My husband called me a “semi-Tiger mom”, because I get a little obsessive over Buddy’s diet. Initially Buddy was mainly having organic food. But the older he gets, the more he wants to have the same food as us. Now he isn’t as enthusiastic over the organic Meal-bowls from Happy Baby brand that I ordered from iHerb. Nor is he keen on the baby cereal with puree for breakfast, also from iherb. He wants rice or porridge for dinner, and bread or adult crunchy cereal for breakfast. Maybe it’s because he has been having the organic food since he started on solid, and got sick of it. In fact he doesn’t really like gooey baby food now that he has become a toddler; he prefers food with texture. It may also be due to the food at day care, which is different from what I used to feed him, and so it’s something different.
So now, I get Buddy brown rice or multigrain bread, and for the spread l gave him either butter, organic jam, or kaya (a local peranakan spread that is made from coconut milk and pandan leaves). Buddy gets to enjoy even Hokkaido butter and home-made kaya from Chinta Manis. The day care serves the kids white bread three days a week, and I rather Buddy has the healthier version, especially on Thursday when the bread has margarine spread, which is worst since there’s trans fat in margarine. (I’m thinking of checking with the supervisor about the margarine.) On these days, I prepare breakfast for him.
I know it’s setting Buddy apart from the other toddlers because the other moms don’t do that. But I figure they are probably too young to be conscious about it. Initially I wasn’t keen on Buddy given birthday cake when the toddlers celebrate their birthdays at day care; imagine the sugar intake! But a teacher told me that during one occasion Buddy was given porridge as a substitute while other kids were having cake, and he kept looking at them. My husband thinks I’m being a food nazi, and poor Buddy is being deprived. So I relented and approved a small slice without cream. At least the day care prepares meals with vege for the kids.
It’s not that I enjoy being a nazi, but I just want to make sure that Buddy has nutritious food. For dinner, I try to give Buddy vegetables with a little minced meat with rice or porridge. It’s not easy to find vegetables in Chinese food suitable for toddlers. At least for Western cuisine, there are carrots, peas, pumpkins, bell peppers and sweet corn. For Chinese food, I try to find the soft pickled vegetables for him. I am not stopping the meal-bowls entirely but alternating them with rice or porridge, so that he has a balanced diet. On those days when no suitable vege is available, he gets fruits for fiber. He especially loves papaya, dragon fruit (particularly the red one), mandarin orange and persimmon. He and my husband (who has similar likings) tend to OD on the fruits. The other night, after dinner, both father and son sat in front of the TV, and polished off 3 mandarin oranges between them. There was one time Buddy had so much papaya that his feet and hands turned a yellowish tone, and a teacher wondered whether there was anything wrong with him. He used to like bananas (which he calls “nanas”), but got sick of it now after we kept gaving it to him when he was younger (it is one of the few suitable unpureed fruits for a baby). We think it’s good that he has a love for fruits, and hopefully it’ll continue as he gets older.
It’s not easy to find suitable toddle good when eating out. I find that the kiddy meals tend to consists of fried food, like the chicken nuggets and fries are some of the main staples. Honestly I don’t get it why the restaurants can’t offer tasty and yet healthy version. Parents don’t realize that fat and sugar can be addictive, and a combination of both is almost like cocain. I won’t advocate cutting both completely from the diet because you do get natural sugar from fruits and vege, but compared to processed food, the amount is much less. I do accept the occasional sweet or savory treats are alright, but these should only be occasional and not part of the daily diet of a kid.
Luckily there are some restaurants which do offer healthy food for toddlers, despite not having a kiddy menu. At Din Tai Fung, there are steamed minced vegetable and pork dumplings and chicken soup. I don’t give Buddy the whole dumpling, instead I break it open and mix the filling with steamed rice for him, and add in the chicken soup. It’s nutritious food for a kid. DTF is also rather child friendly, and they offer kiddy utensils which you can buy as well. Buddy likes the spoon so much, after a meal there, that he refused to give it up. So now we have a DTF spoon at home, which he uses often for his meals.
Another good place to bring your toddlers for tasty and nutritious food is the Okinawan diner, Nirai Kanai, located at basement of Liang Court mall. They served a rice dish with soft vege and chopped chicken which is very tasty, and you have it with a seafood tofu soup or stewed goard with minced pork. We love the food there, where vege is a big part of the menu. My husband remarked that is why the Okinawans live such healthy long life. The cuisine is a fusion of both Chinese and Japanese. The place is a must-try.