Balancing Acts with Children and Food

Treat foods are just fine and I definitely include them in my diet, but since it’s the holidays, there are lots to be had, so I make sure to be a little extra careful in my daily food choices so that I’m not just piling on the calories.

Today I had a date with my 3-year-old. We went to the movies to see Disney’s latest, Frozen*, and since we were having popcorn and candy around lunch time, I knew I wanted to balance that out with the rest of my food choices for the day.

Every so often, I get one-on-one time with my oldest, either for a few hours or most of a day. Sometimes we do something special and other times we just hang out, doing our usual routine, except without baby sister there. It took far too long after having Emme for me to finally make time for this and it’s definitely something I enjoy, especially since he’s usually his best self without sister around to bug him.

We dropped Emme off with my mother-in-law (who she is always happy to see–so much so that she got upset when I told Reece to say bye and she thought she was leaving too) and headed to the movie theater. Doug and I took Reece to see his first movie theater movie, Planes, back in August and he very much remembered having M&M’s along with his popcorn, so he requested it this time too.

I’d heard good reviews from adults about the movie, but mixed reviews from their kids, so I was happy that Reece really seemed to enjoy it. I actually think he enjoyed it even more than Planes, which he got a little antsy in the middle of. My favorite part of the whole thing was the uninterrupted snuggle time and having him sit on my lap for the last half.

watching Frozen movie theater popcorn 3-year-old movies

After sharing a small popcorn (no extra “butter”–I save that for super special occasions, like every couple of years), a pack of M&M’s and a bottle of water, we were still hungry after, so headed to the mall food court. Reece requested “Chinese noodles,” so we went to Panda Express where he got Chow Mein and Beef with Broccoli. I wanted a little something to round out my movie treats and was happy to see some changes in the menu since the last time I was there. They now have a “bowl” option where you can get one entree and a side instead of the usual two entrees option. I chose mixed veggies for my side, instead of rice like I normally would, and topped it with kung pao chicken (which at 280 calories, was one of the better options. Normally I don’t pay so much attention to this when I’m eating out, but since I had a high calorie super snack, I wanted to make sure I picked a lower calorie option). Loading up on veggies provided the balance I was looking for.

Reece and I enjoyed our food, talking about how much he liked his noodles, the movie and how we were going to tell Daddy all about it later at home. It was a really nice meal with him, actually. It was really nice in general having the time to do something fun with just him. Even just using the bathroom together was fun because we used the cool family lounge that has a little potty and a big potty, plus a little sink and a big sink so we can do everything at the same time and he doesn’t need any help reaching anything. Food and potty talk in the same paragraph–not unusual with parenting!

We picked up Emme, I enjoyed an afternoon espresso with my mother-in-law while nursing her, and headed home where I had to quickly think up something for dinner, since it was already after four. I had no meat defrosted, so I chose chicken sausage (organic, nitrate free True Story brand from Costco) from the freezer since it defrosts very quickly in a bowl of cool water.

Thankfully, Emme wanted a snack, so I put her in her highchair with a banana while I peeled and chopped butternut squash. Sadly, she was done quickly and threw most of it on the floor, so I had to get her out, which made prepping the Brussels sprouts and leek a challenge. Reece was my helper, pulling them off the stalk, though. It’d been awhile since we cooked them, so I was surprised he remembered helping me with them a few months back. I love seeing what he remembers these days.

I cut them in half and tossed them on a baking sheet with the squash, leeks, olive oil, salt, pepper and piment d’Espelette (like I said here, I use it on everything) and roasted everything on 400 for about 45 minutes or so. While it was cooking, I sliced up the sausage and tossed it in a pan on the stove to brown up. I served it all together in a bowl. A simple, good, healthy meal. Check the Love Food page for this recipe and others.

butternut squash, brussels sprouts, leeks, chicken sausage

It was definitely a day of balance with both my children and the food I ate. 🙂

Do you make any extra effort to balance out junk food with healthy foods during the holidays?

Parents of more than one, what do you do to get one-on-one time with each child?

*Parents of little ones, be warned–the first preview is a pretty scary one for the movie Maleficent. Also, loved the shoutout to my hometown (sorta) of Poughkeepsie in the Mickey short film that played before the movie.

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