Thursday, August 9, 2012

pinterest magic & toddler ice cube box lunches

If you're like me, you pin things on Pinterest with the intent of using them (recipes, how-tos, etc.) but rarely use anything within, say, 4 weeks of seeing it - by which time you've more or less forgotten about it. So, like me, you may know just how satisfying it is to actually use one of those ideas!

One such great idea I discovered though Pinterest is detailed on this blog post - primarily about the author's daughter's second birthday party, but also with many pictures of the adorable toddler lunches she compiled for the kids in ice cubes trays. Basically you choose a bunch of finger-foods and arrange them as pleasingly as you can in there and off you go! Great for little ones; they love variety and can be picky and so on. Reading the entry originally, I thought, this should probably have more protein, and possibly less sugar.

Today for Ambrose's lunch I thought, what the hell, if I don't do it now I'll never try it. So we did! I used cheese cubes, yogurt (not a finger-food but whatever, unless it's at a hectic party I think some non-finger-foods are safe), pecans, almonds, tofu with Bangladeshi sauce, baby kale, carrot dimes, pickle chunks, grape halves, cucumber slices, kohlrabi slices, organic multigrain cereal with no sugar, zucchini brownies, green pepper chunks, raisins, and some plain fusili pasta with butter.

There comes a point about halfway through preparation where you think, I cannot possibly fill each and every gap (a standard tray has 16 cubes). You rummage feverishly through the fridge, and something magical happens. You take a second look at things. "Yes," you think. "We'll use the wrinkling kohlrabi." You find the grapes hiding behind the chicken stock. You decide there's no such thing as too many greens. And before you know it, you're done!

The great thing about it is that even if they don't eat it all, or even touch some of the compartments (and really, what toddler would eat the whole thing in one go?), you can just pop it in the fridge for later!

My rule of thumb was to make at least a third of my choices protein-rich and limit sugar to two compartments (the zucchini brownies had sugar, the cereal had no technical sugar but it did have crystallized molasses, basically the same thing). Other things you could include might be popcorn (preferably organic, home-popped), chicken, beef or pork strips, lentils, roasted chickpeas... The sky's the limit!

And my next realization was - this is great for adults!! Cynthia, I was thinking of you! Adults take just as much delight in variety and cuteness of food as children do, as is evidenced by the explosive food content on Pinterest. Who could resist sitting down to a delightful variety like this for a snack? (In fact, what prompted my reflection was an anticipatory wariness of Tony coming home and eating the whole thing, lol!) Especially those of us who are dieting - each cube is so small that if you limit borderline foods to 2-3 portions, and if you use at least a third of the cubes for protein-rich snacks, and be sure to include some strong flavours (like sour & salty pickles, mm!) you won't be tempted to eat the whole pan of brownies. No, you'll be quite satisfied with what you have! You could always make a tray or two ahead for you and your husband before you know you'll need it (before sitting down to watch a movie, or whatever - when you have the energy and detachment to make good choices for when you've slowed down and gotten hungry!).

Happy snacking!

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