WE'VE GOT MAIL! Tricks of the Trade

Truth be told, I have spent my life surrounded by talented cooks - on both sides of my family!  You already know about one of my cousins, who cooks for a living!  But here is a letter from another, who, when not working full-time at her job in the outdoor industry, is my go-to for recipe porn.  We have even discussed starting a business around junk food delivery in Seattle; we just keep getting stuck in the eating part of the R&D stage. :) Read below to see how she gets creative when feeding the two men in her life - both of whom are happiest with meatballs and pizza - something a little more health-conscious. 

Hey Sar-Bear and Libby,

Now that I'm feeling human again, after 21 whirlwind months of first time motherhood, I've started reflecting a little on some of the pre-baby commentary from those who came before me.  One of the things people tell you is that having kids is tough. But what does that even mean? Tough, like, physically challenging? Emotionally? Turns your world upside down?

Fast forward 21 months and I have a toddler. And I get it. Tough means headbutting the soft parts of your face followed by hysterical laughter so you can't get mad.  Tough means the whole dinner on the floor.  All of it -smashed into the carpet somehow even though he's still in the chair.  Tough means dirt, hair from three humans, and chocolate under the fingernails at the same time - which are impossible to cut (Sarah, I'm no doctor, but fingernail nerves go strait to the brain's scream reflex?).  And tough means, "Oops, I wore the same thing all week but was too tired to notice."

Now, let me first say that Charlie has been a perfect little angel and I adore the crap out of him. If you don't believe me, go check out my Instagram.  He's sweet, loving, and has been a fantastic sleeper, and really what more could you ask for?  But there's one thing that has been consistently challenging, and that is meal time. We started Little Man on solids when our pediatrician recommended them and he did great for a long time. Then out of nowhere, he developed an opinion. On everything. He loved scrambled eggs and then BAM! Woke up on a Tuesday and wanted nothing to do with them. Chicken sausage was my go-to and then HAHA Mom! Not so fast!  You want me to sit in my high chair and eat dinner? HELL no!  But I'll eat it off the floor tomorrow morning if you forget to pick it up!

The list of foods Charlie would eat began to dwindle and we were down to a handful of items, including cheese pizza, Trader Joe's frozen turkey meatballs, and cake (which he enunciates perfectly so that there is zero ambiguity in what he is asking for). I was dying. Teaching my child how to eat healthy, balanced meals is high on my list of priorities as a parent - his self-specialized diet sent me into a tailspin for months.  I was pretty down about all of this, but finally opened my eyes and realized Charlie is healthy, happy, and thriving. I just had to get creative.

Now my evenings are spent putting the little cherub to bed and then scouring the internet for websites, recipes, and advice on feeding toddlers. We've made progress and I get super pumped whenever he eats something new. The other night at dinner, Charlie was eating green beans out of his toes and then screaming GROSS at the top of his lungs. I couldn't have been more proud. 

A while back, I came across this great site, Super Healthy Kids, that has great recipes, tips and tricks for feeding kids.  There have been hits and misses, but I am loving this Date Almond Energy Bar recipe. I love that these bars aren't loaded with sugar and you can modify ingredients to fit different tastes (for example, adding Trader Joe's frozen turkey meatballs). It is Charlie approved (ok, I told him it was cake) and is a great snack for that other dude that lives in the house. Chris, I think it is? 


Date Almond Energy Bars

1 1/4 C Oats

3 T Whole Wheat Flour

1/3 C Wheat Germ

1/2 C Slivered Almonds

1/2 t Cinnamon

1/2 t Salt

3/4 C whole pitted dates, chopped

1/4 C Honey

1/4 C Olive Oil

1/4 C Almond Butter

1/4 t Almond Extract*

1/2 t Orange Zest

Preheat oven to 350 F. Line an 8X8 inch pan with parchment paper with an overlap on each side of pan. In a large bowl, mix together the oats, flour, wheat germ, almonds, cinnamon and salt. Mix in the dates. In another bowl, thoroughly whisk the honey, olive oil, almond butter, almond extract, and zest. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix well. Spread the batter into the prepared pan, pack firmly into pan. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until brown at the edges. Remove from oven and let cool for 15 minutes. Using the overlap of parchment, lift bars out of pan. Place on rack and cool completely.  Cut into 12 squares.

*I love almonds just as much as the next gal, but I halved the amount of almond extract. The bars turned out great and the flavor wasn't over the top.

Recipe adapted from superhealthykids.com