Sunday, June 5, 2011

Toddler 'fast food'

Eating her veggies
I started in a fantasy land; swearing by making my own baby food, adding organic spinach to almost everything, mashing odd foods like quinoa and seaweed together to ensure my baby was getting all her nutrients and vitamins. I avoided processed sugars, never touched artificial colors or flavors and most certainly did not allow any trans fats or other highly processed food types. Then reality struck: this is taking an absurd amount of time and she's only eating what she wants, not what I want her to, hence a lot of my efforts ended in the compost or the dogs dish (dogs were very happy btw). My daughter is 16 months old and only has front teeth, no molars in yet. She is so over eating baby food, but still too young to eat cooked vegetables like green beans, spinach or Brussels's sprouts - they're just too stringy and hard to chew with only her front teeth. I can get tricky and make somewhat of a sauce out of the vegetables and add them to her food, but that's not necessarily appetizing to my husband and I; I am the kind of mother that makes one meal for the family to eat, making individual meals for each persons taste/need is too time consuming when I work outside of the home 40/hours a week with a 1 hour drive each way. Like most mothers I am of course concerned my daughter is not getting enough vegetables in her diet at this time. Fruits, protein, grains and fats are all easy to come by but those tricky stringy greens are what I'm trying to get her to eat. The face she makes is pretty classic, anyone who sees it would swear shes about to turn blue as she chokes to death.

Slowly but surely I'm resorting to 'fast food' for my toddler. I don't mean McDonald's or Burger King, but I am giving into pre-made 'fun' foods that she can eat either with her meal or as a snack in between meals. I never recall my own mom buying such novelty items when we were little. I think options were pretty limited when I was a year old. At first these products seemed expensive, wasteful when individually packaged and likely unnecessary, but more and more I'm finding benefit and starting to trust certain companies.

I read the labels, I check the nutrition facts and pay attention to price as well. So when shopping in Jackson, MI that does not leave you with a lot of options. I feel like it takes two damn hours to get through a grocery store and my eyes burn like I speed read a novel, my husband appreciates my efforts, but is slightly annoyed by the end of the shopping trip and my daughter is usually crying shes so bored and tired. We're a site to see.

All ingredients must be identifiable, mostly organic and always 100% natural. One item I tried yesterday was Happy Tots Green Beans, Pears and Peas. It's the consistency of baby food, but in a squeeze container kind of like a Capri Sun juice box. The container allowed my daughter to walk around and eat her 'vegetables' without spilling or making a mess at all. She loved it! The ingredients are so simple too: organic pear, organic green beans, organic peas, Salba® sahi alba 911 &912 registered varieties of chia seed), organic lemon juice concentrate, ascorbic acid (vitamin C). No soy, no dairy, no GEI's and most important to me; in BPA free packaging. I only bought one of these to try when I was in the grocery store this week, at $1.50 for one squeeze pouch, that seemed really expensive. After she loved the product, I justified the price by comparing it to a regular jar of organic baby food being around .99 cents and any 20oz of soda can be upwards of $1.50 these days and I now plan to buy several more on the next shopping trip.

We were right in the middle of planting our garden when I gave her the Happy Tots squeeze container. Usually I would give her some crackers or cereal to hold her over until I could get some dinner together, but during the summer months when it seems like everyday is a really busy day I feel like I'm stuffing her full of just crackers and cereal. When I look at the rise of obesity and diabetes in America, I feel guilty for starting her on a path of life that consists of satisfying hunger with filler foods. I felt really good that she not only ate the entire squeeze pack of veggies and fruits, it was just enough to hold her over until I could make a decent dinner. 

Ideally in my fantasy world I would prefer to buy organic pears, peas and green beans and make this mixture myself and have her calmly sit in her high chair and eat each and every drop. But the reality is that isn't gonna happen. A lot of companies are now offering products that fit choosy vegetarian, eco-conscious organic mom standards in convenient packages. I seriously don't even think I could make a better product at home on my own within the cost of $1.50 per serving. With a busy lifestyle I am starting to embrace the fact that someone has done the hard work for me and I can still be a good mom while choosing 'fast' pre-made food for my daughter.

No, Happy Tots (HAPPYBABY) did not pay or endorse me to write any of this... I just thought it was a great product and I am happy I purchased it. Though if they wanted to pay me or send me free stuff, I would happily take it **shameless self promotion**


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