The things that will never make it in the baby books and other musings from a stay at home mom

Thursday, October 28, 2004

In praise of Veggie Puffs

There have apparently been some changes to the "first foods" category since Julia mastered solids a few years ago. The product which my playgroup has been raving about the most is a new snack called Veggie Puffs, which are easy to pick up and melt in the mouth quickly. I couldn't wait for Evan to be ready for finger foods based on my friends' glowing endorsement, but when I actually got them home about a month ago, I was horrified to discover that the only things standing between Veggie Puffs and sweetened styrofoam are some creative packaging and an unnaturally bright orange color I can't imagine finding in nature. These things are downright nasty.

I'm sure I would never have let a product of such dubious nutritional value pass Julia's lips, but in another of life's great inequities, I've been letting Evan have them. He's in a strange in-between food stage right now, where he only wants finger foods but doesn't yet have the repertoire or ability to feed himself a full nutritious meal. This is further complicated by the fact that he seems to have some funky texture issues going on and refuses to pick up a single fruit or vegetable. Give him a diet existing exclusively of Cheerios, pancakes, wheat toast and the tasteless Veggie Puffs and he'd be a very happy man. But Julia's subsiding exclusively on grilled cheese, drinkable yogurt and preschool snacks these days, and I feel the need to provide at least one of my children with nutritious meals. Evan's still easier to manipulate, so he's my target. His sister can have her all-dairy diet for the time being -- I give up. But I'll be damned if my 8 month old is going to live on nothing but grains and breastmilk. So I've perfected the technique of putting a bunch of his favorite finger foods on his tray, waiting for him to open his mouth to put them in and then beating him to the punch with a spoonful of veggie or fruit mush. It's probably not very nice of me, and it's probably not going to work all that much longer (the kid's reflexes are getting FAST as a result of this game), but for now I feel vindicated that someone around here is eating well. Believe me, if I could find a version of this trick that would work on Julia, I'd do it in a heartbeat.

So there we were last night, with Evan shoveling Veggie Puffs in his mouth as fast as he could and me shoveling organic garden carrots and brown rice in his mouth as fast as *I* could and I started reading the label on those Veggie Puffs. Would you believe that it actually takes 80 of those things to make up a serving? And that said serving is only 25 calories? Faced with a low cal snack like that, I pretty much had to give them another try. I have to say, by the 7th or 8th Veggie Puff, my mouth was significantly enough numbed to flavor that I actually started to enjoy them. Meanwhile, Julia had gotten her hands on the container and poured herself out a bunch of Puffs. She wasn't eating them, of course (no such luck), but she *had* created a fun game. She was counting out piles of Veggie Puffs and using them to create and solve simple math equations (2+5, 4-1, etc.). I don't imagine this would be most 2 1/2 year olds' idea of a good time, but Julia was enthralled and kept herself happily entertained until Evan and I had finished our race to his mouth and both his tray and his baby food jar were empty.

Obviously, I misjudged Veggie Puffs the first time around. Not only do they serve as a valuable tool for enticing finicky eaters to open up their mouths, they're a terrific low cal snack for harried Moms and a fabulous educational toy for preschoolers. I, too, will be singing the praises of Veggie Puffs at playgroup from now on. I wonder if I could also use them in place of packing peanuts this holiday season...


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