Amy Palanjian is the creator of Yummy Toddler Food, the go-to resource for busy parents to create meals families swear by. Her expertise was honed over a decade of experience working in print and digital media as the lifestyle director of FamilyFun magazine, a food editor with Better Homes & Gardens, and deputy editor of ReadyMade magazine.

418: Toddler Dinnertime SOS

Amy Palanjian

You’re tired at the end of the day, but looking forward to sharing a meal with your family. You’re short on energy—but you need to pick a recipe, chop and prep ingredients, and tend to the kids. How are you supposed to juggle these responsibilities and make a meal that everyone at your table actually wants to eat? I talked about ALL of these things with Amy Palanjian, author of Dinnertime SOS. Help has come for you, parents of picky eaters!

Toddler Dinnertime SOS - Amy Palanjian [418]

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*This is an auto-generated transcript*

[00:00:00] Amy Palanjian: I was a food editor and a recipe developer in magazines for over 10 years. So I was in the food world. I knew how to develop recipes. And then I had a baby and she turned one and she was very opinionated. So at that time, there were not a lot of resources for that specific age.

[00:00:23] Hunter: You're listening to The Mindful Parenting Podcast, episode number 418. Today we're talking about toddler dinnertime SOS with Amy Palangian.

Welcome to The Mindful Parenting Podcast. Here it's about becoming a less irritable, more joyful parent. At Mindful Parenting, we know that you cannot give what you do not have, and when you give calm and peace within, then you can give it to your children. I'm your host, Hunter Clark Fields. I help smart, thoughtful parents stay calm so they can have strong, connected relationships with their children.

I've been practicing mindfulness for over 25 years. I'm the creator of the Mindful Parenting course. And I'm the author of the best selling book, Raising Good Humans, a mindful guide to breaking the cycle of reactive parenting and raising kind, confident kids, and now raising good humans every day, 50 simple ways to press pause, stay present, and connect with your kids.

Hey, you're hearing correctly. We've changed the name to the Mindful Parenting Podcast. I am super excited about this as it more accurately reflects what this is. I hope you are too.

Welcome back. I'm so glad you're here. If you're new, it's very special. Welcome to you. So glad you're here. But listen, if you haven't done so yet, make sure you're subscribed. Hit that subscribe button. And if you have ever gotten any value from this podcast please do me a favor. Go over to Apple Podcasts, leave us a rating and review.

It helps the podcast grow more and it will take 30 seconds. I greatly appreciate it from the bottom of my heart. In just a moment, we are going to be sitting down with Amy Pelengian, the creator of Yummy Toddler Food, the go to resource for busy parents to create meals families swear by. Her expertise was honed over a decade of experience working in print and digital media as the Lifestyle Director of Family Fun Magazine, Food Editor with Better Homes and Gardens and the Deputy Editor for Ready Made Magazine, and we're going to talk about toddlers and family meals and how to make it easier and all of that for our families.

Because these toddlers are so picky, right? We want to help them out, get them in there, get that nice family meal habit for everybody. That is what this conversation is all about, and I know if you have a toddler, You don't have a lot of time to sit around listening to me doing this intro, so we are going to dive right in.

Join me at the table as I talk to Amy Palangian.

Amy, welcome to the Mindful Mama podcast. I'm so glad you're

[00:03:23] Amy Palanjian: here. Thank you for having me. Okay.

[00:03:26] Hunter: So we're definitely going to talk about food and toddler food, but you're obsessed with toddler food. How did you get so interested in this topic?

[00:03:36] Amy Palanjian: So when it was a combination of factors, so my, I was a food editor and a recipe developer in magazines for over 10 years.

So I was in the food world I knew how to develop recipes and then I had a baby and she turned one and she was very opinionated. And at that time, like she's 11 now, so at that time there were not a lot of resources for that specific age when there starts to be more opinions, there starts to be more food refusal.

But they still can't chew everything, and so it's not quote unquote kid food recipes are necessarily the same or appropriate for toddlers. So I started it as a hobby as a lot of bloggers did like way back in the day and just started putting recipes online. And I actually did it for four years before I knew what I was doing.

So I had others jobs and I kept working in magazines and. And then there came a point when I I was like, I'm spending so much time on this. I have to figure out how to turn it into my job also because all the magazines kept closing. So I knew like I needed to be able to do this as my work and my income.

So I like spent a year like learning how to be a blogger and thankfully at that time Instagram, like there were no, there was not a video component that I also had to learn. So I was able to just focus on like how to build a website and then the rest of it came later. All

[00:05:06] Hunter: All right.

Cool. And were your were your parents really into food? Did you eat interesting food growing up or what was the food upbringing?

[00:05:15] Amy Palanjian: So I'm, my mom's side of the family is a large Italian family. And so every family dinner or holiday was like excessive Italian food. Everyone is very into it.

There was a meat market in my family. Like one of my uncles still works in food. Like my other uncle is an amazing cook. So there's, there are people who cook at home in my family, which I was surrounded by. So like by the time I was, I think I was like 19, like I cooked Thanksgiving for 23 people.

I just was like, I was the kid in my high school when we would be all rent a house at the beach. I would be the one making dinner, making sure that everyone ate before the... They misbehaved, so that was just always something that I was interested in.

[00:06:10] Hunter: Oh, my goodness. Great.

All right. Your creds are established, family roots in all the food. That's amazing. That's great. So what are the top five? Pantry and freezer staples that we need to make mealtime

[00:06:24] Amy Palanjian: easier. So I'm going to give you mine and because what they are is probably going to just vary based on what your family really relies on.

So in my family, it's pasta, beans, like we go through a ton of beans. Like nut butters and seeds. And do you want five of each or five total?


[00:06:47] Amy Palanjian: Like we always have eggs and we always have frozen veggies and there's like other staples that we incorporate, but I try to keep like the components of the meals.

I know we eat all the time. on hand and then vary them based on produce that's on sale or something that looks good at the farmer's market or what we have in the garden so that we can be like a little bit flexible but always have like our go tos. Okay. Yeah. I

[00:07:17] Hunter: could see that with the frozen vegetables because you can just throw them in, but I remember at least for so my kids are older now, but like when they were toddlers, My whole plan was I plotted about it, it was like when they were hungry before meals and snacks, I would give them, that's when I would give them like lots of vegetables.

So I had I would like defrost chopped up little carrots or peas or whatever, like I would give them all these like little vegetables and chopped up vegetables before dinner. So that way I didn't worry about them eating their vegetables, they would just eat then because they were hungry. And then they would have it in their meal.

[00:07:57] Amy Palanjian: Yeah, totally. And if you're like often if I'm chopping vegetables for a stir fry or something that's going to be cooked, like I will pull out some of the raw bell peppers or carrots and just put them in a bowl on the table or on the counter. Cause I know like someone will grab them. So that is like an easy way to.

Just keep those foods around and accessible especially when they're hungry. It's going to also depend, I'm thinking about like my youngest, like he just goes into the pantry at this moment. Takes, takes what he wants. But that is a great option also. It

[00:08:34] Hunter: was so much easier when they were toddlers because you could control so much more.

Like I had such control then. Like now my only control comes in the form of. What we buy because my daughter like makes, she loves to, one of my daughters who's 13 loves to cook and she makes her all, she'll do this elaborate stir fry with ramen noodles and a whole thing for lunch.

Yeah. And won't share it with any of us. They're like, we're all like, that smells amazing. Should we have it? Okay. So one of the things that I've now come, at the side where my kids are 13 and 16, I know that how valuable it was for us to had a family mealtime all the time. And we have family meals together.

We insisted on that, of course, when they were little, and we ate the same food. And now these family mealtimes are just Invaluable, right? Like they, we talk, it's fun, we have a great time, we have, it's really a connecting factor for, when you have teens, they are often doing their own thing and we're doing our own thing and things like that.

So what are some realistic tips on how to serve one meal to a family to ensure everyone winds up with a meal they enjoy? Because I know that I've seen and also I've seen on the opposite end of what happens I've seen parents who are friends of mine who have kids who they gave them separate meals when they were younger because they were picky or they didn't want what the adults were eating or the adults wanted to eat separately.

And now they don't have this they are very disconnected lives. They don't have this gathering point and it's sad in, in some ways. So seeing that importance of the family meal, how can we get something that everyone likes?

[00:10:23] Amy Palanjian: So a couple ideas would be if you're making something that typically is all of the foods mixed together keep one part of it separate or put all the elements on a big tray I've got these round trays that if I were making Like last night we had burrito bowls.

So I just put like everything on the big tray and then it was like lettuce and cheese and rice. And I forget what, there was like six different things. And then everyone can just take what they want and makes their own meal. And it doesn't have to look the same. So that is one option in the, my cookbook, dinnertime SOS, there's a bowls chapter, which with lots of ideas that are like.

easily mixed together or deconstructed but with like yummy sauces and toppings and things so the adults can make them more flavorful if they want to. Another option would be to add to a main dish. So if you have a lasagna, for example, like add a Caesar salad and some chopped apples or add some applesauce and some sliced cheese, add some things that you're not cooking so that you're making sure that there are other options for people on the table.

Because You could have a salad and apples and be like perfectly full depending on your hunger level, especially with toddlers, like you never know how hungry they're going to be. Some nights they might eat air, some nights they might need two dinners. I try to think about those like no cook sides that I can slot in there.

Or roasted frozen broccoli is like a super easy side dish to make. So that's another option. And then I think too, like you don't have to eat the same food at a meal to enjoy each other's company. Like you could get takeout and sit at the same table and make sure your devices are away. And have that connection, or you could make sure that Saturday morning breakfast is the time that everyone in the family is together, if your weekday schedule is too chaotic, or maybe you're just home with one kid, and that doesn't mean that you can't connect.

that way. It doesn't have to be all or nothing. I would say also look for opportunities, have those family moments, even if they're not quote, unquote, perfect. Stay

[00:12:51] Hunter: tuned for more Mindful Mama podcasts right after this break.

Yeah. Yeah. I remember having to eat everything on my plate and having to sit there. And mom. She boiled summer squash. It was horrible. Boiled summer squash. We will all recognize how bad that sounds. But I was like, oh, and I had to sit there until I ate

[00:13:18] Amy Palanjian: it or I just went to bed eventually.

And there's a lot of research that shows that forcing kids to eat things is not the way to help them like it later in life. It's has the total opposite effect. So the less you can have pressure and the more you can have. An environment that just allows everyone to be like, the better in the long run for everyone's relationship with

[00:13:45] Hunter: food.

That's interesting. Thinking about those dinnertime rules is challenging. We had a rule because we want it. We knew it takes a lot of taste. No one likes coffee the first time they like drink coffee, right? No one likes beer. Then these are things that people love, right? As it isn't.

We knew it takes a lot of touch points for you to like something or for kids to like something. So we had a rule in our house that was, you don't have to eat it, but you must taste it. Even spit it out if you want, but just taste the things, right? Just get used to tasting everything. And we would say, what if you saw that brown thing on your plate and you had never tasted chocolate and you would have never known?

So this is why you just gotta taste everything. What do you think of something like that where we're really encouraging people? And I guess it might depend on how that's implemented,

[00:14:32] Amy Palanjian: i, I think it depends on what your goal is and also the personality of the child and your anxiety at the table.

Because that can play out a lot of different ways. That can feel like pressure to some kids and it can make the situation worse. That can feel really fun to some kids. Sometimes parents go into that with the goal of this is how I'm going to get my child to eat this food. And if you shift that to, this is how I'm going to help my child have more fun at dinner, or this is how I'm going to help my child learn what this food is I want them to know what it looks like, I want them to know what color it is so they can identify it later, that's a very different approach.

I have children who can't that is like a no fly zone it does not help, but what I do is playful ways to eat the food or interact with the food. So sometimes like my four year old, interestingly, after having two kids, he's like the most unpredictable one. But he responds really well to eating foods in novel ways.

So he will often eat something off of like a baking tray or out of the air fryer basket or with, like last night we sat down with that burrito bowl dinner and that is not his favorite meal. Like he does, he basically likes cheese, like he doesn't like any of the foods. So I got a pair of mini tongs and I put, made sure he had two things that he liked and he happily ate his meal like that.

one tiny piece of food at a time with his tongs. He like, but like a big serving fork is another option or like kid chopsticks. Sometimes I let him feed me. If we're just being like really silly, like ways that, that just signal that like something different is happening here and we're going to explore something and it's not harder.

It's like literally just grabbing like the bigger fork than usual. Like a kid has to be like at least two and a half for those things to work to have but for a three and a four year old, that can be really fun. So I think it really just depends. Yeah, my

[00:16:45] Hunter: daughter still remember I had gotten the idea from somewhere to do Eat a Pirate Night, where we didn't have any utensils and we just held out our fingers.

And they were like, this is gross and everything by the end, but it was very memorable. That's for sure. We're just pulling hunks of chicken off, and that was great. Okay. So we can, we're trying to, what I'm hearing from you, Amy, is that we're, we want to. Lack of the pressure.

We don't want to be trying to get our kids to eat stuff necessarily. So our focus should be on basically enjoying mealtimes. What are we aiming for when we're thinking about like the relationship with kids and food? Because I would think I want them to eat lots of different things. I want them to be Open to trying things.

What do you say is like the sort of a healthy goal for parents of toddlers to be aiming for when it comes to mealtimes?

[00:17:41] Amy Palanjian: So for me and this may vary depending on your circumstance, but for me, it's, I want to have mealtimes that are as little drama as possible. And there's already going to be drama, even if you're not like focusing on what everyone's eating.

The less we focus on it, what everyone is actually putting in their mouths, the more we can focus on each other and talking to each other and talking about our day or telling jokes. The more I'm able to eat my food the more I'm able to sit down and eat my food and not be preoccupied by what someone else is doing.

I want my kids to be... Capable with the technical skills of eating so that they, and also confident in their relationship to food so that when they get to school, or they're at a friend's house, or they're with a relative, and they are sitting at a table, they can have sort of basic table manners, but they can also advocate for themselves if they need to, so if they're in a situation where someone is telling them, you need to clean your plate before you have dessert, I want them to have the confidence to say, I'm full and I don't want any more of this food.

I'll have dessert later. Or I don't like whatever this is in my family. We don't have to eat food we don't like, or I'm not comfortable with that. I'm going to go ask my mom. There are all sorts of rules that they're going to encounter as everywhere that they go. And I want them to feel secure enough in their relationship with their food.

to know that they don't necessarily have to do what other adults are telling them, because a lot of the times, what other adults may tell you to do with food is very arbitrary, and it may not be true. There's a lot of things that come up with the way that food is talked about. Sometimes in school, sometimes just with other people with the way that we're trying to sell kids on food.

And I just always want my kids to have the autonomy to be able to say no. Like when my son went to daycare or like his new, his preschool that he's in now, like on his first day there were peas on the menu. He does not like peas. Like it is not like. He doesn't want peas. He has like a neutral relationship with peas.

Like he doesn't like them. Like he doesn't like the texture. He's never liked them. And so they put some on his plate cause that is their policy. And he was like, no, thank you. And the teacher went through the, what they do in their classroom and he was like, I said, no, thank you. I don't like peas.

And then he had to say it a third time. And so that was the thing he told me when he got in the car. And I was like, good for you for making sure that your teacher understood that you didn't You don't enjoy that food. And so then I followed up with her and was like I understand that there was, an exchange about peas and I just want you to know that it's always allowed to tell you what he doesn't want to eat.

And we trust that you're providing him with a variety over the course of the week and that he has enough food. So that's where I am. So to your point of wanting them to eat a lot of foods, I just zoom out and look like what Over their childhood, over this week, are they being exposed to a variety of foods?

Which can include seeing other foods. It can include seeing foods in a book. It can include watching a cooking show. It can involve watching me eat something, going to the store, and just talking about foods. It's like, how can I build that literacy so that when they're 13 or 16 they know what foods are and they can decide?

So I'm not I just feel like we're focusing too much on specific aspects of eating and we're letting like the big picture just get a little bit lost. If we think about like how we ate as kids. and how we ate now, it's probably not the same. I didn't have a smoothie until I was like in college.

It just was not a food that was around when I was a kid. And I think our expectations for how kids are supposed to eat these days is very different and very new and just comes with a lot of pressure.

[00:21:49] Hunter: Yeah, I could see that. I love that idea of the zooming back and the perspective taking because in a lot of ways it, this also reminds me of, what Our expectations with, everyday interactions I, in Mindful Parenting, I teach communication.

We don't want to be really focused in on what did your child say to their sibling in this moment? And this interaction, like that, if you zoom out to the big picture, where does that fit into the big picture? Of what are the interactions like over the week, over the month, over the year, right?

It really matters, very little, like one little thing or that happened. And I'm hearing you say the same thing for food, that we should just, if our child has an all noodle meal for one night, not the end of the world,

[00:22:39] Amy Palanjian: or even if they go through like a phase where all they want is noodles, like that probably will be a phase.

And if it's not a phase, you can get help with a specific issue, or if. Like I, people, I often get the question of like, how do I know when I need to get help with my child's eating? And I think it's like, whenever you feel like meals are too stressful for you to enjoy your child. I think that's, it's not like a magic formula.

It's just if you are too stressed out, I think that's when you get help. But it is very common for kids to have like favorite foods for a period of time and then they move on. It's like when you buy blueberries for a, for many toddlers. They want to eat the entire pint in two and a half minutes and then they want another pint and then another one and then they don't want a blueberry for ten days or a month or three months.

It's not kids don't eat like the charts with like different food groups on them. They don't eat like that. They'll eat one food group for breakfast and one food group for snack and they might eat two for lunch. It's not We like I've taken away the intuitiveness of it a little bit.


[00:23:51] Hunter: funny. I guess that's almost if we were going back and hunter gatherer species, that's probably how people would eat. Like you'd sit there at that blueberry bush, you'd be having blueberries for breakfast, right? Yeah. You'd eat all

[00:24:03] Amy Palanjian: the blueberries.

[00:24:04] Hunter: Yeah. It makes more sense to do that in some ways than to have seven different foods in one thing, huh. That's interesting. Yeah, it makes me think of my brother. He would like only eat French fries. I think my dad called him Mr. French fry or something. And then he went through a plain peanut butter sandwich phase and I was a peanut butter and jelly girl.

And I was like, what is wrong with you? You want that paste in your mouth? But he does eat a variety of foods. So just, as an adult. He eats many foods. Okay, so one of the things we know is that toddlers can, waste food, right? Like you give them this food and then it's like all over the floor or something, right?

So how can we minimize food waste and reduce grocery bills without sacrificing our foods that we love?

[00:24:56] Amy Palanjian: So to start with try to mostly eat the same foods so that you're not, this is I don't ever buy family packs of snacks because I know that if I buy the bigger package, some they'll just decide they don't like that snack anymore.

And then if I don't like it, and we're like so think that through is Costco really helping with some of this or is it making it worse? But if you're mostly eating the same foods. If your child doesn't like it, then you can eat it. You're not going to have food that's like sitting in the pantry.

So that's one option. That doesn't mean that like every meal has to be the same. It's just like the core staples. And then when you're having meals, start with smaller portions so that there's just less opportunity for the food to be wasted. And then just make sure that the child knows that they have access to additional food if they need it.

That may not work if you have a child who is, feels. Like they need more, if often in like foster situations, if there's a foster kid, they might need to feel like they have enough food on their plate. So just check in with your personal situation. And then sometimes you can put like a discard bowl or a no thank you bowl someplace.

specific for your child to put the food they don't want so that instead of throwing it, they can just put it in this bowl and then there would be the opportunity that someone else could eat it or that you could serve it at a different meal. And then I depending on the food, I do repurpose a lot of food, which Since you're serving it to the same people in your family, it's not I'm not like taking bitten food and then giving it to someone else.

I'm talking if there's like a half of a container of strawberries and then there's some blueberries. Or some other thing, like I might turn that into a sauce for yogurt or like into a little fruit cup. If you dice up leftover fruit, you can put like lemonade or apple juice as the liquid and make a fruit cup, which might be more appealing to your kids than just the same cut up strawberries again.

And if you have a half of a leftover banana, just stick it in the freezer and then save it up until you, there's a thousand things you can make with frozen bananas. There's a lot of things that you can do that way also.

[00:27:20] Hunter: After years, I froze my bananas with the peels on it and I never used them and then...

Yeah, that would make you... to peel my bananas. I was like, and I found out that my in laws my, not my in laws, my brother and his family, they were like... Not freezing their bananas. I was like, oh my gosh, you have to freeze your bananas. Just peel them first. Like this, like my big tip of the day.

[00:27:43] Amy Palanjian: One detail, but an

[00:27:45] Hunter: important detail.

Okay, I love all these tips. And then thinking about prep time, like it sounds like that could be a lot of work. Toddlers are a lot of work, and we know that we want, that toddler age is that I do it phase, and they want to be involved and everything. We know that we want to involve them, right?

So that it's not we're teaching them the lesson that, they don't, that we work for them and they have special VIP status watching their iPad while we work in the kitchen for them, right? Like we don't want to give them that lesson inadvertently, right? So how can we manage like preparing food with a toddler and also like making it healthy?

Any idea, any tips or

[00:28:31] Amy Palanjian: advice for that? I think look for ways that you can take shortcuts before you what are

the things that you don't like doing?

Maybe it's chopping onions, maybe it's mincing garlic, maybe it's cooking rice, maybe it's chopping up salad. There are... Almost, they're not for everything, but there are shortcuts at the grocery store for a lot of things, and so if there is a thing that you really don't like doing, but you would really like to be able to eat it, look for an option at the store that you can buy.

It might be a smidge more expensive, but if it is the thing that gets you over the hump of making the meal that you want, I would do it. Like if you're more likely to eat a Caesar salad kit because you can simply dump the components into a bowl than buying romaine lettuce and letting it go bad in the fridge, buy the salad kit because the extra dollar is not going to be thrown away.

So I would think about those things before you get to the point that you're making the meal. And then this is tricky because The context in which this is going to be playing out is going to be very different. And for a lot of parents, the bandwidth at the end of the day is not giant. And so expecting yourself to have patience to help your toddler chop something is maybe not going to be the thing that you have every day, but it could be that you put the kids bowls and cups and silverware in a low drawer that they can access by themselves, and you give them a job of picking out their things for the table, and every night that's the thing that they get to do.

Or you might have a learning tower or like a kitchen helper, like a safe stool where they could stand next to you. You could, for a long time when my son was little, I would have him at the kitchen counter with me playing like with magnet tiles or with cars, or sometimes I would set him up at the sink with a sponge and a bowl and just let him play in the sink while I was right with him.

So that we had that time together, but I was still able to just like quickly do the thing I needed to do. And then if you have time and you want to involve them, like there are so many ways that you can have a little kid in the kitchen and that they can participate without it like taking over the whole thing.

There are really great nylon kids knives that work pretty well for most things, they're not going to chop a carrot, but they're like, like my son used one last night and cut up lettuce for the burrito bowls. Things like using a salad spinner, little kids really love because they get to like push and the thing spins.

So that's a good one. Washing things or if you have a whole head of broccoli, like breaking off the pieces is a good thing for a little kid to do. So you can think of it as what's one thing that might keep them occupied for a little bit of time while I get the rest of it going.

And then if you need to just save it for the weekend and make that their screen time and save your sort of mental load or physical load for like the energy that you have to just get the meal on

[00:31:56] Hunter: the table. Yeah, we had a, I loved it so much. We had a wavy cutter. You hold it like with your whole hand.

I'm like making this gesture. You guys can't, you're listening. You just push it down with your whole hand and and that was such a great tool. I love that. Yeah, that's a good one. That

[00:32:15] Amy Palanjian: tool.

[00:32:20] Hunter: Stay tuned for more Mindful Mama podcasts right after this break.

What do you think about Planning, or rhythms, or things like that. We had gotten I really loved this idea from Kim John Payne who wrote Simplicity Parenting was like, so we had Monday night was pizza night, Tuesday night was rice night, Wednesday night was pasta night, Thursday was soup night, Friday I forget, Sunday night was vegetarian.

So that was, we had that for years and years and. It helped, I think it really helped them. They were like, okay, we'll get through rice night because pasta night is next, like we can get there, and they would complain less because they knew what to expect. And then for me, I would just be like, okay, what night is it?

It's rice night. I'll just get some rice and then whatever else is going to be in this meal, I just build it around that. So it was actually pretty easy. What do you think about that kind of system or something for when you have toddlers and small

[00:33:28] Amy Palanjian: kids around? Yeah, it's great. It's like basically the way that daycares plan their menus where you see similar foods over the cycle of six weeks so that you have a chance to build up familiarity with things and the kids know what to expect and they learn what things are over time.

And just that routine of it can be really helpful. And it just. Lessons the amount of decisions that you have to be making each week, which everybody loves.

[00:33:55] Hunter: Okay, let's go back to then we prepared the meal. Let's think about serving it. What are some tips for how to serve that, that one meal without complaints?


[00:34:05] Amy Palanjian: one thing that may help is putting the food on the table rather than plating everyone's food for them so that kids can see what the options are. And they can have a say in what winds up on their plate. Some kids don't respond well to having food on their plate that they don't want or that they don't like.

And so that can be a way that you're just avoiding that and it can help reduce food waste that way too. Things like. Dips or sauces or ways to add flavor can help too because if a child knows that they've got access to their ranch or they've got access to guacamole that might make a whole list of other things appealing.

So that can help them feel more comfortable with a range of other foods. I think like as much as you can sit down with your family, like there is this thing that happens a lot with Mom's in particular, where everybody sits down and starts eating and then mom is still getting five things and getting drinks.

And I want like everyone to know that the goal is for everyone to eat together. So if there's something that needs to happen, like invite. Someone to help and make them feel like they're part of the machine that like gets the meal happening. And that can be like having that sort of power in being helpful, that can be very good for little kids who tend to like that sort of thing of feeling in charge and then talk about other things.

Tell, make sure everyone knows what the food is, but then talk about other stuff because that's where, if you can take the focus off the plate, then you can connect with your child. And it just makes it easier for everybody to eat if they don't feel like they're being watched. Yeah.

[00:36:05] Hunter: I could see that.

Going back to the idea of contributing to the meal, what kind of chores can little kids do to help with the meal and to be contributors and what kind of jobs have you given your kids?

[00:36:18] Amy Palanjian: So like the helping to get their dishware, cause we've always had their things. It's accessible like at like knee level so that they can get them themselves.

All of my kids now are to the point where they can open the fridge. So like condiments that we typically use are in a place where they can reach them. So they could go like grab the ketchup if we need ketchup. We have a little pitcher that has a lid on it so that It's like easy to pour without spilling it all over the place.

So if I need some help making sure everyone has a drink, I'll just fill that up and put that on the table. And then any of the kids can fill the cups. They like can all clear off their plates either into the compost or into the trash can and put them in the sink. So like the basic things we've tried having them help sweep, but that's one's like a.

Not that has not been delegated to them yet because the the efficiency and effectiveness are not good at it. Even if you have a little one, it's not, it's not good. Not

[00:37:21] Hunter: helpful. I know. Cause then. You'd have to sweep up after them and then they'll see you sweeping up after them.

And then you're just like, but I don't want rodents in my kid. I know. I could see how that would not work so well. Yeah. Okay. So thinking about just now thinking about, there's a lot of advice on what to feed kids. What to avoid, people are thinking about, talk about avoiding gluten for behavior issues and ADHD.

There's all kinds of like advice. I was focused on avoiding sugar. I was like, why am I going to give my young child sugar before she knows it exists? No, thank you, bank teller. So what advice do you have for parents trying to feed their kids healthy foods?

[00:38:11] Amy Palanjian: I think this is, again gonna depend on where you are with your relationship with food.

I think when you are looking at eliminating food groups, I would try to name the reason why and the worry behind it, and then look at whether or not that's true. Whether the information that you have gotten is from a reputable scientific source, and make sure that if you see it somewhere online, that you look at the full information so that you're not just looking at a headline because headlines are designed to make you click on them.

They are not. always factually accurate, and there is a lot of fear mongering tied to revenue. That would be one thing. It is not, there are a lot of food allergies. There are a lot of food intolerances, but it is not rampant in the way that it often sounds like it is when you are anywhere on the internet.

And the thing that we often forget is that our relationship with food and our anxiety and fear around food. impact how all of those things play out and that there is a lot of correlation assigned with behavior where my child eats this and then this happens and it must be the food. And we forget to look at the context.

So this is like a good example would be, every time my toddler eats a cupcake, he gets so hyper. What are the situations that he often has the cupcake? A birthday party, a holiday, right? Like they're not in their normal routine. They're excited. There's like people running around. They maybe didn't have their nap.

Like we have to remember to look at what else is happening. Something that might be. a more rational explanation. There is like a real a lot of damage can be done by demonizing foods, especially because kids will go to school and their friends are going to eat all sorts of things. And we don't want the messaging that kids are giving to each other to be shaming with food because we never know what situation another child is going to be in.

And so I want my kids know that we eat a range of foods over the course of the week. other families eat different foods, and everyone likes different foods. So just because you don't like something doesn't mean that you have to make sure everybody knows. You don't have to make anyone feel badly if they do like the food.

And I think that applies to adults also. There is a lot of collective ganging up on foods that happen sometimes when you're together with adults. And I just think we never know what is happening with the people who are hearing us talk about foods in certain ways. And I just want everyone to be able to eat food and eat enough food and not have debilitating anxiety about what the food might do.

because that is detrimental also. So I talk about food and think about food very differently from a lot of people who create recipes for kids or who I am not, I do not start from nutrition. I start from does this taste good? Is this Possibly something that a small child would enjoy eating from like a texture perspective, from a flavor perspective.

Is it easy for the parent to make and also does it provide nutrients that little kids need and that their parents might enjoy? Because we have to keep that like the joy part of it in there or no one's going to eat anything. No one's going to eat it if it doesn't taste good. You can't sell a kid on like the nutrition profile of broccoli if it tastes terrible.

Not that broccoli tastes terrible, but you have to make sure that the experience of eating it is like enjoyable.

[00:42:07] Hunter: Yeah, no, it absolutely has to taste good. I, yeah, speaking of broccoli like that, my my children, we, I guess we roast broccoli, right? It's pretty simple, but it ends up so good, right?

When it's roasted with plenty of like oil and salt, right? And their friends don't like broccoli or won't eat broccoli and things like that. And they're like, It's amazing. It's I think, because it's like, we're just focused on it, making it taste as good as possible, you

[00:42:37] Amy Palanjian: know? The first childcare provider that we used made roasted broccoli with Parmesan for the kids and they were all obsessed with it.

Like she always had to make two pans because they just ate it all. But I think it was because it was like properly seasoned. It was properly cooked. Like it tasted really good. And everyone was eating it. Like it was a communal experience. That's great.

[00:42:57] Hunter: I think that's great. I love that. This is so cool.

All of this is so helpful. I really appreciate your very down to earth, very open, accepting attitude. I also get a little frustrated with some of the fear mongering, especially for things with little kids. Everything is hard enough with little kids. Yeah. That's just Make things easier if we can.

I think that I can, what you're doing is doing that, it's making things easier. So I applaud you for that. Tell us all about your book that people should be so excited about and where they can find out more of, more yummy toddler foods and they could... ever. Your kids are gonna be 18 before you're gonna run out of the yummy toddler foods from

[00:43:41] Amy Palanjian: Amy.

Yeah, you can just make them for yourselves at that point. Okay. So the book is called Dinner Time SOS and it is a hundred recipes that are designed for kids and parents, or if you don't have to have kids to enjoy them, they are accessible ingredients, like really minimal prep. I tried to use as many Like inexpensive, smart shortcuts as possible to help people just be able to get a meal on the table in those, on those days when there's just low energy, but you still want everyone to eat like nutritious, yummy food.

So there's a range of options, like some of them you just have to dump into a slow cooker or an instant pot. Some of them you just assemble, some of them you like pop under the broiler. So it's. I just, I want it to be a playbook for families to turn to when they know I have 20 minutes, I have, I need to feed everyone.

These recipes are vetted to work for me in that situation, and they are as flexible as I could make them. So a lot of my audience doesn't eat meat or. like a dairy intolerance. So there's like substitutions and swaps so that if you can't find the thing that I recommend or you just are not in the mood for it, there is like always an option for you to switch it so that it's also teaching you how to Be a little bit intuitive when you're using recipes and make adjustments for yourself.

So that's that's sort of it. And then throughout there are like, all the stuff we talked about making meals more enjoyable and reducing food waste and stocking your pantry, that those are all like the surrounding materials for the recipes. And then whenever you need to find me, I am everywhere at yummy toddler food.

So my website is yummytoddlerfood. com and then social media is all yummy toddler food. I love it.

[00:45:31] Hunter: So you can follow YummyToddlerFood on Instagram and instead of feeling shamed for not having a perfect house, you can have a good practical meal on your table. I really like very practical things, so I love this.

Amy, it has been such a pleasure to talk to you and meet you. Thank you so much for doing the work you do, for taking the brave leap away from what you're doing and doing it for the world and and for coming on Mindful Mama podcast.

[00:46:03] Amy Palanjian: Thank you for having me.

[00:46:12] Hunter: Hey, I hope you loved this episode. If you did, please let me know. Let me and Amy know. On Instagram, I'm at mindfulmamamentor and she's at yummytoddlerfood, so tag us and let us know what you think. And hey, I want to give a shout out to the Apple Podcast Reviews, hey, that makes such a big difference.

So I want to give a shout out to Nicole VN, who gave a five star review and wrote, very mind opening. This is great. I started listening to the podcast after I read the book. My fuse is not as short and I take the time to calm down before reacting. I noticed how it has been affecting my children too. Yay!

That's so amazing to hear. I love that and my team loves that. Thank you. Thank you so much. Those reviews make a huge difference. It just helps that algorithm show the podcast to more people and that's what we want to change the world and make things better for families everywhere. So please.

Leave a review. Hey, now that you listened to this, it's September and I hope that you had it if you're getting back to school and all that busyness and everything. I hope it's all going okay for you. We're working through it here in my family and I know you are too. So I wish us all some peace and.

And less stress and all that as we move through this transition, if you are in the, maybe the Northern Hemisphere. And and yeah, let's all practice. Let's practice being peace we want to be. Let's practice, giving ourselves rest and time to have ease and all of those things. So I'll be practicing that, I hope, as the time comes when you listen to this and I hope you will too.

Let's do it together. We can do it. And it'll be all the better for our families as we give ourselves more little pockets and moments of peace and ease. Wishing that for you, and I hope you have a lovely week. Thank you so much for listening. Namaste.

[00:48:27] Amy Palanjian: I'd say

[00:48:27] Hunter: definitely do it. It's really helpful. It will change your relationship with your kids for the better. It will help

[00:48:33] Amy Palanjian: you communicate better. And just, I'd say communicate better as a person, as a wife, as a spouse. It's been really a positive influence in our lives. So definitely do it. I'd say definitely do it.

It's so worth it. The money really is inconsequential when you get so much benefit from being a better parent to your children and feeling lucky. If you're connecting more with them and not feeling like you're yelling all the time or you're like why isn't this working, I would say definitely do it.

It's so worth it. It'll change you. No matter what age someone's child is, it's a great opportunity for personal growth and it's a great investment in someone's family. I'm very thankful I have this. You can continue in your old habits that aren't working or you can learn some new tools and gain some perspective.

[00:49:31] Hunter: Are you frustrated by parenting? Do you listen to the experts and try all the tips and strategies, but you're just not seeing the results that you want? Or are you lost as to where to start? Does it all seem... So overwhelming with too much to learn. Are you yearning for community people who get it, who also don't want to threaten and punish to create cooperation?

Hi, I'm Hunter Clark Fields. And if you answered yes to any of these questions, I want you to seriously consider the Mindful Parenting membership. You will be joining hundreds of members who have discovered the path of mindful parenting and now have confidence and clarity in their parenting. This isn't just another parenting class.

This is an Mindful Parenting is an opportunity to really discover your unique, lasting relationship, not only with your children, but with yourself. It will translate into lasting, connected relationships, not only with your children, but your partner too. Let me change your life. Go to mindfulparentingcourse.

com to add your name to the waitlist, so you will be the first to be notified when I open the membership for enrollment. I look forward to seeing you on the inside. Mindful Parenting. MindfulParentingCourse. com

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