
         We think His Word is “on the wrong” and our way is the right way for us. God could not possibly know what is best for us. Our situation is unique. It is complicated. It doesn’t completely fit into one of God’s ‘Top Ten Rules,’ so therefore none of His Word applies to us.
         We struggle against our Heavenly Father and we wonder why we don’t have peace. It is not until we give up fighting for our way, and let Him truly lead us as Lord of our life, that we have peace. Blessed peace.
“Those who accept my commandments and obey them are the ones who love me.”  John 14:21

Lord, cause me to stop struggling against You and choose 
to do things Your way.

 PS. Apparently, she was not the only one, as they now sell 'Seamless Sensitivity Socks.' My daughter would have loved them!