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Food Fighting: An Update

2013 July 21
by Becky

I’ve talked a lot about feeding Ethan on the blog—when it’s good and when it’s not so good—so I thought an update was in order. 

So many people told me about their toddler-feeding woes after I shared my own recent struggles. My “breakfast popsicles” got a great response and we even attended a birthday party this past weekend that featured some of the sweet treats packed with hidden spinach! The kids of course had no idea. But since that post, as I hoped, Ethan started eating again.

Though breakfast popsicles are still pretty darn popular around here.


Something he never gives me trouble about is a “snack”. He frequently asks for them first thing in the morning, to which I of course answer, “We’re having breakfast, not snacks.” But in between meals we do offer plenty of pretzels, grapes, goldfish (of course), cheese cubes, blueberries, pita chips, and other little bites. I do my best to keep them healthy, but really anything that fits in a Flippy Snack Cup will work.


Ethan uses these snack cups as a sort of “security blanket” at times…just carting one around for the occasional bite even while climbing steps, going down slides, and enjoying a ride on the swing.

Another challenge we’ve been conquering has been the dreaded “school” lunch. The Parent’s Day Out program to which we occasionally send Ethan goes through 1pm, so a packed, shelf-stable lunch is required. My typical solution is peanut butter (or sunflower butter if there’s a no-peanut rule), some fruit, a few crunchy snacks, a cereal/granola bar, and a “squeezy” of veggie-fortified applesauce.

I just cross my fingers that he’ll eat at least some of it.

Instead of using plastic baggies or separate containers, I find a formula dispenser, like this one from OXO, extremely helpful.



The little dividers work like a charm! I never thought I’d have a use for anything formula related, now I don’t know how I lived without this thing. And everything goes in my old Medela freezer bag—the very one I used during all those midnight pumping sessions way back when. It’s the perfect size to contain Ethan’s healthy little lunch.


For lunch and dinner at home, I usually act as a short order cook, making whatever he is in the mood for each night. Grilled cheese, banana rollups, quesadillas, turkey sandwich (this is a new one…not always successful), yogurt, plus sides of string cheese, watermelon, avocado, tomatoes, and anything else we have fresh in the fridge. We also try to plan leftovers, especially pasta and also soups like my favorite minestrone.

But something we almost always have in the freezer is mac and cheese. Annie’s Eats Panera Mac & Cheese to be more specific. After discovering this incredible yumminess when eating at Panera Bread, an entire bowl of which Ethan can eat with barely a breath between bites, I was ecstatic to try this recipe at home.

Annie nailed it, almost Panera’s version to a “T”, and worth a try. Your toddler will thank you.



I use whole wheat pasta and get my white American cheese from the deli. Penne works but needs to be cut up, shells or macaroni noodles are best.

You’ll notice the recipe makes a LOT of mac and cheese. So you could cut it in half ,OR do as I do and make it all to freeze for later. I divide mine into individual servings to always have on hand using small plastic containers, like these OXO Baby Blocks. Freeze for a couple hours…



…then run the bottoms through some hot water to slightly defrost. Sometimes I’ll slip a knife around sides too.


The little mac and cheese squares should pop right out to be tossed in a zip lock bag. Ready to go next time I’m in a pinch!

**Tip: Even though it looks like a lot of cheese sauce, use it all. Freezing makes it a little thicker so extra is a good thing when it’s time to defrost and serve. 



Go ahead and try to avoid eating a bowl yourself. I dare you.

As for dessert? Frozen fruit is a staple, especially during the hot summer days. Ethan could eat a whole bag of frozen pineapple or mango chunks or whole frozen raspberries. I try to stay away from frozen blueberries because they are MESS-Y. Everything will be purple in about a minute. From time to time we’ll have a cookie or something super sweet around the house, but for the most part we save that stuff for special treats.

Ethan is back to eating and I swear he’s again growing like a weed. We still have the inevitable food battle where I beg him to take two bites of his sandwich in order to get more fruit or a treat…that power trip is just too much for him to resist. But for the most part things are better.

I’m always interested in new toddler-friend recipes, so please share a favorite or two.

And if you like the OXO products featured in this post, head to their Facebook page and enter the giveaway! There’s over $70 of brand new products up for grabs. 

Thanks OXO for asking me to review these great products. 

2 Responses leave one →
  1. Vanessa permalink
    September 3, 2013

    Hi Becky,

    I’m a little behind and catching up on your blog – good luck on your surgery!

    This food update is great – I am glad Ethan is back to eating. I was very impressed with your creativity in finding a way to get him to eat (and healthy too!)

    Where would I find sunflower butter? Since we moved we don’t have a TJs or Whole Foods close – online? (Dad is allergic to nuts so they suggested waiting on peanut butter etc). We are stuck in a sandwich rut for lunch – different kinds but still too much bread. We always eat tons of fruit (need to work on the veggies) going to give the smoothies/ice pops another go. Snacks and dinner are pretty good. Alex has always been a good eater but we’ve recently entered the “what you talkin’ about Willis? stage in which something he loved the last time we ate it, nets me that look. Gotta love toddlers. Oh what kind of granola bars does Ethan like? One last random question – do you use toothpaste with Ethan yet and if so which kind? Thanks!

    P.S. Don’t apologize for not posting as much as you want to – you’re taking care of your family and yourself (a really difficult job!). That comes first. I can only imagine the pain your in. Good luck on a successful and speedy surgery/recovery.

    • Becky permalink*
      September 4, 2013

      Thanks Vanessa! As for your Sunflower Butter question, TJ’s and WF are my only sources for it here. Maybe another organic food store, like a small local one? My parents live in a very small town and get stuff like that at place called “Nutters”. Good luck!

      As for granola bars, I get him different ones all the time, but I try to stay away from super chocolatey stuff. The yogurt dipped ones are popular, and he also likes most Cliff Bars. We use the Orajel Kids toothpaste that is safe for swallowing, Ethan cannot figure out how to spit when brushing teeth!

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