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A day in food- Part 1: Morning

February 19, 2011

The first in a series that looks at our eating habits, this entry deals with the morning and what I feed the kids and myself.  I’ll be totally honest throughout this series, which will take a hard look, during part four, at my weaknesses and cravings.  I’ll just mention now that, unless noted otherwise, we try to eat mostly homemade stuff, including but not limited to bread and noodles, baby food, and jellies, etc…, and we buy organic, local or homegrown whenever possible.  Judah drinks Similac Sensitive Formula and stopped drinking breast milk around 3 months.

So, why document?  Why even create an entry like this?  Well, it’s no secret that throughout my life, my relationship with food has been, um, troubled.  I’ve found that in keeping careful track of the food I eat and the kids eat that I’m more prepared to make good decisions during the days.  That’s not to say that I always make good choices, or that I don’t lapse, frequently!  But, through documentation, I’ve noticed a trend in healthy eating.  Irene and I try to eat 5 colors every day and at least 5 different fruits and vegetables (these rules usually just reinforce one another), and the family has really been experimenting with different whole grains.  Irene and I also try to stick to a one-treat per day rule.  She’s awesome at it, usually going to bed about an hour before my own, personal struggle with that particular guideline begins.  But, that’s for another entry.


The next morning, in our house, actually starts the night before.  It takes a lot of preparation and planning to get Irene to sleep in her own bed, all night long, with no trips to our room.  She has to be in a certain mood, she has to have had a certain amount of physical activity, she has to feel as though she’s seen and talked to each of us enough throughout the day.  And even then, there’s usually the shuffle between parents.  I want mom no I want dad no I want mom.  She’s really improved at putting herself to sleep, but there’s still the 4AM visit.  We’ve created routines and rules to make the transition from the waking day to the sleeping night as painless for all three of us as possible.

One thing we’ve started is to leave a little morning snack in Irene’s room the night before.  It’s meant to be an incentive, a little autonomy- just think, when you wake up in your own room, you can start eating your snack whenever you like!  It’s totally up to you!  We hope that this will keep her in her own bed at night, and keep her in her room until the magical hour of seven o’clock.  We let Irene pick out her own snack and prepare it- but being four, it’s always the same thing: oatmeal squares and a juice box.

While we’re still upstairs in the morning and Irene is happily munching her squares and reading a book or watching She-Ra (or the like), Judah usually has his first bottle of the day, the first of four or five that he drinks in addition to the massive amount of food- both baby and otherwise- he puts away every twenty-four hours.

We usually come downstairs around 8:30AM, and that’s about the time I start my water intake for the day.  I try to drink 6 pint jars of water each day, and I have been trying to drink a glass of room temperature water every morning before I put anything else into my body.  This is not a difficult task for me, and is one of my very few naturally-occurring healthful habits.  I also carry around a 16oz metal water bottle all day, just in case, and usually need to refill it once before bed.

It’s worth noting that morning is the easiest time for all of us to make healthful food choices.  The kids are both hearty eaters in the morning, whereas by the time dinner rolls around, we’re usually patting Judah to sleep and bargaining with Irene.  Ah, but again, that’s for another entry.

Anyway, once downstairs, the kids start playing, or Judah hangs out in his high chair with some cheerios and bananas, while I make oatmeal for Irene and me.  It’s almost always the same: Irene- the works, bananas, raisins, flax seeds, maple syrup or sometimes honey, milk or almond milk, crushed almonds; me- bananas, flax seeds, and a drop of maple syrup.  Sometimes I make oatmeal for Judah, but he’s really more interested in finger foods right now. Irene and I try to eat facing each other at the dining room table, or else in the kitchen with the radio on, although, I’ll admit, sometimes she eats hers while playing computer games and I eat mine standing up, cleaning the kitchen.

I make oatmeal by putting the old fashioned or steel cut or Irish oats in the bowl and pouring boiling water on top.  Then I cover the bowl and let the oatmeal steep.  Generally, while the oatmeal is cookin’, I use the leftover boiling water to steep some tea for later use, and place a stick of butter on top of one of the plates to soften it for bread.  I try to make one or two loaves of bread every other day these days, so I’m usually bringing some milk to room temperature or softening some butter at any given time.

And I also admit to drinking way more coffee than I really should.  I drink 2 pints a day, probably, skim milk included.  And though I’m trying to make our food choices as natural as possible, the main place I regularly deviate from that is coffee because I take Splenda in my coffee.  I really need to shake a  lifelong sugar addiction or whatever label best describes seriously not monitoring my sugar intake, at all, up until roughly one year ago.

Everyone typically needs a mid-morning snack.  If Irene is home from pre-school, I usually offer a smiley-face snack.  That’s a random snack usually made up of cheese, nuts, fruits and vegetables, either fresh or dried or both, and sometimes some dark chocolate.  Smiley-face snacks always please Irene, and she eats them all up, even if there’s stuff in there that I usually have to beg her to eat, no matter what they include- jicama, radishes, baby corn, peas, raisins, dried apricot, banana slices, apples, carrots, almonds, hazelnuts…  I like smiley-face snacks because when she asks for a snack and I say “how about a smiley-face?” she always nods happily instead of saying, “no, I don’t want that.”  Therefore, I avoid the situation of offering a menu of anything and everything in the cabinet, only to be met with rejection.

Judah has some protein mid-morning, usually in the form of beans of quinoa cereal.  He’s a little too young for peanut butter and the like.  He also eats one or two servings of baby food mid-morning.  That’s generally: cooked and coarsely chopped carrots, sweet potatoes, or potatoes;  or pureed green beans, peas, or rice and meat.  Then another bottle before his nap.  When he wakes up, I like to give him some fresh mango or applesauce, something sweet.  I make all of Judah’s baby food, usually storing up a week’s worth or so on Sundays, so that it’s readily available.  Judah eats maybe 2-3 jars of store-bought baby food throughout the week, in a pinch.

Mid-morning, I’m still feeling super motivated, and usually indulge in some nuts and dried fruit, cheese and crackers, dark chocolate and carrot sticks, or some combination of those, sometimes some combination of all of those.  I’m also a huge fan of corn grits, apples and sunflower seed butter, flat bread and honey, grapes, raisins and peanuts and chocolate chips, and wasabi peas.

All of this food preparation occurs during, around, and through our usual morning routine of dance parties, arts & crafts, [computer and otherwise] game time, free play, exploring, nap time (for Judah), bread mixing, letter-writing and email checking, and all before lunch!

Some morning food goals:

  • Start Judah on a sippy cup of water, or two parts water and one part juice, or whole milk, before April 1
  • Increase Irene’s morning water/liquid intake.  Hopefully, she can drink 1 cup before lunch.
  • Think about starting to maybe decrease my own caffeine and artificial sweetener intake
  • Investigate agave nectar, honey, etc… as natural coffee sweeteners.
6 Comments leave one →
  1. February 19, 2011 8:43 PM


    Also, you make me crave a Smiley Face plate. Hook a sister up!

  2. Shelley permalink
    February 20, 2011 2:20 PM

    I used to drink “candy coffee” — cane sugar and cream. Before that, flavored coffeemate. Last summer, I slowly decreased the sugar until it was gone. Now I only drink really bold, rich coffee with a bit of heavy cream. It can be done!

  3. Shelley permalink
    February 20, 2011 2:21 PM

    And I concur with Erin! Your morning sounds delicious and nutritious!

  4. February 20, 2011 3:28 PM

    P.S. Wouldn’t Sugar in the Raw automatically be better than Splenda? I know it’s still, well, sugar, but at least it’s not pumped full of chemicals. We put it in/on everything — from Honey Nut Cheerios to cinnamon toast to coffee.

    P.P.S. Dang. You DO drink a LOT of coffee. If I drank two pints, I wouldn’t sleep for a week.

  5. February 21, 2011 6:52 PM

    Yeah, sugar in the raw is pretty much the only sugar I use. We do have white sugar in the house, for baking and whatnot, but I rarely use it. I like my coffee pretty sweet, so I need to find a substitute that doesn’t require a tablespoon of sugar- even sugar in the raw. And as far as chemicals go, I know you’re right! Plus, I hate that we have food items in the house that are CREATED IN A LABORATORY! But, hey! It’s still better than eating Lunchables, or Slim Jims, or Coke Zero- all of which I have done in excess in my life.

    Also, oh S&P, I never sleep. I haven’t slept since 2006. If I didn’t drink coffee, I would never make it through the day (and night). Maybe when my kids are bigger, I’ll be able to function on less caffeine.

    And last but not least- oh, the Smiley-Faces. The day I thought those up was the happiest/most successful parenting day of my life. I’ll post a gallery of some of my favorites on flickr pretty soon.


  6. February 23, 2011 1:03 PM

    i’m so happy you’re doing this series! the trials of daily food are amazing, because we are faced (or can be) in every moment with the struggle to make the right choice. some days are better than others for me. seeing what your struggles are, and how you address them, is so motivating for me to pay more attention.

    also, smiley face. you should be a proud mama. so clever.

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