Toddler Eating Habits

” You decide what and when. They decide IF and how much.”

Great advice is often soooo hard to follow, right? This phrase has been my mantra, and by far the best way to keep my sanity while raising not-too-picky eaters. I thought of this because I was talking to a mom who often cooks 3 different things for her family at dinner time, and she is hesitant to continue to offer foods that they don’t like.  If you are ok with this, then more power to you…if you are ready to make a change, read on!

There are many times when my kids don’t clean their plates or eat a piece of each thing offered, and it makes me second guess this tactic! What if he only eats crackers all day? No fruits or veggies?!? Gasp! Which brings me to…

Tip #1:

Look at what your child eats over the course of a week rather than a day. If he eats all carbs and dairy today, make sure to offer extra protein tomorrow. If they skipped their veggies at lunch then incorporate extra ones at dinner for a day or two.

What if my son is on a meat or veggie strike?

Tip #2:

Use non-meat proteins, such as peanut butter (always consult with your pediatrician first), eggs, and beans. Remember dairy products such as cheese and yogurt have some protein, too. The American Academy  recommends an average of 13 g of protein per day for toddlers, which is probably less than you thought they needed! Again, try to look at this over the course of a longer period than a day. If it evens out, you’re probably safe 😉

Add fruits and veggies to your meal, such as spinach or grated carrots in your spaghetti sauce, zucchini and squash cubes to your chili, kale to yummy soups like this White Bean and Pumpkin soup, and tons of peppers and carrots to your Slow Cooker Carne con Papa

Luckily, my kids eat what I consider to be a wide variety of foods. Here they were chowing down on a crunchy taco with shredded chicken, tomatoes, corn and black beans.Click here for the recipe – it’s a slow cooker one that you’ll LOVE!  We added some cheese and sour cream and they were happy campers.


Tip # 3: Provide choices when appropriate.

When it comes to snacks or quick lunches, give a choice within the food group that you are planning to serve.  If they say “No!”, then you choose and serve it anyway (practice the mantra above!).  For the picture below, for example, I would ask if they prefer

a)blueberries or strawberries

b) cheese or yogurt

c) crackers or pretzels


They feel like they are in control, but you still served a balanced meal. Ta-da!

Tip #4: Change the presentation

When Andy decided he wasn’t crazy about sandwiches, I gave him ham and cheese pinwheels in a soft tortilla, or PB&J on thin apple slices!  When Lily told me she “hated” zucchini and squash, I served it in noodle form using the Veggetti. And although I’m not planning to jump on the artsy Bento box lunch craze that some do so well, I have no problem using cookie cutters to shape some sandwich bread or thick cheese slices. Get creative!

If you have a picky eater OR any other tips, comment below!


Slow Cooker Taco Chicken

Are you getting tired of the same ol’ tacos on Taco Tuesday? This recipe is such a quick and easy alternative to the regular ground beef you usually think of for Mexican fare – it’s a family favorite at the White Lily House!


In 5 minutes or less you’ll have this going in your Crock Pot, and all you’ll have to do at dinner time is set out some shells, cheese, sour cream, and lettuce! Better yet, have the kids practice setting the table and laying out their favorite Taco Bar toppings – it’s as close to a day off from the kitchen as you can get.

We serve the leftovers as yummy burrito bowls  on a bed of yellow rice with toppings and all those cracked taco shells from the previous night crumbled in!



Slow Cooker Taco Chicken

  • 2-3 large chicken breasts
  • 1 packet taco seasoning (we use Old El Paso or Taco Bell)
  • 1 can Rotel tomatoes and chilis
  • 1 can of corn, drained
  • 1 can of black beans, drained

Add the ingredients in the order mentioned above and cook on low for 5-6 hours or high for 3-4 hours. Use two forks to shred the chicken and mix it in with all the yummy juices. You can even dump in frozen chicken if you forgot to defrost – so no excuses!

I know SOMEONE is making this tonight – I want to hear that your family ate a bazillion tacos each and that you were the happiest Mom alive because you only had 1 pot to clean!

Comment below and tell me about your dinner!






Slow Cooker Carne Con Papa Recipe

A friend texted me last night with a BIG EMERGENCY – she absolutely needed a slow cooker carne con papa recipe! I’m a little sad I’m going to give it out, because she seems to think it’s a time-consuming and super difficult recipe and now she’ll know my secret 😉 Slow cooking is such a quick and easy way to get dinner on the table in that short window of time between getting home from school/work and rushing out to soccer, dance, or music lessons!



This time I used Badia Sazon Tropical, but both are good! I also pictured 3 potatoes but decided two was good. Up to you!



Carne con papa, or Beef Stew with Potatoes, is a traditional Cuban dish that we usually serve with fragrant Jasmine rice or crusty bread to soak up the delicious sauce.


Slow Cooker Carne con Papa (Cuban Beef Stew)

  • 2 lbs. beef for stew (it’s already cut into chunks)
  • 2 large potatoes, quartered
  • 1-2 cups carrots (optional – not usually in the Cuban version but kids need those veggies!)
  • small can tomato sauce
  • 1/4 cup beef broth
  • 2 packets Sazon Goya seasoning
  • 1 large chopped onion (I buy frozen, chopped, about 1 cup)
  • 1 large chopped green pepper (also buy frozen!)
  • 2 cloves minced garlic (again, I cheat and use the pre-done minced sometimes – two teaspoons of this)
  • 2 bay leaves

Finishing touches:

  • 1/4 cup Spanish capers or green peas (optional)
  • 1//4 cup cold water
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch

 – Adapted from “Memories of a Cuban Kitchen” for slow cooker readiness and ease of spices –

Add all the ingredients except the “finishing touches” to your slow cooker. I do it in the order above and give it a little stir – but the slow cooker is pretty fool-proof, and the flavors will all mix together no matter what. Cook on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 3-4 hours.

About an hour before cooking time is over, mix the cornstarch really well with cold water. Add that mix to the crockpot to thicken up your sauce, along with the capers or peas if you wish.


For my slow cooker rookies, do NOT open the lid! If you must see what delicious-ness is happening in there, shake the lid around to  get some of the condensation off.

I need feedback from all the Cuban moms – is it authentic and tasty? I also want to hear how non-Cubans feel about this Hispanic version of beef stew!

Let me know how yours turns out!


White Bean, Kale, and Pumpkin Soup

Shoulda posted this yesterday because we made it a Meatless Monday, but here ya go:

Quick post for whoever needs a recipe for tonight – I did it in a pot, but you could throw it in the crockpot, too!
No pics because I had no clue it was going to be so good when I threw it together 😉


  • 1 tbsp olive oil 
  • One cup chopped onions (we keep frozen on hand at all times)
  • 1 cup chopped Carrots and celery
  • 2 cans white beans
  • Sazon Completa
  • Garlic powder
  • Cumin
  • Black pepper 
  • A good sized chunk of Calabaza squash
  • 2 cups kale (could substitute spinach!)
  1. Sautéed onions, carrots, and celery in olive oil with a little salt and pepper
  2. Add beans and 3 cans worth of water.
  3. Throw on some of your preferred seasonings – does anyone measure this?? I put a good amount of Sazon, garlic powder, and pepper and just a dash of cumin. No salt – beans have a lot of sodium plus I used some to soften the veggies before!
  4. Bring to a boil for 10 minutes. Then reduce heat to medium-low and cover.
  5. Add calabaza now if you like it to mush up a little or later if you want it firmer. We like it semi mushy – it adds creaminess without calories!
  6. Simmer as long as you want! We did about 20 minutes. 
  7. Add kale about 10 minutes before serving and turn off the heat so it just soaks up the broth and wilts slightly.

This was such an easy, yummy, meatless meal! If you try it let me know what you think.

Have a happy Tuesday!

ANDY is 1! Firefighter Mickey Hat How-To…

Hello Friends!

When you ask your 4 year old what her little brother’s party theme should be, she’s bound to come up with something that’s not quite out of a Party City bag!

Yes, Lily is the one that came up with this Firefighter Mickey theme. It was a lot of DIY work – which thankfully my family embraces. I couldn’t have done it without a bunch of wonderful helpers – who I drove NUTS 😉
So here’s how we made these adorable Firefighter Mickey & Minnie Hats:

Custom Minnie and Mickey Fire Hats

Minnie bows by my BFF and co-owner of 3 Cute Girls Boutique. They are lifesavers!

1.  Order hats online. My dear sister originally ordered these on Oriental Trading and my awesome sis-n-law went and ordered some more on Amazon with cheap express shipping when I realized my kid guest list had just about doubled! (Blessed with the most amazing group of family and friends…with lots of babies).

Mickey's Fire Dept

Mickey’s Fire Dept FREE Printable!

2. Print Labels. I created these on Google Drawing (I’m so fancy, huh?). Here’s a link for you!  I printed on sticker paper (thanks, White Lily Tia, for sharing your sticker paper with us), and then we (by “we” I mean White Lily Daddy) cut it by hand to cover that original Fire Chief label that I wasn’t too crazy about.

3.  Cut Mickey Ears. We used our Cricut to cut 3.5 inch circles on black cardstock.

4. Cut slits into hats. The ears are inserted into about a half inch slot on either side of the hat, which was cut (again, thanks Babe!) using an Exacto knife.        For the girl’s hats, the slit for the bow is about a quarter inch on the top. He kinda balanced the hat on a cup for leverage…you’ll see when you try!

5.  Add ears and bows. They should fit right into those slits you made! We got our bows from 3 Cute Girls Boutique because they are the best…well, I might be partial to the co-owner, who I have been blessed to have in my life as an amazing friend for over 25 years (WHOA!)

5.  Reinforce ears on the inside of the hat. We used plain ol’ scotch tape. It worked fine I think! They stood up to stacking, transporting, and abuse from many a toddler at the birthday party on a windy, windy day.

VOILA – Firefighter Mickey Hats! This would also work well for a Safari Mickey theme with THESE cute hats and lots of animal prints. They’d also be a great addition to your classroom or home dress up center!

Here is a link to the treat bag circle labels, the Bubble Labels (“Fire Extinguishers”!) and Lifesaver Treat Bag Toppers (“You’re a LIFESAVER!”)