Feeding our kids real foods

This post is a little different than most here on our blog.  I’m deviating from the travel aspect of our lives and talking more about food for our littles since a lot of people have been asking me about this lately.  Feeding kids can be challenging. Feeding kids in a foreign country can be downright scary.

Eating choclo (Peruvian corn) on a trip

Eating choclo (Peruvian corn) on a trip

Thankfully, we had already committed to feeding our kids real foods before moving overseas, so that’s made things much easier while living in Peru.

We first started eating “real foods” back in 2012, before I got pregnant with Cliff.  We were finally in a home, after 6 months of moving around the country, and we just slowly stopped buying the boxed things we’d come to rely on…cereals, pastas, jarred foods, bread, crackers, baby “finger foods”, and so on.  As we cut these things from our diet we noticed we were all feeling much better.

Olivia eating plain yogurt at 10 months

Olivia eating plain yogurt at 10 months

It was a slow transition, but after about six months, we were mostly free of processed junk and were eating a lot more quality vegetables, fruits, meats and dairy.  Olivia was about 18 months at this point.  She had always been a little bit of a picky eater, but transitioned fairly well to our new way of eating.  Sometimes convincing her to try a new vegetable was really difficult, but we always offered her a little bit of everything we were eating even if we knew she didn’t like it.  I felt like that was key.

Snacking on an apple from our backyard apple tree!

Snacking on an apple from our backyard apple tree in CA!

For a while, our strategy was for her to clear her plate.  Except, since we were dealing with a strong-willed child, she often put up a fight and dinner would turn into a long drawn-out battle.  After reading the French parenting book, Bringing up Bébé, we decided we needed to switch strategies.  By this time, Cliff was just starting to eat solids as well, around 10-11 months old.

Starting solids around 10 months

Cliff trying out some squash around 10 months

Our new plan was to offer them everything we were eating, as before, but just require them to taste each thing – not necessarily clear their plates.  This took away the pressure that Olivia, especially, would feel when a new scary vegetable loomed in front of her.  It still takes some convincing sometimes, but they are both very good at tasting a bite of each food on their plate now.

Eating out at a sushi restaurant

Eating out at a sushi restaurant

We don’t force it, they know the rule, and usually do try everything, though some meals they skip over an item.  We just casually prompt them to remember to taste each thing before they are excused from the table.  Many times they are surprised by how good something tastes and end up asking for more.  Like the asparagus in our scrambled eggs the other morning, that Olivia assured me she disliked…but then she asked for thirds.

"I LOVE kale, mama!" (It was chard...but, cool!)

“I LOVE kale, mama!” (It was chard…but, cool!)

Something we’ve noticed is that as soon as we allow candy and processed junk back into their diets, they immediately lose their appetites for real foods.  This keeps us diligent in the quality of foods we are offering (though they do get their share of treats).

One vegetable that Olivia has detested for over two years, is tomatoes.  And yet, every time we serve food with tomatoes, I put a piece or two on her plate.  One day recently, she tasted it, looked up with a huge grin on her face and said, “Mama, I LOVE tomatoes!”  She still doesn’t eat them all the time, but it was a big victory just to have her try them and actually like them.  They both love salad if it’s got a little homemade dressing on it.

Eating salad for dinner

Eating salad for dinner – this was his third helping

 And broccoli is a favorite.  Cliff eats his weight in peas and sweet potatoes, and they both really like mashed cauliflower and fish.

Salmon with veggies - one of Cliff's favorites

Salmon with chard – one of Cliff’s favorites

I think it also helps that we’ve allowed each of them to “help” in the kitchen and be a part of the meal.  Olivia, especially, is much more likely to eat something if she has helped wash it or cut it up.  Cliff…he eats anything, the struggle with him is keeping him hungry for the meal!

Tasting some homemade marinara sauce

Tasting some homemade marinara sauce

 It’s been a long and purposeful journey, but we have been so thankful that our littles will eat more than the typical pasta and rice, especially since traveling around we often can’t find such specific foods.  They are adventurous little eaters now, and though they still put up a fight on some new things, it’s exciting to see them develop a taste for real foods!

Baked scallops at a restaurant in Paracas, Peru

Going for the baked scallops at a restaurant in Paracas, Peru

Lima series: Barranco *hip and bohemian*

One of our favorite places to visit in Lima is Barranco: a neighboring district, just a couple miles south of us.

Barranco

Barranco

 There’s a beautiful bike path that runs by our house along the coast so we usually load up the kids in the stroller and make the trek there on foot.

Walking through Barranco

Walking through Barranco in Spring

 Barranco is very different from Miraflores, which definitely caters to tourists and the wealthy Limeneans.  It’s earthy, hip and bohemian; filled with local artist shops, wall murals, and brightly colored houses and buildings.

Brightly colored buildings

Brightly colored buildings Photo credit: Linda Massingill

Mural photo credit: Linda Massingill

Mural photo credit: Linda Massingill

 The Plaza de Armas is especially pretty.  In case you haven’t noticed in our travels, there are many Plaza de Armas.  Every district/town in Latin America (that we’ve seen) has one.  This one has a nice big fountain and faces a beautiful old church.  Often, there are events going on here.

Playing at the fountain

Playing at the fountain

At the Plaza

At the Plaza

It’s surrounded by local restaurants and a couple of coffee shops, including our favorite coffee shop in Lima, Arabica.  When we went with John’s parents and Aunt this summer, we got to sit out back on the beautiful patio surrounded with lanterns and chirping birds.

Enjoying the patio at Arábica

Enjoying the patio at Arábica

We were happy to find they were serving iced coffee, since it was a pretty warm day.

We’ve been to almost all the museums in Barranco, now, but our favorite is definitely the Museo Pedro de Osma.  It’s a little pricey at S./20 per person, but definitely worth it anyways.  Shoot, I’ve paid to go three times with different visitors we’ve had in town.  It’s a great place.

Birds on the lawn at Museo Pedro de Osma

Birds on the lawn at Museo Pedro de Osma

At the museo

At the museo

It’s housed in a Spanish Viceroy’s mansion and the home alone is worth seeing with gorgeous stained glass windows and a beautifully manicured lawn.

Stained glass windows

Stained glass windows

Huge painting

Huge painting

 The silver exhibit is the highlight of the museum, though the last time we were there they had a wonderful temporary exhibit with some breathtaking modern oil paintings.

Armadillo!

Armadillo!

The MATE Mario Testino is a neat museum to visit, depending on what photographers are being showcased.

The MATE Musem

The MATE Musem

 We were lucky enough the visit when they were showcasing some shockingly beautiful photographs of classic movie stars from the early 1900’s.  There’s also a permanent exhibit of Princess Diana there.

Recently, we also visited the free electricity museum with the kids.

At the Museo de la electricidad

At the Museo de la electricidad

 They enjoyed the interactive stations.

Happy kids

Happy kids

 The room of old electronics (many of which were the first ones marketed) was really fascinating.

Cliff the Chef

Cliff the Chef

Checking out old electronics

Checking out an old telephone

 There was even a big juke box where you could play a classic song for a sole.

A favorite restaurant of ours in Barranco is Burrito Bar…where Texans go when they’ve got a hankering for Mexican food.  Because let’s face it, the worst thing about South America is that it’s not anything like Central America.  Finding chips in this city is impossible.  It’s been served at exactly two restaurants (and we hunted for those!).  After living here for 3 months, stumbling upon Burrito Bar was like finding a buried treasure on a desert island.

At Burrito Bar with family

At Burrito Bar with family

 They even have guacamole!  That is to die for.  Anyways, enough with that, I’m getting hungry again.  Another favorite restaurant of ours is Sofie’s Cafe.  If you’ve got a hankering for waffles, it’s the place to go.  We went twice when Grams was visiting.  We liked that it was super kid-friendly.

At Sofie's Cafe

At Sofie’s Cafe

 It was a wonderful Sunday morning walk to make for a nice brunch.

Walking in Barranco

Walking in Barranco

On the weekends, there’s also a Feria on Jr. Unión that can be fun to peruse.  They cater to hippies, I would say.  You can find anything from homemade clothing, incense, handmade soaps and lotions to jewelry and some possibly scarring nude photography (watch your kids! hah!).  The Puente de los Suspiros (Bridge of Sighs) is a pretty place to visit, too.

Puente de los Suspiros: Mamaw and Livi

Puente de los Suspiros: Mamaw and Livi

Me and Cliff at the bridge

Me and Cliff near the bridge

 Legend goes that if you make a wish and walk across the bridge with your sweetheart, it will come true.  Near the bridge there’s also a look out over the ocean that’s really breathtaking.

Me and Mom at the lookout

Me and Mom at the lookout

 So…those are some of our favorite things to do when we visit Barranco.  It’s definitely my favorite way to spend a day in Lima.  If you’re ever in Lima, it’s worth putting on the “to see” list!

Lima series: Parque de la Reserva

I haven’t blogged as much about the things we’ve been doing in Lima because, well, life gets busy and sometimes it’s just hard to find the time!  But we have seen some really wonderful places here in the city, and even just outside the city.  So I’ll be going back and documenting some of the sights to hopefully serve some good information for those visiting or moving here in the future.  Hope you enjoy!

We made a wonderful discovery a couple of weeks ago.  Well, we’d actually been hearing about the “water fountain park” from friends for a while, but had yet to make it out there.  It’s near central Lima, so it’s a good taxi ride away from Miraflores.  We went in the evening on a day when the kids (miraculously) both got a nap.  It was about 5pm by the time we arrived.  There were people lining the outside of the park with bags of popcorn, habas and cotton candy.  We grabbed a couple bags of popcorn to hold us over till dinner.  The entrance fee was S./4 per person, and was totally worth the beautifully manicured lawns and clean paths.

Handsome boy

Handsome boy

 The fountains were just breathtaking!  They were much more elaborate and bigger than I expected.

Time with Mamaw!

Time with Mamaw!

Say "cheese"

Say “cheese”

 The air even smelled good (something that’s hard to find in Lima!) with all that water being pumped up into the sky.  There were cute little trains that ran along the walking paths, taking children and parents on short rides around the park.  Cliff was beside himself with joy when he saw the trains.  John took the kids and Mom and I walked around the park.

Waiting to board

Waiting to board

Excited to be riding the train!

Excited to be riding the train!

By the time they got back it was dusk and the lights were starting to come on in the fountains.  I was surprised to see so many people playing in the fountains, absolutely soaking wet!  It was pretty chilly for us Texans.  Olivia tried to get wet, but wasn’t into it too much.  Cliff was adamantly against it.

Thinking about getting wet....

Thinking about getting wet….

It was still fun walking around.  There was a huge fountain tunnel that we all went through – the first time John, my Mom and Cliff went and they managed to stay completely dry.  The second time I went with John and the kids and we got pretty wet!  There were some very excited, rowdy teenagers that went through with us :).  It was a great night!  It also happened to be mine and John’s 6th Anniversary and it was a wonderful way to spend the evening.

Happy Anniversary to my wonderful husband!

Happy Anniversary to my wonderful husband!

We’ll definitely be making it back to the “fountain park”.  Hopefully during the day when it’s hot enough to enjoy the water!

Enjoying time with my mom in town!

Enjoying time with my mom in town!

5 reasons we love plantains

It’s been nearly four months since we moved to Lima, Peru.  Since being here, one thing that we have really enjoyed has been finding new foods – especially veggies and fruits!  Plantains are one of the new staples in our home, so I thought I’d share a little about why we love this unique fruit.  I think you can usually find them in the states – I remember seeing them in Whole Foods – I just never knew what to do with them!  Or that they could be so delicious… So here goes – 5 reasons we love plantains!

1. They’re a great carb!

Since getting rid of grains two years ago, we are always looking for good ways to get in carbs, especially for the kids. That energy-fueling component may have a bad rap in pop health, but as “real-foodies” we know it’s just as important to the body as good fats.  Plantains are the third highest source of carbs, behind cassava and taro root.  They contain a whopping 62 grams of carbs in one mashed cup.  Nice!

2. They’re cheap!

Here in Peru, plantains are about as cheap as bananas. They’re a great way to round out a meal without spending a bunch of money!

Plantain tortillas

Plantain tortillas

3. They have a good shelf life.

If you buy green plantains, you can use them all week. Some recipes need the more green, unripe fruit, while others call for the sweeter ripened yellow fruit. Once they start getting brown spots they’re a nice addition to smoothies. No matter where the plantain is in its ripening process, it’s useable. That means they make a great back-up veggie 🙂

4. They can be sweet or savory

I love that I can use them for slightly sweet, fluffy, plantain pancakes (sometimes even throwing in a few mini Enjoy Life chocolate chips for the kids),

Plantain Pancakes

Plantain Pancakes

or for a dinner casserole. Of course, the Peruvian side dish of fried green plantains or “tostones” is also a great savory way to eat them (especially when pan fried in coconut oil and dressed with real sea salt!)

Tostones

Tostones

This week, we also made plantain tortillas that turned out great!  They were a nice accompaniment to mexican rice, beef & veggies, with some diced avocado and a cilantro pesto.

Plantain tortilla

Plantain tortilla

5. They’re a fantastic starch!

I’ve seen them in everything from muffins and cake, to pancakes and desserts – in place of flour!  We’ve had some delicious treats made out of plantains at our local organic market, and I’m really excited to start experimenting with baking them! The recipes we’ve used so far are super quick and simple, which as a mama of two Littles three and under, is really important! I’ll post recipes on the blog as I come up with them.  Let me know if you give plantains a try and what you think!

A spring birthday…In October

I turned 27 last week.  But in 27 years, I have never had a spring birthday.  Until this year.

Gorgeous flowers

Gorgeous flowers

I’ve always loved fall.  In Texas, it means the weather may [finally] be cooling down, the leaves will be changing colors, and cozy weather will be approaching, with lots of hot coffee and tea.  But this year, while all my facebook and pinterest friends are busy pinning and sharing fall recipes, our cold, foggy, gloomy days are brightening with a little more sun each day.  And the spring fruit is making its way into the markets…peaches and strawberries, mmm! It’s such a strange thing, to watch everyone back home embrace fall, and to have spring showing up here.  But that’s what it’s like on this side of the equator.  Come visit us, people 🙂 While I’m not a fan of the weather that greeted us when we arrived in July, and hung around until a few weeks ago, it’s really getting beautiful now.  Every day new flowers spring up in bright colors. Every evening we watch the orange sun set behind a bank of clouds over the south Pacific Ocean.

27 was a great birthday. I had a mani-pedi last weekend and chose a spring rose color. I enjoyed time with my sweet family. And I felt loved by so many family and friends. On last Tuesday, John and I were able to bike out to the close neighborhood of Barranco. We visited Museo Pedro de Osma, which is housed in a gorgeous white colonial home.

The back building of the museum

The back building of the museum

The main exhibition is mostly renaissance-period artwork, religious paintings on wood and canvas and wooden carvings and statues.

Checking out the artwork

Checking out the artwork

This was an amazing figurine set of the story of Christ

This was an amazing figurine set of the story of Christ

Illustration of the Church, as used by the Spaniards

Illustration of the Church, as used by the Spaniards

The house itself was worth going to see – it had gorgeous stained glass windows throughout, and what seemed to be original hardwood floors.

Beautiful stained glass windows

Beautiful stained glass windows

Loved the wooden chest and the floors!

Loved the wooden chest and the floors!

The chandeliers were also beautiful!

Pretty chandeliers

Pretty chandeliers

The second building was setup with colonial furniture and Peruvian paintings of Spanish royalty.

A typical Spanish-Colonial home

A typical Spanish-Colonial home

The third building was a complete shock to me. We walked into the dark room and backlights illuminated silver for as far as the eye could see.

Silver armadillo...say what??

Silver armadillo…say what??

It was breathtaking. Some of the silver work was so intricate!

Silver basket

Silver basket

Silver horse saddle - thought of my sister, Ivy!

Silver horse saddle – thought of my sister, Ivy!

Silver fish

Silver fish

We weren’t sure what the fourth building was supposed to be, but it was interesting!

4th building

4th building

We had a wonderful time.  After enjoying the art for the morning, we stopped by a little hole-in-the-wall restaurant (literally – this is probably the restaurant that started that phrase…I wish I’d gotten a picture!).  It was a simple place, but served the most delicious Mexican food I’ve had this side of the equator.  It just may save me from my [constant] craving for Mexican food for the remainder of our time here.  They have wonderful, big, Chipotle-style burritos. And chips!  They have chips!  In all the restaurants we’ve been to in Peru we’ve only been served tortilla chips ONCE.  It’s sacrilegious if you ask me (okay, maybe that’s a bit dramatic…but still…)  Anyways, it was a great way to celebrate and we thoroughly enjoyed our burritos and chips. It’s really nice to be able to bike places here in Lima.  It’s so much quicker than walking and a bit safer than taxis, I suppose. We’re learning how to get around without a car…but more on that later 🙂

When we picked up the kids we enjoyed a leisurely stroll home through the park.  Cliff was a bit cranky (it was nap time).

Haha, cranky boy

Haha, cranky boy

Later, after dinner at home, we had three little desserts we’d picked up from a little pastry shop. Olivia was more excited about my presents and cake than I was, I think, ha!  It was pretty cute.  Love these kids….

Birthday dessert!!

Birthday dessert!!

IMG_1961.JPG

IMG_1966.JPG

Parque Amistad

This week the kids were off of school all week. We enjoyed having some time as a family in the mornings. One morning we decided to make the trip up to Surco and visit what would come to be known as, “the train park”. When we arrived we found out that while the park opened at 9am, the train didn’t start until 11:30am. But that was okay. We enjoyed a very leisurely walk around the park and took our time watching the ducks and koi in the pond.

Watching the ducks

Watching the ducks

Cliff befriended a female duck under some bushes and was very intent on “touch”ing. (Everything is “touch?” lately.) I raised ducks as a teenager, so I knew she would bite, even though she appeared friendly. I told him a few times and kept moving his hand away from her bill just in time, until his reached as quicker than my reflexes. It didn’t feel good, but I think the crying was more from surprise and betrayal at his ducky friend taking a nip at him. He continued trying to reach for the ducks – we just made sure there was a fence separating them after that.

"Touch??"

“Touch??”

This gorgeous bridge was a gift from the king and queen of Spain to Peru in the early 2000’s.  It was beautifully tiled in colors of green, red and yellow.

Under the big bridge

Under the big bridge

Me and my boy

Me and my boy

 After some reading in the kids library and play time on the big playground, we bought our tickets to ride the little steam engine train.  The kids were ecstatic.

Riding the choo-choo train!

Riding the choo-choo train!

 It was a short little ride around the park, but we got to go twice, which was just long enough for the littles.  On the way back home, we discovered the delicious Indian food restaurant we had deliver a couple weeks back, so we stopped in for some yummy Vindaloo and Chicken Masala. It was not disappointing.  I only wish they handed out the recipes so I could duplicate the deliciousness myself at home.  It was a good end to a fun morning out!

Music and trains

This week our household goods arrived from the states! It is so nice to have things like a decent cutting board, a rocking chair, a crib and our double jogging stroller! We were getting along without these things, but it’s oh, so helpful now that we have them! After we fed the kids this morning, we loaded them up in the jogging stroller for a leisurely stroll to the park. There’s a great little vegan/gluten-free cafe that sets up at an organic market, so we grabbed a few treats/breakfast and a coffee and enjoyed some time with the kids in the fresh (as fresh as Lima gets) air.

As soon as Cliff saw the train he started shouting, “choo-choo!!”

say "choo-choo"!

say “choo-choo”!

It’s amazing how trains and trucks are just somehow ingrained in little boys’ minds. They know they’re cool! He was so excited to see the train up this close. And so were all the other little boys at the park! This is the place to be…

boys and trains...

boys and trains…

The kids really needed some time to just run around and scream. Olivia even asks me sometimes, “mama, can I scream here?” Most places the answer is no…so they enjoyed screaming this morning.

running off some energy and exercising the lungs

running off some energy and exercising the lungs

An older group of men set out some instruments in the grass and before we knew it every child who could walk on their own two feet was making a bee-line for them. Cliff immediately went for the guitar and Olivia was fascinated by the drum.

beating her drum

beating her drum

"wanna trade?"

“wanna trade?”

It was a good outing for the kids. John and I were reminded that sometimes our day just needs to be about the kids, and not our to-do list. They sure had a great time!

playing guitar with daddy

playing guitar with daddy

Those smiles make all the rough days worth it!

climbing on the train

climbing on the train