GastropodGastrokid is a blog devoted to kids and eating in a witty, informative way, rather than a “my child loves arugula” way. Their most current post references the chef of one of my most used cookbooks, (see previous post) Mark Bittman with his recipes for quick & easy meals, how can that not be enticing? Check out their recipe for cupcakes using my favourite, Green & Black’s organic chocolate. If you’re into kids and eating you’ll want to cruise around Gastropod or add it to your RSS feed.

cooking with kids

As a promised follow up to my post on Grow Your Own, we went right to the source and asked the fine (and knowledgeable) folks at Barbara Jo’s Books to Cooks for their favourite books for cooking with and for kids. I’ll start with cooking with kids and post later on cooking for kids.

Kids Cook 1-2-3Mark Bittman himself (author of one of my most used and recommended cookbooks How to Cook Everything) recommends KIDS COOK 1-2-3: Recipes for Young Chefs Using Only 3 Ingredients, By Rozanne Gold, Illustrated by Sara Pinto. You can read his review of a few different kid’s cookbooks in the New York Times, you’ll need to sign up for an account, but it is free.

Kitchen Garden Cooking with Kids by Stephanie Alexander is definitely in keeping with the whole idea of getting your children interested in their food and where it comes from. Because it’s Australian it uses metric measures and temperatures, but Barbara Jo’s still recommends it because Stephanie Alexander is (and I quote) “wonderful” and the book is chock-a-block with project ideas for getting your kids interested in food, gardening, composting, etc. There’s a great website that goes along with the book that’s definitely worth checking out.

Sam Stern’s Cooking Up a Storm: The Teen Survival Cookbook by Sam and Susan Stern, this is a British book, but all the measurements and temperatures have been converted to North American standards. Now, I’ve yet to start thinking about the teen year issues, my feet are still firmly planted in toddler and preschooler survival mode. Share 14-year-old Sam Stern’s recipes, and try them yourself if you’re a teen cook or cook wannabe.

Barbara Jo’s has also created a list of great books on Socially Conscious Consumption, which includes two of my current favourites, Marion Nestle’s What to Eat and local phenom The 100 Mile Diet. I’m thinking of starting, either in tandem with Barbara Jo’s or as an offshoot of Healthy Mum, Happy Baby and yoyomama a . If that sounds interesting to you it would be great if you could comment on this post or send me an email – I’m thinking books around food and gardening and going green and eating locally that are either aimed at kids or their parents. So let me know a) if you’re interested and b) what you think the focus should be!

survival tips for new moms

From the July 8th issue of the Vancouver Province:

It was three in the morning.

New mom Annemarie Tempelman-Kluit found herself wandering around the house, ravenously hungry, wondering if she could stand to eat another container of yogurt or another healthy cookie or bowl of cereal. Again.

“It’s awful!” she says. “People tell you a lot of stuff about having a baby, but nobody tells you what to do after you have the baby. Nobody told me I’d be that hungry, or that thirsty. You don’t realize how little time you’re going to have. I thought there had to be a better way.”

oh canada!

We thought it would be colour appropriate to go strawberry picking today. We were tempted by more festive celebrations, but after seeing how mellow (& sleepy) the girls were after we visited the UBC Farm yesterday morning (an aside – we highly recommend the Saturday morning market to all parents, bring a picnic and stake out one of their table, and bring lettuce for the chickens.) we thought another agricultural outing might be more fun, and guarantee good napping.

oh canada!

We met my Dad and the girls went for it. M preferred filling her bucket from strawberries my Dad had already picked over picking her own. Lucy was in her own private strawberry heaven – eating them, squishing them in her fingers, and stomping on them…who knows how much dirt and pesticides she ingested, but I’m hoping the whole picking locally thing will mean they’re not as bad as strawberries from farther afield. Plus M, who’s not previously been a strawberry fan, now says she loves them, which gives credence to the whole theory behind getting your kids involved in growing their own food!

Our berry picking tips for going with the very young include making sure you have a ratio of one adult per child, don’t plan to stay for more than 45 minutes or an hour, make sure everyone has their own basket for picking, bring lots of wet naps, sunscreen, sun hats and refreshing beverages.

If it wasn’t for yoyomama I wouldn’t be tracking all the goings on in town as much as I am, so it’s a great offshoot of the site that we’re exploring our city more than ever.

it’s d-lovely

In light of all the news of late about the benefits of Vitamin D I’ve been wondering if I should start supplementing with it or mainlining it or not worrying about it at all. . .Health Canada has just updated their recommendations around Vitamin D and Health and they’ll be participating in a conference in September of 2007 to review the efficacy and safety of Vitamin D – in the meantime, they recommend that for now “all Canadians over the age of two consume 500 mL (two cups) of milk every day for adequate vitamin D and in addition encourages everyone over the age of 50 to take a daily supplement of 400 IU of vitamin D. ”

Remember – too much Vitamin D can be as bad for you as too little – I’ve made a mental note to update this in September once they’re newer recommendations are out.

want to win a copy of healthy mum, happy baby?

want to win a copy of healthy mum, happy baby?

Urbanmommies is a great local site by mums and for mums with loads of info on health, fitness, what’s happening and how and where mums can get support. This month they’re running a contest to win one of five Breastfeeding Bundles.

The bundle includes Healthy Mum, Happy Baby, Nipple Cream from Bug & Pickle and a Parent Posture DVD which I’m itching to get my hands on, my posture not being what it could. All the details on are their site.

And speaking of local resources don’t forget yoyomama (if you sign up in June you could win Bug & Pickle’s Head-to-Toe Baby Wash & Baby Lotion – are you seeing a B&P theme here at all?).

garlic ginger sweet potato soup

garlic ginger sweet potato soup

Here’s another tip to make cooking quicker – that’s the rub of writing a cookbook, the recipes keep evolving as you do, but in the book they’re stuck in time.

Anyhow, I read this idea in Nutrition Action Magazine. Rather than spending time doing all the peeling, washing, baking, scooping and pureeing needed for Garlic Ginger Sweet Potato Soup (p. 158 of “the book”) buy your sweet potatoes pureed already. This will cut down a lot on the prep time & cooking time for this recipe. The recipe calls for six large sweet potatoes, I’d substitute about three 15 oz cans of puree.

Granted, you still need to roast the garlic and ginger, but that’s a snap compared to roasting (and pureeing) the potatoes.

Farmer’s Market Organic purees are great, and there’s no sugar added etc. I use their pumpkin puree for these great muffins from O Magazine (that aren’t the fastest muffins to make, but are super tasty): Pumpkin Applesauce Muffins

hands up anyone who’s breastfeeding

From the July 5th issue of the Georgia Straight:

Hands up anyone who’s breast-feeding. Something of a challenge when one arm is around the little one and the other is propping open your eyelids. Local author Annemarie Tempelman-Kluit has been there and done that, which is why she penned the enormously practical Healthy Mum, Happy Baby: How to Feed Yourself When You’re Breastfeeding Your Baby (Random House Canada, $25) for the real–rather than the mythical–yummy mummy. Mother of two youngsters, Tempelman-Kluit brings honesty and humour to a neglected topic: how to keep you and your family well – fed when you’re starving and sleep deprived. Breakfast smoothies to almost-instant pizzas–it’s all here, along with reassurance from other moms and even light-reading lists. Skip the hand-embroidered diaper bag and give this to new parents, along with the URL of Tempelman-Kluit’s hip new, locally focused and reality-based newsletter and Web site,, aimed at those who don’t plan to put their two-year-old in a designer bikini.

tyranny of the child gurus

A friend sent a link to an great article from Britain’s The Independent newspaper from May 22nd called Tyranny of the child gurus: You don’t have to be a paranoid parent which is well worth reading, it starts:

There was a time when parents were told that to guarantee family happiness, children should be seen and not heard. Today it seems, to some, that a role reversal has taken place. In the 21st century, it is the parents themselves who are being told to shut up and learn from their betters.

The once private world between parent and child has been annexed by an army of policymakers, so-called childcare gurus and supernannies proffering a bewildering array of daunting, if well-meant, advice.

And there’s great stuff on how mothering has been taken away from mothers and handed over to “the experts”, plus the whole hollywood mother image of losing all your baby weight post-haste etc. Plus there are low downs on the theories and practices of Jo Frost (aka Super Nanny), Sheila Kitzinger and Dr. Spock among others.

I was interested to read it because it crystalized some of the things I wrote about in the book like weight loss and knowing your own child and trusting your own instincts, so it really echoed with me.

grow your own

Does all this talk of childhood obesity freak you out a little? Me too. A new report from the Saint Louis University Medical Center concludes that children who are involved with growing and cooking their food have a better diet. If a school has a garden the students also eat more fruits and veggies, and know more about eating healthily.

It’s a good time of year to start thinking about growing your own fruits and veggies to harvest over the summer and in the fall – apparently this past weekend was a doozy for garden centres etc. If’ you’ve got a black thumb like I do you may need some help,so here are a few websites with helpful planting info:

You Grow Girl – Canadian Gayla Trail’s site and books approach gardening with a laid-back approach which focuses equally on environmentalism, style, affordability, art and humour.

If you’re like us and you don’t have a patch of garden to call your own, you may want to look for space in your local community garden – it may be too late for this season, but you can always reserve for next and you could start small by growing fresh herbs on your windowsill.

Here are a few tips from Better Homes & Gardens on starting a garden. Brian Minter’s site is good too, as is his call in segment on BC Almanac on CBC. The Natural Gardener, a store on West 10th Avenue here in Vancouver, also has useful classes to get you going, and an archive of articles. Plus if you go in, Bob, the owner, is super helpful.

Coming soon – cooking with your kids, tips & tricks for involving them without destroying your kitchen…