Monday, May 24, 2010

Join The Revolution!

Huntington, West Virginia: The most obese, unhealthy city in the most obese, unhealthy country in the world. More than half of Huntington's residents are morbidly overweight, and suffer a myriad of life-threatening ailments due to that weight. Not just the adults, but the children. The elementary schools serve frozen pizza for breakfast, then fat-fried chicken nuggets and french fries for lunch. Then they go home and have loads of junk or fast food with their families. Teens are developing Type 2 Diabetes, Hypertension and spots on their liver. People are dying 15-30 years earlier than they have to, and the local funeral parlors have caskets three times the size of normal ones that take up two grave plots simply to accommodate the enormous sizes of the corpses.

One day, Jamie Oliver, U.K.'s "Naked Chef" read about this phenomenon and decided enough was enough. So he took a three-month trip to Huntington and proceeded to turn their entire way of life around 360 degrees.

He taught them how to make quick, simple recipes that uses fresh, not processed ingredients. He also taught them exactly what was in the crap they were eating, as this next video will show you.
What you see here will shock you. I saw this and vowed never to eat a chicken nugget again as long as I live. I got home, wrenched them out of the fridge and tried to throw them out but I couldn't- because my family was poor and I was taught to never ever waste food!! But seriously, can this even be considered food?

If you can't see this video, the link to it is here.
By the way, Jamie does that little show and tell session all the time in the U.K. and it works with 100% of the kids, they see how it's made and they get it through their heads it's nasty and they shouldn't eat it. When the american kids raised their hands, however, Jamie was absolutely floored. He asked them why they'd still eat it and all they could say was, "We're hungry."

The end result of the show was they got a public elementary school and a public high school to completely change their menus to all fresh ingredients, and you know what? The kids absolutely loved it. The local CEOs of the hospitals gave tons of money to help keep the program open long after Jamie left. Since then, our Naked Chef has been going all around the country getting people to sign a petition that would help make the fresh foods option a reality for ALL public schools in the entire nation. I'm asking all of you, even if you don't live here, if you care about the future generation, please at least pass this website along, or spread awareness about the program.

This is the first generation that is expected to live shorter lives than us because of all the additives and harmful chemicals we put in our food. Doesn't that bother you? Do something. Cooking should be an act of love. Shoving a processed slate of frozen pizza into the microwave for your child is an act of hate. Cooking at home is simple, fun and it brings a family together. It's a value that seems to be lost on today's generation, and all I'm looking to do is help get it jump-started again.
Sign the Petition.
For me, for today's youth and for your own peace of mind. Thank you.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Sushi 101

For those who never saw my blog on the last Valley incarnation, I posted a sort of "sushi made simple" guide to making your own, even for absolute beginners. I think it's time to repost, with some added pictures and tips for good measure. What do you think?

I agree. Let's start with step 1.

Supplies you'll need:

Nori or Seaweed Paper.

This is a very delicate sheet made of seaweed that you wrap the sushi with. Usually, 10 of them come in a package. They can either be roasted or flavored with herbs. I need to stress that this stuff is ultra delicate so when working with it, be very careful. 

A bamboo sushi rolling mat.
You can get this plus the nori paper in any Asian supermarket or specialty store. It's not expensive at all. A package of nori paper goes for a bit under $2 and the rolling mat you'll find for around the same, and the mat is reusable. If you really can't find it, I guess you can use wax paper or your bare hands, but you won't get it as tight as it needs to be.

Sushi Rice.
This is an Asian style, short grain, glutinous sweet rice. What you're looking for when you cook it is that the rice should stick together enough that mouthfuls can easily be picked up with chopsticks, but not be at all sticky or gummy. Each grain should be white and smooth, almost pearl-like, and should taste subtly not just of starch but of delicious grain.
You can either boil it, pressure cook it or put it in a rice steamer like Ghostshouter did for our sushi party. If you can't find sushi rice, any short to medium grain rice will do. Brown rice doesn't stick together as well, but I have seen it used in sushi before. This by far will be the most expensive part of your sushi; a medium bag of sushi rice can cost upwards of $6-8, depending on where you go.

Rice vinegar
Rice Vinegar is a mild vinegar made from fermented rice or rice wine. It's dirt cheap, I get a huge bottle for a dollar and change. This stuff does wonders for a stew or stir fry as well. Ghostshouter uses a special spiced vinegar to flavor his rice but I don't like the way it tastes. Your best bet is to just go with a plain rice vinegar, it's cheaper. 
To make the sushi rice taste perfect, follow this simple recipe:

2 Cups cooked rice
3-4 Tbspns Rice Vinegar
2-3 Tbspns Table Sugar
2 tspns Table Salt

Once it's all mixed together, you're ready for Step 2:

Choose a fish. Nobody says you have to have fresh salmon, tuna steak or roe when you first start out, that's way too expensive and you're going to screw up the first few times so it would be a waste. They sell a can of roasted eel in sauce for $2 in the same places I usually get my nori paper, and it's mouth-wateringly delicious. This is what it looks like.
They're a bitch and a half to open, and some of them contain black beans, so be careful.

Yes, you can use tuna fish. Yes, you can use marinated salmon from a pouch, or salted anchovies from a jar. Yes, there can be herbs and spices, and even lemon zest if you want. And no, there doesn't have to be fish in it at all; stuff it with a mixture of avocado, cucumber, scallion and salad greens if you want, it will still be an awesome sushi roll. Remember that sushi is supposed to be edible art, so use your imagination. Make sure there's a variety of colors, textures and flavors in there to make it as appealing visually as it is to your taste buds. If you insist on using fresh fish, unless you're right there when the fish is killed and cut up, I would gear more towards a frozen tuna steak. If the fish market *smells* fishy, you should turn around and walk right out. Fish collects bacteria uber fast and it can be deadly so I would suggest you use canned or preserved fish instead. You should also remember that the roll itself doesn't have to be overly flavorful if you have the right condiments.

And yup, you guessed it, condiments are step 3:
Oh yeah, you can buy wasabi by the tube too. What is wasabi? It's ultra-hot Japanese mustard that when dabbed ever-so-lightly on a roll and dunked in soy sauce, your sushi will be fit for the gods. I don't remember exactly how much this is, but it's not that expensive, and if you like wasabi, it will be more than worth the money. Wasabi powder is cheaper but it's not hot in unto itself, you must mix it with water and keep it in a glass jar for 10 minutes. There's something about the glass that brings out the heat, I dunno. I wouldn't keep it in there for more than 10 minutes or it'll be too hot to eat.

I'm not a big fan of pickled ginger so I've never gotten it, but it shouldn't be terrible expensive either. Ghostshouter took several days to pickle his own ginger. If anyone's interested, I'll get his recipe and post it here.

I managed to find a single jar of Thai spicy mayo ONCE, after we trekked to four different Asian stores along the avenue in search for it. It's elusive but worth every last penny of the $3.26 I paid for it. It's an absolute necessity for spicy tuna or salmon rolls, and works very well with cucumber and crabmeat. (Spicy Kani roll- tah dah!) Bottom line: if you find it, grab it.

Proper Japanese soy sauce. No, not all soy sauces are created equal. Japanese soy sauce is fermented with rice wine and has a bolder taste. Regular Chinese soy sauce may be awesome with your stir fry, but it won't taste right with sushi. Kikkoman makes an intense soy sauce especially for sushi and sashimi. It's a bit pricey but worth it. Do you absolutely need it? I dunno, when was the  last time you ate sushi at a restaurant without using soy sauce?

This brings us to the final stage in our hunting-gathering stage, the accompaniments. For simple rolls like what you saw in the first picture, you can totally skip this stage, and even the garnish stage. But if you're confident in your sushi-rolling ability and want to kick it up a notch, these are some great sushi fillers.

Step 4: Guest Stars
Avocados may be high fat, but they add that extra richness and smoothness to any roll, especially if it's a vegetarian roll. A roll with just eel and avocados are divine enough where you won't need anything else.

Fresh garden greens: Scallions, cucumbers, bell pepper, carrots and yellow squash. Make sure they're cut thin, a lot like this so that they fit right inside the roll. Things like lettuce and baby spinach make great fillers too, and they just look great inside the roll. You can get all fancy by adding pickled relish and stuff, but you wouldn't be reading this if you were quite at that advanced level. The main thing is to experiment with your additives. See what works, and which go the best together. This can be a real adventure!


Okay, now that you've got all your supplies, you'll need one last thing. Get a small bowl and fill it with luke warm water. Trust me, you'll understand why in a bit.

Step 5 is putting the actual roll together, so are you ready? Let's go!

You want it to look like this. Put the rolling mat down and the nori sheet over it. They say to put it shiny-side down but I can never tell which side is supposed to be the shiny one, so I just say fuck it and use whichever side tickles my fancy. Spread your cooked, mixed and slightly cooled rice over half of it, making sure to get into the corners. This works best when using a spoon. 

Now add the fish. This is a basic layout but you might want to add a bit more or risk the roll being skimpy. 

When using stuff like tuna or salmon, your roll should resemble this. (Actually, I may have put a bit too much. Use your judgment, practice a few times to see what feels right. Add whatever veggies or garnish you want right on top of the fish.

Use the rolling mat to wind up the seaweed paper all the way up to where the rice ends.  Remember to roll it as tight as you can. Loose rolls fall apart when you cut, dunk and eat them.

Now, you only filled it up halfway with rice for good reason. Because this paper acts very much like an envelope.

You dip the tips of your fingers into the bowl with the water and dab it onto the edges and along the rim of the paper, and quite literally seal it closed. Use a bit more water on the outside to smooth it down if you have to.

Your roll shout now look very much like this. Now put your roll aside seam-side down and let it rest for a bit before attempting to cut it. 

These are rolls I made for our sushi party. The inside-out ones are difficult, we'll save them for a later lesson.

Lesson 6:

Before cutting, make sure the rolls have sat and rested for at least 5 minutes to allow the paper to dry somewhat. When ready to cut, use a very sharp serrated knife and very gently cut the roll into 6-7 even pieces. If it's not going through the roll easily, don't force it, get a better knife. When you have your pieces cut, arrange the ends flat-side down and the rest next to it in an appealing fashion. Like this!

Also, don't be afraid to stack them on top of each other if you have to fit a lot on a small platter. If you rolled your sushi tight, they'll be strong enough to handle it. =) 

Here's a few photos of the platters Ghostshouter and I have prepared, and the one Tammy and I made, so you can get ideas.

Tammy's marinated, fried dumplings were a part of that last one. Maybe I'll give you the recipe for that later, but I can assure you that the ones she boiled in miso soup were a thousand gajillion times better.

Yeah, I know you're all hungry now, bitches. So read over the lessons and try to make your own!! Believe me, if my dumb ass can do it, you can too.  

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

How I Learned To Just Relax And Love The Hummus

My entire life was spent avoiding this stuff like the plague. Not terribly sure why; it's a peculiar thing because I really like chick peas, and I like falafel, which is also made with chick peas. Although the concept of creamed chick peas in my mouth revolted me, and has always rang in my head like something old Middle-Eastern people are fed in an old age home when their last tooth falls out. The whole yuppie vegitarian hummus trend only made it worse. I'm the type that seeks to go against the grain, harboring in the mentality that if all the stuck up dillschnicks are doing it, I'd be smart to do the opposite. (And why not? It's done wonders for me thus far.)

Lately, I've been having a change of heart about the kosher yuppie food. My glare's been lingering on it on my way past the isle at the supermarket these past few weeks. I even picked it up and examined the package a few times. "Hummus? Yuck." My girlfriend would grimace. I'd reluctantly agree, put it back and move on. Although since I changed to a healthier lifestyle and cut out most of the things I used to love, I've been compelled to expand my diet to include foods I've never tried before, perhaps to even things out. Today when she and I went food shopping, the package of Sabra Roasted Garlic Hummus was staring me in the face holding up a nice, pretty sale sign. The little 4.5oz container that was usually $2.49 was now a dollar off, and I could no longer resist. I picked one up and took it home, just to try it. And then I waited until I was absolutely starving before I tried it. This way, even if I didn't like it too much, I'd still force it down as to not waste the money.

The one I got looked exactly like this, having a separate compartment with these little "O" pretzels to dip in the hummus. I opened it with a sigh and prepared for the worst. I thought I could easily just add a hundred different sauces and spices to it in case it sucked. Then I smelled it, and it didn't seem that bad, so I dipped and tasted....and I'll never be the same again.

It wasn't just good, it was fucking delicious. I thought it was just because of the pretzels, but I frantically went through my pantry and tried it with every conceivable bread, chip and cracker product I could find, and it was STILL fucking delicious. I had it with multigrain crackers. I had it with Wasa bread. I had it with a granola bar. I had it with honey wheat twists, rice chex, melba toast, cheerios and quaker crisps. I even tried it with some leftover pasta from the fridge. I was heartbroken when I ran out of things to try it with, but finishing it with those light, delicate pretzels o's made me feel better. "Next time," I told myself, thinking of the family size container they have in stock.

I'm sitting here in complete shame for having denied myself the pleasure of hummus my entire life. Would trying it sooner have made me a better person? Not sure, but better late than never, right?

So because I don't have my own recipe yet, I'll include one from grouprecipes that looks really good, courtesy of Cookinmama.

Roasted Garlic Hummus
1 (30 ounce) can chickpeas, drained + rinsed
1 large head garlic, roasted shopping list
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp pesto
salt and pepper to taste

How to make it
Here is how you make the roasted garlic cloves: Take a head of garlic and cut off the top papery stuff until the cloves are exposed. Place the head on a sheet and drizzle with 2 tspns of olive oil and some salt and pepper (or any other seasonign). Bake in a 375 degree oven for 30 minutes. Once finished you can squeeze the cloves out of the head of garlic.
Place the cloves in a food processor with the rest of the ingredients and process until this is smooth. Add more olive oil to add moisture to the hummus.
Chill in the fridge before serving.

Moral of the story; next time you see something you've never tried but think will be disgusting, man up and try it. You'll never know for sure until you do.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

B-Complex Made Simple

Vitamin B-Complex

Eight of the water-soluble vitamins are known as the B-complex group: thiamin (vitamin B1), riboflavin (vitamin B2), niacin, vitamin B6, folate, vitamin B12, biotin and pantothenic acid. They function as coenzymes that help the body obtain energy from food. They also are important for normal appetite, good vision, healthy skin, healthy nervous system and red blood cell formation.

When grains and grain products are refined, essential nutrients lost during processing are put back into these foods through a process called enrichment. Among the nutrients added during the enrichment process are thiamin, niacin, riboflavin, folate and iron. Some examples of enriched grain products are white rice, many breakfast cereals, white flour, breads, and pasta.

Beriberi, pellagra and pernicious anemia are three well-known B-vitamin deficiencies. These diseases are not a problem in the United States, but occasionally they occur when people omit certain foods or overeat certain foods at the expense of others. Alcoholics are especially prone to thiamin deficiency because alcohol replaces food. Vegans will need a B12 supplement. For some populations, rice is the main dietary staple. When "polishing" rice (removing its outer layers) became popular, beriberi increased significantly.

Thaimin (B1)

Sources: Pork, liver, whole grains, enriched grain products, peas, meat, legumes.

Major Functions: Helps release energy from foods; promotes normal appetite; important in function of nervous system.

Stability in foods: Losses depend on cooking method, length, alkalinity of cooking medium (pH level); destroyed by sulfite used to treat dried fruits such as apricots; dissolves in cooking water.

Deficiency Symptoms: Mental confusion; muscle weakness, wasting; edema; impaired growth; beriberi.


Riboflavin (B2)

Sources: Liver, milk, dark green vegetables, whole and enriched grain products, eggs.

Major Functions: Helps release energy from foods; promotes good vision, healthy skin.

Stability in foods: Sensitive to light; unstable in alkaline solutions.

Deficiency symptoms: Cracks at corners of mouth; dermatitis around nose and lips; eyes sensitive to light.


Niacin (nicotinamide, nicotinic acid)

Sources: Liver, fish, poultry, meat, peanuts, whole and enriched grain products.

Major Functions: Energy production from foods; aids digestion, promotes normal appetite; promotes healthy skin, nerves.

Deficiency symptoms: Skin disorders; diarrhea; weakness; mental confusion; irritability.


Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine, pyridoxal, pyridoxamine)

Sources: Pork, meats, whole grains and cereals, legumes, green, leafy vegetables.

Major functions: Aids in protein metabolism, absorption; aids in red blood cell formation; helps body use fats.

Stability in foods: Considerable losses during cooking.

Deficiency symptoms: Skin disorders, dermatitis, cracks at corners of mouth; irritability; anemia; kidney stones; nausea; smooth tongue.


Folacin (folic acid)

Sources: Liver, kidney, dark green leafy vegetables, meats, fish, whole grains, fortified grains and cereals, legumes, citrus fruits.

Major functions: Aids in protein metabolism; promotes red blood cell formation; prevents birth defects of spine, brain; lowers homocystein levels and thus coronary heart disease risk.

Stability in foods: Easily destroyed by storing, cooking and other processing.

Deficiency symptoms: Anemia; smooth tongue; diarrhea.


Vitamin B12

Sources: Found only in animal foods: meats, liver, kidney, fish, eggs, milk and milk products, oysters, shellfish.

Major functions: Aids in building of genetic material; aids in development of normal red blood cells; maintenance of nervous system.

Deficiency symptoms: Pernicious anemia, anemia; neurological disorders; degeneration of peripheral nerves that may cause numbness, tingling in fingers and toes.


Pantothenic acid

Sources: Liver, kidney, meats, egg yolk, whole grains, legumes; also made by intestinal bacteria.

Major functions: Involved in energy production; aids in formation of hormones.

Stability in foods: About half of pantothenic acid is lost in the milling of grains and heavily refined foods.

Deficiency symptoms: Uncommon due to availability in most foods; fatigue; nausea, abdominal cramps; difficulty sleeping.



Sources: Liver, kidney, egg yolk, milk, most fresh vegetables, also made by intestinal bacteria.

Major functions: Helps release energy from carbohydrates; aids in fat synthesis.
Deficiency symptoms: Uncommon under normal circumstances; fatigue; loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting; depression; muscle pains; anemia.

 To  my surprise, I found a lot more B vitamin recipes than I did A, so here are some of the better ones I came across. Feel free to add more!

Grilled Peppery Top Round Steak with Parmesan Asparagus

5 Delicious Vitamin B-6 Recipes

B-12 Rich, Vegetarian OK Coconut Lightcake

Diet File: 6 More B-12 Rich Recipes That Sound Amazing

That's not enough for you? I found a site that features over 100 B-rich recipes, so take your pick!

Vitamin A

Vitamin A

Vitamin A, also called retinol, has many functions in the body. In addition to helping the eyes adjust to light changes, vitamin A plays an important role in bone growth, tooth development, reproduction, cell division and gene expression. Also, the skin, eyes and mucous membranes of the mouth, nose, throat and lungs depend on vitamin A to remain moist.

The best way to ensure your body gets enough vitamin A is to eat a variety of foods. Vitamin A is supplied primarily by certain foods of animal origin like dairy products, fish and liver. Some foods of plant origin contain beta-carotene, an antioxidant that the body converts to vitamin A. Beta-carotene, or provitamin A, comes from fruits and vegetables. Carrots, pumpkin, winter squash, dark green leafy vegetables and apricots are rich sources of beta-carotene.

The recommendation for vitamin A intake is expressed as micrograms (mcg) of retinol activity equivalents (RAE). Retinol activity equivalents account for the fact that the body converts only a portion of beta-carotene to retinol. One RAE equals 1 mcg of retinol or 12 mcg of beta-carotene.

Sources: The best source is by far liver. Old world homeopathic remedies suggested that liver could cure the blind. Other sources of pure vitamin A are fortified milk and dairy products, butter, whole milk, cheese, egg yolk.

Provitamin A, which is the vegetable version are found in carrots, leafy green vegetables, sweet potatoes, pumpkins, winter squash, apricots and cantaloupe.

A deficiency in Vitamin A would cause night blindness, very dry, rough skin, decreased resistance to infections, faulty tooth development, and slower bone growth.

As for making it go down smooth, here's a great website with recipes for a healthy, vitamin A-rich diet.

5 Vitamin A Rich Recipes You Must Try

Call Me The Vitamin Guy!

Nymphie created a group on the valley just for me called "The Healthy Option", so I filled it with essays about vitamins because I was getting a lot of questions about what the different ones do, what they're for, where they're found, etc and it's pretty much known that I'm a total geek who finds this crap interesting. Ah well, if nothing else, your brain will wrinkle and you'll kill some time at work.

Vitamins Hang Out in Water and Fat

There are two types of vitamins: fat soluble and water soluble.

When you eat foods that contain fat-soluble vitamins, the vitamins are stored in the fat tissues in your body and in your liver. They wait around in your body fat until your body needs them.

Fat-soluble vitamins are happy to stay stored in your body for awhile — some stay for a few days, some for up to 6 months! Then, when it's time for them to be used, special carriers in your body take them to where they're needed. Vitamins A, D, E, and K are all fat-soluble vitamins.

Water-soluble vitamins are different. When you eat foods that have water-soluble vitamins, the vitamins don't get stored as much in your body. Instead, they travel through your bloodstream. Whatever your body doesn't use comes out when you urinate.

So these kinds of vitamins need to be replaced often because they don't stick around! This crowd of vitamins includes vitamin C and the big group of B vitamins — B1 (thiamin), B2 (riboflavin), niacin, B6 (pyridoxine), folic acid, B12 (cobalamine), biotin, and pantothenic acid.

Taken from

Quick Facts On Fat-Soluble Vitamins...
  • Small amounts of vitamins A, D, E and K are needed to maintain good health.
  • Foods that contain these vitamins will not lose them when cooked.
  • The body does not need these every day and stores them in the liver when not used.
  • Most people do not need vitamin supplements.
  • Megadoses of vitamins A, D, E or K can be toxic and lead to health problems.

Because fat-soluble vitamins are stored for long periods, they generally pose a greater risk for toxicity than water-soluble vitamins when consumed in excess. Eating a normal, well-balanced diet will not lead to toxicity in otherwise healthy individuals. However, taking vitamin supplements that contain mega doses of vitamins A, D, E and K may lead to toxicity. Remember, the body only needs small amounts of any vitamin.

While diseases caused by a lack of fat-soluble vitamins are rare in the United States, symptoms of mild deficiency can develop without adequate amounts of vitamins in the diet. Additionally, some health problems may decrease the absorption of fat, and in turn, decrease the absorption of vitamins A, D, E and K. Consult your doctor about this.

Quick Facts on Water-Soluble Vitamins...
  • B-complex vitamins and vitamin C are water-soluble vitamins that are not stored in the body and must be replaced each day.
  • These vitamins are easily destroyed or washed out during food storage and preparation.
  • The B-complex group is found in a variety of foods: cereal grains, meat, poultry, eggs, fish, milk, legumes and fresh vegetables.
  • Citrus fruits are good sources of vitamin C.
  • Use of megadoses of vitamins is not recommended.

Vitamins are essential nutrients found in foods. The requirements are small but they perform specific and vital functions essential for maintaining health.

Water-soluble vitamins are easily destroyed or washed out during food storage or preparation. Proper storage and preparation of food can minimize vitamin loss. To reduce vitamin loss, refrigerate fresh produce, keep milk and grains away from strong light, and use the cooking water from vegetables to prepare soups.


More information concerning what these vitamins do will be soon to follow.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Cooking For Kids

My five year old nephew, Marcus is a pain in the ass to cook for. He's picky, stubborn and spoiled and will tell you straight up if he thinks what you made is yucky. You can ask him what he wants but he'll change his mind once it's in front of him and the only way you'll get him to eat a few bites is by threatening to tell his daddy he's been bad. (That equates to a butt whuppin')  So I've been doing some research to help me out with this, so the next time he comes over, I'll be prepared.

I found this article from

Cooking with Kids (chicken)

Finger foods such as chicken nuggets are always a hit. I keep a carton or two on hand for a never-fail snack food for kids or grown-ups.

Young children often prefer uncomplicated tastes.  While some may go for elaborate sauces, it's safest to cook chicken by quickly sautéing it in your frying pan, and then have any of the grown-up's sauces available for the kids to use as an optional dip. Avoid highly seasoned foods for kids unless you know they're used to them. Frequently young children like uniform textures.  Casseroles with hard and soft textures would be riskier than, say, a straightforward boned chicken breast.

Pieces cut from a cooked Cornish hen can be a real treat for a small child.  He or she eats the child-size portion, breast or leg, while the grown-ups eat regular size broiler breast or drumsticks.

My friends tell me that the latest scientific research suggests thinking of a balanced diet in terms of several days rather than just a rigid 24-hour period.  That means that if one of the kids in your care goes on a chicken-eating jag or a peanut butter jag or a not-eating jag,
don't worry;  it's ok as long as in the course of several days he or she is getting a balanced diet.  Knowing this can make meal time a lot more relaxed.

Cooking with school age kids can be a lot of fun, as long as it's presented as a treat instead of a chore.  You might, for a start, get them involved in planning the week's menu.  I know some families who allow each child to pick the main dish for one meal a week. Older children actually get to cook their choice. My daughter-in-law suggests getting kids to pick out meals with an ethnic or international theme so that mealtime is a time to explore other cultures as well as a time to eat.

The article is 100% right about simple tastes. I can count the foods Marcus will eat in a very short

  • Chicken nuggets (processed only, like McDonald's or perdue ready-to-eat)
  • Spaghetti and sauce with mild parmesan cheese (but not meatballs)
  • Mac n cheese (Only boxed or chef boyardee)
  • Pizza
  • Candy, cake, general sweets.

That's about it. Really, he shuns everything else like it's poison. I've tried to expand this little boy's pallate to no avail.  I've even tried making the things he likes only fresher, i.e. breaded chicken fingers, home-made spaghetti sauce and mac n cheese with real cheddar instead of powder or prepackaged goo. I keep thinking that he'll be more open-minded when he gets older but the time to start letting him try things is around now. I admit, because I don't have any kids of my own, I'm severely lacking in expertise in this area. Does anyone have any sagely advice for me as to how I can get him to like more healthy foods? The whole "candied carrots" and "cinnimon roasted pears" idea has failed...thanks.