Hi! It’s me… do you remember me? Probably not. It’s been ages since I’ve posted, about a year, in fact. But I’m back! And I’m feeling inspired & ready to write… I hope. One of two things could happen however to ruin my good intentions. First, I could be my own worst enemy & the perfectionist in me could feel that what I am writing is never “good enough” to post… this will lead to editing & re-editing, changing, adding, deleting…Sigh… such is the life of a perfectionist. And speaking of life… the second thing that could happen is that life might simply get in the way! You remember I have twins, right? They make my life wonderfully busy but at the end of the day, there often isn’t time for anything else. When I began posting again at this time last year (yes, I am well aware this seems to be a pattern) I felt exactly as I do now… I felt inspired, I had so many ideas, I had really good intentions. The girls were sleeping better & I felt I had a little more time… & then… BAM! They weren’t sleeping, they were teething, there were meals to make, there was laundry to do, there was playing to be done, the house to be cleaned, sleep to be had (when the girls let me) & no time for this. But I’m going to try it again, so please bear with me!
So, here we are in 2016. How did that happen?! I am another year older (I will be 35 this year but that is a whole other post), I have a few extra pounds & shorter hair, but I am still ridiculously happy. My little noodles (which I like to call the girls, amongst probably a hundred other nicknames) are by far the best thing to have ever happened to me (besides of course my husband, for without him, those little noodles would not have existed). Where my girls were 6 months old last time I posted they are now 18 months old & their own little people. I still call them my babies (& probably always will) but they are toddlers. They run, they climb, they laugh, they play, they act silly (no, they act crazy!), they eat “real food”, they give hugs… they are wonderful.
The thought of leaving these two little monkeys (remember I said I had a hundred nicknames for them) was too much for me & so I decided not to return to work after my mat leave ended (in truth, staying home with my children has been something I wanted to do since well before I had any). So these two little girls are my life & everything I do, is for them. I love being a stay at home Mom, though of course, this doesn’t come without challenges, especially since my husband travels for work & I am left solo parenting the majority of the time. This means, I make 95% of the decisions, about everything. When to sleep, what to wear, when to play, when to eat & what to eat…
It’s the “what to eat” that has become the biggest challenge for me. I now completely understand why mothers the world over dread mealtime & come to hate cooking. Coming up with three healthy & nutritious but good tasting meals a day is damn hard work!! Life was simple when my girls were only drinking milk… make bottles & feed, easy. Starting solid foods was fun & exciting, making homemade fruit & veggie purees & seeing what they liked & didn’t like.
Now that they have sampled more tastes & textures they are developing their own palates. Little Miss K will eat just about anything. She is not really picky at all, although when she starts to get full she will often start throwing things to the floor. Miss S on the other hand, has become very picky. She will often decide whether or not she likes something merely but touching it to her tongue… if it’s on the “do not like list” she will make a face & then spit it back out or throw it on the floor. She wasn’t always this way, however, she used to be a very good eater, shovelling things into her mouth as fast as she could. While more picky now, she is still a very animated eater & it is quite entertaining to watch her. Miss S will eat something one day & then spit it out the next. It’s a bit of a food roller coaster with her some days & lately I’ve been having a hard time getting veggies into her. Both of my girls love pretty much all fruit, which definitely makes my job of feeding them easier. They love muffins or any other kind of carbs, especially Miss S, who’s favourite food currently, I think, is pizza. Miss K will eat most veggies, gobbles them up in fact, but not Little S. I was really starting to struggle until my sister-in-law recommended a cookbook to me, which is all about hiding fruits & veggies in food kids (& adults) already like. This idea is genius…why had I not thought of this earlier? I bought the book straight away & got down to cooking.
I bought Deceptively Delicious by Jessica Seinfeld & love this book. While I have already made a number of the recipes (which even my picky Miss S has gobbled up), I think this book has helped me the most by giving me inspiration. It’s made me look at fruit & veggies differently & I have hidden additional veggies in all kinds of dishes that are part of my standard repertoire. I’ve made mashed potatoes with cauliflower, Sheppard’s pie & pasta sauce with pureed broccoli & carrots hidden in, lasagna with all kinds of hidden veggies & turkey meatloaf with pureed carrots, just to name a few.
A little internet searching also led me to a similar cookbook (& website – The Sneaky Chef – I am going to have to look more closely at this!) about being sneaky with fruits & vegetables. Although I don’t have The Sneaky Chef, it looks very similar to Deceptively Delicious & really, the goal is all the same, getting our kids (& husbands!) to eat more fruits & vegetables.
So, back to my picky Miss S. I think I tried a recipe the day after my book arrived & low & behold, she ate everything I put in front of her. I wanted to jump for joy! I think my first attempt was Rice Balls, which were made with rice, chicken & sweet potato. Oh, did I mention she often won’t eat meat either? She loved these rice balls – one point for Mommy.
The added benefit of this book is that I’m not just getting my kids to eat more veggies, the hubby & I are as well! I want my girls to enjoy a variety of foods & grow up enjoying meals that are not only good for them but taste good as well. I have been re-inspired & am motivated to cook. I feel devious cooking like this, but it’s rather fun. Mealtime is still a challenge for me, but it’s a new challenge, a good one. What can I hide in this dish? Will the girls eat it, will they like it? It makes me feel better about letting them try a piece of that brownie at lunch – they think they are getting a treat – but I know there are also veggies hidden underneath that chocolate. Now, I am sure that with writing this, everyone who comes to our house for a meal will now be suspicious about what they are eating… but if it’s good for you, what does it matter if I threw a few extra veggies in?
But all of this leads us back to Pink Pancakes. You were probably wondering why this post is titled Pink Pancakes & I had not mentioned them once till now. Pink Pancakes are part of my motivation for getting back to writing here. Last week I made my girls pink pancakes for breakfast. They turned out a vibrant pink colour & were quite pretty, I thought, perfect for two little girls. I snapped a few photos & posted them to Facebook, asking if anyone could guess the secret ingredient.
Beets was the correct answer! Yes, I made pancakes with beets in them. And no, they did not taste like dirt. My cousin thought I was cruel for feeding these beet pancakes to my daughters… but in actuality, they gobbled up the pancakes just like they do every time I make pancakes, beets or not. What surprised me was how many friends commented on my photos & were amazed that I had gotten my toddlers to eat beets (a vegetable many adults do not eat themselves). Many of the comments expressed the same frustrations with picky eaters that I had felt with my Little S. Turns out getting toddlers to eat their veggies is tricky business for most parents, not just me! Many mothers were interested in where I had gotten the recipe & this got me to thinking… If I make something new that is “deceptively delicious,” to borrow the phrase, & my kids like it, I should write about it. Maybe someone will see it & say hey, maybe my kid WOULD eat that…
Although I got the idea for pancakes with beets in them from the cookbook, I just used my own recipe & added beet puree (& vanilla Greek yogurt). The wonderful thing about pancakes is that you can add so many different things to a standard pancake recipe to make them more healthy. I almost always add ground flax seed to mine. One time I added grated apple. I’ve added blueberries, raspberries & strawberries. I’ve made them with applesauce. The possibilities, really, are endless. One thing working in my favour at the moment is that my kids are still young enough that they don’t question why their pancakes are pink, they just eat them. Never would you get my three year old nephew to eat pink pancakes! But why not add blueberry puree & make them blue? He might eat them then….
This pancake recipe is the one my family has used for years… it is tried, tested & delicious, no matter how you make them. The recipe originally came from the Canadian Living Cookbook.
Basic Pancakes (Makes 12 pancakes)
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour (I often use half whole wheat)
1 tbsp. baking powder
1 tbsp. granulated sugar (sometimes I use maple syrup instead)
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups milk
2 tbsp. melted butter or oil
Mix together flour, baking powder, sugar & salt. In separate bowl, beat together egg, milk & melted butter or oil. Add dry ingredients to liquid, mixing until almost smooth. If making Pink Pancakes, add 1/4 cup beet puree & stir until mixed through.
Heat skillet or griddle over medium heat; brush with oil. Pour batter onto griddle using about 1/4 cup for each pancake (I make small pancakes if I am making them for the girls, but larger ones for adults). When the under side is brown & bubbles break on top side (1-2 minutes), turn over & bake 30 to 60 seconds longer or until second side is brown.
I hope you enjoy these pancakes, whether you make them pink or not. I know we love them & if your kids are at an age where they can help you in the kitchen, get them involved. My niece & nephews used to love helping me make pancakes!
My goal for the moment, apart from getting my kids to eat more veggies, is to post once a week (at least) about what we’ve been eating & what the girls have really liked. For now though, it’s time to figure out what to make for lunch!