Camping and Food

Two things that go together so well are camping and food. It seems like our appetites are at their all time high because of the exercise and fresh air. If kids or young adults are going along, pack plenty!

After years of camping in the great Northwest, we have found several recipes and food stuffs that are a must for or outings and I thought I’d share then with you – who knows, one of them may become one of your favorites as in our family and friends.

We always take a large cooler and fill it according to the crowd size. If friends arrive, they have also done the same – the more variation in food, the merrier. We also had a riverfront property that we owned and were able to keep a propane stove with a flat top and BBQ there so we did not have to pack them back and forth.

Usually, we would just have hot dogs and mild to spicy sausages that we roaster over the campfire. This was a lot easier than traveling after work and having to create a large meal.

We serve breakfast every morning – seems like those young’uns are always super hungry after their night of hibernation. We usually serve eggs, sausage, bacon (we make plenty for hamburgers later in the day), and potatoes. One of our favorites was made by a friends who combined tater tots, cheese, crumbled bacon, and green onions in a casserole dish and baked it. We don’t know why it tasted so good other than it was not a breakfast we had to make, or the flavors melded just perfectly. The best cheese is a Mexican blend of cheese readily available at the store. For and extra kick, just use peppered bacon and pepper jack cheese.

Lunches varied widely. Everyone’s favorite was what became known as the “River Burger”. We usually warmed up the bacon on the flat top. Using the bacon grease, we sautéed mushrooms and onions (kind of like what you’d get at the county fair). We then fried the patties on the flat top and, after turning them over, put slice(s) of cheese on them and let it melt. The burgers were messy, but excellent after piling all this on a bun.

Other lunches ran the gamut of sliced cheeses and deli meats for sandwiches, to BBQ ribs and potato salad or beans, to left over prime rib sandwiches from the evening before.

Dinner – more recipes here than I can list. Our Labor Day meal was always prime rib done on the BBQ and slow cooked over charcoal and apple wood, until the internal temperature reaches 150 degrees. We would then take it off the BBQ and tent it with foil for ½ hour.

Another favorite was a shrimp boil with pearl onions, small red potatoes, and pieces of fresh corn still on the ear. This was very easy to cook. Fill a large stock pot about half full with water and use an Old Bay Seasoning pack (or more if you like spicy food), and cayenne pepper to you choice of heat. Just dump it into the water. Start cooking the potatoes first. When they are about half done, throw in the ears of corn, then the pearl onions. When almost done add your shrimp and cook until the shrimp are pink.

The most fun was coating the top of a table with newspaper and pouring the whole works out on the table in a big mound. That way everyone just sat around a table and helped themselves. The corn on the cob is great and the spices seem to settle in around each kernel of corn.

Another favorite was whatever choices of ribs we wanted to use. I marinated them in a mixture of soy sauce, honey, rice wine vinegar, minced garlic, chili oil, and sesame oil. The marinade should be a salty and sweet taste at the same time. Dump the ribs into the marinade, put them in the fridge for 4 – 7 days. They are then ready for the BBQ and a simply the best ribs you’ll ever have. You can also boil up some of the marinade for dipping sauce. This marinade also works excellent for flank or skirt steak (you only have to marinade them for a few hours – then BBQ).

These are some of our favorites when camping. Try them and they may become some of your favorites, too. Nevertheless, there are so many choices, and so little time.

Managing Toddlers Who’re Discriminating With Regard to Food

Toddlers as well as preschoolers are infamously picky eaters. Eating issues can be found in most households. Countless mothers and fathers find the eating habits of their toddlers terrible: little ones either devour food hungrily, won’t eat, or opt for a certain food and take in only that for several days at any given time. Being a particular eater is a part of being a tot. Allow me to share 21 guidelines to help you bring in new ingredients into your small child’s eating routine and make sure he / she obtains an excellent nutritional foundation.

1. Fathers and mothers must keep calm at the dinner table and also on the subject of food. If you’re strict regarding taking in food, your son or daughter may turn this into a showdown of wills.
2. Bring in new foods slowly but surely. Young kids might regularly do stuff like a puppy. They will get it, sniff it, put it in their mouth and can well take it out. They need to see a particular food several times before eating it. Furthermore, choosing only 1 type of foodstuff at a time is normal for preschoolers. They might enjoy fruits one day, greens the following day and PB&J in the next few days.
3. Restrict your kid’s calorie intake before dinner. Juices and snacks an hour or so prior to meals will definitely take away the little child’s food craving and desire to consume food; they’ll look for more food about 1 hour after the mealtime.
4. Respect your child’s ability to make a decision if they are starving or otherwise. If they go over to the dinner table and they don’t eat, they may not be starving. If they request for snacks following a meal, make sure the snack you will provide isn’t sugary. You don’t want to make the after-supper snack more enticing than dinner itself.
5. Be sensible with your anticipations about precisely how much your kid will devour. After the age of 2 or 2 ½, physical growth slows a great deal and it may just require a a small number of bites before they think they’re full.
6. Don’t be a supporter of the ‘spotless plate’ group. By forcing your toddler to finish off their dish or drink every last drop in their milk bottle, you are only emphasizing the opportunity for an actual power war over food as the kid matures.
7. Allocate moderate helpings on your toddler’s plate. Generally, a plate heaped with food can be overwhelming for a child.
8. Point out the foodstuff at the table in terms of hues, figures, smells and smoothness or roughness, but don’t say anything at all regarding flavour.
9. Cook breakfast food for dinner. Hotcakes, cereal, omelettes and hash browns will make for a fascinating dinner time.
10. Utilise cookie cutters to transform vegetables into fantastic figures and form sandwiches, pancakes and pizzas.
11. Invite your little child to aid in shopping for the veggies and fruits whenever you go on market trips. When they are a part of the job, they’re more likely to have a go at the food as soon as it gets to your house.
12. Engage toddlers in prepping the food. For example, you can allow them to wash the veggies or combine the ingredients.
13. Add vegetables and fruits to foods they presently really like. Slice broccoli or green peppers directly into pasta sauce or add sliced fruits to cereal.
14. Toddlers always like to graze. Provide them with a snack tray of foods and put it where they can easily grab it.
15. In case your tot does not prefer different foods to be in close proximity to each other, aid them by distancing the foodstuff and do not serve casseroles. Kids’ taste buds aren’t as developed as those of older people, and sometimes, those combined foods just don’t taste excellent to them.
16. Utilise a plan during mealtime. Have your meals at the same time each day, with people in the exact same seats and the same dishes at the dining table. Your small child will be more likely to take in food when her / his surroundings are consistent and he / she knows the expectations.
17. Tots do not have the same issues with disorder as grownups do. In order to motivate your toddler to consume food, you can add a dip to the table for her or his food. Some of the things you can use to make a dip are cottage cheese, peanut butter, shredded vegetables or fruits, or low-fat yogurt.
18. In case drinking is more to your child’s liking, then afternoon treats could mean healthy fruit shakes.
19. Allocate a small shelf in the refrigerator stuffed with healthy treats for your tot. When he / she becomes hungry, invite them to go to it and find the treat they want.
20. Take it easy! Your child is not the only discriminating tot on earth, and he or she will not be the last.
21. Seek your physician’s assistance if you are still troubled. Before attending the appointment, keep a calendar for around 1 week to show the physician. The doctor will have a look at the meals (and portions) that your kid is consuming and evaluate her / his growth and development to know if discriminating eating has affected her / his nutritional base.

Raising a kid who is a picky eater could be tricky. However, if you don’t forget to take it easy, not set off any power problems involving yourself and your boy or girl and permit them to fix the pace, you will triumphantly get through the fastidious eating years.

Real Food, Real Kids, Real Love – 10 Surprising Ways to Raise a Healthy Eater

Almost nothing troubles us more than what our kids will (or won’t!) eat.

Whether you fear you are raising a carb-junkie, picky eater, or veggie-phobe, the root of that parental fear is all the same: that somehow, we can CONTROL our kids’ tastes if only we have the right advice and food on hand. So then we invest: in advice books, cookbooks, kitchen gadgets (slap chop, anyone?), and most notably in our time, stress, and energy. We kill ourselves in the kitchen, guilt ourselves over ‘failures’, and chide our partners and relatives for undermining our carefully thought out-efforts. Sound familiar?

The truth is, all kids are different. Just like they mature and grow at different rates, so do their palates.

Without further ado:

10 simple truths about raising real kids who become lifelong healthy eaters

1. real kids need real food

Helen enjoying a peach at the farmer’s market
Helen enjoying a peach at the farmer’s market

Whether you’re an omnivore or a vegan, it pays to eat real with your kids. This is the part that’s pretty much covered by Michael Pollan’s new book Food Rules (you can read many here at the Huffington Post). It’s pretty simple stuff – the closer to the plant, the better the food. Raw ingredients trump processed stuff. If someone is really trying to sell it to you on TV or it’s covered in shiny plastic and cartoon characters, probably don’t buy it. If you can’t pronounce the ingredients, then don’t put it in your mouth. Red food dyes are banned in the EU for causing ADHD behaviors – yet almost everything in a crinkly package here has the stuff. ‘Nuf said.

2. real kids have nothing added

This is an idea that troubles some parents. So many moms I know spend considerable money on supplements and pride themselves on everything they sneak into their kids diets, from spinach in spaghetti sauce to protein powder in the smoothie. I’m not 100% opposed to this practice (in fact, we absolutely love to sink a bunch of beets into a pot of chili) but I want to stress that if it’s stressing you (or your pocketbook) out, it’s not worth it. After the lead-laced gummi bear vitamin scare, I’d be entirely more cautious with any supplements -although, in the interest of full disclosure, Fish Oil ‘chewies’ are a daily treat for my daughter Helen. But in the end, it’s much more about the feeling you create around food than the actual nutritional content of the food itself. So do what you can within reason, and call it a victory.

3. real kids go on ‘food jags’

For the past 4 weeks, my daughter has wanted nothing to eat but applesauce. Before that, it was hummus. Avocadoes. Gummi bears (I don’t like to talk about those days). From toddlerhood onward, food jags are a normal part of childhood. Many psychologists believe it is a child’s way of establishing consistency and security, much like a beloved blanket or bear.

The only proven effective method with food jags is to wait them out, and keep offering alternatives. One day I know that applesauce will be on the outs. Something else will be the “it” food. Sort of like starlets and rockstars will be when she hits those oh-so-fun tween years.

Nutritionists say that you’ve got to offer a new food up to 20 times before your kid will try it for the first time. Without pressure or guilt or nagging. Tall order I know, but I’ve seen it work wonders in insanely picky stages of my daughter’s life. I offered her avocado 12 times – and on time number 12, it became food numero uno for 6-weeks in the running. Avocado’s gone platinum in this house!

4. real kids drink real milk

I generally don’t prescribe any particular food or way of eating to my clients – I want them to do what feels best for them and their family. I myself ate veg for 14 years, and now eat a low-meat diet with a huge emphasis on what’s best for the planet as well as my health and vitality. But I truly believe that there are many healthy ways of eating, and that so long as you feel good, you’re on the right track. That said, it’s not often that I experience a food-based miracle like this one. When my daughter was 10 months old, she was diagnosed with asthma. She was on a combo of breastmilk and formula (pumping supply issues – LONG story), and was wheezing almost constantly. After months of testing, she was put on a nebulizer with strong steroids and we were told to switch her to ‘hypoallergenic’ formula. Well, I took one look at the stuff and knew I couldn’t do it. Ingredient numero uno was high-fructose corn syrup. Then came a long, long scary list of disassembled protein chains and fats and all kinds of chemicals I couldn’t pronounce. UGH! We’d been prescribed this junk?

Well, while trying like mad to increase my supply, I began to do some serious research. What I found was astounding, and as an educated researcher I knew I’d stumbled across something big. The bigness is probably too big for this article, but if you want to do your own sleuthing I suggest the very non-techno-weenie friendly book The Untold Story of Milk. Tentatively, I joined my first Raw Milk co-op and brought home my first gallon of raw, whole milk – this was before Organic Pastures was widely available at Whole Foods, so it all felt very cloak and dagger. I switched both myself and my daughter – who had just celebrated a very wheezy first birthday – to all raw dairy products. I wasn’t sure if I was going to cure us or kill us, and entertained daily fantasies of ER visits and CPS knocking at my door.

And then it happened. Less that one week into my dairy-daredevil experiment, the wheezing stopped. And it has not. come. back. Her allergist actually cried when he listened to her lungs a month later. And I have been steadfast in shouting to the skies about the amazingness that is raw, unadulterated milk from clean happy cows ever since.

5. real kids don’t always eat their veggies – but they’re watching to see if you do!

This is one of those things that should be intuitive, but isn’t. OK, this story is going to feel like a big tangent, but I promise it isn’t:

For almost 3 decades, there’s been a national campaign for parents to read aloud to their kids. The idea being that kids who get read to become better readers. Only, a recent study shows that it doesn’t work at all – kids who get read to 30 minutes a day or more fare no better than their non-read-to peers. Yikes! So all those hours with Dora and Boots? Yup, that’s time I’ll never get back folks.

So what does cause a child to become a reader? Well, the only thing the study found to inspire legions of life-long bookworms was a parent who read books themselves, and frequently told their children, “Don’t bother me, I’m reading!”. So dive into that novel you’ve been putting off! (Oh, and thank you Mom – your beloved Mysteries made me the academic powerhouse I am today!)

I’d say we need the same attitude toward food – let’s call it the “Don’t bother me, I’m eating!” approach. So your kid won’t eat their veggies? So what? Are you eating yours? With gusto? As is so often with kids, they will do what we do, not what we say. Pesky that way.

6. real kids get back to the garden

No, not the stardust-golden-hippie variety. The hands-in-the-dirt, fresh sweet burst of flavor straight from the vine tomato variety. There is nothing, and I mean nothing, that will give your kids a leg up on living a life filled with fantastic vegetable-y goodness than having some time growing them.

This is what my own research at Oxford was all about. I saw the writing on the wall for nutrition education – despite billions of dollars spent in our public schools, the whole schebang had been proven a resounding failure. It was just a fact that telling kids not to eat BAD food, and to stick to the GOOD food just doesn’t work. They might change their habits for a day or two, maybe a week, and then it’s back to red-hot Cheetos and Mountain Dew. My question was, why?

That’s when I started diving into the marketing research. This is truly scary stuff. For 50 years, the food marketing industry has known (and exploited) what nutritionists either overlooked or ignored: that eating is all about how food makes you feel, not how food fuels your body. And yeah, that’s kind of what this whole website is about – it applies to adults just as well. But these companies, man, did they know how to make us feel good (“I’m lovin’ it!”). They spent $1.6 billion on making us feel good about their crap-in-a-wrapper in 2006 alone. It was money well spent – now most kids have strong emotional ties and ‘brand loyalty’ to every disastrous food choice made by a handful of junk-pedaling food companies.

So what can be done about that? It can seem overwhelming for sure, but in my mountains of studies on different nutrition education methods trying to stem the tide, there was one shining ray of hope: farm and garden programs. These programs were different. Instead of trying to browbeat kids into healthy eating with fears of fatness and early death, they got kids out in the sunlight and dirt – where most kids want to be anyway – and helped them experience fresh healthy food from a totally different perspective. When you grow, care for, cook, and eat a vegetable, you become emotionally attached to that vegetable for life. You eat with your heart, not your mind. I still have an almost unnatural enthusiasm for blueberries, because they were the first plant I ever successfully grew myself – on a condo patio at the tender age of 29.

This simple fact was my motivation for starting Full Circle Farm, and I have been blessed to experience this amazing phenomenon first-hand. I had a group of 10 sixth graders on the farm, and they were harvesting their first-ever patch of vegetables in the educational garden – a raggedy-looking patch of somewhat overgrown radishes. None of them had eaten a radish before (yes, you read that right). They all took bites in unison. These radishes were giants – and if you know radishes, you know that radishes that have gotten too big are woody and spicy. I’m kneeling there at the garden patch thinking “OH God, now I’ve done it. They’re never going to eat anything we grow here again.” Lots of chewing. A few crinkled noses. And then smiles. Smiles! I decide I must be wrong and try one. Blech! I had to stop myself from spitting it out. Every one of my ten students insisted that they loved the radishes. Kept eating them for the rest of the period. I smiled to myself for the rest of that day. Take that, red-hot Cheetos. Mountain Dew, you’re going doooown…

So whether it’s a carrot growing in an old rainboot, or a full-on homestead operation, make sure that you and your kids get your garden on!

7. real kids table-it at least a few times a week

Notice that I don’t say “every day, real life be damned”. Let’s be realistic here and acknowledge that many of us lead lives that don’t always leave us synched up and sitting at the table at the same time every night of the week. But most of us could also manage to do better. A few nights of eating at the family table can really do wonders for kids’ eating behavior, and also can just help tie the family together in ways that other activities can’t. Crickets the loudest thing at your dinner table? That’s definitely a sign you need to spend more time there, but don’t worry there’s help! You can make it fun with verbal games and conversation-starters. Here’s a great little list of dinner table ideas from Dr. Kristie Leong.

Dealing with a sullen teenager? Even more reason to get their butts to the table 3-4 days a week. In a groundbreaking study, researchers at University of Minnesota found that teens who ate at least 3 (notice it’s not 6 or 7, busy moms!) meals a week at a family table had an astoundingly different attitude towards food, which included:

* better nutrition, including more veggies and less soda
* better literacy (mealtime conversation, anyone?)
* less than half the risk for an eating disorder, compared to family table-less peers
* fewer high-risk behaviors
* positive feelings about sharing time with family – which they denied to parents, but confessed to the research team, lil’ buggers.

Why not try a high-tech version of ringing the dinner bell? Send a text to your teen: 5-minutes ’til your butt’s at the table.

8. real kids get chubby… then skinny… then chubby… then skinny…

So please, please don’t overreact when your kid gets a little chunky. It’s always good to limit the sugar and junky stuff in the house, but pointing out your child’s weight gain can be humiliating and damaging to her already-fragile body image (yeah, I’m talking to you, Mrs. Obama).

What to do instead? Take a good look in the mirror. No, not to tell yourself how disgustingly fat you have gotten! To ask yourself, how was I treated as a child that makes me want to react this way? Was that method good for my body image? Will treating my child the same way I was (especially if it is repeating a pattern of condescension and control) be helpful to her in any way whatsoever?

If you come from a house where gaining weight was shameful, you will have to be extra-conscious of how you react to your child’s very normal flux over the years. And remember, most girls gain significant weight just before puberty – they need at least 13% body fat to start their periods, and the body kicks into high gear to help that happen. Lucky them, this is also when they are most sensitive to issues of weight and body shape. So take care. Think of your child’s heart first, and body second.

9. real kids are commercial-free

So I’m guessing you can tell by now that I think food marketers suck. The only way to stick it to them? Make sure their $1.6 billion of advertising dollars fall on deaf ears. Some ads are so pervasive it’s hard to avoid them, but creating a commercial-free childhood should be the goal of every health conscious parent. There’s multitudes of research showing that TV spots for food are almost universally a nutrient-free, calorie-laden junk-fest. So cut the commercials, maybe even cut the TV. We have been TV-free for 2 years and haven’t looked back. Not media-free, TV free. Between iTunes, Netflix, and YouTube there’s plenty of media consumption going on in this house. We just do it without the ads. The great side effect? Not only are we not being sold to, my life feels considerably less… jangled. It takes about a week away from network television to realize that people are yelling all the time. What’s up with that? In any case, a TIVO and a quick remote reflex will also do the trick. For more information on a commercial-free childhood, I highly recommend a peek at the fabulous advocacy group, Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood.

10. real kids need real parents

Have you ever noticed the way your child looks at you? OK, parents of teens – remember back. In the years before puberty and the hormone induced door-slamming eye-rolling ihateyouihateyouihateyou fits, your child will gaze up at you with absolute and total adoration. We all have experienced these achingly loving moments, the pat on the cheek, the sweet gaze, the deep relaxed snuggle. It is the essence of the parent-child bond, and nothing is a better mirror for how you should feel about yourself. Your child, he knows that you are the most amazing, beautiful, strong, and fabulous person on the planet. Why can’t you bring yourself agree with him? Or can you?

It’s a rare person that can feel good about themselves all the time. But us parents, we have a great mirror in our children, one that goes two ways. Because our child loves us so unconditionally, we can mirror that love for ourselves and come closer and closer to self acceptance. We can see it in everyone we love, and everyone who loves us. We are perfect. Right now, not 10 pounds from now, not 10 years ago, not when you fit in your skinny jeans. Now. There’s a song here. No, literally. I think that the kick-ass gospel ladies Sweet Honey in the Rock put it best:

There were no mirrors in my Nana’s house,
no mirrors in my Nana’s house.
And the beauty that I saw in everything
was in her eyes, like the rising of the sun.

I never knew that my skin was too black.
I never knew that my nose was too flat.
I never knew that my clothes didn’t fit.
I never knew there were things that I’m missed,
cause the beauty in everything
was in her eyes, like the rising of the sun.

What does your child see in your eyes?

Camping and Food

Two things that go together so well are camping and food. It seems like our appetites are at their all time high because of the exercise and fresh air. If kids or young adults are going along, pack plenty!

After years of camping in the great Northwest, we have found several recipes and food stuffs that are a must for or outings and I thought I’d share then with you – who knows, one of them may become one of your favorites as in our family and friends.

We always take a large cooler and fill it according to the crowd size. If friends arrive, they have also done the same – the more variation in food, the merrier. We also had a riverfront property that we owned and were able to keep a propane stove with a flat top and BBQ there so we did not have to pack them back and forth.

Usually, we would just have hot dogs and mild to spicy sausages that we roaster over the campfire. This was a lot easier than traveling after work and having to create a large meal.

We serve breakfast every morning – seems like those young’uns are always super hungry after their night of hibernation. We usually serve eggs, sausage, bacon (we make plenty for hamburgers later in the day), and potatoes. One of our favorites was made by a friends who combined tater tots, cheese, crumbled bacon, and green onions in a casserole dish and baked it. We don’t know why it tasted so good other than it was not a breakfast we had to make, or the flavors melded just perfectly. The best cheese is a Mexican blend of cheese readily available at the store. For and extra kick, just use peppered bacon and pepper jack cheese.

Lunches varied widely. Everyone’s favorite was what became known as the “River Burger”. We usually warmed up the bacon on the flat top. Using the bacon grease, we sautéed mushrooms and onions (kind of like what you’d get at the county fair). We then fried the patties on the flat top and, after turning them over, put slice(s) of cheese on them and let it melt. The burgers were messy, but excellent after piling all this on a bun.

Other lunches ran the gamut of sliced cheeses and deli meats for sandwiches, to BBQ ribs and potato salad or beans, to left over prime rib sandwiches from the evening before.

Dinner – more recipes here than I can list. Our Labor Day meal was always prime rib done on the BBQ and slow cooked over charcoal and apple wood, until the internal temperature reaches 150 degrees. We would then take it off the BBQ and tent it with foil for ½ hour.

Another favorite was a shrimp boil with pearl onions, small red potatoes, and pieces of fresh corn still on the ear. This was very easy to cook. Fill a large stock pot about half full with water and use an Old Bay Seasoning pack (or more if you like spicy food), and cayenne pepper to you choice of heat. Just dump it into the water. Start cooking the potatoes first. When they are about half done, throw in the ears of corn, then the pearl onions. When almost done add your shrimp and cook until the shrimp are pink.

The most fun was coating the top of a table with newspaper and pouring the whole works out on the table in a big mound. That way everyone just sat around a table and helped themselves. The corn on the cob is great and the spices seem to settle in around each kernel of corn.

Another favorite was whatever choices of ribs we wanted to use. I marinated them in a mixture of soy sauce, honey, rice wine vinegar, minced garlic, chili oil, and sesame oil. The marinade should be a salty and sweet taste at the same time. Dump the ribs into the marinade, put them in the fridge for 4 – 7 days. They are then ready for the BBQ and a simply the best ribs you’ll ever have. You can also boil up some of the marinade for dipping sauce. This marinade also works excellent for flank or skirt steak (you only have to marinade them for a few hours – then BBQ).

These are some of our favorites when camping. Try them and they may become some of your favorites, too. Nevertheless, there are so many choices, and so little time.