Happy 2023! Another year is in the books and we have a blank slate in front of us. In these anxious and unsettled times, I'm wary of making any predictions, but cautiously hoping for the best.
On a personal note, my word for 2023 is PAUSE. It represents an overarching theme to work on all year. Pause and not be so reactive with my kids. Pause and take a minute to enjoy the day. Pause and be more intentional. Pause and collect my thoughts and things before leaving the house. P-A-U-S-E.
I don't know what this year will bring, but the graphic below shows some things I'm hoping for- making a long overdue trip to India, running a 5K in February with my daughter, and getting into the habit of meditating- which I have tried and failed to do over and over again. No sense stressing out about meditating; I will keep trying.
|Wrought iron balconies|
|Beignets and cafe au lait at Cafe Du Monde|
|A rosewater latte at Bearcat cafe|
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I was asked in a comment, "What are your thoughts on bread and all purpose flour? How much is too much?" and that's an interesting question. The short answer is I would buy and consume a LOT less bread and all purpose flour if I was not living in a home with children. But since I am living in a home with children, bread and all purpose flour are my compromise. Let me explain.
Kids are born with different levels of pickiness, in my experience. You can influence it, sure, but you cannot control what they eat. I have two kids that were raised the same. Child 1 is an adventurous eater (she ate pickled okra with fried eggs for breakfast every day when she was 2 years old) while child 2 eats like six things in total. At a restaurant two days ago, child 1 asked for Greek salad, said she was craving vegetables, and tasted food from everyone's plate, while child 2 asked for French fries and nothing else (wait, no, he did eat gummy worms for dessert). Kids grow out of it so I try not to waste time worrying about the pickiness. My sister and I were very poor eaters as kids and we are nothing like it now.
For child 2, bread is the one thing he will eat reliably. PB+J sandwiches is what he eats for lunch every day, and grilled cheese sandwiches fill in the gap when he refuses to eat what I make for dinner. I always- ALWAYS- set up a plate of regular dinner in front of him- curries, dals, pasta, tacos- whatever we're having. Whether he picks at it or not is 50:50.
For child 1, bread represents independence. I want my kids to be competent cooks by the time they leave home. Around age 10, it is reasonable to be able to follow simple recipes and be sous chefs under my direction, and also to fix their own simple meals. Since this summer, child 1 has fixed her own lunch boxes for day camp, etc. She'll make a sandwich (Caprese is a favorite), add fruit, a granola bar, some veggie nuggets and so on. She makes lunches for herself and her friends with whatever she can find in the fridge. She chooses and helps herself to her own breakfast every day, no matter if it is something simple like yogurt, fruit, toast or cereal, or something a little more involved, like avocado toast and omelet.
Two kitchen items have really helped her along- one is a little ceramic bowl for making omelets in the microwave oven in 45 seconds, and the other is a toaster oven. The toaster oven is so much easier and safer for budding cooks to use independently.
Recently, V was out of town and I had leftover curry in the fridge for dinner. Neither kid wanted the curry so I happily ate it myself and invited them to feed themselves whatever they liked. Big sis set up a step stool and got lil bro to grate cheese. They worked together- a miracle in itself- and made tomato grilled cheese sandwiches in the toaster oven, with peeled oranges on the side. It may not be a nutritionally marvelous dinner, but they made it themselves, and that counts for a lot in my book.
Likewise, all purpose flour is my way of making child-friendly foods at home- pancakes, waffles, muffins- with relatively less sugar and more wholesome ingredients. In time, I hope they will both expand both their cooking and eating repertoire, and be grateful for every meal.
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This week I am...
- Watching Dine With Me, a reality show where strangers cook dinners for each other and rate each other's dinner parties (we found this time-pass show at our vacation rental and it was ridiculous drama, but I had fun imagining what I would cook...) + this cute music video recommended by my sister.
- Reading Tranquility Parenting: A Guide to Staying Calm, Mindful, and Engaged by Brittany Polat- you can tell that I'm tired of constantly losing it at my kids' shenanigans :D
- Listening to lots of 80s and 90s music
- Starting to train for a 5K run
- Making cinnamon swirl bread- one loaf for home and the other to donate to a local soup kitchen. I finally bought a stand mixer a couple of years ago and use it often. Maybe it was beginner's luck, but this bread exceeded my expectations. My kids wouldn't believe that I made it.
- Assembling a birthday gift for my sister. It was a "five senses" gift with something for each of the senses- a customized playlist and earrings for Sound, skin care products for Touch, a colorful board game and jigsaw puzzle for Sight, a cookbook and recipe binder for Taste and perfumes for Smell. Plus a book on spirituality for the sixth sense, Insight.
|Cinnamon swirl bread|
|Loaves of fresh bread|
How did you spend winter break? Are you making any resolutions for 2023?
Beautiful post and Happy New Year Nupur. You've touched on some really important topics of kids and cooking and meditation. I share my experiences below.ReplyDelete
Winter break, we've 3 kids at home. My son from college and two of hubby's nieces visiting us. My son who's 19 yo planned, did grocery shopping and cooked a 3 course meal (lunch and dinner) for Christmas. Christmas Eve he even involved all of us when he baked cookies and we all did cookie decorations; a good 4 hours. Super fun and creative and we even picked BEST decorated cookies :) Kids learning to cook is one of the biggest assets for them and their families.
This is my third year into meditation. I had similar challenge like you; but 2020 during thick of pandemic, a good Samaritan reached out and introduced me to Heartfulness meditation and I'll complete 3 years this summer. It has been a life changing experience in that I've more self awareness of my thoughts and emotions and if I feel too disturbed, I sit wherever (conf. rooms at work/inside my car in parking lot etc.) and meditate for a few. Helps me take a step back, observe myself. I'm not a yogi by any chance, I do have my bad days/moments; but overall it's a journey I'm cherishing and feel like this is the best gift I've given myself this birth. I can talk to you about it if you would like to.
New Year Resolution aptly is to look more "within" and continue to improve my inner self.
Meena- Thank you for sharing your experiences! Your son sounds like an awesome guy- and it is indeed so much fun to cook for your loved ones. Cooking is how I have made most of my friends as an adult. Cookie decorating is a great bonding experience no matter what age you are.Delete
I'll look into heartfulness meditation. As you say, it is a journey, and as long as you have a growth mindset and want to do better, it is all good. I wish you inner peace this year and joys, big and small.
I’ve been following your blog for over a decade or as long as I can remember. They have always been a delightful read! You’re doing an amazing job, playing so many roles. Kudos to you!ReplyDelete
Thank you for this lovely note, and for reading my blog over the years. So kind. You made my day! :)Delete
It was me who asked you the question about bread. Thank you for remembering and answering it. My question was exactly because of the reason you mentioned. My 7 yr old is a very picky eater. He does eat a bit of Indian food but refuses to try anything besides that. I pack roti sabzi for his lunch but breakfast is a challenge because his recess is only 10 mins. I end up giving poha, ghee idli or a mini uttappam but it often comes back half-eaten. Now the only food he will gladly finish is jam toast sandwich or Nutella sandwich. He's quite underweight (but healthy) so I end up giving him bread jam at least 3 days a week and so, get a lot of stink-eye from people around who insist that kids should not be fed so much bread. Honestly, his other 2 meals are quite healthy with roti, dal, veggies, rice, milk. If you ask me, I'd rather my kid eat something for breakfast than starve. But I do not want to jeopardize his health either. I'm not qualified enough to know whether bread is really as harmful as it is made out to be, hence I wanted to ask you 😊 Cannot thank you enough for putting my mind at ease. I did not imagine feeding my child 2 slices of bread a day would stress me out so much!!
Preeti- I'm so sorry you're getting judged. It pains me that caring parents who do everything and more still face such harsh judgement. That is their problem and not yours. Our kids are the luckiest in the world- with access to plentiful food daily. They will be OK!!!Delete
Luckily we have a pediatrician who is very sane and practical. As long as a child is active, happy, and growing, the doc cares very little about being underweight or hitting particular percentiles. Human bodies- even those of kids- come in all shapes and sizes.
You might enjoy reading this article: https://www.ellynsatterinstitute.org/how-to-feed/the-division-of-responsibility-in-feeding/
AP flour is less healthy but it's not altogether unhealthy. Most of us grew up eating far worse than 2 slices of bread a day. Sooji and sabudana are not great either but we ate upma and sabudana kichdi on the regular, not too mention sugar, pickles, and all the deep fried indian snacks during the large number of festivals we celebrated.ReplyDelete
Agree 100%. Vilifying particular foods is quite pointless.Delete
Lovely post as usual. Love your word. Mine is Embrace, I think it might have the same meaning as yours - my intention is to embrace everything that comes along my way including kids antics and react but enjoy the moment and let it pass.ReplyDelete
My 13 year old can make his own breakfast and lunch - usually toast, grilled cheese or defrosting frozen stuff or heating leftovers. I think that's a good start. I barely knew how to cook when I was a teen and that changed when I came to the US.
Anyways, Happy New Year! Keep writing!
I love "Embrace"- that's lovely. Letting the moment pass- that's such a profound thing. Life is exhausting when every little thing upsets your inner balance- better to embrace it as part of the fabric of life. I hope you have a lovely year ahead!Delete
Yes, indeed, teenagers reheating leftovers and fixing frozen meals is a great start to this whole concept of "I notice when I get hungry and can do something about it on my own".
I continue to greatly enjoy your blog--for the common sense, insight, kindness, books, AND food/recipes! You are so down to earth, so real, and it is refreshing. I think you may have been the very first blog I subscribed to, and I look forward to your posts.ReplyDelete
I have been a slow runner for most of my life. If you are new to running, you might wish to consider the Galloway method--alternating running and walking with whatever schedule fits your level of fitness, for instance, 3 min running/1 min walking, I am currently doing 2:2 now that I am older, heavier, and not in prime shape. You will recover much faster and keep the fun in the run!
Thank you, Anon, for this very sweet note! I appreciate it so much that you continue to come back and read my posts.Delete
I've been an occasional runner for years, never a consistent one and definitely not a fast runner. I had not heard of the Galloway method but that is exactly how I am training- with run/walk intervals. In fact, I am fine with run/walking the 5K too- not putting undue pressure on myself. The course is a hilly one! And for me, avoiding injury is much more important than making a particular time. Have a wonderful year :)
Hi Nupur . I love your word . Mine is kindness and humanity . I feel like I am at a stage in my life where I’ve gone full circle with what has been my unconscious and often conscious word all these years - achievement . And that can only get you that much mental peace .. so now I am going to give these other words a shot and see what difference that makes . I have a feeling it will be a lot :) . I’ve always found you very kind in how you respond to comments on your blog . You are so present when you respond to each individual and I get the feeling you are really listening to each of us :) . I’ll try to do the same this year . Regarding healthy eating - I have found the 80/20 principle to be a good anchor . Perfection is impossible to achieve so cutting ourselves some slack as individuals and parents Every now and then should be perfectly acceptableReplyDelete
You made me tear up, Anon. Yes, indeed, I am listening and responding to each person who takes the time to leave a comment. I'm glad you can tell! Writing- even something as insignificant as a post on an obscure food blog- makes one feel vulnerable, and it means a lot to me that people read it and maybe get something out of it.Delete
I 100% agree with you on the 80/20 principle to eat in a reasonable manner while still living life in a food culture that is not conducive to healthy eating.
Happy new year, Nupur! Nice seeing your updates and hear about your family. ❤️ReplyDelete
Thank you, and I hope you have a wonderful year too!!Delete
Hi Nupur, I have been reading you for so many years now - way before Lila’s birth. :) I have commented a few times but your blog has been like a friend, quietly encouraging, inspiring and I love reading about the kids and dogs, Duncan, Dale..!ReplyDelete
Loved your word for the year. Mine is BOLD. Last two years, with the pandemic and all the uncertainties, I have grown so fearful of everything, including dreaming about the things I want to achieve. Opportunities brought dread instead of excitement. So enough of this fear in the new year, I want to reclaim my life.
Happy New Year!! Hope Duncan is feeling okay.
Kavs- Thank you so much for the kind words, and for sticking with me over all these years! :) I absolutely love your word for the year. I do hope this year has you seizing the day and putting yourself out there! To be honest, I could do with being bolder and more courageous myself.Delete
Forgot to include my name! - Kavs.ReplyDelete
Your post is always so insightful and food for thought.. have lost count of the years that I am reading your blog :) love the theme Pause .. much needed.. esp. with growing kids.. days are long but years are short.. can you plz recommend book reading challenge for a 12 year old ..ReplyDelete
Trupti- very true that the days are long but the years fly by!! Read Brightly has really fun monthly reading challenges for kids: https://www.readbrightly.com/monthly-reading-challenges-for-kids/Delete
And here's a fun winter-themed one: https://growingbookbybook.com/reading-activities-winter-reading-challenge/
Hi Nupur, I’ve been a long-time reader of your blog, and your posts are like reading a letter from a beloved friend! This post felt even more like that - my now-16 year old (who thankfully now eats anything and everything in front of him with a teenager appetite, knock on wood!) used to be extremely picky about food until he was about 7, and I have literally cried at his mealtimes! I also enjoy reading about Duncan and felt really sad about his illness - I finally succumbed to my husband’s and kids’ pressure and we got a dog last year (I’ve always been scared of dogs!) but now she has won over my heart with her unconditional love and gentleness and I cannot imagine life without her. Hope you all get to enjoy Duncan’s hugs and kisses for as long as possible. Good luck with the 5k run with your daughter! I started running in my 40s (an excuse to get out of the house during the pandemic!) and now often go running with the kids. Take care, and keep the posts coming! — SujataReplyDelete
Sujata- Thank you for the kind words, I appreciate your comment so much! It is heartening to know that picky kids can grow out of it as the teenage appetite kicks in. I have heard this exact story (even the tears of frustration bit) from dozens of parents.Delete
Dogs do have a way of sneaking into our hearts. My mother was similarly never into dogs but a darling and tiny German Shepherd puppy melted her heart and now she's on our side. Our sweet Duncan had another setback recently- the dog sitter that we left him with on our New Orleans trip was wonderful, but her dog bit Duncan on the face so he is recovering from injuries. But he's doing okay. It is just one thing after another!
I love your word PAUSE - definitely something I could do with more but I don't tend to make resolutions, except thinking I need a haircut! New Orleans looks wonderful and colourful. But I really love your discussion of your kids' eating styles. I still remember one time I said my kid was fussy because she didn't like a lot of vegies cooked, and then my sister said her son was not at all fussy but when I gave my daughter a plate of raw vegies he ran screaming from the room. It made me realise that the kids were just different. My daughter has been quite fussy but lately she is trying more foods which I think is partly a sign of her growing maturity as she hits her teens. We have been trying more salad sandwiches lately. Your bread looks very impressiveReplyDelete
Johanna- with your love of street art and artists, you would love New Orleans if you ever make a trip states-side.Delete
Yes, kids just have their unique food tastes, which seems to have not much to do with what parents do or don't do, and it is best to go with the flow and trust that they have eat enough (and enough variety) to grow as they should.
I couldve written this post about both my kids and their eating habits! I've always relied on other parents' account of their kids' eating habits to know that the pickiness is normal and that they will grow out of it. I also know the kids learn more from what they see us do than what we make them do. So modeling good healthy habits is paramount to me. Yet, I feel the same day to day frustrations and try to remind myself that its not the end of the world if they eat so much AP flour/Bread.ReplyDelete
I am so happy to see you share the DoR link in an earlier comment to - its been my guiding principle but must admit its hard to do when the guilt creeps in. Parenting is such a journey of self discovery and learning.
As all the other commenters have said, I love reading your blog, it feels like a chat with a friend over coffee. I've been reading it for years too and am always delighted to find a new post!
Our winter break plans went wrong very quickly. Tried to travel to Puerto Rico on xmas day and flight cancelations led to a forced canceled vacation - we had lots of tears, some mightve been from me too - but we ended up doing fun staycationy things like movies, dinner, bowling, a night at a local hotel with a pool etc.. it was a good break. I think I might push out air travel until the madness settles. But also booking my trip to India for April. Its been close to 4 yrs since I went and a lot of things have happened since. Seeing family now will be a great break and I cant wait to eat on the streets of Mumbai :)
Thats some food exposure waiting for my kids !!!!
Have a great new year - love your word PAUSE - I hope you are able to slow down and savor the moment. I've tried to be more present and calm with my kids (still trying and learning) but the line "they arent giving you a hard time, they are having a hard time" is a great lens to see their behaviors through. Its hard to remember in the moment,but all of their antics are age appropriate and reflect their current brain development.
Archana- Happy new year! I absolutely love that line, "they aren't giving you a hard time, they are having a hard time". It is all too easy for me to slip into the "why are they doing this to me" negative thoughts when kids act out. One day at a time, I am trying to practice changing my mindset! Yes, parenting is such a journey of self-growth, like it or not.Delete
Sorry to hear of your winter plans going awry but it sounds like you made the most of it! In hindsight I am glad we decided to drive to NOLA (8-9 drive, which was just on the edge of how long I'm willing to drive with kids) instead of flying.
Happy new year, Nupur! I am a long term lurker on your blog - this year I am going to be more grateful and appreciative of everything that brings me joy.Your blog is definitely one of them - so thank you for writing.ReplyDelete
On the suggestion of a friend. I tried a Muse headset for meditating ( I bought it on eBay else it’s pricey). It is not guided meditation but instead uses feedback when your mind starts wandering. It has worked for me.
RS- an attitude of gratitude sounds like a great goal for the year, and honestly something all of us should probably be doing more of :) Thank you for your kind words and for reading my blog!Delete
The muse headset sounds very intriguing and something I had not heard about! Wow!
A very happy New Year to all of you! I love the Pause design for the year and I love the practical, big-picture approach you take to life. Wish you and your family all the very best!ReplyDelete
Dear Kamini- Happy new year to you and yours!! Thank you for always being a reader and supporter- much love to you!Delete
Your kids could be mine! Kid1 ate whatever you fed him - his catch phrase was "Am I done?" Kid2 only ate white rice and ghee for an entire year - her catch phrase was "I eat how much I am hungry". She was a preemie and I worried so much she was going to be malnourished - her doctor finally put her on Pediasure for 3 months - mainly to reassure me that I was not starving her, so my stress would go down and life would be better. It helped and today she eats everything - except does not like fruits - but is 21 and definitely not malnourished. So I totally get that kids are who they areReplyDelete
Hi Vishakha- ha ha, that's awesome to hear your experience, and that things turned out fine! Very reassuring! I love how little kids have big personalities and their own catch phrases.Delete
I always enjoy your posts but particularly did so with this one. Perhaps it’s being in the same season of life with young kids, but there was such plain good common sense here that will help many. I think many mothers shy away from openly saying what they do / do not feed their families for fear of judgement and/or perception of themselves. So, thank you for your honesty - it’s a gift to us all! Happy new year. NehaReplyDelete
Neha- Happy new year! It is too bad that there is such scrutiny and criticism leveled at parents- and specifically mothers, isn't it? Most people are just trying to do their best. In an environment that relentlessly pushes sugar and hyper-processed food, no less. Thank you for your kind comment!Delete
Are you a Gretchen Rubin fan, Nupur? Your word of the year and five senses gift are signature Gretchen! I love listening to her podcast and her Four Tendencies book changed how I tackle my goals ( Obliger here).ReplyDelete
Happy New Year!
Happy new year, Anu! Yes, I've been reading Gretchen Rubin's blog for years, and she has interesting insights. I'm also an Obliger. Or an Upholder-Obliger hybrid.Delete
Lovely post, Nupur. With a 1 yr old and 7 yr old feeding kids is often of my mind and I relate to a lot of what you've written here. My top most priorities is to pick my battles and to foster a healthy relationship with food and on the whole make food something that they enjoy and not a topic for fights and battles. My 1 yr old who has been a dream to feed so fat is getting into the toddler picky zone, in the midst of minor colds and fevers and teething. I have to constantly tell myself that it's only a phase and he will grow out of food refusals, find newer stuff to like / dislike and so on and so forth. One thing is that we are a 4 person household for the most part and are very lucky to be able to hire a cook to make our lunches and dinners- she cooks to our taste and I plan all our menus. When grandparents visit its a change because my mil takes over rhe everyday details, with the generational gap and different food philosophies I do worry about less fibre, more carbs and less protien. Lol, something to worry about always. My 7 y o used to be am excellent eater especially with vegetables and with anything else generally considered healthy buy I can see the beginning of the influence of peer preferences and a general sugar saturated culture. Sigh.ReplyDelete
Thank you for writing this, I have to say that your writing and voice e has always stood out in the clutter as being moderate, sensible and non judgemental. I hope you will write more such posts.
On another note, if you do come to India, pl let me know, would love to do a quick meet up in Mumbai. I cherish your voice and would love e to meet. Even if we can't meet, I'd love to send you something to your india address, so please share your address.
Hi Hamsini, I'm so glad this post resonated with you! I enjoyed hearing about your experience with your own kids, and it is so true that there's something to worry about always and each stage is challenging in its own way.Delete
India and the US share the sugar-saturated culture issue with the profusion of fried food and sweets, and every social occasion being focused on eating.
On the one hand we have people who don't get enough food and are malnourished. But those lucky ones who can afford good food are also often left unhealthy and fighting against a culture that is stacked against moderation and nutrition. Such is the human condition.
If you get a chance, could you email me at onehotstove AT gmail DOT com? I'd love to meet up in Mumbai and this way we can exchange email addresses and plan closer to the date.