Thursday, March 17, 2016

Veggie Chips

Those who know us personally have probably noticed the struggle we have when feeding Raj. We always labeled him a 'picky eater' and have even gotten pretty frustrated with him at meal time. It seemed like he wouldn't eat 90% of the food I would prepare for him, and it didn't matter if it was the most delicious food in the world, if he saw us or his peers eating it, or if he had previously loved it in puree form, he just wouldn't eat so many food items. It broke our heart when we took him for a doctor visit and learned he hadn't gained any weight from the previous visit; his ever-growing selective taste for food and the lack of weight gain set off a pretty big red flag and we had a serious talk with our doctor about what we could do to help the situation. Being his mom and the one who shops for and cooks all of his food, I felt like there was something I was doing wrong and had a genuine fear that Raj just simply hated food. He seemed to really love the food items he felt safe with - crunchy and bread type of foods, but would instantly reject any food that was mushy or gooey in texture - cooked veggies, bananas, chicken, etc. After that visit with his doctor and his quick intervention, he referred us to meet with an Occupational Therapist who confirmed very quickly that Rajan had an oral sensory sensitivity as well as an inability to properly chew his food, which meant he was swallowing almost everything whole. I will admit that coming home from the visit with the OT, I felt a little emotional. I understand that there are definitely worse problems to have, but as a mother, you just never want to see your little ones struggle with any sort of hardship or delay, and it made me feel a little sad that he had been dealing with this, but couldn't communicate it to us. Apart from feeling the range of personal emotions, I also felt a sense of relief. Now that we had a diagnosed problem, we also had a solution set in plan, and since we acted quick, it would be too hard to fix.

We just recently started therapy to help Raj with his eating habits, but now that we know where his preferences and abilities lay (and that he is not just being a stubborn monster), we have been educated on how to feed him more nutritious foods in his textures of comfort, and thanks to our amazing therapist who suggested freeze dried veggies which we learned Raji loves (they are crunchy), one of my great mama friends, Bri, bounced off of that and suggested I try making my own version of these Veggie Chips, which I hadn't even thought of it myself, so I jumped right on it! Although we are working on teaching Rajan to be comfortable eating all kinds of food, it feels great that I now know how to cook vegetables and other healthy foods in a way that I know he will eat them, and I thought I would share in case any of you other mamas are dealing with some similar struggles, or if any of you are looking for some great and healthy alternatives to that salty/crunchy craving. 

I took a recipe that was suggested for making Kale Chips and substituted the kale with Zucchini, Cucumber Zucchini, and Carrots. 



When Rajan came over and was curious about what I was doing I was so happy to let him touch and play with some of the pieces. He usually is pretty resistant even just to touch, but after working with a therapist and including some of the techniques she taught us, he was comfortable enough to even bring the veggies to his mouth! Of course after that he wanted nothing to do with them and wouldn't touch any longer, but the exploration alone is a huge step for him. 




Recipe for Veggie Chips:

1. Wash and cut veggies (I peeled only the carrot) and chop into semi thin round cuts, set oven to 350 degrees.

2. Cover very lightly with Olive Oil (be careful to not saturate too much or they will cook too soggy). I read somewhere that you can cover instead with olive oil or coconut oil spray so next time I am going to try that.

3. Lay evenly on an oven sheet and top lightly with sea salt (or you can use kosher salt).

4. Place in oven and cook for 20-30 min or until crispy. Let cool, and serve.


This is a pretty easy recipe and the prep is incredibly fast. Raj loves these and they have become a go-to side dish during his meals or used as a snack on the go. I appreciate that they are getting him used to the taste of eating steamed or stir fried cooked veggies, and am excited to see his progress and growth in his comfort with food. 

Hope you and your little ones enjoy these as much as we do!


With love,
Amanda