Food for thought.

I have always been a bit obsessive mindful of DS’ eating habits, paying close attention to the food groups and making sure he had a balanced diet from the word go. Some might consider my behaviour a bit abnormal, I mean, I have been known to stand in the yoghurt aisle for a good fifteen minutes, noting each pot for it’s sugar, salt and saturated fat content.

Knowing this about me, my seven year old sister was a little anxious about staying at my house this weekend. She’s that kid you see in the TV programmes, junk food galore, shunning every vegetable in sight. My mission was to break her down, remove the crisps and replace with fruit and well balanced meals.

It wasn’t as difficult as I first anticipated. I allowed no room for discussion, outlining that her dislike for one thing or another just did not matter. Sometimes children and adults have to do things we don’t necessarily want to. It’s important to embed this young, teaching children to get over things easily, otherwise you end up with an adult who has learnt to be spoilt like me.

I made eating fun, getting DS and my sister to race against each other – who can eat the fastest, who can find the carrot first, who has the biggest chunk of salmon. If they grew tired of the games and receded back to moaning about their meals, I would not even acknowledge that either had spoken. I like to be hard but fair in my approach – speaking to children matter-of-factly seems to work well.

Some would view the spectrum above and believe the best position would be to place themselves in the middle – well balanced, a bit of everything. The stigma of mothers who stand firmly on the right end of the spectrum, is over presumptuous and gives excuses to those who wish they could have done better. Mothers who obsess over healthy eating slave away in the kitchen, they create children who are gagging for a bit of chocolate, alienated by their peers and when they are older they’ll over indulge.

It’s not true. It takes me 20 minutes tops to make DS’ lunch every time. We eat the same dinners. It is just as quick to pick up an apple as it is to grab a packet of salt ridden Walkers. Children who go without are resigned to this fact. When they are older, they will become equally as apathetic. Something went wrong for the children who do over indulge.

Hopefully my prudence will spur my sister on to eat with variety and encourage DS to continue his love for healthy foods. I don’t think I can convince her to steer away from junk food entirely – I don’t work miracles.

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Truite en papillote.

I have been following Rachel Khoo’s The Little Paris Kitchen on BBC2 and taking inspiration from her quaint French dishes. I thought I’d try out the truite en papillote, which translates to trout in a parcel.

Ingredients:

Half a lemon

tsp of salt

ground pepper

glug of olive oil

Medium sized rainbow trout (you can ask for this to be gutted, equally you can do this yourself)

Handful of new potatoes (parboiled)

Leek (Rachel Khoo used fennel, but I decided to use leek instead. You can also use red onion if you prefer)

What’s next?

First you need to prepare the rainbow trout. You’ll need to gut it, if it hasn’t been done already, and give it a good clean. I won’t include the picture of DH gutting the fish as some might find it a bit too graphic, but here is the link to it for the brave. Once that has been done, make a large incision on the underside of the fish and place it on some foil. The foil needs to be long enough to wrap around the fish later on.

I was very happy to make use of the zester I bought last year for the next bit. For the marinade, you will need to zest half a lemon, add the salt and pepper, then mix it with a glug of olive oil. Smother it all over and inside the fish.

Now the fish has been prepared, slice the new potatoes and the leek to fit inside the fish. Stuff the fish neatly and any leftovers can be placed around the fish. When it cooks, everything in the foil will soak up the tasty marinade.

Wrap it all up in foil, squeezing both ends to secure the juicy liquids. Rachel Khoo used the traditional method of wrapping the fish up in baking paper and tying it with string, but I think foil is much simpler and you get the same result.

Once wrapped and ready to go, cook in the oven at gas mark 6/200 degrees Celsius for 20 minutes. Once cooked, it the fish should be a pale pink colour, flake off easily and oozing with flavour. Your truite en papillote should look something like this..

 

Please, Sir, I STILL Want Some More.

Since my last nursery post on the 9th September, I am saddened to say nothing much has changed. DS is still coming home hungry despite my incessant complaints to the nursery. Wednesday 21st September sets a fine example of how his nursery fails to address DS’ needs.

Needless to say, my boy came home starving that day. DS has been eating two full Weetabixs since forever, yet somehow, he had only managed half of one on Wednesday. Following breakfast, he had a pathetic minimal snack which he obviously ate all of. He most probably did not reject lunch, but was neglected and left to fend for himself. I can only imagine the worst because there is no evidence to suggest otherwise. DS has always been a hungry boy, to the point that he tries to lick the bowl clean, failing that, he puts his face in the bowl instead.

This incident does not stand alone, as illustrated in my previous post, this is a regular occurrence. The food DS eats with me is not a one-off, I place him before myself and always ensure he has the best meals filled with nutritious goodness. Today he ate a whole bowl of porridge for breakfast, followed by three quarters of an apple and a cracker for his snack. For lunch he devoured a bowl of smoked haddock, spring greens, spinach, carrots and leek with cous cous. He is currently eating half a banana after he gobbled up whole croissant for a snack. For dinner he will share our roast beef with potatoes, carrots and whatever else I throw in the mix. It is incredible how little he eats at nursery in comparison to at home.

After much upset, DH wrote a response:

This is not new information to them; when he started nursery we made them very aware of our angst. DS started at twenty months old in an aged two to three room, with children who were capable of feeding themselves without aid, spoke clearly and were able to communicate their needs. DS can string a few words together and can demand things like a car and a ball. He would not demand food, water or a nappy change though – those things are not fun. He needs to be sat down and fed, given water accordingly and changed regularly without being asked. Adults often speak to children as though they should control themselves and have their own answers, however I believe children of all ages should be told, not asked; especially not rhetorically. I have witnessed one or two nursery workers who ask the children if they would like food and the conversation always goes along the lines of, “are you going to eat that?” .. “no” .. “fine I will take it away”. What kind of ‘looking after’ is that?

If it was a matter of survival then yes, I will hand it to them, they are doing a brilliant job. However, I am paying extortionate fees for my boy to be well looked after and I expect a certain level of standard. I do not scrimp and save, work my arse off all week, just to come home to an unhappy boy who has been neglected by people who are meant to be his carers. The staff are meant to bond with the children, engage them in learning activities, encourage them to read, and above all, energise them with nutritious foods. I do not see this happening, or at least, I am not hearing about it. Their 2010 Ofsted report states they should improve to ‘further develop the regular, two way flow of information with parents to maintain and support communication with parents and users of the service‘; a year on, a shabby school book they ordered especially for us because other parents receive feedback verbally does not constitute as a ‘regular, two way flow of information‘ I’m afraid.

Please, Sir, I Want Some More.

Over the past couple of weeks, DS has been settling into his new nursery. There have been a few hiccups to say the least, but that is to be expected in a new setting. Sometimes though, I feel such errors could be avoided if they had thought about their actions or used their common sense.

'wet and creamed' refers to DS' wet nappy and the moisturiser they applied to his eczema.

Take his meals for the day as an example (please refer to DS’ notes pictured on the right, click to enlarge). Daddy dropped him off at 9AM after DS had breakfast at home, yet they still gave him rice crispies; breakfast is usually scheduled for 8AM at nursery, do they think we starved our child from the time he woke (5AM)? Regardless of this, rice crispies is hardly a filling breakfast to set you up for the day.

We had asked for bread to be given when DS fails to eat at least 3/4 of his lunch; DS loves bread and it is a good solid substitute for any missed meals. From the information provided, Common Sense would tell you not to use a substitute as part of the main meal, as inevitably the other part would not be eaten. Another thing Common Sense would certainly point out is if you are stupidly going to give him bread as part of the main meal, change the substitute.

‘Snack’ and ‘Tea’ has been left empty as DS was promptly rescued by Daddy after his dentist appointment. For the rest of the day, he had a pear, a hot cross bun and homemade lasagne for dinner.

Now for comparison, let me enlighten you on DS’ meals for today (Friday 9th September).

Breakfast – porridge (all)

Snack – A whole pear and two buttered crackers (all)

Lunch – Mince, sweetcorn, marrow, broccoli in a tomato sauce with rice (I made too much, he ate his usual portion and a little bit more. I stopped him before he burst)

Snack – A whole apple (all)

Snack 2 – Crumpet and a plum (all)

Dinner – Roast consisting of chicken, potatoes, carrots, an onion and cauliflower and cheese (all)

He also had four poos today and only one yesterday at home, which only parents would really understand the significance of that.

I have a hungry boy on my hands and clearly the nursery is not delivering. I worry for my boy, whether he tells them he is hungry, whether he is ignored or whether he just does not have the appetite for the revolting food they supply. It is not the nursery workers’ fault in entirety; I understand they are young, childless and are unable to fully empathise with us mothers. But it is management who oversee these workers and should enforce better customer service, more attention given to each child’s individual needs and encourage initiative. He had the same difficulties at the start of his previous nursery, which means things can only get better..

A Public Disaster.

One of the main woes of parenting is the prospect of your child acting out of the norm in a public situation. Any circumstance is manageable in the comfort of your own home, however once put on the spotlight by single individuals who have no understanding, and even other parents alike, you almost buckle under the pressure. If parenting was not hard enough, the trials and tribulations of making a public display is almost unbearable.

DH and I had, what I would call, a mortifying experience today whilst lunching at Wagamama; it was one of those moments you hear about and pray it would never happen to you. DS had been absolutely fine leading up to this point, happily running around causing havoc and shouting ‘Mummy’ every few seconds to make sure I was a few metres behind. He had even devoured his pasta dish I pre-prepared, as well as picking at our plates. However, half way through our meal DS began to cough, repeatedly, until suddenly.. BLEUGH. Projectile vomit everywhere. A white liquid with bits of regurgitated pasta, peas and noodles formed a moat around us, and it just kept on coming. DS was sick for a fair few minutes before taking a breath and letting out a very loud cry.

Understanding, eh?

The waitresses and waiters were very kind and sympathetic to us and cleaned up his mess promptly. DH rushed to the toilets to changed DS’ clothes and clean the sick off his shoes, whilst I sat at our table soaking up the stares. I noticed whilst DS was being sick, there was a very animated man sitting a few tables away from us in a turquoise version of those Mr Men t-shirts from Next. He was obviously so disgusted he had to exclaim ‘oh my god’ to his friend, mimic the action of being sick, cover his eyes and turn his back to the situation, to later shoot me a dirty look. As if I poisoned my son to make him spew everywhere in order to purposely ruin this man’s lunch. How vindictive of me.

I was extremely apologetic to the onlookers, not because I was genuinely sorry, but I felt that is what they wanted to hear. It is easier to play the hopeless mother under public scrutiny than to hit them with the obvious reality; DS is a baby, babies are sick sometimes. I am neither a better or worse mother because of it. My apologies however were genuine to the staff who had promptly snapped on a pair of rubber gloves and cleaned up the mess.

Diners who judge parents on their baby’s behaviour should remember that the child is an individual. Sometimes they are sick, sometimes they cry, sometimes the parents are undergoing their own parental tactics for the long-term gain. Just because you are not ‘in’ on it, does not mean you are excluded; play the game and smile along, you will be home soon.