Feeding Tiny Bellies and Hungry Minds

As a new contributor to this blog, I will begin by introducing myself. My name is Cristi Nunziata, and I am City Market’s Outreach and Education Coordinator. I have worked at the Co-op for over 10 years, beginning in the Deli, then Wellness and finally in Member Services. I have coordinated our Herbal Education program for over eight years. I am very passionate about wellness and nutrition and am very excited to now be coordinating cooking classes in addition to the wellness ones.

One of my proudest achievements in life is becoming a mother. My son has brought me so much joy. He has also brought me many new learning experiences, including how to introduce foods to a baby. So, in the spirit of introductions, it seems fitting to begin my blog writing with this subject.

When it came time to introduce foods to my baby, I felt a bit stumped. What, when and how much should I feed him? As much as I read and studied, I still felt confused and had unanswered questions. I began to realize that I was over-thinking things. This is a human being after all; he will eat what humans eat and I should follow his cues. These became my mottos.

I really strived to follow the same food philosophy for my baby as I adhere to myself, which includes organic foods (especially dairy), local and seasonal foods, and nutrient dense foods. In addition to instilling my food philosophy on him, I began to realize that I was setting the stage for a lifetime of healthy eating.

I really wanted for him to feel connection to his food. So, I began to tell him the names of the foods as I purchased them at the Co-op, unpacked and served them. I wanted to show him where his foods came from, and not simply the grocery store. So, I took him blueberry picking in the summer. He loves blueberries and snacked along the way. We needed to make a contribution to the “Belly Jar” at Adam’s Berry Farm and wondered if we should have weighed him before and after the adventure.

Cristi and Jedi

In the fall, we went apple picking. Applesauce was one of his first and favorite foods, so as he reached for one and said “apple”, I felt extremely proud. He gets it! We visited the Farmers’ Market and we smelled the herbs in the garden. We visited Shelburne Farms to see the chickens and goats. While all of these were fun adventures, they were also giving him a connection to the things he was putting in his mouth. I found that as hungry as his little belly was, so too was his mind for this information and for these experiences.

Cristi and Jedi Apple Picking

While, I have learned a lot in these last few months of food introduction, I realize that I still have a lot to learn. I am looking forward to the opportunity to teach and learn from my son. Part of this adventure, I will be sharing what we have learned from each other in the form of City Market Classes for Kids. I invite all of you parents and children out there to join me, so we can learn from each other and help to grow a generation of conscious, healthy eaters.

Please join me for Fun with Apples on Sunday, October 19. Then, coming up in November (dates TBD), Kale for Kids and Introducing First Foods.

Here’s a preview of one of the recipes we’ll be trying at the Fun with Apples class:

Apple Pie Snack

Adapted from: http://www.superhealthykids.com/healthy-kids-recipes/3-minute-apple-pie.php

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Yield 12 apple pie bites

Ingredients:
6 graham crackers
1 Tablespoon butter
4 Tablespoons light cream cheese
2 apples
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons maple syrup

Instructions:
Chop apples into tiny pieces and placed in a bowl. Heat one tablespoon of butter in a small pot over medium heat. Add chopped apples, one teaspoon of maple syrup and one teaspoon on cinnamon. Cook for 10-12 minutes until soft, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile combine cream cheese, one teaspoon of maple syrup and one teaspoon on cinnamon in a small bowl, beating with a fork or hand mixer until light and fluffy. Break 6 graham crackers in half (or leave whole, for bigger appetites). Spread cream cheese on each graham cracker. Then top with cooked apples. Serve warm.