Archive | December, 2013

Invoking the Jolly Green Giant and Other Tricks: Getting My Kids to Eat Green Stuff

broccoli1

Photo by Rick Harris, under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0

During this magical time of year when we’re assaulted by rich foods and sweet treats, I’m trying to balance out the cookies and eggnog in my house with foods that have actual color and crunch.  My kids adore fruit, but vegetables are another story.

Here are a few tricks that have worked for me to get my little ones to eat their veggies (at least, to date):

  • Broccoli-eating monsters.  We started this game when my son was about two and it surprisingly worked. We’d pretend he was a monster and I’d beg him, as one of the poor village people, not to eat all of the trees in our forest.  This delighted him, of course, and he mercilessly scarfed all his broccoli down.  Hopefully this behavior is not a predictor of his future environmental politics.  Recipe: Roast broccoli florets with a little olive oil, salt and pepper in a 425 degree oven for about 15 -20 minutes.  I am completely sold on roasting all my veggies these days.  It gives them a nice, rich caramelized flavor that’s almost sweet.  For a particularly decadent recipe, try Ina Garten’s Parmesan Roasted Broccoli. Yum! Other favorite veggies to roast include sweet potatoes and onions, and brussels sprouts.
  • Smoothies.  I put all kinds of fruits and veggies in smoothies for my kids but refer to them as “milkshakes.”  It’s always about the marketing, isn’t it? Because I can’t consistently get my daughter to slurp down a green drink, I use this trick: blend a couple handfuls of spinach with a little almond milk or milk, making sure to get out all the spinach chunks. Then add frozen or fresh berries, bananas and other fruit of your choice. The colors of the berries override the green of the spinach.  Ta da – fruit milkshake!
  • Egg “muffins”. Basically a scramble in a muffin tin. What’s not to love?  Here’s a basic recipe you can tailor based on what’s in your fridge. I like to include spinach/greens, mushrooms, onions. They also freeze well AND you can stick ‘em in a lunch box. Multi-purpose perfection.
  • Pasta/stir fry – The old stand by.  I sneak in all kinds of veggies into my kids’ pastas and stir fry recipes.  Mostly successful, except for a note that came home in my son’s lunch box a few months ago, in connection to his uneaten, broccoli-laced pasta (sic):20130523_121431

Clearly, this is still a work-in-progress.

I’m always looking for new ideas and inspirations to increase our green intake if you have any to share. Happy holidays and happy veggie eating!

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Lessons from the Valley and the Sandbox

DSC01840I’ll let you in on a little secret.  I’m kind of a luddite.

Even after living and working in Silicon Valley for years, being married to a computer scientist and giving birth to two digital natives, I’m just not much of a techie.  I don’t enjoy learning how to use a new phone and I find myself frustrated when my Gmail gets updated. Chalk it up to my inner grumpy old lady.  Bah humbug.

But, I’m intoxicated by the wealth of information available at my fingertips. And I’m passionate about the potential of technology to provide access to information to folks all around the globe and ultimately help level the playing field.  That’s what inspired me to work in technology.

And recently, I’ve come to realize how much I’ve learned about living from this cradle of innovation that is Silicon Valley and how much it overlaps with what I’ve learned from my kids.  Perhaps this isn’t surprising seeing as work and kids have been the dominant spheres of my life over these past 5+ years. Still, I’m struck by the parallel of what these two worlds have taught me about life/living:

  1. Take risks and fail fast. Childhood is all about risk taking.  Learning how to crawl, walk, talk, interact with others, share, create.  I watch my 2 year-old and see how she’s experiencing something new every day.  How wonderful and terrifying that must be! Somewhere all the way to adulthood, many of us forget the importance of taking risks and of failing.  Even the joy in failing.  But if you view failure as inherent to innovation, as the culture of Silicon Valley does, it becomes a stepping stone to learning or creating something new.
  2. Launch and iterate. Just start. For a planner like myself, this can be a tough one.  Watching my son build with his legos or my daughter draw a picture, I’m reminded of the importance of diving in and the process of creating and adjusting along the way.  You can’t know where the endpoint will be before you begin.
  3. Question the status quo. There’s nothing like living with a 4 year-old (or working with engineers) to remind one of the importance of questioning everything.  At times, this can be exhausting (I’m thinking of the car ride home the other night), but ultimately, I find it opens you up to view your life with fresh eyes.
  4. Take play seriously. Working in Silicon Valley and raising kids has reminded me of the importance of play. Frankly, it’s sometimes easier said than done to embrace this one since it really requires being completely in the moment.  But I’m trying.  I’m more conscious of letting my daughter wrap up her play before getting ready for bed.  I’m trying to give my full, undivided attention when my son wants to pour over every inch of his Star Wars character encyclopedia with me. I’m playing wholeheartedly with my kids.  And I’m trying to make sure I take time to play myself.

As I navigate a career shift in my own life and transition from raising babies/toddlers to little kids/people, I’m taking all of these lessons to heart.  Thus, the birth of this blog.

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