Cooking Connections: Placating Picky Eaters

“Mama, is broccoli a treat? Because I love it.”

“Sure, honey. Broccoli can be considered a treat if you like it.”

“How about carrots?”

“Yup. Carrots can be treats, too.”

Last week, one of our dinnertime chats went a little something like that.  At three years old, the kid questions whether or not veggies are, indeed, treats. And for as long as it lasts, I’ll to continue to advocate that veggies are treats, while simultaneously singing “There’s a Party in My Tummy,” the Yo Gabba Gabba eating anthem for preschoolers and parents alike.


Having grown up with the crowned prince of picky eaters, I’m well versed in the picky eating realm.  Public breakdowns and refusals to eat unless we had what he wanted, my older brother’s precarious eating habits never made life easy for myIMG_1383 parents. I was known to eat not only my dinners, but also my brother’s—perhaps to pacify his pickyness and to (ahem) feed my own love for food at an early age.

Whatever the case was, once I became a mom, I made it my personal crusade to try and avert the picky eating habits while refining my own eating habits.  It makes me smile when my guy reaches for broccoli in the app tray at parties before he heads to the dessert table. Now, if only every day was a broccoli-loving day…

Kids are relentless when it comes to eating, but I don’t think it should always be a battle. Tactics like involving kids in the kitchen, helping with grocery shopping, and something as simple, yet significant, as eating the same meal together as a family can help with picky eaters. My motto is, I’m not an app cook, so we all eat the same thing for every meal.  Special meals should be reserved for special days, preferably the days where someone is serving me too!

I know, I know…it’s easier said than done.

Let’s Connect with Cooking Connections

I’ve devoted a a lot of coverage lately to kid-centric food and healthier habits, but by no means does that make me an expert in this parenting arena.  I am, however, quite excited to be a co-host in tomorrow’s installment of Cooking Connections, where picky eaters will be the topic at hand. Our fabulous hosts will lead a discussion on, and I’d love it if you could join us!  The deets are below:

When: Wednesday, March 2, at 1 p.m. ET

Where: TheMotherhood – here is the link to the page where the class will be held:

And here is the registration page for all Cooking Connections classes:

What: The class I am co-hosting is called “Expanding Your Family’s Palate by Placating Picky Eaters,” and it is hosted by Jennifer Leal (Savor the Thyme), Kimberly Coleman (Mom in the City) and Kelsey Banfield (The Naptime Chef).  We will be talking about how to make meals work for all members of the family, healthy and interesting foods that kids AND adults love, and strategies for getting picky eaters to try new things.  Join us, and feel free to ask questions, share recipes or chime in with your own suggestions!

The class is sponsored by ConAgra and hosted by TheMotherhood.

My other fabulous co-hosts are:

Marla Meridith, Family Fresh Cooking
Kristy Bernardo, The Wicked Noodle
Jo-Lynne Shane, Musings of a Housewife
Dara Michalski, Cookin’ Canuck
Brooke McLay, Cheeky Kitchen
Shaina Olmanson, Food for My Family
Carol Cain, NY City Mama
Shari Simpson-Cabelin, Earth Mother just means I’m dusty
Amy Johnson, She Wears Many Hats
Stacie Billis, One Hungry Mama

I personally can wait to hear everyone’s ideas and recipes aimed to placate picky eaters.  I’m getting hungry just thinking about it! See you then!

Off Your Desk: New Service Helps Families Save Time and Money

From babies to big kids, for most of us, it seems one thing’s certain: at one point or another, we’ll end up at the doctor’s office with our kids. Kids get sick, adults get sick—we all get sick. And if you don’t? Well, lucky you :)

Insurance and health care is a hot button topic these days, but beyond the political firestorm, there’s a service that can help us navigate through the insurance paperwork that doctor visits often bring with them.

Did you know that 40 percent of health claims are mishandled or not fully reimbursed to the extent they should be by insurance companies? Also, consumers are paying out-of-pocket for an increasing proportion of their health care expenses. Off Your Desk is a new service helps individuals submit their insurance claims and makes sure that they get paid to the full extent that they deserve.

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One Born Every Minute Premieres Tonight on Lifetime

I’ve been talking a lot about bigger kids here on NKT, so I thought it’s about time to focus on the wee ones for a bit.

In particular, there’s a new show that takes an inside look at a maternity ward at Riverside Methodist Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.  In eight, hour-long episodes, the new series, One Born Every Minute, will spotlight expectant mothers as they enter their final stage of pregnancy and all the aspects surrounding this amazing, but often crazed time leading up to baby’s delivery.  One Born Every Minute doesn’t skip a beat with 40 cameras rolling to capture footage from the delivery room, to the operating room, to the front desk, to the nurses’ station, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

For years, I watched “The Baby Story” on TLC, which my ob was featured a few times.  But let me tell you, sometimes I wish there was a camera rolling to capture how my labor and delivery seemed like an expectant mother’s worst case scenario.  Let’s just say my story was far from picture-perfect.  And really, who could forget the woman that my doctor stopped to help when she practically sneezed in triage and had her baby—AS my doctors were wheeling me to the operating room after two unsuccessful hours of pushing.  Writhing and screaming in pain with a baby stuck in my pelvis, my dr. parked me in the hall to help this lady.  Only me…

In retrospect, my experience was crazy, but well worth it.  And my doctors and nurses? Hello, what an amazing crew that literally held my hand the whole way through and were so supportive of helping me to breastfeed, too.

It seems like One Born Every Minute offers a nitty-gritty perspective of L&D and the doctors and nurses who make it all happen.  I can’t wait to see what it’s all about. Up for learning more about the magic that goes on during labor and delivery? Be sure to check out Lifetime’s One Born Every Minute premiere episode tonight at 10/9c.


In honor of the debut of One Born Every Minute, Lifetime has offered to give one NKT reader a baby-themed prize pack.

The Prize Pack Includes:

·         One ISOKI Diaper Bag:  ISOKI’s stylish designer range of reversible baby bags offers two bags in one by simply reversing to reveal a whole new look.  Inner components of the bag include a double-sided storage satchel, insulated cooler bag and large padded change mat, all of which can be used individually or as a complete set.

·         One Baby Gund Comfy Cozy

·         One Baby Gund Stuffed Animal

Want to win the prize pack?

Just comment below with something you’ll never forget about your Labor and Delivery. If you haven’t had a baby, then tell something about the show you’re excited about.

For additional entries:

Share this giveaway on Twitter and be sure to @jenrab

Share this giveaway on any social networking site

Like Lifetime on Facebook

Comment on this post on the NKT Fanpage

This giveaway ends at midnight on February 8.  The winner will be chosen via and will be notified by email.  Good luck!

Cooking Connections Launches Today

As you all know, food has become a significant part of my coverage on NKT.  The foods we eat and cook and the eating habits we display, ultimately, help our kids to make healthier choices.

For me, cooking resources on the internet and tv help me to navigate in the kitchen.  I’ve always been big on cooking, baking and eating, but online sites, magazines and shows underscore just how much I enjoy being in the kitchen.  I could seriously watch Food Network for hours and daydream about these professional cooks and chefs coming to my house to cook for me!  But good news, though these fantastic chefs can’t come to my house, but there are “real” parents who can—well, sort of!

TheMotherhood’s Cooking Connections, an awesome and innovative eight-week series of virtual cooking classes is launching today.  In this series of virtual cooking classes, “real” moms and dads will lead us in their kitchens, to help us learn more about topics relevant to parents.  The conversations, led by some of my favorite bloggers, will leverage social media outlets such as Twitter, Facebook and

Sponsored by ConAgra Foods, Cooking Connections is launching today, actually at 1:00 pm at the Blissdom Conference that’s going on right now in Nashville.

I love, love, love TheMotherhood and all the wonderful things that they’re doing around our community.  Cooking Connections will, no doubt, be just as successful as their other projects.  I’m excited to be participating in the cooking class that focuses on picky eaters.  “Placating Picky Eaters” will take place in a few weeks, and I’ll be sure to share more about it soon.  By the way, TheMotherhood, Emily McKhann and 77Kids by American Eagle got a nod in Forbes for the inspiring Do Good Day campaign that tapped bloggers around the country to pay it forward.

Join the conversation!  Want to learn more about Cooking Connections and/or register to participate?  Be sure to sign up here at TheMotherhood.

Check out Cooper and Emily’s announcement video for even more details!

Sesame Street Rolls out Food for Thought: Eating Well on a Budget

‘Tis the season for  joy, giving, graciousness…and eating well.  And by eating well, I mean making healthier choices, and helping others make healthier choices, too.

To further underscore the importance of healthier eating among families, Sesame Workshop announced that they’ve partnered with UnitedHealthcare and The Merck Company Foundation, to roll-out  a new outreach program, Food for Thought: Eating Well on a Budget.

At the Capital Food Bank in Washington, DC, celebrity chef and author, Art Smith, joins Elmo in a healthy and affordable cooking demo during the unveiling of Food for Thought: Eating Well on a Budget. Photo credit: Gil Vaknin/Sesame Workshop

Food for Thought: Eating Well on a Budget, part of the company’s on-going Healthy Habits for Life initiative, is a free bi-lingual (English-Spanish) multimedia outreach program designed to help support families who have children between the ages of two and eight, cope with uncertain or limited access to affordable and nutritious food.

According to Sesame Workshop, Seventeen million American children—nearly one in four—are food insecure, meaning they do not receive food that meets basic nutritional needs due to financial instability.  Of these children, more than half (9.6 million) are under the age of six, which is all the more reason to help spread this message.
As the country’s economic status continues to take its toll, the number of young children confronting food insecurity continues to increase, as do the subsequent effects on children’s health, school performance, growth, and development, Sesame Workshop said.

As part of this outreach program, 400,000 Food for Thought resource kits will be distributed through UnitedHealthcare, The Merck Foundation and other key organizations including National WIC association, Feeding America, Head Start, Meals on Wheels and other key organizations. The initiative will also include two public service messages promoting trying new foods.

I hope to do my part by continuing to share healthier eating and snacking ideas for kids, including ways to eat well on a budget.

Snack Nation: Package Your Own Healthy Snacks

In case you haven’t heard, apparently, we’re raising a generation of constant snackers.

As Wendy Sachs recently wrote in the Huffington Post, “From cleverly packaged organic cookies to crisp 100 Calorie chips, we offer snacks as distraction and entertainment.”

Those prepackaged snacks are so easy to grab and just throw in a bag when you’re on the go…or to alleviate meltdowns. I’m guilty of it, too.  No judgments here!  But on a different note,  just because it’s organic doesn’t necessarily mean it’s that great of a snack for the kid, especially if they’re having tons of it, all day long.

A lot of kids are devouring those prepackaged snack foods, which are high in calories and low in nutrients, as pointed out in a article.

So, why don’t we nip these bad habits in the bud, and go for a healthier, old-fashioned route: snacks that we package ourselves?

Grapes, cheese and crackers

Instead of grabbing for cutesy prepackaged and highly processed “fruit” snacks, why not put together fresh fruit and add a little protein like low-fat cheddar cheese?

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Walk Down Memory Lane + Maegan Dougherty Photo Session Giveaway

If there was ever a good time to walk down memory lane, this week would be it.  After months of waiting to close on our house, we’re still displaced.  Needless to say, it’s been a rocky road for our family this summer:  all of our stuff still remains in storage, our poor kid cries for his toys, my heart aches every time he begs to go “home” and all we can do is just wait…

But, throughout this trying time, we’ve had each other.

The week before we moved out of our apartment, we had a photo session with our favorite family photographer, Maegan Dougherty.  It was a fun time, which yielded another set of great photos that serve as a great reminder of what’s truly important in life.

I met Maegan on a message board I used to frequent, and was immediately drawn to her photos.  Shortly after the kid was born, Maegan shot our first session and made our memories that much brighter.  Her photography has graced our Holiday cards, were the source for our kid’s headshots, they line my mom’s refrigerator, and soon, after all this waiting, these photos will line the halls of our new home.

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Yum Food & Fun for Kids: New Resource for Food Revolution

Magazines: I know many of you love them as much as I do.  There’s truly nothing like flipping through glossy pages and indulging in feature stories, cool products and advice columns.  In my case, I’m always looking for inspiration, whether it’s for writing, design or to just shop.


On one of my recent trips to Target I found a new magazine called Yum Food & Fun for Kids.  Always, in search of new ideas on how to improve my efforts in the kitchen and at the dinner table, especially where the kid is concerned, I think this new publication fills a void at the newstands.

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Noodle and Doodle to Debut on Sprout in September

Of the hundred or so exhibitors at this year’s BlogHer conference, since it was a blogging conference geared to women, the booths were geared to moms and families.  Sprout was onhand to share all about their latest programming, and even distribute a few cool branded notebooks, coloring books, cups.  My guy is sort of obsessed with Chica, so we’ve set aside our Chica cup to use to organize pencils and pens in his new room.

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NKT Favorite Sunblock Make EWG Top-Rated List

I hope everyone had a great holiday weekend!  Our family celebrated our country’s independence, perhaps, just like most of you: with tons of fun in the sun, fireworks and good times with friends and family.

Photo Credit: Illuminate Life

I know much of the east coast right now is enduring really steamy weather and with this weekend’s festivities in mind, I thought it’d be a good time as any to share some thoughts about sunscreen. 

Since becoming a parent, I’ve learned so much that I didn’t already know about sunscreen, particularly how it expires, some of those pricey brands are nothing but bottles of toxic lotion and how so many different kinds just are not suitable for the kids.

Earlier this year, the Enivornmental Working Group, released the fourth annual list of their best rated sunscreens.  The nonprofit research organization that says they aim to use information to protect human health and the environment, say their top-rated sunscreens all contain the minerals zinc or titanium. EWG says these types of sunscreen are best for people who are looking for UVA protection without any chemicals considered to be a potential hormone disruptor, and for like-minded parents, these details are pertinenent when selecting sunscreens that work best for our family.  Not-so-surprising observation here:  not a single spray sunblock makes their list

It’s important point out this staggering statistic: 
EWG researchers recommend only 39, or 8 percent, of 500 beach and sport sunscreens on the market this season.

As a full disclosure here, I’m sure I mentioned before that my husband works in the health and beauty sector as a warehouse planner for a big box store, thus I get to try out many great brands (and not so great ones, t00).  When summertime rolls around, I’m always on the lookout for the samples of the “better” sunblock, meaning those brands that aren’t laden with chemicals that I don’t want to slather over the kid’s super-sensitive skin.

EWG’s list this year included many of those brands that I considered tried and true, particularly my two favorite brands for the kid:  Blue Lizard and TRUKids.  Both brands were samples that I came across from husband’s work and haven’t strayed since.  They’re staples in my beach bag and I’m super happy to see them on the EWG top-rated sunscreen list.

Last year, in fact, I reviewed TRUKid’s Sunny Days, which received a 1 overall score from EWG’s rating system.

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