Parenting

The Scramblog

The Power of Condiments

The Power of CondimentsYears ago, when I was completing my health coach training at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, one of the instructors suggested serving every meal with lots of condiments. The idea was that if you put lots of options out on the table, everyone could make the meal their own, tailoring it to fit their tastes. The concept appealed to me as I have always been a sucker for flavor boosters, but then I sort of forgot about it until a few years later when I was in the weeds trying to figure out how to support my picky eater. As I read books and articles and listened to webinars about feeding picky eaters, the message that I heard over and over again was to find ways to let the child have a sense of ownership and control over his or her food. I liked that idea so I decided to try putting condiments out at dinner as a way to help my picky eater take some control over his meal and make it his own. The change was miraculous! From the very first meal, my...

What to Do When your Kids Hate Dinner

I was recently talking to a new Scramble member who mentioned that one of the unexpected positive outcomes of joining was that she no longer felt stressed about whether or not her kids were going to like the food she served for dinner. When I probed a little more, it became clear that this wasn’t because they suddenly loved everything, but because by being offered a plan and cooking from that plan, it felt less like a rejection of her; it was less personal. This got me to thinking about how it can feel very personal when a kid, or anyone, doesn’t like or appreciate the food you prepared. It can really sting. So I wanted to share some of the ways I have found to shift this dynamic both for myself and my whole family.What to Do When your Kids Hate DinnerRudeness is not acceptable.When my youngest was about four, I instituted a new dinnertime rule: it was fine to not like the food, everyone has their own tastes, but it was not fine to be rude about it. As a family, we talked...

An Interview with My Formerly Picky Eater

The other night at dinner my 8-year-old, who was a picky eater for many years, said, out of the blue, “Do you remember when I used to be picky? I’m so glad I’m not anymore.” We then talked about how much things have changed and memories he had from dinners when he was younger. It was a wonderful moment because it showed how much his identity as an eater has changed. As we talked, it struck me as an amazing opportunity to learn more about a child’s experience as a picky eater, so I asked if I could interview him.An Interview with My Formerly Picky EaterWhat is your favorite food?Do I have to say one thing? Pizza, spaghetti and meatballs, burgers.What is your least favorite food?I don’t know because I haven’t tried many bad foods. Well, I don’t like stir-fry.Do you remember when you were a picky eater?Yes.What did it feel like to be offered a food you didn’t like?Well, I didn’t even eat it. But I also felt sad that I wouldn’t eat...

Simplify in 2019!

2018 has been a whirlwind, hasn’t it? So many fast-moving news stories, schedules that never seem to stop, and kids growing before our eyes. As we enter 2019, it can be tempting to come up with a long list of resolutions or goals that will make life better: get healthier, get organized, spend more time with family, get finances under control, the list goes on and on. I don’t know about you, but that growing list just adds to my anxiety and if I don’t accomplish the changes I hoped to see, then it also adds to my guilt. No thanks. So, as I sat down to think about how The Scramble could best support busy families in 2019, it occurred to me that the thing we could offer would be a one-stop solution that could help to simplify daily food routines and make them more pleasant, all while supporting many of the resolutions that busy parents tend to be drawn toward. Done and done! So, this year instead of giveaways or prizes, instead of challenges or competitions, we have put...

Creamy Cauliflower Soup with Pomegranates and Peanuts

This month’s challenge from The Recipe Redux was to share a fun spin on soup. For a while, I thought about offering up a curried soup or a whimsical soup bowl or bread bowl, but then I realized that this was a great opportunity to share one of the suggestions I make in workshops all the time: pureed vegetable soups with fun toppings are a winning option for parents of picky eaters. When my younger son was in the depths of his super picky phase, I had all but given up hope that there would ever be a time when he ate vegetables other than the occasional raw carrot. Then, one day, I made a pureed vegetable soup and served it with saltines. I showed him how you can crush the crackers into the soup and then scoop them out. And, like magic, he was hooked! I think he ate two bowls of soup that night as I sat (in shock) watching him shovel (and he was pretending to be a backhoe at the time) the soup and saltines into his mouth. From there we were off and running, topping soups with...

How to Involve Your Kids in Holiday Cooking

Thanksgiving is just the beginning. Between now and New Year’s Day, there are so many celebrations. Parties, family gatherings, and special traditions are all included in this busy time of year. For a lot of us, this means tons of cooking, which can be wonderful, but also exhausting. So why not enlist some help? Big cooking projects that are tied to special occasions are fantastic opportunities to get even reluctant cooks into the kitchen. Here are some ways to include kids of all ages:How to Involve Your Kids in Holiday CookingPreschoolers:Not only do they want to help, but they love to have ownership over a task. Here are some activities that you can give them to do that will actually save you time because they don’t require close supervision.
  • Pulling fresh herbs off their stems
  • Tearing greens for a salad
  • Combining dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl
  • Washing produce
Younger School Aged Kids:These kiddos are more coordinated than they used to be...

The Power of Sharing a Meal

The Power of Sharing a MealOver the past few weeks, I have been thinking a lot about what it means to share a meal with someone. I serve on the Board of Trustees for my sons’ school and we have recently been involved in a search for our next head of school (our beloved current head is retiring). This has meant a lot of dinners away from my family. It has also meant a lot of meals shared with others. As I have been sitting down to these meals away from home, both with people I know quite well and with others I barely know at all, it has been wonderful to see how the food on the table brings us together—it lightens the mood, it shifts the dynamic, and it strengthens the bonds that we are building. The food also becomes a topic of conversation and leads to discovering shared experiences and interests. It is essential to the community building that we are doing. At one of these dinners, a friend humorously recounted his childhood when he was the slowest eater in his...

Whole Wheat Pumpkin Pancakes

This month’s Recipe Redux challenge was to develop a pumpkin recipe. At first glance, this was a pretty straightforward and seasonally appropriate challenge, but I knew I needed to get it right from the get-go since testing and retesting a pumpkin recipe was going to be a bit of a challenge if the biggest eater of my test batches (my husband) wasn’t excited about the food (he’s not a pumpkin fan). I also knew that I wanted a new breakfast recipe for the make-ahead breakfast feature of our meal planning service, so I started playing around with ideas: pumpkin muffins (The Scramble already has a recipe for them), pumpkin oatmeal (has been a bust in our house when I’ve tried it before), pumpkin with eggs (I couldn’t wrap my head around that one), so I landed on whole wheat pancakes. But how would I make them light and fluffy? After all, the last thing you want is a hockey puck for a pancake, so I started researching different options and finally put together a version...

Worry Less About the Halloween Sugar with these Dinner Recipes

When my kids were first old enough to understand and appreciate Halloween, I was stressed—how was I going to be able to control the sugar intake? How was I going to navigate the meltdowns and fights over how many pieces of candy they could have? Could I cut trick or treating short to try and limit how much sugar came into the house? In short, I wanted to control the situation. My feelings about Halloween have evolved a lot since those early days. Over the years, I have decided that instead of focusing on the “bad” sugar, I would turn my attention to maximizing the nourishing and delicious meals that we can enjoy throughout the day so that when the candy gorging starts, I can relax knowing that their bodies already have been taken care of. If this approach relieves some of the Halloween-related stress for you, here are some fun ways to celebrate the holiday while filling those bellies with substantial food that will keep them going.Worry Less About the Halloween...

Getting Kids to Cook (and Classes to Get Them Started)!

As I have written about before, food and family dinners were essential parts of my childhood. Ironically, however, despite my mom’s best attempts, cooking was not. The poor woman tried everything to entice me to cook and I did dabble a bit, but mostly I just wasn’t interested. And yet she persisted. If I wanted cookies, I had to make them myself (the first attempt was incredibly memorable, but that’s a story for another post). If I wanted boxed macaroni and cheese when my parents went out for dinner (since they definitely weren’t going to eat it), I had to make it myself. And then, when my brother and I were in high school, we were each responsible for one dinner a week. I dragged my heels but she stuck with it, making sure I had the basic skills necessary to cook for myself when the time came. Years later, when I first started my career as a health coach, I quickly noticed a pattern: clients who came to me reluctant to cook often spoke of never having anyone...