10/16/14

Thursday Thoughts - Tongue Tie


Let's talk, guys. Let's talk about tongue tie. A little weird for a food blog, but hopefully not too weird. I'm going to share some of my experience with my daughter and tongue tie just because I'm hoping it might help out some other mom reading this, and partially to explain my very long absence from posting. So let's talk, guys, in five thoughts.

1. Tongue tie isn't just forgetting your words when you are flustered. It's a real condition, officially called ankyloglossia. It is when there is an unusually short or thick membrane under the tongue that restricts its movement. There are varying degrees of severity, but basically it affects how far a tongue can stick out or up. I don't have the space, pictures or knowledge to fully explain the condition here and I don't even want to pretend to be an expert, so I will direct you to http://www.tonguetie.net if you want to find more info on the condition.

2. Tongue tie runs in families. I had tongue tie. And lo and behold, my second daughter was born with it. And chances are, she got her mommy and daddy's nearsightedness, too, poor thing. Ahhh, genetics. Let's hope she forgives me one day for not being Giselle Bundchen.


3.  Tongue tie can really mess with breastfeeding. Nursing requires a baby to use their tongue to get milk from mama, and with a restricted tongue it either means they can't get much milk or they often have a tight, not deep latch that is painful for mama. Because of this, it used to be a fairly routine procedure to clip the thick membrane under the tongue right after birth if a baby was born with tongue tie. When bottle feeding became more common than breastfeeding, this practice stopped, since a restricted tongue doesn't cause as many problems with bottle feeding. Today, the general feeling is that leaving things alone unless they are causing problems with nursing is the best practice.

4. Problem is, tongue tie can affect more than just nursing. This is where my story comes in. Clara nursed great. I knew she was tongue tied since she had been diagnosed at the hospital, but things went great feeding-wise. She gained weight like a champ. She was and is a chubby, big baby, with kissable cheeks and lovely fat rolls on her legs. So obviously she is getting the nutrition she needs. Months 1-4ish were fairly normal as far as babies go. Clara has a very happy disposition, so I didn't really notice that much that she also was fairly gassy as far as babies go. (For those that haven't had kids - gassy means fussy a lot of the time. Trapped gas is painful, and very much so for a baby who is just getting used to their little body and how everything works.) Fast forward to about 4 months old and Clara starts to get fussier. The gas problems become more evident and as she consolidates her sleep patterns it becomes more obvious that gas is making it so she can't sleep at times. Or wakes her up from sleep. She starts to protest sleep when she is gassy. This is most of the day and several times at night. Clara also starts to be clingy and only wants to be with mom because most of the time, she feels pretty miserable. All these observations have been made in retrospect because sometimes when you are in the thick of things, its hard to figure out what is going on. I tried every baby gas relief product out there, but nothing worked. By six months Clara was waking up at least once a night, often twice, screaming in pain for an hour or so and naps were 30 minute cat naps when she got so exhausted during the day that she couldn't keep her eyes open anymore. She wanted to be held most of the day and seemed scared of going to other people.

It was when we tried to start solids that I started to suspect that tongue tie might be causing some of these problems. I knew my first daughter had been unusually easy to spoon feed, so I thought the fact that Clara seemed to drool food all over her face and couldn't swallow food down was just normal baby behavior. Then I started watching her try to eat more closely and realized that she couldn't physically swallow the baby food. Her tongue couldn't touch the roof of her mouth so to get any food down she would slurp it. This also introduced more air into her system, which meant more gas. And more pain and fussiness. I stopped the solids, toughed it out with a baby that was now waking up to eat at night as well as waking up with gas pains.

Out of desperation, I decided to look up tongue tie to see if it could be affecting Clara's eating and it was like a light went on. For one, I found out that it can affect more than just the ability of a baby to latch and get milk. It can affect how they swallow and a lot of times, a tied baby will swallow more air when they are nursing. Swallowed air = more gassy. I think for Clara this showed up more when she was older because she was eating faster.


Fast forward to Clara's 6 month check up. Thank goodness for good pediatricians. For one, my pediatrician listens to me. At that point I was tired beyond tired and utterly overwhelmed. Earlier that week I had a meltdown on the phone just trying to have a normal conversation with someone from church. I went through our problems with him and he listened. I laid out why I thought it might be related to tongue tie. He listened. Now, let me say that my pediatrician in general is the type that wants to leave things alone. He would rather not revise (clip) a tie tongue unless necessary. But he listened to me and when I said I wanted it done, he agreed to do it. I'm grateful that he didn't get on a high horse on principal and tell me I was imagining things.

Within two weeks, Clara was a different baby. Within a few days she figured out how to use her newly freed tongue to swallow baby food. She loves, loves, loves eating solid food. It's like she can't imagine where this wonderful stuff has been all her life. (Yep, she probably inherited that from me as well.) She stopped getting up at night to eat. The gas pains also gradually went away. We started probiotics under the advice of our pediatrician, and that helped, and as she learned to use her tongue better she stopped swallowing as much air while she was nursing. She stopped getting up at night with gas pains, and let me tell you, sleeping through the night feels. so. good. She also started taking naps during the day, real 1-2 hour naps and not the sad 30 minute cat naps she took when she wasn't feeling well. She's no longer super clingy and lets other people hold her and play with her. She is happy beyond happy and smiles at everyone around her. In fact, I just noticed the other day that she has her first tooth. I had no idea she was even teething. She wasn't fussy and never even woke up at night. It's like life is amazing without gas pain, and I have to agree with her.


5. I'm in favor of getting tongue ties revised. This is probably no surprise after reading the experience I had with Clara. It made a world of difference for us. For the record for those of you who are thinking it is a little barbaric, revising a tongue tie means cutting the membrane under the tongue. Usually there are very few nerves or veins so it isn't that painful for the baby or even that traumatic. Clara cried as much getting her shots as she did after her revision, which was about three minutes. She smiled at the nurse on our way out. Tongue tie revision is not cutting a tongue. It's freeing an overly restricted tongue so it can work like it is supposed to. If you are a mom who thinks their baby has a tongue tie, get it checked out! And if your doctor doesn't listen to you, find someone who will. Pediatric dentists and ENTs can revise tongue ties, too.

If you want to know more about tongue tie, here are some excellent resources:

Diagnosing tongue tie in babies:  http://www.drghaheri.com/blog/2014/2/15/how-to-examine-a-baby-for-tongue-tie-or-lip-tie

General advice from moms who have been there, seen everything, as well as a list of preferred providers that are experienced in diagnosing and revising tongue tie: https://www.facebook.com/groups/tonguetiebabies/ (Closed group, just ask to join.)


So that's it for my tongue tie post. I'll be back tomorrow with a regular food post. Sorry for such a long post on a non-food subject, but I'm hoping someone can benefit from this information and my experiences. And I hope you all can forgive me for such a long break from posting. We were in survival mode for quite a while so blogging was put on the back burner.



7/10/14

Zucchini, Black Bean and Rice Skillet


This recipe says "summer" to me. It uses zucchini and bell pepper, it is fast and easy, it is cooked on the stovetop and not baked, it is light and healthy. . . it's a perfect summer dish. I love the Southwestern flair it has, and I love that it uses leftover brown (or regular) rice. I always love finding new, different ways to use zucchini and this one is the winner of the season. The zucchini is wonderfully crisp-tender in it and its flavor isn't completely masked by the other ingredients. If you have an abundance of fresh tomatoes in your garden, this dish is even better using diced fresh tomatoes instead of the canned tomatoes. Cook up a batch, eat out on the patio, and taste summer.  


Zucchini, Black Bean and Rice Skillet

Heat Oven To 350 Published 07/10/2014
Zucchini, Black Bean and Rice Skillet

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 2 cups quartered lengthwise, sliced zucchini
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 can (15 oz) black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can (14.5 oz) fire roasted diced tomatoes with garlic, undrained
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 cups cooked brown rice
  • 1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
  • Salt and pepper

Instructions

  1. Heat oil in a large, ovenproof skillet over medium heat. Add zucchini, bell pepper, onion and a pinch of salt and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Stir in garlic and red pepper flakes and cook and stir an additional minute. 
  2. Add black beans, undrained tomatoes, water and cooked rice to the skillet. Cook, stirring occasionally, until heated through, about 2-3 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  3. Remove skillet from heat and sprinkle cheese on top. Broil 2-3 minutes or until cheese has melted. Serve.
Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 15 min
Cook time: 15 min

Recipe Source: adapted from readyseteat.com

6/26/14

Salsa Salad


I don't know what it is about summer, but all my will to cook goes out the window. All that sun just makes me lazy. And it's only June! Hopefully my family won't starve before September rolls around. 

Luckily there are recipes like this. So easy that I can make it while simultaneously giving tummy time encouragement to the 3 month old and with the "help" of a two year old hanging over my shoulder. So fast because there is no cooking required. So so so tasty. It's no wonder I've made it three times this month. And will probably make it a fourth if I can get to the store for more cilantro and tomatoes. It is the perfect recipe for my lazy summer self. It was even born from laziness - why scoop up salsa with a chip if you can mix the chips in and eat it with a fork? It's a hearty, filling salad full of bright veggies and beans. Take out the chips and it is even good for you. (But I don't suggest taking out the chips, because they add crunch and deliciousness. And because you only live once, okay?) If you use diced tomatoes, the only chopping required is for the cilantro, though I do prefer the taste of the salad with the fresh tomatoes if I have the time. If you need a quick lunch or dinner, or a great potluck salad to share, this salad is perfect.



Salsa Salad

Heat Oven To 350 Published 06/26/2014
Salsa Salad

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs fresh tomatoes, diced (or 2 14.5 oz cans diced tomatoes)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups frozen corn, thawed
  • 2 (15 oz) cans black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped (about 2/3 cup)
  • 1 (4 oz) can sliced black olives, drained
  • 1-2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 large bag tortilla chips, crushed, or 2 bags tortilla strips
  • Salt to taste

Instructions

  1. In colander, toss the tomatoes (if using fresh) with 1/2 teaspoon salt. Place over a bowl or in a sink and let drain for 15-30 minutes. (If using canned tomatoes, drain thoroughly and proceed to the next step)
  2. In a large bowl, combine drained tomatoes, corn, black beans, cilantro, black olives, cumin, garlic powder, onion powder and red pepper flakes. Stir to combine. Season with salt to taste. (Can be made ahead and refrigerated at this point)
  3. Stir in crushed tortilla chips and serve immediately.
Yield: 8 servings
Prep Time: 10 mins.
Cook time: None
Total time: 10 mins.
Recipe Source: HeatOvenTo350

6/6/14

Mediterranean Chicken


Flying alone with a two month old across the country this past weekend has increased my faith in humanity. I have never run across such helpful, nice people when flying as I did this past weekend. People offered to lift my bags, guide me to my gate and watch my bags for me. They smiled at Clara, offered me their place in line and asked if I needed any food or water. Every step of the way I met the nicest, sweetest people and I am grateful to all of them for making my trip so easy. Clara, for her part, was a great travel partner. She thoroughly enjoyed the unlimited mom time without a toddler trying to poke her eyes out, and I got to see family and pay my respects to a wonderful man and grandfather. 

Lovely as the weekend was, it was so nice to come back and be home again with my toddler. She was so excited she threw tantrums and napped short for me. Motherhood is the best, isn't it? Since motherhood for me also includes making dinner, I made sure to add some meals to the meal plan for the week that were personal favorites, and this chicken was one. Easy and full of great Mediterranean flavor, this is the type of weeknight meal I love. The basil gives it a happy, fresh flavor, even though most of the ingredients are things I just have stocked in my pantry or fridge. I love how the kalamata olives lend saltiness to the meal. This is one of those times when they are such a star in the meal that regular black olives are just no substitute. I also love serving this over the plain couscous because it gives it such a great texture. You could easily substitute quinoa or some brown rice if you wanted. If you want a fast, easy, healthy meal with unique flavor, this is the one. 



Mediterranean Chicken

Heat Oven To 350 Published 06/06/2014
Mediterranean Chicken

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breast cut into 1 inch chunks
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cans (14.5 oz each) diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1/2 cup low sodium chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
  • 1/2 cup kalamata olives
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • salt and pepper
  • Cooked couscous

Instructions

  1. Heat the oil in a large non-stick skillet. Add chicken and cook, stirring frequently, until all sides are browned but the chicken pieces aren't completely cooked through, about 4-6 minutes. Remove the chicken to a bowl.
  2. Add the chopped onion to the now-empty skillet and cook until the onion is starting to soften, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook and stir 30 seconds. Add undrained tomatoes and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and add chicken broth, vinegar, sugar and thyme. Simmer for 10 minutes.
  3. Add chicken back to the skillet, cover and cook until chicken has cooked through, about 5 minutes. Chop kalamata olives finely, then add to the skillet with the parsley and fresh basil. Cook 1 minute, season with salt and pepper and serve over cooked couscous.
Yield: 6 servings
Prep Time: 15 min
Cook time:25 min

Recipe source: adapted from allrecipes.com

5/27/14

Mango Chicken Avocado Salad


Mango and avocado make one of my favorite flavor combinations. There is something tropical and refreshing about it. With spring greens and chicken in a salad that refreshing flavor becomes an entire meal. A happy, tropical vacation meal. Especially when add on the simple tangy/sweet/spicy lime dressing. This salad says "summer" and "relaxing by the pool"and all kinds of wonderfully sunny things. It is light, healthy, and filling, and easy to make and it makes a perfect lunch or light dinner. Throw it together, eat it outside on the porch, and enjoy that summer is here. 



Mango Chicken Avocado Salad

Heat Oven To 350 Published 05/27/2014
Mango Chicken Avocado Salad

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/3 cup lime juice
  • 3/4 teaspoon chili garlic sauce
  • 4 cups shredded, cooked chicken
  • 2 medium mangos, peeled, seeded and diced
  • 2 medium avocados, pitted and diced
  • 1 (10 ounce) package spring lettuce mix

Instructions

  1. In a microwave safe bowl, combine brown sugar and water and microwave 1 minute. Stir until sugar is dissolved (microwaving more if necessary) and stir in lime juice and garlic sauce. (If you can make the dressing a day or at least a couple hours ahead of time it is even better.)
  2. In a large bowl, gently toss together the chicken, mango and avocado. Add 2 tablespoons of the lime dressing and mix.
  3. Divide the lettuce among four plates, then top with chicken mixture. Pour dressing to taste over each plate and serve.
Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time:10 mins.
Cook time:2 mins.
Total time: 12 mins.
Recipe Source: Adapted from allrecipes.com

5/22/14

Grilled Sweet and Sour Chicken with Spinach


My brother is the grill master in the family, and when he recommends a recipe I usually try it out as soon as I can because I know it is going to be good. The only problem is that he is one of those crazy people that grills year round, even in tough Vermont winters, so when he recommended this recipe to me it was January. As in, snowy, cold, wet and definitely not grilling season in my book. Now that the weather is warm again and the grill has been dusted off, this recipe has become a favorite in our house. It is easy, has simple ingredients, and tastes wonderful. The chicken thighs are marinated in a simple marinade that gives them a delicious sweet and sour flavor after grilling. The marinade is saved and cooked with spinach until the spinach wilts, giving the spinach the same great taste. Chicken thighs are great on the grill because they don't dry out as quickly as chicken breasts so even someone without great grilling skills could make these turn out great. They also happen to go on sale where I live fairly often, making this a cheap recipe, too. I almost didn't try the spinach cooked in the leftover marinade because I wasn't sure I would like it, but my brother specifically recommended it and I am glad he did. It is so fast and easy, but really tastes great and is delicious with the chicken. I love recipes with a built-in healthy side dish. Kick off your grilling season with this delicious chicken dish and you will be happy you did.



Grilled Sweet and Sour Chicken with Spinach

Heat Oven To 350 Published 05/22/2014
Grilled Sweet and Sour Chicken with Spinach

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon hot chili-garlic sauce
  • 4-6 boneless chicken thighs (about 1 1/2 pounds)
  • 4 large handfuls baby spinach leaves, about 11 ounces total
  • 1 plum tomato, seeded and chopped

Instructions

  1. Combine rice vinegar, canola oil, granulated sugar, soy sauce and chili-garlic sauce in a medium bowl. Pour marinade into a ziploc bag and add chicken thighs. Close the bag and refrigerate 1-2 hours, turning occasionally.
  2. Remove thighs from ziploc bag and save marinade. Grill thighs over direct high heat, turning every 3-4 minutes, until cooked through, about 10 minutes.
  3. While thighs are grilling, pour reserved marinade into a large skillet and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Let boil for 1-2 minutes, then add spinach and tomato. Cook until spinach is wilted, about 3-4 minutes.
  4. Serve grilled thighs over warm wilted spinach.
Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 15 min
Cook time: 10 min (plus 1-2 hours marinating time)
Recipe Source: Weber's Real Grilling by Jamie Purviance

5/20/14

Apple Pie Quinoa Salad


I love apple pie. The tart apples, the hint of cinnamon and nutmeg, the sweet juices that come out when you cut a slice . . . is there a more homey dessert? I'm also a big fan of repurposing leftover ingredients and finding healthier ways to enjoy my favorite food flavors. That's where this apple pie quinoa salad comes in. It uses leftover quinoa. It has the same cinnamon goodness, the same deliciously sweet-tart juices and the best part? It is fast and easy. You can enjoy apple pie flavor in less than ten minutes. I originally made up this salad as a snack for my daughter and put it together during a nap time one day. After sampling a few (maybe more than just a few) bites I decided I should really also see how it tasted cold (in the name of research) and put the rest in the fridge. After discovering that it tasted great cold, I thought I should really see how good it tasted the next day. And after learning that it tasted great the next day, there wasn't much left so I just polished that whole thing off. My daughter had to wait until the next batch (which I doubled) to finally try it. Sometimes being the mom has its perks. Whether you want to share it or not, this is a great fruit salad with apple pie flavor and a healthy amount of protein and vitamins to boot. We are big quinoa fans at our house so this is perfect for us, but if you like another grain or have something different leftover you could sub it in for the quinoa. 



Apple Pie Quinoa Salad

Heat Oven To 350 Published 05/20/2014
Apple Pie Quinoa Salad

Ingredients

  • 1 pound Granny Smith apples (about two large; you can use other types of apples but may need to adjust cooking times and ingredients slightly since other varieties soften faster and release more liquid during cooking)
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
  • pinch salt
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked quinoa
  • 2 tablespoons sweetened dried cranberries
  • lemon juice (optional)

Instructions

  1. Peel and core apples and cut into thin slices. Place in a microwave safe bowl and toss with the sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger.
  2. Microwave apple mixture for two minutes, stir and microwave an additional 2-4 minutes or until apples are starting to soften and release juices.
  3. Pour off juices into a bowl or mug and reserve. Stir in quinoa and cranberries and add juices back until the salad is desired sweetness and consistency. Add lemon juice if desired and serve.
Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 05 mins.
Cook time: 05 mins.
Total time: 10 mins.
Recipe Source: Heat Oven To 350

 
Pin It button on image hover