And Twins for Lunch!

25 03 2015

Well, I promised a photo of the green smoothie, and look here it is — almost three years later!  And I was right about one thing back then:  The famous green smoothie of June 30, 2012, was the beginning of a new era, but not only in our beverage options.  In fact, in just 2 months and 3 days after that posting, our girl/boy twins, LA and BB, arrived on the scene.  And IMG_1100with that we immediately entered the world of families with three children, which is a crazy place to be when you’ve only had one for almost five years.  And this explains my three-year hiatus.

But while I may have taken a lengthy break from blogging, let me assure you that my kitchen saw no such vacation!  I will admit that I have made exactly ZERO yeasted breads since 2012, but LA and BB have been great teachers in so many other subjects, including “How to Make Dinner in Random 2-Minute Intervals Between Nursing Screaming Twin Babies” and “What to Cook When None of Your Children Will Eat the Same Two Things.”  So, yeah, there’s been plenty going on.

And the smoothies?  Well, they are definitely an old family favorite at this point, and I have a tried and true formula that is easily tweaked in a variety of directions.  While I occasionally make a pink or orange smoothie that involves no veggies (just fruit) or a chocolate nut-butter smoothie, most everyone seems to prefer the green smoothies, so who I am to argue with that one?

I’m not one of those moms who whips up a smoothie for breakfast every morning.  Sorry to disappoint.  The kids generally get a couple of pieces of toast or a bowl of hot or cold cereal, and that’s it.  If I have time to toss them some cut-up fruit left over from lunchbox packing, then that’s a great day.  But the smoothies are handy to make later in the day and pour in a sippy cup for the kids as a snack after school or when we are out and about.  We also enjoy them with a weekend breakfast or lunch, especially when it feels a little grain/protein-heavy or when the grown-ups are having a tough-to-chew green salad for a side.  Here’s the formula:

(Makes about 7 cups, give or take)

1 handful of ice

1 handful of cashews or hemp hearts

2 apples (or pears)

2 bananas

a bit of something citrusy (pieces of orange, a scoop of orange juice concentrate, some frozen mango or peaches)

1/2 cucumber (if available)

1/2 bunch of kale or spinach

1/2 cup or so plain kefir or yogurt

1/2 cup or so cold water as needed

And blend!  I almost never put berries in a smoothie because it seems like a waste since the kids eat them up like candy in their natural form anyway.  Plus most berries will turn your green smoothie into a REALLY unattractive shade of brown.  Trust me on this one.  Even if they look excited when you put that brown smoothie in front of them, they will NOT be happy when they take a sip and realize it tastes like sweet and sour fruitiness instead of chocolate.  Because let’s face it… chocolate is really the only liquid in a cup that should be that shade of brown.  Right?

In Case You Were Wondering …

30 09 2008

… Masher and his poop are getting along a whole lot better these days.  For the last week or so, the poop fairy has paid a visit nearly every day, sometimes even twice!  Although it may cost me more in wipes in the long run, it definitely makes me feel much better to know that things are moving along, so to speak. 

The frequency of the movements definitely seems to have something to do with the amount that Masher is eating.  He’s on three meals a day at this point (8 months old a week ago!), along with nursing four to five times a day.  I’ve generally been feeding him some combination of cereal and fruit (usually applesauce or pureed prunes) in the morning; a veggie cube or two for lunch, often accompanied by some pear or grapes in the mesh feeder; and up to three veggie cubes in the evening, usually with a bit of cereal or some pureed chicken mixed in.  New veggie combo?  Green beans, asparagus, and spinach cubes … Very delicious.  Masher actually seems to generally prefer veggies to fruit, and when I taste the plain steamed and pureed veggies, I think I can see why.  They taste sweet, to my great surprise, and they’re a little bit more bland and less acidic than most fruit. 

As a child, I myself hated all things green, gagged at the sight of most vegetables, and could actually make myself sick when forced to eat them.  My childhood list of acceptable vegetables was short:  carrots (raw only), corn (except when the sound of my parents chewing it off the cob drove me nuts), and potatoes (white, not sweet … no way!).  I picked crunchy onions out of ground beef dishes, licked the peanut butter off the celery on my “ants on a log,” even turned up my nose at ketchup.  My poor mother finally focused her efforts on the carrot, and throughout my school years I had a small pile of carrot sticks with every meal except breakfast.  It only gave me a slight orangey hue …

So, how did I eventually end up a veg-lover?  I attribute the metamorphosis to three epiphanies, which I could dub Peer Pressure, Boredom, and Love.  The first epiphany took place at nerd camp (Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth summer program) in junior high.  Even at nerd camp, apparently, the urge to be skinny and beautiful was strong, and when my hallmates all opted for salads, I couldn’t help myself to a big plate of meatloaf and mashed potatoes.  And the salads weren’t bad.  As long as they consisted of no other vegetables besides lettuce.  Accompanied by a lot of blue cheese dressing, croutons, those Asian crunchy things, and bacon bits.  Yeah, pretty good!  And it was a step forward.                       

The next epiphany occurred in Paris where I spent my junior year of college in a small room of an international women’s dormitory where the temperature never rose above 57 degrees Fahrenheit regardless of how high I cranked the old gas heater.  I was always cold and suffered through the winter from a general ennui acquired from the reading of far too much Baudelaire.  Apart from the long walk to the arrondissement in which that day’s class could be found (and the pastry from the local patisserie), the highlight of my day was lunch, served in the dorm cafeteria.  Vegetables were featured prominently and smelled and looked oddly delicious, mainly due to the warm buttery steam rising from them.  I tried and realized I liked one after another after another …  Broccoli, spinach, mushrooms, cabbage, brussel sprouts …  With loads of butter, a touch of garlic, and cooked to a mushy texture, delicieux!

France changed my outlook on veggies dramatically, but I was still finicky about the way in which my vegetables were cooked and served.  I liked one type of vegetable at a time and really needed a lot of oil or butter to enjoy it.  And then came Love.  My college boyfriend—who eventually became my husband—loved to cook … one thing.  I called it “Bachelor Food.”  The recipe for Bachelor Food is as follows:  Throw every vegetable in the grocery store in an enormous pan with olive oil, add beans, serve hot with tortilla chips and salsa.  To me, it was an abomination.  Every vegetable, all in the same pan?  Some of them still crunchy?  No butter???  But, I loved him.  So, I loved Bachelor Food.  And, as I continued to eat Bachelor Food the nights he cooked it, I realized I wasn’t just telling him I loved it any longer; I really did love it.

I think habituation really is key to developing a taste for certain foods, although peer pressure, boredom, and love can obviously also be contributing factors.  And I think I can really see where habituation comes in to play when Masher is eating, even within a single meal.  When he takes his first bite, he opens his eyes wide, purses up his lips, and gives the spoon-wielder a look that says, “I don’t know WHAT you just stuck in there, but I think you must be trying to poison me.”  He rolls the offending bite around his mouth with his tongue, averts his eyes to play with his spoon or watch the dogs play for a moment or two, and then looks back up eagerly ready to finish the entire helping.  Just takes him a second or two to figure out what he’s there to do. 

God Bless the Internet …

26 07 2008

… Because I don’t know how we lived without it.

See, I had been feeling pretty uncomfortable about this whole “solid foods” thing.  It’s something I hadn’t quite admitted to myself or on this blog, but it’s true.  I couldn’t put my finger on it, and I definitely felt as though it was something very personal, but I kept wondering to myself why everyone asked if we had tried the baby cereals yet.  I wondered why everyone asked automatically about the cereals, even the doctor.  I wondered whether babies started with rice cereal in Mexico, or Pakistan, or Zimbabwe, or Japan.  Looking at the cereal, which resembles fish food more than anything else, I wondered what magical properties it possessed that the brown rice or oatmeal in my cabinet didn’t have.  Okay, so I can read on the box that there’s an iron supplement, but what the heck?  If the babies NEED the iron, isn’t there some other way for them to get it besides adding some supplement, which more than likely can’t be absorbed by the body anyway?  And I especially wondered how Masher would transition to eating the food that we eat when he’s starting out eating food a world away …  and in a part of the grocery store I rarely visit, the aisles.  As a girl who shops around the outskirts for fresh vegetables, fruit, meat, and dairy, with monthly ventures into the aisles for whole grains and beans, I couldn’t understand what I was doing staring at a small shelf of canned strained chicken and peas and the like.  I eat at the farmers’ market.  Can’t my baby do the same?

So, like any good 21st century dweller, I Googled.  And I came across a really helpful web site that began to address many of my concerns … and led me to a book, which I ordered on (yay for the Internet, again!) and that was delivered to my house a day later:  Feeding the Whole Family:  Recipes for Babies, Young Children, and Their Parents.  And, after one read, I decided this would probably have to be my new bible.

A paragraph from the book that sums up the answer to my concerns:

When we give babies separate meals made of factory-created food that is bland and full of fillers, we do them a disservice.  This trains them to expect separate meals and prefer bland empty calories.  Do your children a favor and introduce them to food with flavor.  Let them recognize a variety of simply prepared whole foods as the familiar tastes that trigger “home” in their mind and bodies.  Feed them what you eat.  Make what you eat good enough to feed your baby.

             — Cynthia Lair

Look.  It would be one thing if I were still working 50+ hours a week.  And as the author of the book points out, there are organic processed baby foods out there these days, which is a huge step forward as far as processed baby food goes.  And it would be another thing if my husband and I didn’t already eat pretty conscientiously.  (I say “conscientiously” because we always cook organic and heavily local at home, but we are equally happy to stuff our faces with nachos and beef fajitas at Rio Grande from time to time.)  But I’m not working now, and – as family – we’ve already made huge strides toward eating primarily “whole foods” (Michael Pollan of The Omnivore’s Dilemma asks, “Would your grandmother recognize the substance as food?”).  I think we’re ready to go the whole way.

So, what does this Cynthia woman recommend as baby’s first food?  Apples, avocados, bananas, carrots, sweet potatoes, peas, and winter squash, any of which should be cooked, mashed, and mixed with breastmilk or water (if necessary) to the consistency of soup.  Sounds delicious.  Scratch everything that came before.  We start anew.