Saturday, May 16, 2009

Spaghetti Is The Perfect Toddler Food. It Is!

Today as I was making spaghetti for dinner, a thought occured to me. With a little jazzing up, spaghetti is the perfect toddler food.

Noodles for carbohydrates, mushrooms for vegetables, throw in a little meat for protein, toss some cheese on top. Perfection!

I got a $5 roast chicken for dinner last night. To be honest, it was just OK. I know I seem like I love all food...that chicken, I could have done without. Part of the deliciousness of those roast chickens are that they are so moist and delicious and this one kind of wasn't.

But, I didn't want to waste, right? So I shredded up a bit, and tossed it in the spaghetti. Can of mushrooms, handful of cheese on top, some good sauce. Perfect!

And speaking of kid nutrition, I found this article about sneaking in nutrition for kids. To be honest, many of these points just left me more confused then I started out.

The tips:

~ Most children will eat vegetables if they are a part of homemade soup.

~ Pass cooked vegetables in a food processor and add to hamburger patties, meatballs or meatloaf.

~ Finely grate zucchini or carrots and add to pancake batter.

~ Add finely chopped cooked vegetables to canned or packaged soup.

~ Add freshly juiced carrot juice to canned vegetable or tomato juice.

~ Add grated zucchini to square or muffin mixes.

~ Puree vegetables and add to chili or spaghetti sauce.

~ Add grated carrots to tuna or chicken salad.

~ Hide veggies in casseroles and main dishes.

~ Mix fat-free sour cream into a favorite salad dressing.

~ Serve raw vegetables with a favorite dip.

~ Mix regular peanut butter with freshly ground peanuts.

~ Use whole grain bread for grilled cheese sandwiches ~ the toasting will hide the color of the bread.

~ Go from white bread to 60% whole wheat for one month, then introduce whole-grain bread. You can make a sandwich using one slice of the 60% bread and one slice of the whole-grain bread. Serve with the lighter bread slice facing up.

~ Most children will eat a meal that they helped to prepare.

~ Let them make cookies with you. Use whole wheat and carob chips and they won’t know the difference, especially if they are the ones making the cookies. There aren’t too many children who will not eat their own baking.

~ You can create a desire to eat healthier treats by designating a new healthy treat as, mommy’s treat. You can say something like, "these are mommy’s very special yummy cookies, and you can’t have any, okay?" You can even place the cookies in a fancy cookie jar to increase the appeal. Let a couple days go by before ‘reluctantly giving in’ to their requests.

~ Sneak some whole-grain cookies into a bag of favorite mixed cookies, and eventually replace unhealthy cookies with healthier cookies.

~ Use cookie cutters to make fun sandwiches with whole-grain bread.

~ Mix whole-grain noodles into regular spaghetti or macaroni and cheese dishes.

~ Mix soaked soy bits in the ground beef. Slowly increase the soy/ground beef ratio in meals over time and they won’t notice that they are eating soy bits instead of ground beef.

To be honest, alot of these leave me confused. And I have a toddler, so I might be overthinking it, because I'm thinking in toddler terms, but really.

One of the points says to add fresh carrot juice to fresh vegetable or tomato juice. I don't know a kid that would drink tomato juice on a DARE. I'm 30, and I'd be pretty hard pressed to drink straight tomato juice. Oddly though, I quite enjoy carrot juice.

And what is mixing fat-free sour cream into your salad dressing going to accomplish, other then adding calories to your salad dressing? And adding peanuts to your peanut butter won't accomplish anything either. You may as well buy chunky, and save yourself the money it'll cost to buy the peanuts.

If we're talking the idea of sneaking more nutrition into a kids diet, letting them bake cookies seems sort of counterintuitive. Although I can speak to that - my two year old LOVES to get to bake!


  1. Orrrr, you can do what my mother did with us in the 80's (and I am sure many other mothers did too) and serve them what everyone else is having, and if they don't eat it they don't eat anything. My nutritious food was laid out in front of me with none of that time-consuming trickery involved in it's preparation, and I ate it. If I made a fuss and didn't eat it, I went to bed hungry. Most kids, if pressed, would rather begrudgingly eat whatever it is, than go to bed hungry.

    I ate wholemeal bread because that was all that was in the house. There was no debate about it.
    I ate healthy snacks because that was all there was in the house. My mother didn't keep junk food. I don't think kids nutrition needs to be as complex as sneaking things in. Granted, I have no kids so maybe I have no idea what I'm talking about, but I've been one, and when I was a kid, I couldn't get at what wasn't in the house - if there's no junk food at home, their access to it is pretty much limited to sharing with their friends at school.

    All those points you listed seem kind of complex and time-consuming - surely it's easier to just make a rule that the vegies get eaten or consequence occurs, and stick to it?

    Having said that, my aunty throws chopped up carrots, peas, and corn kernels into her spaghetti sauce as well as the meat, mushrooms and tomato sauce. It tastes fantastic and looks great too. You can pretty much throw any vegetable into a spaghetti bolognese - eggplant, zucchini, peas, corn, mushrooms, carrot, which, as you said, makes it perfect for kids - plus slurping all the pasta up is so much fun!

  2. Right? My mom did the same thing. We ate what was on the table, or we ate peanut butter. I spent many a day eating liver with her, because that was on her diet at the time. Really!

  3. It just seems so obvious. You're the parent, you make the rules. You don't cater to your kid's whimsical dislike of whatever it is they've gone off that particular week, you make them eat what you give them. Isn't that why people have kids? So they can make them eat all the disgusting stuff their own parents made them eat? LOL.

  4. My parents rule was, "You eat what's for dinner, a bowl of cereal, or nothing at all." My brother ate many bowls of cereal in his youth. I've never been a big fan of cold cereal, so I ate what was for dinner. Their other rule was, if we said we didn't like something, we had to try it, and it didn't count unless they SAW US try it. They spent a lot of time looking away at just the right moment, which ended in us eating a fair portion of what was on our plates whether we liked it or not. We learned not to be fussy, and they didn't have to fuss with tricking us into healthy meals.

    I think the key to healthier eating through baking cookies together is the substitutions - you can use whole wheat pastry flour instead of all purpose white flour. Carob instead of chocolate. Raw sugar instead of highly processed and refined white sugar.

  5. Ooh, that's a good idea! I think I'm going to look for some raw sugar at the store!