Hello Readers! What an exciting week it’s been. Our family moved into a new house in Connecticut and although we are still upside down, I have a kitchen and an office I can use, which is a good sign things are heading back to “normal.” Thank you for entering our Road Trip Giveaway, and all your support as I trekked from Nashville, TN to Tenant’s Harbor, ME, then on to Connecticut. We all made it!
The Olympic Trials Inspire
In the evenings (after unpacking all day), we’ve been glued to the Olympic trials. Swimming, gymnastics, track and field… all of it! It’s one of my favorite things to watch on TV. I am always amazed at the demonstration of physical strength, speed and agility, while at the same time, acutely aware of the time, effort and support athletes need to get to an Olympic trial. It always inspires me to keep moving and I hope it inspires my children, as well. If you want to read more about my take on the Olympic trials, I’ll be posting on USA Swimming later this month. Maybe you’ll be interested in reading what Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte has to say about nutrition.
The Independent Child & Food
July 4th is Independence Day—I think every day should be Independence Day for growing kids! Independence, as it relates to feeding and child development, is an important milestone and an undeniable part of childhood.
The toddler has a strong drive to investigate and “do it himself.” He begins the cycle by taking the first steps toward independence —wandering off to play alone, refusing help with utensils or having his own opinion about the potty seat. Feeding is a great way to foster independence! Yet, this is often the place where parents want to maintain control and where feeding struggles begin.
For more tips on supporting independence in your toddler (and other ages and stages), check out my What to Expect with Development posts.
From toddlerhood on, the desire to be independent never really ends—it only gains momentum. The school-age child is driven to learn new skills and eventually tackle these on his own. While he needs guidance, he can learn to do things independently: take out the trash, empty the dishwasher, prepare side dishes for a meal, make his own snack and even pack his lunch.
While I know firsthand it’s easier to do these things for your child, in the long run, it’s more fruitful to get your school-ager practicing independence by assuming these skills. My Little Man (10 years) will be learning how to do his laundry this summer (lucky for him we had a laundry crisis when moving in so his “lesson” will be a little delayed!).
Last, the teen years are all about being independent. After all, teens are on a short path to adulthood, where they will be independent, whether they are ready or not. Allowing your teen to make decisions about food is important, but they still need guidance and expectations. What I am finding very effective with G and M is tying how they feel (physically and emotionally) after they eat. While taste is just one aspect of eating (and teens rely heavily on taste as a driver for food choice), I believe connecting HOW they feel, and HOW THEY WANT TO FEEL, helps them make food choices based on intuition and what’s right for their body.
If you can, try to celebrate Independence Day by guiding your child to practice independence in the feeding/eating department. Don’t go to the other extreme and be hands-off, though—kids thrive when they have clear guidelines, adequate support and expectations from you.
I can hear CareBear emptying the dishwasher now…
Picnic Ideas for the Fourth!
The Fourth of July happens to be Father of the Year’s birthday, too! This year we’ll be packing a picnic (birthday) dinner, and heading to the town fireworks and celebration. I am a huge fan of Ina Garten (I have every cookbook and when I want to impress, I pull from her books), so I’m using a few of her recipes for Father of the Year/the Fourth of July:
Marinated Flank Steak:
This is great served at room temperature and perfect for a picnic dinner!
- ½ cup olive oil
- ½ cup balsamic vinegar
- 4-5 cloves of garlic, mashed/minced
- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- Kosher salt/pepper
Mix above ingredients and place in a Ziploc bag with flank steak; marinate for 3-5 hours. Grill as desired.
Orzo with Roasted Vegetables: Make ahead and serve warm or cold—it’s absolutely delicious! My friend Angela introduced me to this one—thanks Angela!
Panzanella: I adore this recipe, but I have to admit, I tweak it every time based on what I have in the fridge; the dressing is a basic lemon vinaigrette I use on a variety of salads.
And for Father of the Year’s Birthday Cake:
Flag Cake: It’s enough to say that this is appropriate for the holiday and contributes some good nutrition (all those berries!) If you don’t like a cream cheese frosting, you could try it with light whipped cream. We will be coming home after the celebration to enjoy this!
Here ye, here ye! Share your stories of food and eating independence—I want to hear them!
I hope you all have a wonderful Fourth of July holiday!
Written by: Jill Castle, MS, RDN
Published on: July 3, 2012
Updated on: October 24, 2019