Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Sweet Potato Sides

The other day I signed on to join Grace of, Bri of Red, Round, or Green, Bettina of The Lunch Tray, and Jeanne of The Jolly Tomato to participate in a virtual Food Day Dinner Party. Bettina started things off on Monday with appetizers, and yesterday Bri supplied two entree recipes. Today Grace and I are bringing the sides. Welcome!

I thought that sweet potatoes would be a natural complement to Bri's lamb dish. These two recipes are regular parts of my repertoire, although the souffle is usually reserved for special occasions and holidays. The Souffled Sweet Potato recipe comes from mother-in-law, and is one of the best things she's added to my life ~ aside from my husband of course! The Sweet Potato Fries recipe was passed along to me from my mom. Try one or both and enjoy! 

Also, be sure to check out Grace's recipe for more side dish ideas at her site. Grace and I are offering a Blog for Family Dinner t-shirt and the "Eat Real" recipe booklet from Food Day as a prize. Enter by leaving a comment - or your favorite side dish recipe - here or at the blog. One winner will be randomly selected from the commenters on this site and Grace's site.

Also be sure to check in with The Jolly Tomato tomorrow for dessert!

Souffled Sweet Potato

6 cups hot cooked sweet potatoes (I peel and boil them til fork tender)
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
3 eggs
  • Place sweet potatoes, sugar, butter, vanilla and nutmeg in a large mixing bowl.
  • Beat with electric mixer until smooth and fluffy.
  • Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  • Place in a 2 quart casserole dish.
  • Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes.

Sweet Potato Fries

2 medium sweet potatoes, cut into strips
1 1/2 Tbs olive oil
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp onion powder
  • Line cookie sheet with aluminum foil.
  • Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  • In a mixing bowl, combine all ingredients.
  • Place potato strips on cookie sheet.
  • Bake about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Monday, October 17, 2011

7 Strategies for Fostering Positive Sibling Relationships

As part of the Kitchen Table Parents program, I will be offering the teleseminar, “How to Raise Happy Kids Who Care About Each Other” on Tuesday October 25, 2011 at 12pm Eastern. The philosophy behind the Kitchen Table Parents program is that raising a healthy family involves more than just food, and if you have more than one child, chances are that you want them getting along at the family table and everywhere else they may be. Below are some strategies for fostering positive sibling relationships that will last a lifetime. If you can’t join us live for the teleseminar, please feel free to leave any questions in the comments below.

1. Rivalry and conflict between siblings is normal. If you have siblings yourself, take a moment to reflect back on the history of your relationship. We often present our “worst selves” to our family and have the opportunity to work at social skills in the safety of family relationships. While I believe that parents need to develop a comfort level with a certain level of conflict between their children, I also believe that there is much that parents can do to promote a positive relationship between their children.

2. Think before you intervene. If someone is getting hurt (physically or emotionally), I would recommend that a parent intervenes. Otherwise, I would recommend that parents pause to consider whether or not they think their intervention will likely help or escalate the problem or possibly lead to future conflicts behind the parent’s back. Also, think about whether their conflict is bothering you because of your own “stuff” (e.g., history with your own sibling, personality, etc.) or if your children are upset for their own reasons.

3. Coach rather than directly intervene when possible. Parents have a powerful role in helping their children learn how to work things out. One of my pet peeves is when adults tell toddlers to “work it out” between themselves because toddlers really don’t have the skills yet to be able to do this. Preschool age children might have some rudimentary skills to be able to work things out between themselves but might need some suggestions or guidance. Older children have had more opportunities and experiences in managing conflicts and negotiations, but may still need some suggestions and guidance. Often this type of guidance is best received when it is delivered in the form of a question rather than a direct command (e.g., “What do you think would happen if…”)

4. House rules vs. individual behavior.  Try to minimize any targeting of an individual child’s behavior. What I mean by that is to say something along the lines of, “We all get the chance to be first sometime in this family,” or “Everyone in this family can have a treat at snack time,” rather than saying something like, “Why do you always have to bully your sister?”

5. Family meetings. Even young children can benefit from family meetings. Family meals can serve as a setting for family discussions or times separate from meals when all family members are available to discuss plans or matters related to family functioning.

6. Fair is not equal. Parents’ interactions with their children should focus on meeting each child’s individual needs rather than on making sure each child is treated exactly the same. For example, your older daughter might have a stronger need for attention than your younger daughter. Try to find ways to meet this need of hers that do not undermine your younger’s daughter’s needs.

7. Notice the positive. Make sure you catch your kids “doing good” and getting along with each other. And make sure that they know that you’ve noticed.

More tips on promoting positive sibling relationships and behavior is available in my downloadable e-workbook, Empowered Parenting: A Workbook for Parents of Toddlers and Preschoolers, Helping You Become the Parent You Want to Be.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Mindless or Mindful? Must One Choose?

While reading the article, "How to Eat Better - Mindlessly" and watching its accompanying video with Dr. Brian Wansink (click on red arrow at bottom right of article for video), I found myself thinking, "I guess I'm really not a dogma girl." Dr. Wansink, author of the book, "Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think," has been involved with a large body of research that shows that how much we eat and how we evaluate what we eat is heavily influenced by factors in our environment such as setting, word choice for descriptions of food, plate size, and placement and presentation of food. I find his research fascinating, and have experienced with my own family how simple environmental changes influence eating patterns. For example, if I put whole pieces of fruit in a bowl that is easily accessible to my family, it largely goes uneaten. If, however, I cut up pieces of fruit and put it on the table, it almost always gets eaten entirely.

Dr. Wansink states that the solution to mindless eating is not mindful eating for the vast majority of people because our stomachs are "a terrible gauge of how full (we) are." He is referring to a number of similar, yet distinct, approaches to eating which involve tuning into your body awareness about your sense of hunger and fullness. I value these approaches, including Ellyn Satter's model of eating competenceMichelle May's Am I Hungry program, and Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch's intuitive eating approach, because they all acknowledge the failure of traditional diets in maintaining a healthy weight and body image over time, and they all acknowledge that there is an emotional component to food and eating that needs to be addressed for longterm healthy eating patterns.

Must one really choose between an approach to food and eating that is mindful/intuitive/competent versus one that acknowledges the importance of environmental cues on our eating behaviors? As I said above, I guess I'm not really one to hold tightly to one particular model. In parenting my own children and in my work helping other parents, I value both the use of behavioral plans and of insightful understanding of psychodynamics and attachment relationships: two camps in psychology with a long history of division. I think each has its place and and utility. In my approach to raising children who are successful eaters, I believe it is important for parents to get out of the way and not interfere with most children's natural ability to eat according to their own internal cues of hunger and fullness. I also believe, however, that parents can positively influence their children's eating behaviors by using some anti-mindless environmental cues such as descriptive word choice, setting, and presentation with regard to food and meals.

What do you think? Am I the only one who finds the division between these two models to be unnecessary?