Passing Judgement

I have a secret to tell you…. You know those food pouches that are all the craze now? The little ones for infants and toddlers?

Well, I used to proclaim them the next fast food-esque convenience item and swore I would never give one to my kid(s). It’s not that I judged parents for using them, although I sort of kind of did. For me, it was more about wanting my kids to eat actual veggies – eat the whole pea rather than pea puree. I wouldn’t mask my child’s veggies under a blanket of sweet fruits. By God, they would know they were eating broccoli and they would enjoy it! They wouldn’t need it drenched in apple “concentrate” which is probably just a nice way of saying sugar.

Even after having a child, I still stuck to this ideal. I deemed pouches on the same level as purees, but with an added heaping of parental laziness. While not fully on-board with Baby Led Weaning for some safety reasons, I did hope that we’d pass through purees pretty quickly and move on to “real” food. And we did!

But now…. now I see the flaw in my reasoning and the brilliance behind pouches. You see, my child has graduated to “real” food and enjoys everything from avocado to chicken. Although he ate pureed veggies exceedingly well (his daycare teachers always commented that they’d never seen a more enthusiastic child over green beans), he’s gotten to the point where he wants to feed himself. He does not want your spoon – NO. He’ll take the spoon from you! Even gets it to his mouth most of the time. It doesn’t have any food on it by that point, but hey, baby steps.

And so I gave him actual veggies like I always said I would – peas and green beans and carrots steamed to within an inch of their lives so that he’d be able to gum them to death. And he ate them! Well, I mean, like four or five before getting bored. Close enough. So I sent them to daycare in place of his purees. And he did not eat them. Wouldn’t even touch them. Fail.

I went back to the grocery store in search of I’m not even sure what. Magical veggies. Veggies with the consistency of watermelon or grapes. Veggies that I would be able to throw in his daycare lunch bag because I already spend a half hour each morning prepping the rest of his food. Actually, I started in the applesauce aisle because the dumpling had been having a few – ahem – digestive issues that could be helped with applesauce. Except last time we tried his beloved applesauce, via spoon, he didn’t want it. And there, next to the cups of syrupy fruit and jars of applesauce, were pouches of applesauce. I even found one (several!) that met my no-sugar-added criterion. Hey! Belle’s brain went, maybe if he can feed it to himself, he’ll actually eat it. 


And that, ladies and gentlemen, is when the brilliance of pouches hit me. It’s not parental laziness and definitely not about convenience (although the fact that they are easy and convenient are decisive pros), it’s about getting your child to actually eat some, any, veggies. The dumpling will happily eat 4 ounces of pureed garden veggies (which, by Gerber’s count contains 92 peas, 2/3 of a carrot, and 3/4 of a spinach leaf). If I sit him down in his high chair to eat, he might eat ten peas. Maybe? On a good day? If the stars align?

So where do I turn when he refuses the spoon because baby principles but won’t eat the same amount by hand? Pouches, my friend. Pouches.

I know! I know! Experienced parents are rolling their eyes at my naivety. I’d missed the whole piece of the puzzle that he would simply eat more vegetables via puree than he would whole. He’s got a short attention span and better things to do, apparently. That doesn’t mean I’ll stop giving him whole veggies to practice with. It just means that I can use the pouches on occasion to make sure he’s getting all the vitamins and fiber his little body needs. And yeah, I’m still a stickler for veggies. Even with the container purees, I only purchased vegetable or vegetable heavy varieties. I still compared fiber and sugar content and scanned the ingredient lists. But I’m happy to have found a solution for now.

Ducks as been-there-done-that parents pelt me with half-eaten pouches.


Post-weekend sigh of relief

It’s not that I’m psyched that the weekend is over (cause that’s crazy talk right there – who is ever happy to have the weekend over???). It’s just that Luffy and I both succumbed to a mild case of food poisoning over the weekend and we finally feel better.

For the record, poor Luffy’s been sick since last, last weekend and was just starting to feel better from that when we got food poisoning. Which is probably why his manifested first, poor guy. We think it was from Potbelly’s, which we had for lunch Saturday. His kicked in by that night and was in fully force by Sunday morning. Mine was ramping up Sunday afternoon and peaked in the overnight hours. We never actually vomited, but I don’t know if I’d actually call that a win since I, at least, felt like I was on the verge of vomiting most of that time. The rest of the time, I just felt like I had a lead weight in my stomach. Seriously, last night I tried to eat a bite of Luffy’s grilled cheese since I thought I was feeling a bit better. I swear I could feel it settle in my stomach. Gross.

But today! Today I was actually hungry when I woke up, so yay! Feeling much better.

So yeah, our weekend was a wee bit boring. We did see some friends. They came over to play with the baby and scope out our neighborhood. They’re looking into buying a house this Fall because they just adopted an adorable, though very energetic puppy.

I also taught my class Saturday morning in the pouring rain (I mean, not actually in it, but I did have to drive through it).

And, uh, we played with the baby. Totally a weekend well spent.

Most Eggscelent

The dumpling has been slowly taking to solid foods. I finally started sending oatmeal or yogurt with him each day, so he’s finally started eating solids at least once a day. I try to have him try new things or eat other foods whenever I can find time, which usually means me rifling through the fridge, looking for something he can eat. I was really proud of him this past weekend because he successfully had blueberries! He’d eaten them before, but in his mesh feeder, which means he’s just getting the juice. This time, I cut them up and fed them to him along with some yogurt. Two pieces disappeared into his mouth – yay!!!

About an hour later, however, we were playing on the floor and I spotted something dark on the roof of his mouth. Took him to the bathroom to discover that he had a squished blueberry stuck to the roof of his mouth! Poor baby! And I had been wondering why he was drooling so much.

In more foodie news, the dumpling also finally managed to swallow some egg yesterday morning. Luffy and I have eggs for breakfast every morning and we usually give the dumpling a small bite. Up until yesterday, most of that bite has come right back out, but yesterday he managed to swallow it! Yay dumpling! We sent him off to daycare and headed out to work.

About 11:45, I get a call from daycare (I swear my stomach falls out each time I look at the caller ID and see that it’s daycare calling). They’d given him his yogurt for the morning, but he was developing a rash, they said. It was spreading quickly and they wanted us to come get him. Luffy picked him up and I met them at the pediatrician’s office where she confirmed a likely egg allergy.

Our pediatrician ordered an allergy panel for the dumpling, but that didn’t go so well. The lab couldn’t find a vein and they need to collect more blood than a heel prick provides. Unfortunately, we’ll be headed back to the lab (hopefully one a little more adept at pediatric collections) soon to confirm. Wish us luck on this – I really hated to see my poor dumpling distraught over the prick, especially when it wasn’t fruitful.

While I’m bummed that he could be allergic to eggs (oh what a life! to be allergic to eggs), this is apparently an allergy that has a high likelihood of being outgrown. There are a few factors here (that he had a reaction early, that it appears to just be a reaction to egg, that the reaction was fairly minor, that he is a boy) that make the odds of him outgrowing it even greater than average. So I suppose we’ll see!

In other milestone news, the dumpling has gotten really vocal all of a sudden. He’s always had his chatty moments at home, when it’s just us. Yesterday though, when we were at the pediatrician’s office and then the lab, he was just a talking away! Screechy, pterodactyl noises too! He’s also beginning to learn “up” and will throw his hands up at you if you say it to him. I always enjoy watching him, seeing what new habits he’s picked up and what he’s learned.

It’s been too long

Sorry folks, but it’s March 31, which means year end 2016 reports are due out today…. which means my life has been hectic and busy, even without the five-month-old peanut.

Momentous occasion though! We gave the dumpling his first taste of solid food this past weekend. It was a sweet potato puree. I honestly can’t say what he thought of it because … well, he did this thing where he’d lean towards the spoon, get some off, furl his eyebrows like ewe, smack his lips some, and then start the whole process over. So. Not really sure what that means. He kept taking bites! And furling his eyebrows? And sort of eating! Yay? Luffy’s parents are over the moon that he’s started eating solids and are chomping at the bit to make food for him this weekend. Luckily, they’ve decided to start with an egg dish which is infant friendly, although I’ll be taking some sweet potatoes along in case the dumpling has no interest in the egg. At least then we can all laugh at his perplexing reaction.

But yeah, this week has been a little crazy. And busy. I feel like I’m running in a million directions, but not really accomplishing anything. Hopefully I’ll get better at this working mom and wife business soon.

Oh what a weekend

It’s quite possibly the most cliche phrase ever uttered on a Monday, but – man – I wish it were the weekend again. Luffy and I had a wonderful weekend and I would pay good money to rewind the clock to Friday so that we could do it all again.

The weekend started a few hours early for me when I left work around 1:00 on Friday afternoon. I picked up some lunch for Luffy and I and headed to his office for a little desk picnic. I don’t know about you (and your SO), but seeing him earlier than usual always puts me in the best mood. I then headed out to run some errands and clean up the house a bit in preparation of our EPIC Saturday plans.

First up Saturday were our standing lunch plans with Luffy’s parents. Not all that exciting, per se, but always delicious. We then headed over to a friend’s house for the last baby shower. This one was co-ed (and hosted by mutual friends), so Luffy tagged along. We had a wonderful shower, filled with fun games (the boys tried to guess the flavors of baby food and then, in a much more appreciated game, tried to drink beer from baby bottles), tasty food, and good company. Our friends outdid themselves and some of my favorite outfits came from them (seriously! little tiny Fullmetal Alchemist and One Piece onesies!! so adorable).

And then, as if that wasn’t enough excitement for one day, Luffy arranged for the most delightful treat for me and our friends: a private Frank dinner, hosted at our house.

Now, I’ve talked about Frank before, but one thing that I didn’t mention is that they actually offer in-home cooking (and some of the Frank experience) for private dinner parties. It wasn’t something I’d ever seriously considered (little awkward with just two people, don’t you think??), but Luffy decided that it would be a lovely thank-you to our friends for hosting our shower and a surprise for me. AND I’M SO HAPPY THAT HE DID. We had THE BEST time. He didn’t quite get to make it a surprise for me (he had to check that I was ok with it being at our home because, you know, he knows me and knew I’d want to clean all the things before I had professional chefs using my kitchen), but he did do all the heavy lifting of the planning and the prep.

Our chef arrived at little after 6pm. Our friends arrived at 7pm. Champagne was popped at 7:10 – and things only went up from there.

I’m not a food blogger, so bear with me and my woefully lacking descriptive skills, but you guys! The food! Was just unbelievable! We had risotto balls and THE MOST INCREDIBLE SOUP I HAVE EVER EATEN IN MY LIFE and octopus with assorted supporting cast members (like a delicious black bean sauce and a Cara Cara orange wedge topped with beer salt!) to create your perfect bite and chicken with waffles and blackberry ginger sorbet with granola and chocolate chunks. The soup! Best soup ever. Tasted like queso, but even more delicious. And I had three waffles to accompany my chicken. And Luffy told our chef that I like pickled things, so there were many freshly pickled items to choose from. And the dessert was incredibly refreshing and the perfect way to end the meal. The entire evening was wonderful. The wine flowed like water (for my non-pregnant friends) and they even made a couple of non-alcoholic mixed drinks for me. I had to turn in earlier, of course (a friend practically put me to bed herself after she caught sight of my drooping eyelids), but our friends stayed until about two in the morning.

Our Saturday was packed full of activities, so we did absolutely nothing on Sunday except enjoy the rain and football (and knock out the thank you notes).

Ahhhh, weekend perfection.

Dinner Fail

Have you ever had a meal just go spectacularly wrong? That was our dinner last night. I mean, not smoke-alarm, blackened turkey wrong, but inedible nonetheless.

It started with a plan. A great plan, if I do say so myself! Skirt steak using our sous vide, collard greens, and leftover cauliflower mash. Perfect! Delicious! Healthy! And, probably most importantly, beef! Which I have been craving for the past couple of weeks. A perfect Tuesday night dinner: easy, healthy, and tasty.

When I got home (a tad early because of the small fact that I couldn’t breathe), I began scrolling through Instagram which is always a bad idea pre-meal time because I subscribe to a lot of food accounts. And…. yes…. a pic of cheesy garlic bread looked too delicious to resist and Luffy ever so helpfully (or perhaps unhelpfully) volunteered to go get some garlic bread. Yay! The addition of some carbs to our meal surely wouldn’t completely negate the otherwise virtuous meal.

When Luffy got home, the bread looked so delicious that we decided to dig right in. An appetizer! Just add some mozzarella and voila! It was good. Real good. We ate the entire loaf. And had no regrets. I mean, vegetables were still coming, no worries.

And this moment, right here, is when things started going downhill.

When I went to start dinner, I pulled the collard greens out of the fridge and realized they had gone bad. Whoops. I tossed them and got the leftover cauliflower mash out. I reheated it and gave it a taste. Even through my congestion I could taste the fridge (I suppose it’s really staleness, but food that’s been in the fridge too  long just always taste like the fridge to me). Bleh. So I put those to the side.

“Don’t worry!” Luffy said from the living room. “We can have carrots!”

So he pulled baby carrots out of the fridge while I finished prepping the steak. We sat down to a salvaged meal. There’s still beef! There’s still a veggie! All good. And then we each took a bite of the steak.


So salty. Too salty. Luffy apologized for over-salting it that morning and wondered what he had done wrong. He had used the same amount as always. And that’s when the light bulb went off for me. He had asked me to pass the salt shaker that morning, which I did. But I passed him table salt and I suddenly realized that he usually uses sea salt. At the time, I didn’t think to ask if table salt was what he wanted. If you’re not familiar with sea salt, it doesn’t pack the same punch as table salt. You need to use a lot more sea salt to season food, so of course if you’re using table salt when you think you’re using sea salt – hoo boy. I kept eating small bites (because CRAVINGS – there was beef right there), but finally I had to stop. Luffy didn’t even try (because he is smart). We finished our carrots and he offered to go get me some food. I turned him down because I’d already eaten lots of bread and carrots, no need to pick up a meal.

I told him to think of the garlic bread as a fancy grilled cheese. Yeah…. that’s what I was going for. Grilled cheese and carrots. Totes healthy.

Dinner rut

We’re in a food rut at our house. We make the same dinners, on the same day, just about every week. The worst part is, we’re starting to avoid cooking because we’re tired of what we’re cooking. So we’re branching out to find new and exciting (and easy!) recipes to put together during the week.

I love cooking, but – you know – on the weekends when I have plenty of time and when putting together a meal doesn’t mean I have to race in the door and immediately start dinner prep. On the weekends I’ll happily put together braised short ribs or multi-step casseroles. Weeknight dinners, on the other hand, get relegated to easy, boring meals that I know will come together quickly and painlessly. Especially because I teach an exercise class after work two or three nights a week, meaning that I don’t get home until late.

Anyway, one of my latest hits was a stew that I actually used to make all the time like two years ago (or was it three??? man I’m getting old). It’s a slow cooker recipe, so of course it’s insanely easy. Chop. Dump. Pour. Set and leave. Done. Plus, it makes enough to give us four meals worth of food. WIN!! As with most slow cooker recipes, the results aren’t that appetizing (why must the slow cooker sap all of the color out of food?) but they are very tasty, so that makes up for it. I don’t even actually have a recipe for it, but I toss in black beans, tomatoes, chopped kale, an onion, garlic, plenty of peppers, and chicken. Top with a can of Rotel and let it cook on low for a while. Then I shred the chicken and stir in some low-fat cream cheese. Serve it with a little extra cream cheese dollop on top cause that’s the good stuff. Call it a meal.

But then, Luffy and I got real crazy last night. Our typical dinners usually involve a protein (salmon or sausage or chicken) and a veggie, so last night’s meal of cod and quinoa was way out in left field for us. I found this recipe a few weeks ago. We finally got around to making it and it was so delicious! And super easy. It took us probably about 45 minutes to put together, but I imagine that time will decrease once we make it a couple more times. Our only critique was that, though it’s billed as “spicy,” it wasn’t actually that spicy at all. (Hey – we’re from Texas – if it doesn’t burn our tongues, it’s not spicy enough!) Next time, we’ll up the level of cayenne and I’m also thinking of adding a jalapeno to the sauce. Still though, it was a delicious, healthy, and fairly quick dinner that I think we’ll add to our regular rotation.

Other surprise additions to our weekly rotation include the mythical unicorn dinner and pizza at a Neapolitan pizza place that we loved when we lived downtown and then we moved and were sad but then they opened a location in the burbs!! And yeah, that doesn’t really count as a dinner that we make but it’s real good and makes me happy.