Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Parenting Class: Parent without Anger

“Learn Simple Ways To Parent Without Anger”

March 12 and 19, 2012
9-10pm EST

Cost: $27

To receive $10 off, mention coupon code: 
GIFT 10.

Grandparents: A Catalyst for Dreams Come True

Research indicates that parental involvement in a child’s life has a powerful effect on a child’s development and academic achievement.  The earlier it begins, the better the outcomes.
Parents and grandparents have a tremendous impact on how their children view the world.  The adults’ involvement in the child’s world helps to create the blueprint for the rest of that child’s life.  Every moment counts, even if it is a brief one…
Here is a story of Joanna…
When 3-year-old Joanna started to draw, everybody was amazed.  She mostly drew horses, but everything she put on paper was beyond the drawing ability of most adults. Joanna grew up raised by her grandparents who quickly noticed her two interests: horses and drawing.  They made every effort to help her develop her talents.
At age 4, or so, Joanna’s grandfather signed her up for a drawing class at the local arts center.  He went with her to every lesson, and then bragged to all of the extended family how great she drew.
At age 5, Joanna started to ride ponies at local fairgrounds.  Living in a city made it difficult to accommodate her desire to ride horses during the school year, but summer time was a great opportunity for her to get away to the countryside, where she could ride freely.  When she was old enough, Joanna’s grandparents signed her up for official riding lessons and, with time, she became acutely interested in dressage (“horse ballet”).  She also started to cultivate her passion for photography.
Joanna was always quick to notice the hidden beauty of most obscure things.  Her sensitive nature helped her develop a sense of acute awareness of her surroundings. Her grandmother sat by her side for hours assisting with crayons and offering constructive criticism.  The warmth of those moments helped Joanna develop her skills of concentration that later came in handy when she trained as a dressage rider.
The precision of dressage riding helped Joanna in developing a sharp eye for detail that she finds extremely useful today in her work as a photographer. Her photography freezes the beauty of a moment that normally vanishes instantaneously. Her photo lens immortalizes what otherwise would escape in a blink of an eye. Through her work as a photographer, Joanna expresses her love for nature and the still moment.
                                                                                                                     Photo by Joanna Jodko

Joanna’s accomplishments in dressage and photography came from her hard work. However, her grandparents’ love, involvement in her activities, and warm encouragements helped her develop the skills she needed to be where she is today. That is a reminder to all the parents and grandparents out there that their children’s future depends on their interest and involvement in their children’s and grandchildren’s activities. 
Parents and grandparents are catalysts for their children’s future.

To view Joanna’s work, go to:
Dr. Monika Pis is the Editor in Chief of Plugged In Parents. She is a pediatric nurse practitioner with a doctoral degree earned at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.  She has provided health care to infants, children, and adolescents for over a decade.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Gluten-free Nail Polish

Monika Pis, PhD, CPNP
If you have gluten sensitivity or Celiac disease, you should think twice before grabbing a bottle of a nail polish.
Most people are not aware that in most nail polishes, a hydrolyzed wheat protein is used as a binder. So, if you like to eat with hands or bite your nails, there is a big chance that you ingest chipped nail polish, thus gluten.
You can relax though, because there is a gluten-free option: Keeki Pure and Simple, a line of safe and organic nail care products created by two Michigan moms, Natalie Bauss and Katy Scheffler.
Keeki nail polish is water-based, contains no harsh chemicals, and is 100% biodegradable. Our testers determined that the nail polish is easy to apply and remove, and it is extremely durable if applied as directed by the manufacturer. It is important to blow dry the nails after the application of the top coat to help the nail polish adhere to the nails. If this step is skipped, the nail polish scratches and chips easily.
I highly recommend Keeki nail polish to all parents as many kids who wear nail polish might bite their nails and potentially expose themselves to harmful chemicals found in mainstream nail polishes. In addition, Keeki products contain no fumes and are safe for those with respiratory problems, such as asthma. Also, they are gluten-free what makes them very suitable for those with gluten sensitivity or Celiac disease.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Get Your Teens to Listen

Adina Soclof
Teens are in a stage where they are trying to individuate. A teenager needs to separate from his/her parents and become their own independent person. Teens seem to live by the principle of "You can't tell me what to do!" This is a natural result of their struggle to find themselves. They relay this message to their parents and teachers in their words, their actions, their physical stance and their attitude. In my classes I advise parents not to engage their children in conflict during this sensitive phase of their lives.

Teens get defensive easily and will not hesitate to argue with their parents. I encourage parents to gain cooperation by using indirect language and effective communication techniques. Two skills that can ease the tension between parents and their teens are:Giving Information and Describing the Problem.

Here are some examples: (Click on the image to enlarge)
When we give information we use a neutral and non-confrontational tone. Giving information reduces conflict. Similarly, when we describe the problem, we avoid giving orders. What needs to be done becomes obvious in the context. It is the child’s conclusion, not the adult’s command. When decisions are self-inferred, children are less likely to resist and more likely to cooperate.

Our interactions with our teens can be peaceful and calm. (No, I am not crazy!) We want to avoid conflict with our teens so that the lines of communication remain open. We want to make sure that they always feel comfortable coming to us with their problems.

Adina Soclof is a certified speech pathologist and parent educator. Her website offers informative and inspirational parenting workshops designed to help parents create a calm, happy home.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Language Milestones: Birth to 12 Months

Monika Pis, PhD, CPNP
Developing language skills and the growth of cognitive abilities allow children to interact with the surrounding world. 

Language development begins before birth as the baby perceives the sounds of the womb. There is evidence that the baby possesses receptive language ability well before birth. She can hear and respond to environmental sounds and start to develop memories of them.

Expressive language development also begins early. Cooing, which is when the baby produces vowel sounds, begins in the first two months of life. Increased volume in cooing begins to develop around one month of age, and pitch variability can be noticed between two and four months of age. During that time, when you converse with your infant, you should notice some variation in tone. These “conversations” are a great exercise that teaches your baby the art of conversing.

By six months of age infants should start to babble. The ability to babble requires coordination of muscles on the pharynx. When babbling begins these muscles get exercised, and your infant discovers her ability to talk. By nine months of age you should hear your baby say “mama" or "dada." Often “dada” is heard first, because the nasal sound “m” is harder to produce than the “d” sound. But don’t worry, she will say “mama” pretty soon--especially if you practice with her!

Between 9 and 12 months your baby will start to point to objects. This is a very important language milestone, as it proceeds the naming of objects. By the age of one year, a child usually has learned one other word besides “mama” and “dada” and is able to follow one-step commands.

By 3 months:

By 6 months:

By 9 months:

By 12 months:

The baby turns to soft voices,
especially the voices of his/her parents.

The baby produces cooing sounds and
smiles responsively.

The baby turns to familiar sounds,
laughs, and coos.

The baby babbles "mamama," "bababa," and
knows his/her name, and turns when called.

The child has learned one word other than
“mama” and “dada” and follows one-step commands.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Unexpected Genetically Modified Products

Dr. Hillary
The term GM foods or GMOs (genetically-modified organisms) is most commonly used to refer to crop plants created for human or animal consumption using the latest molecular biology techniques. These plants have been modified in the laboratory to enhance desired traits, such as increased resistance to herbicides or improved nutritional content. The enhancement of desired traits has traditionally been undertaken through breeding, but conventional plant breeding methods can be very time consuming and are often not very accurate  (
Genetically modifying food leads to changes of a plant’s DNA and may lead to unintended and undesirable health effects.
Corn is one of the top genetically modified (GM) crops. Research shows that GM giant Monsanto corn is linked to organ failure in rats.  Researches wrote:
"Effects were mostly concentrated in kidney and liver function, the two major diet detoxification organs, but in detail differed with each GM type. In addition, some effects on heart, adrenal, spleen and blood cells were also frequently noted. As there normally exists sex differences in liver and kidney metabolism, the highly statistically significant disturbances in the function of these organs, seen between male and female rats, cannot be dismissed as biologically insignificant as has been proposed by others. We therefore conclude that our data strongly suggests that these GM maize varieties induce a state of hepatorenal toxicity.... These substances have never before been an integral part of the human or animal diet and therefore their health consequences for those who consume them, especially over long time periods are currently unknown."
Other varieties of GM corn may also pose health risk.
Considering that corn can be a hidden ingredient of many of the foods we consume everyday, we must be vigilant about ingredient list as well as do our own research.

Did you know that table salt, baking powder, and even medications could contain GM corn?
  1. Table salt: Iodized salt contains cornstarch to help iodine particles adhere to salt crystals. You don’t even see cornstarch on the ingredient list…

  2. Baking powder: It contains cornstarch! You may find baking soda with potato or wheat starch in a local specialty store.

  3. Medications: Yes, even medicines contain corn derivatives. If you want an alternative, inquire at your local compounding pharmacy and be ready to pay the price.

Recipe for cornstarch-free homemade baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon potato starch
Mix all ingredients until well combined. Use immediately or store in an air-tight container.
Yield: 1 tablespoon of baking powder
Dr. Hillary is a pediatric nurse practitioner with a doctoral degree in health promotion and risk reduction. She has worked with children for well over a decade, and answers online pediatric questions at Before she became a pediatric clinician, Dr. Hillary taught high school. Her hobbies include gardening, cooking, and traveling.

What causes a child to snore?

What causes a child to snore?
My 7-year-old has been snoring for years, but recently it got worse. He snores very loudly and every night. He is restless at night, and wakes up very tired each morning. I heard him stop breathing in the middle of the night a couple of times maybe for about 5-10 seconds. Then, he would make a gurgling sound, snore, and resume breathing. He has not had any illnesses since last winter. What could cause his snoring?

Snoring can be related to a number of things: allergies, colds, sinus infections, enlarged tonsils and/or adenoids, and sleep apnea.

If snoring has been going on for a while, especially that it is getting worse, you should make a visit with your child's regular health care provider as soon as possible. He or she might recommend a neck X-ray to rule out enlarged tonsils and/or adenoids and possibly schedule a sleep study to rule out sleep apnea.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Bike Safety: When Helmet Meets Pavement

Mary McDonald  RN, MSN, CPNP

Picture your child joyfully riding along on their bicycle.  Suddenly, the unexpected happens and your happy rider comes crashing down.  

Most often in bike accidents, the child’s head will hit the ground much harder than you would expect.  The force of this sudden impact to a cyclist’s head can reach up to 30,000 lbs per square inch.  This incredible force is transmitted to the child’s head over a very short time and can cause major injury to the head and brain.  Even a very low speed crash can cause a severe impact to the head and the developing brain of a child.  The picture below shows a bicycle helmet that was worn by a young girl who crashed while test riding a bicycle in the parking lot of a bike shop.  The child walked away without an injury.  As illustrated, the helmet did not fare as well.  Fortunately for this little girl, the helmet did exactly what it was designed to do: it absorbed the impact of the acceleration force to the head. Now imagine what might have happened if she was not wearing her helmet...

Numerous studies (2,3) have shown than proper bicycle helmets can reduce the risk of head and severe brain injury by more than 85%.  Many bicycle-related injuries to children occur to the head and face.  More than 120 children ages 14 and younger are killed in cycling-related incidents every year (4).  The majority of fatal injuries from bicycle crashes are due to trauma to the head.  The simple act of using a helmet could save your child’s life or prevent a serious injury.   So keep the following helmet safety tips in mind before you let your child ride away on their bicycle:
  • Make it a rule:  NO helmet, NO wheels.  EVERY time for ALL ages.
  • Use a hard-shell helmet.  These helmets are more protective than cloth-covered Styrofoam helmets.
  • Ensure the helmet is certified as safe by U.S safety standards.  Look for a sticker on the inside of the helmet from the CPSC (Consumer Product Safety Commission) or the Snell Institute.
  • Choose a highly visible color such as fluorescent yellow, highway orange or lime green.  This can increase a motorist’s ability to see your child by as much as 600 ft.(1)
  • Make sure the helmet is properly fitted.  See pictures below.
  • Adjust the chin strap so the helmet is comfortably snug.  Test the fit by wiggling and pulling.  If it slips or comes off, adjust the straps accordingly.
  • Ensure the chin strap is actually buckled every time.  Some children forget to buckle up!  Replace helmet if strap or buckle is damaged or worn out.
  • Replace any helmet that is involved in a crash or is damaged.  An impact to the helmet can crush the foam without leaving visible damage.
  • Model safe behavior by wearing your helmet every time you ride a bicycle!

A Real Life Example of Helmet vs. Pavement  

Soft covered helmet worn by young child test riding a bike.  Cover is partially removed to better show damage. This was a low speed crash.  The helmet absorbed  the impact forces and was shattered. The child was not injured.

Fitting a Helmet   

1. Green, James.  Bicycle Accident Reconstruction for the Forensic Engineer.  Trafford Publishing.  2001
2. A Buyer’s Guide to Bicycle Helmets. Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute, 2012. ,
3. A Case-Control Study of the Effectiveness of Bicycle Safety Helmets. Thompson, R.S et al, N Engl J Med. 1989:320:1361-1367.
4. National Safe Kids Campaign, USA

Special thanks to Jim Hoyt, Richardson Bike Mart, Texas and to  Anna Goddard, RN, MS, CPNP and Erica Brown, RN, MSN, CPNP-AC

Mary McDonald  RN, MSN, CPNP is a pediatric nurse practitioner with the Surgical Services department of Children's Medical Center at Legacy in Plano, Texas.  She is also an avid triathlete and runner.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Practicing Healthy Discipline

Monika Pis, PHD, CPNP
The emotional health of the whole family depends on understanding, respect, and good relationships among family members. To develop good relationships, parents need to instruct their children (from infancy) how to control their behaviors to assure family harmony. This system of instruction is called discipline. To some people, discipline is the same as punishment but that is not the case. In fact, punishment plays a very small role in discipline. 

Parents must always encourage good behaviors--this should start from infancy. Since newborns are learning to trust and to be loved, always respond to your crying baby. Then, after she turns 2 months old, you need to teach her how to self-soothe. To do so, you must establish a healthy sleep routine. Place your baby in her crib when she is drowsy, but still alert, and let her learn to fall asleep on her own. If you keep a regular routine, you’ll teach your baby how to fit in with the family's existing schedule.

For a mobile infant, safety is the most important discipline matter. You need to set a safe stage for your child’s exploration and learning: put safety plugs in electrical outlets and latches on cabinets, and place chemicals, hazardous substances, and fragile and valuable items out of reach. Set your water heater to less than 120 degrees F to prevent accidental burns. When your child approaches a dangerous situation, such as a hot stove, your job is to remove her from the area right away.

As children mature, their personalities become more complex. They seek independence and control, and constantly test their limits. Parents need to decide what those limits are, and what behaviors are followed by what consequences. If a child clearly understands what is expected of her, she will be less likely to test her limits.

Another very important component of discipline is positive reinforcement--praising your child for acceptable behaviors. Most children do not want to get in trouble with their parents. If they get rewarded with praise and love for certain behaviors, they are more likely to repeat those behaviors again.
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Discipline vs. Punishment
Discipline consists of: 
Positive reinforcement

Punishment is a part of discipline and consists of: 
Natural consequences
Withholding privileges
Time outs

When punishment is appropriate, here are some suggestions for strategies to implement:

Natural consequences
Natural consequences are what a child experiences as a direct result of her actions. For example, if a child sitting in a highchair throws her toy on the floor, she should not get that toy back. The trick is to be consistent and to resist temptation of giving the toy back to her. Before you know it, she will learn not to throw toys on the floor.

Consequences are tightly connected to behaviors. For example, you set a rule that your child must clean her room before watching a movie. If she does not follow the rule, the consequence is that she will not watch the movie.

Withholding privileges
Sometimes it is difficult to come up with a consequence for a behavior. When that happens, you may want to tell your child that if she does not cooperate, she will have to give up something that she likes (i.e. television, going out with friends, bike riding, etc.). Whatever it is that you decide to take away for a period of time, make sure it is never anything essential to your child’s well being (i.e. food, bedding, etc.)

Time out
Time outs work only if they are implemented immediately after an undesired behavior took place. Make sure that the place for time outs offers no distractions, such as a chair in the corner of a room. The purpose of the time out is to remove your child from the activity and persons connected to the unacceptable behavior. When deciding on the length of time outs, use this rule of thumb: one minute for each year of life (i.e. a 3-year-old should spend 3 minutes in a time out). If your child does not want to sit in the time out chair, give her a time out bear hug. After setting a timer, sit in the chair with your child in your lap. Hold her in place gently until the timer goes off and the time out is over. If she tries to get away, tighten the “bear hug,” and tell her that you will only let her go when the timer goes off.

For older children, set the timer for an appropriate amount of time. If she argues or fusses, reset the timer to start the time out again. Do it over and over until she stops protesting. After the time out is over, let your child return to her activity. No comments are necessary after the time out, as she was already punished for the unacceptable behavior.

Effective discipline should be reinforced all the time. Remember that discipline consists of consistency, positive reinforcement, and consequences. Role modeling is also crucial. Show your child how she should behave and she will follow in your footsteps. When your child feels encouraged to behave in an acceptable way, you are more likely to elicit desired behaviors, and your child is more likely to listen to you and learn.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Is My Child Ready for School?

Amanda Lehrman

My son will be 2 in September.  He will start "school".  Some call it Pre-K, some call it daycare but I will call it "school".  I am already having anxiety about it.

We visited his future three mornings a week school the other day and to be honest, everything I write and preach about when out the window.  My fears set in; he's not old enough, he's not ready, he will never be able to leave me.  All that I say about encouraging our children to be independent, believing in them, etc. was gone.  I was a blabbering mess trying to act as this calm, composed mother.  What I failed to realize was that while I was busy worrying that I was pushing my son into something he was not ready for.

My son was standing next to the other kids in the classroom making himself quite comfortable.   He was just standing there, sizing the kids up and then not so shyly, exploring the toys and books in the room.  Not once did he look back for me.  Not once.  I kept waiting for it but it never happened.

As a teacher, I always looked on as my student's parents left them at the door the first few days and said that I would never be like that.  I had to trust the teacher and trust my child and I would never be a blabbering mess.  I would never hover.  I was also not a parent.  You never know how you will act as a parent until you are one.  It is pointless to assume how you will act but as soon as you are holding your newborn son or daughter it all changes.  They don't use the expression your "heart melting" for nothing.

It is easy to dole out advice but when you are in that situation, there is nothing harder.  I have to remind myself of what I say, what I preach, what I believe wholeheartedly.  That if we give out children a little room to breathe, they may just surprise us. They are much more self sufficient than we realize.  We are bringing them up to be independent, to be comfortable in new situations, not to be afraid to leave the nest.  So why is it that when they start to leave, we want to pull them back in?  We must, I must, learn to let them go.  Easier said than done.

Judging someone for how they act or feel is unjust. We never know what it is like to walk in someone else’s shoes.  I will never turn my nose up at a parent saying they are apprehensive about leaving their child at school or daycare or anywhere else.  I will never judge someone’s parenting.  Everyone has their own style and finds their way.  We are just there to support each other.  Not only is it an important lesson to learn as an adult but also to remember when your child is trying something new.  We can preach that "it is easy" or "you can do it" but we forget how hard it is to be in that situation.  Whether it is playing a new sport or getting a shot at the doctor, we forget what it is like to be that age, experiencing those emotions.  The best thing we can do is acknowledge their feelings, whether we understand them or not and know that unless we are in that situation at that time, we never know exactly what it feels like for them.  This short school visit hit me like a ton of bricks.  I have never been put in my place so fast. And I like this new place.

*Amanda Lehrman is a mom and a teacher. She holds a B.S. degree in Business Administration and M.S.T. in Elementary Education. As a mom and an educator, she believes all parents and guardians can supplement children’s education by doing simple, fun activities that will instill a love of learning that lasts forever.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Introduction to Thai Food

Cheryl Tallman

The original name of Thailand was Sukhothai, which means "Dawn of Happiness.”
Without a doubt, sharing a Thai meal will bring this attitude of pleasure to your
table. Preparing Thai food is quick and easy. Most recipes are cooked on a stovetop
for a short period of time making Thai food ideal for weeknight dinners. Plus soups
and curries can be made ahead of time, frozen and reheated for serving.

Cooking a Thai meal will introduce your family to a new culture through a variety of

Common flavors in Thai cuisine include:
 a.. Chilies
 b.. Cilantro
 c.. Mint
 d.. Coconut Milk
 e.. Fish Sauce (Thailand's version of soy sauce)
 f.. Galangal (if you can't find this ingredient substitute: ginger)
 g.. Lemongrass (if you can't find this ingredient substitute: lemon zest)
 h.. Limes and Lime juice

Curry Paste:Curry paste is a common ingredient in Thai soup, stir-fries and stews. It's a spice
mixture made with fresh chilies, garlic, kaffir lime leaves, onion and other
aromatic spices. Prepared curry pastes are available in the Asian food section of
most grocery stores. These jars deliver great Thai flavor with less hassle than
making curry paste at home. The most common varieties include:

 a.. Green Curry Paste- Made using green chilies. This is the hottest curry paste
on the heat scale.
 b.. Red Curry Paste- Made using red chilies. This is milder than green curry
paste, but still fairly hot.
 c.. Yellow Curry Paste - Made using yellow wax peppers and turmeric. More mild
than red curry paste.
 d.. Massaman Curry Paste - A roasted curry paste that is made using cinnamon,
cloves, cumin and cardamom. It has a sweet and spicy flavor.
 e.. Panang Curry Paste - Made using lemongrass, coriander and cumin. It is the
mildest curry paste.
Family-Friendly Note:
Curry pastes are spicy. For milder, family-friendly flavor, cut down on the
measurement of curry paste called for in a recipe. For example, if a recipe calls
for 1 Tablespoon of red curry paste use 1 teaspoon instead.

Coconut Milk:
Coconut milk is a staple in Thai cooking. It's made by soaking the coconut meat in
water, then blending, squeezing and straining it. The result is a milky, smooth
liquid with a wonderful coconut flavor. Canned coconut milk is found in the Asian
section of grocery stores. High in calcium and low in cholesterol, coconut milk
makes a good substitute for heavy cream for those with dairy allergies.

Although a coconut is not a true nut, in 2006 the FDA categorized coconut as a tree nut for the purposes of product labeling. Allergies to coconut are very rare and do not to relate other tree nut allergies.

The Tiniest Gourmet: Introducing Thai Food with Purees and Mashed Combinations

A simple way to begin introducing Thai flavor to your baby is by adding coconut milk
in homemade baby food. As with any new food, follow the "one at time" rule - and
introduce just one new food over a 2-3 day period. This will help you identify a
culprit food in the event of an allergic reaction.

Thai Coconut Red Curry Sauce Cubes

1 can (13 oz.) coconut milk

1 tsp. Thai red curry paste

3 Tbsp. fish sauce

3 Tbsp. brown sugar

½ cup chicken stock

Over medium heat, whisk all ingredients in a medium saucepan. Bring to a light
simmer and remove from heat. Pour sauce into a 2-cup measuring cup and let cool for
10 minutes. Pour the red curry sauce into your So Easy Baby Food Trays, cover and
freeze until ready to use.

Remove a sauce cube from the freezer, defrost and add it to pureed or mashed rice
(or rice noodles), meats, vegetables and fruits. When first introducing the sauce,
try a small amount and work your way up to more. Here are some delicious
combinations for awesome Thai curries:

  a.. Sweet potatoes, chicken, pineapple and rice
  b.. Beef, zucchini, and rice
  c.. Flaked white fish (i.e. Cod), spinach and rice noodles
Tropical Thai-Style Fruit Pudding

1 mango

2 bananas

½ cup coconut milk

1 Tbsp. brown sugar

1 tsp. lime juice

Peel, core and chop mango into chunks. Peel and slice banana into chunks. Over
medium heat, pour coconut milk into a medium-sized saucepan. With a wooden spoon,
stir in brown sugar and lime juice. Add mango and banana. Cook for 3 minutes. Pour
the mixture into a blender and puree to a smooth texture. Pour the fruit pudding
into your So Easy Baby Food Trays, cover and freeze until ready to use.

Defrosted pudding cubes taste great alone, but try these options for variety:

 a.. Add fruit pudding to oatmeal for a great tasting start to the day.
 b.. Add a few cubes of fruit pudding to pancake batter to make Thai-inspired
 c.. Add mashed brown rice to create a fruity rice pudding
 d.. Toss 2-3 frozen cubes, 2 ice cubes and splash of fruit juice or milk in a
blender for a frothy fruit smoothie
Toddler Treat: Coconut Chicken Soup

Soups take the chill off winter and tastes oh-so good when you have the sniffles.
This recipe for chicken soup has full Thai flavor and is sure to be a hit with the
whole family, even the pickiest toddler. If you have a baby in your household, scoop
out a little soup and purée it in the blender. It will be a nice consistency for the

Toddler Treat: Coconut Chicken Soup

2 Tbsp. Olive oil

1/2 - 1 tsp. Thai red curry paste

5 cups chicken stock

1 can (13oz) coconut milk

6 thin slices of fresh ginger

3 Tbsp. lime juice

2 Tbsp. fish sauce

¾ lb boneless chicken breast

9-10 oz. baby spinach, sliced into thin shreds

4 ounces shitake or button mushrooms, thinly sliced

1 Tbsp. cilantro, chopped 

Slice chicken breast into very thin strips and set aside. In a large soup pot over
medium heat, warm the oil. Add the red curry paste and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.
Add chicken stock, coconut milk, ginger, lime juice, fish sauce and chicken breast.
Bring to a simmer, reduce heat and simmer for 5-7 minutes. Add spinach and mushrooms
and simmer another 5 minutes. Add cilantro just before serving. Remove and discard
the ginger slices before serving.

Family Thai Dinner
Food courses in Thai meals are eaten "in harmony", or all at the same time. This
method is perfect for families - it provides variety and everyone can sit at the
table to enjoy the meal together. Traditionally Thai dishes are artistically
garnished, so add a fresh flower or fruit garnish for an authentic presentation!

Family Thai Dinner Menu:

Sweet Pork (recipe below)

Coconut Rice (recipe below)

Steamed Broccoli

Fresh Pineapple

Sweet Pork (Moo-Wan)
This is a simple recipe from Northern Thailand that turns pork tenderloin into sweet


4-5 shallots

1 pound pork tenderloin

3 Tbsp. vegetable oil

½ cup brown sugar

1 Tbsp. soy sauce

2 Tbsp. fish sauce

¼ cup water

Peel shallots and cut into thin slices. Set aside. Remove fat from the outside of
the pork tenderloin. Cut pork into ¼ inch thick slices. Set aside.

Add the oil to a 10-inch skillet, wok or deep sided pan and place over medium-high
heat for 1 minute. Add the shallots and fry for 1-2 minutes until they begin to turn
brown. Add the sugar and stir until melted (be careful not to splash yourself). Add
the soy sauce, fish sauce, and water and bring to a boil. Add the pork and reduce
the heat to medium and cook for 7-8 minutes or until pork is tender and cooked
through. Once the pork is cooked, remove it with a slotted-spoon to a rimmed-serving
dish. Turn the heat to high and boil the sauce for 1 minute to thicken it. Pour the
sauce over the pork and serve.

Coconut Rice

2 scallions

¾ cup chicken stock

¾ cup coconut milk

1 cup jasmine rice

2 Tbsp olive oil

4 oz. shitake or button mushrooms

Remove the white part of the scallions and thinly slice the green parts. Set aside.
Place chicken stock, coconut milk, and rice in a medium-sized saucepan over high
heat. Bring to a boil. Stir well. Reduce heat to low, cover pan and simmer 15
minutes. Turn off heat and let stand 10 minutes. In a small skillet over medium-high
heat, add 1-2 Tbsp olive oil and shitake mushrooms. Sauté 3 minutes and add salt and
pepper to taste.

When you are ready to serve dinner, fluff the rice with a fork, toss in mushrooms
and scallions.

Cheryl Tallman is the co-founder of Fresh Baby, creators of the
award-winning So Easy Baby Food Kit, and author of the So Easy Baby Food and the new
book So Easy Toddler Food: Survival Tips and Simple Recipes for the Toddler Years.
Visit Cheryl online at for more delicious tips.