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Everyone in my family needs something different from their diet, but I don't want to cook multiple dishes for each meal!

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sasha1 Jan 12, 2011 06:29 PM

Hi all,

I'm soliciting advice, particularly from those of you who have been there.

So, there are 4 of us. Me - I want to lose weight and get in better shape, so I need to eat really healthy and smart (good stuff, portion control, more so than any particular diet such as low carb, etc.).

My kids are both super skinny (like 5th % or less on the growth charts), and my doctor is encouraging me to give them lots of butter and oil, full fat dairy, avocado, cheese, olives, and so on.

Nuts are a no-no in our house (one allergy, and the rest, by association and to avoid contamination).

Finally, my husband - he is in great shape, thin, works out, so he doesn't need diet-y food like me, but I don't want to send him into cardiac arrest or raise his cholesterol by feeding him what I give the kids.

So short of me preparing 3 meals every time we eat, or making healthy food and then adding 1 and 2 pats of butter to his and theirs, respectively, what can I do? I say this somewhat facetiously, because it can be hard to hide a pat or 2 of butter in food without kids noticing, and then rejecting.

Thanks in advance.

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    sedimental RE: sasha1 Jan 12, 2011 06:36 PM

    I had a similar situation (years ago). I just made a "base" dinner, then added to it. Honestly, you can't "subtract". The kids got: extra cheese, extra cream sauce, full fat sour cream, 2 breads with butter, veggies were buttered on the plate and not before.....and a nice fruit dessert (with loads of whipped or ice cream). We got: the same only without all the frills. I REFUSED to continue to make multiple meals at dinner. I tried. I failed. I was exhausted and cranky. We lived. The freezer is your friend. Good luck!

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      lulou23 RE: sasha1 Jan 12, 2011 06:51 PM

      Just off the top of my head, as I live in a similar household of two weight/health conscious adults and one big eater who doesn't get full off the light meals, yet certainly doesn't need anything that will put him in unhealthy zone;

      Tacos (with soft corn tortillas instead of shells) , where each person can add toppings, ie sour cream, avocado, black beans to liking, taco salad for healthier choice.
      Same with quesadillas, marinate chicken in lime juice and chili powder, grill, everyone adds fillings to their liking. ie cheese, green onion, olives, s.cream, avo

      Stir-fry veggies and beef, mix in whole wheat noodles for lo mein, brown rice on side for HC.

      I made a big batch of spaghetti sauce with HB or sausage and froze in serving size for meat eaters, and roast zukes, onions and mushrooms, serve over pasta with garlic infused olive oil for HC.

      Pizza on Boboli for family with usual toppings, ww pita with tomato paste/garlic oil, sm amount of cheese for HC.

      These don't take that much more effort and everyone is happy, just borrow the healthier items for yourself from families meal.

      1 Reply
      1. re: lulou23
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        valerie RE: lulou23 Jan 13, 2011 05:58 AM

        I do a lot of the same things. I was going to suggest fajitas. I make chicken (and/or shrimp) with lots of peppers. I eat a very small amount of the chicken and a lot of the peppers. Then everyone can add cheese, sour cream, avocado, etc, while I just add a little salsa.

        Same for pasta dinners. I eat a little pasta, a little protein (often chicken sausage) and a lot of vegetables. Everyone else adds cheese.

        It takes a little bit of creativitiy in making meals that are adaptable for everyone, but it can be done.

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        escondido123 RE: sasha1 Jan 12, 2011 08:58 PM

        So why not give the kids a "healthy" dessert while you do don't it eat? Rice pudding, custards, fruit crumble with ice cream. I truly don't think your kids will mind that. Oh, and when you have salads and such, put avocado, nuts and cheese on theirs but not on the adults.

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          sancan RE: sasha1 Jan 13, 2011 03:26 AM

          One thing that kids love that is Heaven with added butter is spaghetti sauce. Spoon the sauce onto your husband's serving first, put some of the sauce over your plate on whatever you substitute for the pasta (thinly sliced zucchini works as "pappardelle" or mandolin-sliced for "spaghetti," or sometimes I just put the sauce over my broccoli or spinach - yum). The sauce left in the pot gets a generous slab of butter, and the kids will never know it's there. Almost anything they'll eat can work this way - cheddar on their chili, roasted pepitas on yours and hubby's chili. Olive oil in their stew will go unnoticed. Cheese sauce on their veggies, and a sprinkle only of parm on yours and hubbys (we cannot deprive you completely). I'd even give them a healthy homemade cheese dip for their chicken fingers, and peel most of the breading off of mine.

          1. chowser RE: sasha1 Jan 13, 2011 04:21 AM

            Protein, starch, vegetables, sauce (and fatty foods like cheese, avocado) on the side--everyone plates his/her own food. Makes it easy.

            1. h
              HillJ RE: sasha1 Jan 13, 2011 05:10 AM

              sasha1, oh boy have I lived this and you're right it's exhausting...but I'm now on the other side of the tunnel and guess what they all turned out to be strong, healthy eaters. The trick-getting the entire family in the kitchen cooking and contributing to their dish! Back in the heyday, while pulling out my hair-and dealing with menu rejection-I would make one dish and call it a meal. Somewhere along the line, I encouraged meal planning from my entire family. Then as others have suggested we worked from one base dish and dressed it up or down depending on the recipe. But everyone takes part in how their plate winds up. Our entire shopping list works under the premise that we all eat differently. Now meals are a joy.

              So, get the family involved and hang up your short order cook apron!

              1. s
                sasha1 RE: sasha1 Jan 13, 2011 07:54 AM

                Thanks for the ideas and support everyone! There are some things in here that I do, some new ones that I'll try, and some that I probably won't due to the kids picky-ness. I figured if I put, in the OP, all the things they wouldn't eat, no-one would even respond!

                It's ironic that grated cheese and sour cream etc are exactly the type of things that neither boy will put on his food when given a choice. No wonder they're so skinny!

                3 Replies
                1. re: sasha1
                  biondanonima RE: sasha1 Jan 13, 2011 09:11 AM

                  Oddly enough, you might find it easier if you were low-carbing. You'd be making a pretty fatty meal for yourself, and you could just add a carby side for everyone else. For instance, bacon cheeseburgers and a salad with full-fat dressing for everyone, but you don't eat the bun (or fries). Roasted chicken parts with skin and a buttered green vegetable for you, add mashed potatoes for them. Etc.

                  1. re: sasha1
                    MandalayVA RE: sasha1 Jan 13, 2011 09:13 AM

                    Fat doesn't make you fat. You want to fatten them up, give them lots of grains and sugars.

                    1. re: MandalayVA
                      biondanonima RE: MandalayVA Jan 13, 2011 09:14 AM

                      Agree with Mandalay - that said, fat in the presence of carbs will definitely speed the process along!

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                    Sherri RE: sasha1 Jan 13, 2011 09:31 AM

                    How old are the children? If you have young boys, you might be surprised/astounded/shocked at what happens when they become teenagers. My two could almost eat their own weight daily; I was amazed at the sheer volume of food they could tuck away. Our grandson, a slender young man, was visiting last week. He ate more than both of us combined and was always ready for more. It was like filling a leaky barrel with water - no matter how much you put in, there was room for more. This week, we have two more young men - 18 and 19 years old - visiting. I can make food for ten and it disappears with just the four of us, my husband and I eating our regular portions. When I took eight HS and college boys to the beach for two weeks, I almost went broke buying food. They demolished a whole ham for lunch one day while I was out walking on the sand; I returned to find a bone and some scraps.
                    Today, years later, my sons have gone from slender to watching their pounds.

                    Disclaimer: I am not a physician but my advice is to stop worrying. Make certain they have healthy food available and let nature take its course. Unless there are severe medical problems, normal people do not starve themselves when faced with food. If the choices make them gain a bit of weight, so much the better. But to make food an "issue" for the sake of conforming to some stastical chart in the doctor's office is not a good plan. There have always been a range of healthy weights for people, likely your children are no exception if they are otherwise healthy.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Sherri
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                      sasha1 RE: Sherri Jan 13, 2011 10:43 AM

                      They're still young. Elementary school age. I appreciate your points, and please be assured that no one in my life is treating this like a five alarm fire. But by your own admission, you are not a doctor, and my doctor is encouraging me to fatten them up a bit. They will surely grow up and be fine, but in the meantime, it wouldn't be a bad thing for their development and self esteem if they were big and strong enough to keep up with the other kids in the schoolyard and on the athletic fields.

                      1. re: sasha1
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                        Isolda RE: sasha1 Feb 11, 2011 06:58 AM

                        I got the same advice from my doctor regarding my 14 yo son. He's 5'9" and weighs less than 100 lbs. He is allergic to some nuts. Like you, we avoid them all. My 15 yo, normal weight daughter is a vegetarian. I buy only whole milk for my son, so that helps a little. When I make a vegetarian meal, I will also cook some of those Bell and Evans chicken patties for my son and husband. Really, having a few boxes of those in the freezer is a godsend. They add protein, some fat and no chemicals, and they cook in 25 minutes. I've never met anyone who didn't like them.

                        Our doctor also recommended milkshakes and rich smoothies after school. My son hates the kind with yogurt, but doesn't mind a scoop of Haagen-Dazs vanilla ice cream blended with some frozen berries and a little raspberry jam.

                        Still, we've been trying to put some weight on him for years but he's in his adolescent growth spurt and is still a beanpole.

                    2. c oliver RE: sasha1 Jan 13, 2011 01:57 PM

                      Portion sizes. Plenty of people lose weight by simply decreasing the size of the portions of starches, fatty foods, etc. So the kids can eat the large portions and you can eat less. They can have the bread and you don't. The kids can have calorie laden snacks after school. My cousin's teenage beanpole of a son would eat three PBJs after school and then eat dinner. They can have ice cream with fruit, you can have the fruit. They get the mashed potatoes made with butter and milk and you get an extra serving of salad. This just doesn't seem all that onerous.

                      6 Replies
                      1. re: c oliver
                        chowser RE: c oliver Jan 13, 2011 03:08 PM

                        That's what I'm thinking. It's what I do at home--what I said above. Make dinner (protein, starch veggies, sauce or fatty sides), make sure to have plenty of vegetables because that's healthy for all diets. I don't know any households where everyone eats the same.

                        1. re: chowser
                          c oliver RE: chowser Jan 13, 2011 03:18 PM

                          Exactly. I didn't eat eggs as a child so I got the extra strip of bacon while the other three had eggs. My mother was certainly not going to prepare different meals. Nor would I. We have a real skinny friend, who has great blood chemistries btw) and I always make sure I have loads of carbs for him. He can pack 'em away.

                        2. re: c oliver
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                          sasha1 RE: c oliver Jan 13, 2011 09:56 PM

                          Well I never said it was onerous. On the other hand, I can tell from your comment that you probably don't have first hand experience with this. The reason to up the fat content of the food they eat is precisely because they never eat big portions of anything. If they did, I wouldn't be posting this inquiry, and you wouldn't be suggesting that I just let them eat thirds of everything instead of restricting them at firsts, which I obviously do. Not.

                          If this reply seems disgruntled, it's because I was willing to take your opinion on face value, just disagree with its efficacy in my family, until you placed your value judgement on my concerns.

                          That said, the best idea - for me - in this thread, and in your comment, is the desserts. This is something I can get the kids to eat easily. I have to work at not eating it, but it is much more reliable than trying to butter or oil up foods that picky kids won't reliably eat anyhow.

                          1. re: sasha1
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                            Karen_Schaffer RE: sasha1 Jan 13, 2011 10:44 PM

                            That does sound tough. What kinds of foods DO they like? That might help spark some new suggestions. Burgers? Make a batch of low-fat patties and keep them in the freezer for yourself, while making higher-fat ones for them. Sausages? Similarly, freeze some low-fat ones as singles for yourself and DH (so many interesting flavors to choose from too) while they get full-fat.

                            Conversely, if there's a dish that they love (macaroni & cheese? lasagne?), you could make a big batch and freeze it in serving potions, then make a nice dinner for you & DH while just microwaving their dinner. So yeah, it's cooking 2 dinners, except theirs would be minimal effort.

                            Sunflower seed butter is becoming readily available and is generally safe for people with nut allergies (although, of course, your doc's advice is best).

                            How are they on roast chicken? Serve them the crispy skin and the wings, keep the lean breast for yourself.

                            Good luck!

                            1. re: sasha1
                              chowser RE: sasha1 Jan 14, 2011 03:28 AM

                              I'm not a professional but I'm not sure fattening kids up with desserts is a healthy alternative. What about healthier high fat foods, nut butters, olive oil (easy to douse into their foods), cheese, avocado, fattier cuts of meat? Something like chicken would be ideal because you could eat the white meat, they could have dark. Make a high fat salmon and you eat smaller amounts of it and then have a lot of veggies while they do the reverse. Meals w/ different components give you all the flexibility to eat what you need. And, they can have cheese, nuts, other high fat foods as snacks.

                              1. re: sasha1
                                c oliver RE: sasha1 Jan 14, 2011 06:45 AM

                                My "children" are now 31 and 33. What had not come out previously is that your children are picky eaters. I thought it was simply a matter of your trying not to fix different meals for each person. It seems to me that that's quite a different question than the OP.

                                I also agree with those who are against pushing fat-laden foods rather than calorie-laden ones.

                            2. hala RE: sasha1 Jan 14, 2011 04:28 AM

                              I just wanted to tell you that my mom was in the same position with me and my two brothers but in a few years, this will pass. We are now all in what is considered a normal weight range and the only one of us who goes back to being very underweight every now and then is me when I am breastfeeding or if I get very sick.

                              I remember that my mom always cooked healthy food and served it to everyone. She thought it was more important for us to learn how to cook and eat healthy food than to fatten up. She did however have a rule where we were not allowed to even taste our salad or veggies untill we had finished everything else on our plates. She served cheese after meals (instead of dessert). She also did not allow any of us to leave home without breakfast, which we would not have tried to anyways since breakfast was always the most fun meal of the day. She made omlettes, crepes and pancakes or simply served cake or some other sort of leftover dessert. mmmm. She always had dessert on hand and made sure to offer it to us for snacks several times a day:) My friends were always jealous of our eating habits.

                              One thing I will never forget from that period is that I was very ashamed of being underweight since people would rudely comment on it all the time. I also remember that people seemed to somehow blame my mom for my weight. I really hope you do not feel that you are somehow responsible for your kids being underweight and I hope that you are able to help them feel happy with their weight no matter whether it's high or low.

                              And remember, there is light at the end of the tunnel.

                              1. g
                                gembellina RE: sasha1 Jan 14, 2011 05:23 AM

                                You say they don't eat big portions of anything - maybe one answer could be to feed them more often. So they get the same as their parents at dinner, though maybe with different proportions of meat/carb/veg as suggested in other posts, and then the extra fat and protein the doctor has recommended comes from a mid-morning snack they can take to school and another snack when they come home. Pitta breads and hummus, cheese or tuna sandwiches, wraps with ham and cream cheese, those revolting cheez string things, full-fat yoghurts...

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: gembellina
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                                  escondido123 RE: gembellina Jan 14, 2011 08:14 AM

                                  +1 I was thinking the same thing. Some kids can't eat much at once, but might munch throughout the day. It is rare for kids to get into any real trouble by being skinny, unless there is an underlying illness.

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                                  PotatoPuff RE: sasha1 Jan 14, 2011 08:29 AM

                                  Similar problem for me (dieting), and my very athletic fiance. I make grilled or roasted chicken, he gets his with the skin and fat, I take mine off. We also do the taco thing a lot, like lulou suggested. Another option is whole grain waffles, mine with fruit, his with whipped cream. I also make pizza, half with a tiny bit of cheese, the other half loaded with cheese and olives. And if you put the dressing on the side, you can certainly do salad with full fat and fat free dressing.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: PotatoPuff
                                    c oliver RE: PotatoPuff Jan 14, 2011 08:32 AM

                                    There's also Greek yogurt all the way from 4% to 2% to 0% fat. TJs is a fraction of the cost of other brands.

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                                    sasha1 RE: chowser Jan 14, 2011 02:02 PM

                                    Please rest assured that these kids have pretty darn good eating habits. I cook dinner between 5 and 6 times a week, relying heavily on veggies, fruits, lean proteins, beans, and starches. We don't have very much at home that is processed, or comes in a box, can, or jar.

                                    In fact, this is probably why the kids are so small. They eat relatively small portions of the healthy stuff I make, when they are not being picky about the particular dish in front of them. If I ate like them, I'm sure I'd be in better shape too.

                                    The doctor doesn't want my kids to be fat. She is concerned that their weight increases at least in the same proportion to their height as it has in the past. Currently, their trend is to get taller without gaining weight, which keeps whittling away at their BMI. That's why she has recommended adding some higher fat items to their diet that I, myself, am trying to avoid and that we (probably because of that) don't stock much of. And that's fine by me.

                                    I think it's perfectly ok to eat a healthy diet, as they do, including whole milk, full fat yogurt, lots of cheese, and avocados, and yes the occasional homemade cookies and fruit crisps, without ruining their diet for life. I haven't avoided these foods to date because they are inherently bad - just bad for me.

                                    To those on this thread who think I am substituting cookies and chips for bananas and broccoli, that's not so. Eating well has been a strong value of mine for a long time. I'm not going to start feeding the kids hamburger helper with cheez whiz on top just so they gain a few pounds.

                                    And to everyone who gave me ideas about cooking one meal and doctoring things up, or allocating to jack sprat and his wife, thanks for that. It seems the most plausible way to go.

                                    15 Replies
                                    1. re: sasha1
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                                      smtucker RE: sasha1 Jan 14, 2011 02:19 PM

                                      I don't envy you. This is quite a tall order for one person in a kitchen.

                                      There are some very good suggestions above, so let me throw one out. Do they like roasted nuts? A large bag of nuts, roasted with their favorite "flavors" and then packed into sandwich bags for an easy grab-n-go snack? As to the flavorings, things like chili powder, garlic, even honey could appeal to them.

                                      Good luck!

                                      1. re: smtucker
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                                        sasha1 RE: smtucker Jan 14, 2011 03:12 PM

                                        One has an anaphylactic nut allergy. We don't keep them in our house.

                                        Editing to add that they are not allergic to sunflower seeds or pepitas, and I could certainly amp up the quantity of these in their diet. I like the idea of seasoned or candied seeds. Thank you.

                                        1. re: sasha1
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                                          smtucker RE: sasha1 Jan 14, 2011 03:26 PM

                                          pepitas are a wonderful snack.... so are things like dried cranberries if you have good dental insurance. :-)

                                          1. re: smtucker
                                            c oliver RE: smtucker Jan 14, 2011 03:36 PM

                                            And pine nuts. But they're so dang expensive. But they could be added to the kids salads, pastas, etc. I think even a tablespoon has lots of protein, fiber and fat.

                                            1. re: c oliver
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                                              sasha1 RE: c oliver Jan 14, 2011 03:39 PM

                                              Pine nuts are a tree nut, not a seed, so they don't pass our threshhold either.

                                              1. re: sasha1
                                                c oliver RE: sasha1 Jan 14, 2011 03:50 PM

                                                If pinenuts are a nut and not a seed, then what is the cone? The shell?

                                                1. re: c oliver
                                                  chowser RE: c oliver Jan 14, 2011 04:16 PM

                                                  I've learned not to try to decipher nut allergies. My daughter is allergic to: cashews, walnuts, pecans, pistachios, pine nuts but not allergic to hazel nuts, brazil nuts, peanuts. We can't remember how she tested on macadamias so we keep them away from her. It's an odd assortment so it's easier to tell people she's allergic to nuts, rather than expecting them to remember. It's anaphylactic and we've had it tested so we're not just being picky parents.

                                                  1. re: chowser
                                                    c oliver RE: chowser Jan 14, 2011 04:57 PM

                                                    Thanks for that info, chowser. Do most people test for individual 'nuts' or just eliminate all of them. The latter seems rather a big leap and a good-sized lifelong restriction that might not be necessary. BTW, tell your daughter that I LOVE Brazil nuts. In a bowl of mixed nuts, I pick THOSE out :)

                                                    1. re: c oliver
                                                      chowser RE: c oliver Jan 14, 2011 05:19 PM

                                                      She ate a cashew when she was three and had a terrible reaction. We assumed she was allergic to all nuts and just kept them away from her. But a year later, she had a chocolate cake at a restaurant that turned out to have almonds (we asked the server who told us it didn't) and she was fine. I didn't try it until she was almost finished with it and realized then. We were confused about the whole thing and saw an allergist who tested a whole array of things especially each individual nut. It's just odd. We hope she outgrows it but at least she's not allergic to the most commonly used nuts. And the allergies have become common enough that it's a normal policy to ban nuts (which is another question--why are they so common these days?).

                                                      We should share containers of mixed nuts because the ones I go for are cashews, macadamias and pistachios but I always leave the brazil nuts!

                                                      1. re: chowser
                                                        c oliver RE: chowser Jan 14, 2011 05:22 PM

                                                        Hate macadamias, meh on cashews but LOVE pistachios. We can share :)

                                                        And, yes, peanuts would be the hardest. We're so lucky. None of us (kids VERY grown) have anything other than seasonal allergies.

                                                        1. re: chowser
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                                                          nothingswrong RE: chowser Feb 10, 2011 09:26 PM

                                                          my younger brother had severe allergic reactions to walnuts, pecans,cashews, brazil nuts, pine nuts, pistachios and peanuts when he was a kid, as well as sesame seeds/oil. so my mother banned all nut products from the house for a good 15 years. we also had to stop eating out in asian and indian food restaurants, as waiters were very hit-or-miss in their assurance that there was no sesame oil used in cooking. and the indian curries apparently had ground nuts in the sauces. it just wasn't worth risking the trips to the hospital.

                                                          anyway, my brother is now in his twenties and decided in college that he was going to try eating a snickers bar. my parents tried to argue with him but he was all the way across the country. he called back later to say he ate one and was fine, although he had a little stomach ache. the next day, he ate reese's peanut butter cup ice cream. then he ate a reese's peanut butter cup by itself. then he tried almonds. no reactions.

                                                          he was re-tested at age 22 and he is only now allergic to walnuts, sesame, and brazil nuts, as well as a new allergy to shrimp. he eats shrimp at least 2 times per week (at school in baltimore) and has never had a single problem with it.

                                                          anyway, get your daughter re-tested when she hits high school! my brother has been resentful at my parents for not letting him try nuts sooner. obviously i think this is ridiculous, as they were just worried (and spent PLENTY of nights taking him to the ER after his epi-pen injections--he used to sneak desserts with nuts when he was a kid, not understanding the severity of his allergies). but hearing him describe for the first time what peanut butter tasted like was an eye-opening experience for me. i went and got allergy tested too, to see if i had outgrown any of mine (dairy and avocados) which i hadn't, but it was worth a shot :)

                                            2. re: sasha1
                                              enbell RE: sasha1 Jan 14, 2011 03:58 PM

                                              I have the same allergy. The honey flavor soy nut butter found here is pretty good
                                              http://www.soynutbutter.com/

                                              1. re: sasha1
                                                goodhealthgourmet RE: sasha1 Feb 10, 2011 10:06 PM

                                                Editing to add that they are not allergic to sunflower seeds or pepitas, and I could certainly amp up the quantity of these in their diet.
                                                ~~~~~~~
                                                have you tried sunflower butter? of all the alternative nut/seed butters i think the flavor is the closest to standard PB.

                                                1. re: goodhealthgourmet
                                                  sunshine842 RE: goodhealthgourmet Feb 11, 2011 06:41 AM

                                                  sunbutter ROCKS. When we lived in the States, it was our preferred spread -- not because of allergies, but because we liked it that much more.

                                                  1. re: sunshine842
                                                    goodhealthgourmet RE: sunshine842 Feb 11, 2011 09:55 AM

                                                    when it comes to nut butters my palate is accustomed to straight-up ground nuts with *maybe* a pinch of sea salt, so i was on the fence about it at first because Sunbutter is a little sweet & salty for me...but i've found ways to use it that accommodate those elements. of course the added sugar & salt are what makes it more palatable to kids, and the amounts aren't over the top so they don't kill the nutritional profile of it. i've counseled a lot of parents who have kids with nut allergies, and given Mommy & me cooking classes where some of the children were nut-allergic, and the Sunbutter is always a winner. the Moms get SO excited ad grateful when i turn them on to it.

                                          2. tatertot RE: sasha1 Jan 14, 2011 02:25 PM

                                            I follow a mostly vegetarian + seafood diet and my boyfriend is a meat eater but we try to cook together. Lately on the rotation has been stuffed peppers. I use anaheim peppers for a little spice. He made a philly cheese steak filling and i used the same ingredients substituting tofu for the meat. You can vary the amount cheese and fillings per pepper. Bake for about half an hour.

                                            1. e
                                              escondido123 RE: sasha1 Jan 14, 2011 04:12 PM

                                              Found this article in the Chicago Tribune...maybe it will help.http://featuresblogs.chicagotribune.c...

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                                                soupkitten RE: sasha1 Jan 14, 2011 08:41 PM

                                                i'd eat normal family meals but give the boys some nutritious but somewhat fatty snacks-- veggies with hummus or a creamy dip, or a shake made w fruit and full fat yogurt or ice cream, for instance. no need to be constantly trotting out cookies and cakes that will wreak your own diet. you could also occasionally make family meals a little on the rich side, but in order to help control your own portion, you could eat a piece of fruit or a salad, or a cup of healthy soup when you start cooking dinner-- that way you will be more full at dinner, and be satisfied with a smaller portion.

                                                1. n
                                                  nothingswrong RE: sasha1 Feb 10, 2011 09:45 PM

                                                  Hi,

                                                  Lots of controversy in this thread so far!

                                                  I understand your plight--not as a mother, but as the thin kid. I was abnormally skinny through elementary and high school, along with my younger brother. My older brother and younger sister though have always struggled with keeping the weight OFF. My mother always just cooked her usual meals and let us eat what we wanted, keeping additional toppings around for whoever wanted them (cheese, sauces, sour cream, avocados/guacamole, etc.).

                                                  We also had severe nut/sesame allergies in the house, so I understand that one too. I was told by my doc to eat a peanut butter sandwich every day to add weight, but that's obviously not an option for you... One thing I found super helpful (gained about 9 pounds in a month--this is absolutely IMPOSSIBLE for me!) was eating waffles every night before bed. I agree with other posters that it was never the fatty foods that helped me gain weight. It was the starchy and sugary carbs, as well as eating larger portions of well-balanced meals (upping my lean protein, lots of potatoes/pasta/rice, and more veggies). My mother always cooked very healthily so we didn't have casseroles or cheese sauces or processed dinners EVER. Gaining weight may be necessary for some, but upping the fat intake is not the right way to do it. It's very possible to be underweight and have the same health as an obese person. It might not be as common, but it happens. When I first started living on my own, I ate crap all the time because I was so thin (5'4" 88 lbs. at age 20) and it wasn't long before I had to learn to cook healthier meals. I went from sugary cereals, Top Ramen, frozen foods, Spaghettio's, Kraft Mac'N'Cheese, and LOTS of fast food to roasted chicken, lots of fresh veggies, and whole grains and I gained almost 10 pounds after a few months. Now I've managed to keep my weight in the safe range (upper 90s) only by maintaining a well-balanced diet. If I eat crappy food, the weight melts right off.

                                                  If you're desperate for an easy and quick fix, you could try adding Ensure to milkshakes to give to the boys after school for a snack, or after dinner for dessert. Ensure is really quite horrible-tasting, in my opinion, but maybe that's just because I was force-fed it for some time when I was in boarding school. I convinced them to make it more palatable, and they did, and I felt like I was getting a treat rather than a punishment. They'd blend the Ensure with soy milk (I'm lactose-intolerant) and ice, as well as other add-ins. It is SO much better than drinking straight out of the bottle. You could try using only one bottle at a time for both boys (so they each get half a serving) mixed in with milk, chocolate/vanilla/strawberry ice cream, ice, and any of their favorite ice cream toppings (chocolate syrup/fudge, caramel, maple syrup, homemade whipped cream, maraschino cherries, chopped bananas/strawberries/blueberries/peaches, or even M&Ms). For the two years I was on my forced-Ensure supplementation, I gained like 30 pounds and it was the only time in my life I've been inside the normal weight range. As soon as I left boarding school, much of the weight fell off, but since then I maintained much better weights than prior (from 78 pounds to 115 pounds on Ensure to 98-105 pounds since).

                                                  Lastly, my younger brother (the other skinny kid in the family) is in his 20s now and still quite slender, but he's used it to his advantage as an athlete and has built quite a bit of muscle easily. He's still in the lower weight range for his height and age, but he's also solidly built and his calves feel like cement. Maybe encouraging your boys to take up sports once they reach puberty will help with adding some muscle weight. It's much easier for thinner people than for those with excess fat.

                                                  Anyway, good luck! Sounds like you're doing everything right.

                                                  5 Replies
                                                  1. re: nothingswrong
                                                    c oliver RE: nothingswrong Feb 11, 2011 06:28 AM

                                                    This is a very, very excellent post and I'm sure can be helpful to the OP and others. You're to be commended for making the effort and time to write this.

                                                    BTW, we were at Costco the other day and they were sampling Hershey's chocolate milk. It comes in individual serving sizes in little tetrapaks and doesn't have to be refrigerated. Could be an easy way to have the little ones get some extra calories. Sure tasted good to us :)

                                                    1. re: c oliver
                                                      chowser RE: c oliver Feb 11, 2011 07:36 AM

                                                      Our local WF has chocolate milk (whole) in a glass bottle that's like drinking a milk shake. I haven't looked at the calories but I'm sure it packs a punch.

                                                      1. re: chowser
                                                        c oliver RE: chowser Feb 11, 2011 10:30 AM

                                                        I chuckle when I see chocolate milk in a store. Growing up all that took was a glass of milk, a can of Hershey's syrup and a spoon. I did, however, like the idea of the tetrapaks. No worry about spillage or need for refrigeration. I've started keeping a bigger box of regular milk in the pantry in case I run out at an inconvenient time.

                                                        1. re: c oliver
                                                          chowser RE: c oliver Feb 11, 2011 11:09 AM

                                                          The only chocolate milk I buy is the WF one in a glass container. It's thick enough to be chewable--not literally but if it were beer, it would be Samuel Smith.

                                                      2. re: c oliver
                                                        Chowbird RE: c oliver Feb 11, 2011 07:52 AM

                                                        How about:

                                                        Kids get cheese sauce on their veggies but you don't.
                                                        They get full-fat salad dressing (or dips) while you stick with "Lite."
                                                        They get real whipped cream on their desserts while you don't.
                                                        Their popcorn has butter; yours has Butter Buds (TM).
                                                        They have regular cheese and crackers; you use light cheese. (Ditto for cream
                                                        cheese on bagels).
                                                        Their pizza has extra cheese; yours has very little.
                                                        They get whole milk; you have 2% or skim.
                                                        They indulge in decadent premium ice cream, while you don't. :(
                                                        Them: Corn chips and cheese dip. You: Baked chips or pretzels with salsa.
                                                        Them: Pot pies with the crust. You: just the filling.
                                                        Them: Cream soups. You: Broth soups.
                                                        Them: chicken with skin. You: no skin.
                                                        Them: Regular sausage. You: Turkey sausage.

                                                        Hope this helps.

                                                    2. j
                                                      JennyHunter RE: sasha1 Feb 11, 2011 11:09 AM

                                                      I can totally relate as I have a husband trying to lose weight and a 5 year old son that needs to also put on a few pounds. All of the ideas here are good ones. I also found a product called Orgain - it is kind of like an organic slimfast but much better for you. Comes in chocolate and vanilla. My son loves it - I sometimes keep in on hand to serve with his meals for some extra calories. My husband will also have one sometimes for breakfast. And I drink them sometimes as a snack. http://www.drinkorgain.com/

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