An interview with author and NY Times Motherlode Blogger Maryann Jacobsen

I first came upon Maryann Jacobsen’s personal blog Raise Healthy Eaters through searching out healthy recipes for little ones.  What I found was an author, dietician, mom, and blogger whose philosophies were very close to my own when it came to feeding toddlers. Her book, Fearless Feeding encourages us to feed ‘the whole child’ (awww… love that) and is definitely worth checking out, especially for the tips on meal planning and meeting the challenges of getting healthy food on the table.
Problems with feeding usually occur when parents take over the child’s job (controlling their eating) or when children take over their parents job (want to graze and call the shots on what is for meals).  It really simplifies feeding!
Fearless Feeding by JIll Castle and Maryann Jacobsen (picture by Laura of Organizing Junkie)
Fearless Feeding by Jill Castle and Maryann Jacobsen (picture c/o Laura of

Since spotting her and subsequently speaking with her over email, she’s been caught-up in a bit of a media whirlwind about the idea of ‘cleaning the plate’ – another philosophy of hers that I agree with completely – that kids should not be made to eat everything of their plates, nor eat certain things on their plate ‘first’. You can read her “controversial” NY Times article here. It seems that the ol’  ‘eat everything on your plate’ adage is a classic that some might find hard to part with.

The idea of Division of Responsibility of Feeding is the backbone of her philosophy, and definitely applies to mine too. The idea is that the parent is responsible for what is served, and the child (or infant) is responsible for how much is eaten. Maybe this idea is new… maybe it’s just becoming well-known, but I think enough people have issues with weight these days that encouraging a little one’s own internal ‘stop’ mechanism is actually a really, really good thing.

On Self-regulation – why is it important for toddlers to decide for themselves when they’ve had enough and what they feel like eating? Or even if they eat?

The Ellyn Satter Division of Responsibility gives parents and child two different jobs.  The parents job is to decide what is offered, when and where.  Once the food is served, the parents is done and the child gets to decide how much and what to eat from what is offered.  This is important because it teaches children to listen to feelings of hunger and fullness and it gives them some control.  If they don’t want the meal, they don’t have to eat it.

Problems with feeding usually occur when parents take over the child’s job (controlling their eating) or when children take over their parents job (want to graze and call the shots on what is for meals).  It really simplifies feeding!

Can parents influence attitudes to food with their own attitude? I wonder if our food enthusiasm has been ‘passed on’ or if that matters?

I actually used to be one of those parents who hated cooking and it created a certain mood around mealtime that was less than enthusiastic.  Now that I like cooking more and have found a groove that works for me, it has helped my children get more excited about eating.  I believe anyone who likes to eat can enjoy cooking and preparing food.  The key is finding a way of doing it that fits personal preferences and lifestyles.  This takes time and trial and error but is worth the effort.  I’m still working on it!

How does your book address or enforce the right vs wrong way to encourage healthy eaters?

There really is no right or wrong way to raise healthy eaters.  We include the latest research that shows parents how to increase the likelihood they will raise healthy eaters.  I believe when parents learn why their child eats they way they do in terms of child development, they will better understand how to feed their child and why positive feeding practices work.  This is what makes Fearless Feeding different, we help parents understand what to expect in terms of a child’s eating, so they can respond thoughtfully.


Getting kids to eat more greens

I finally have a short break in my hectic work schedule and the first thing I’m dying to do is post an update!

A little side note first….

In my first trimester, way back in 2011, one of my major food aversions was lettuce and other deep greens like kale, spinach, arugula, you name it… if it was green and leafy it grossed me out. And I was a real greens lover before being pregnant, so you can imagine what a shock it was to suddenly hate the thought of all that healthy food.

Well the bad news is… over two years later, I’m still so-so on greens. And it’s making healthy eating really tricky, because where I used to be able to steam some spinach, fry some rapini, or make an arugula salad… none of these appeal to me anymore. So I finally understand what it’s like to be a person who doesn’t like greens, and I get the fact that when you feel this way, the last thing in the world you want to eat is a whole forkful of the stuff.

Enter, my current most favorite toddler recipe creation….

Last week I decided this problem had to be solved… and the solution I created ended up being the most delicious, toddler friendly recipe EVER — my daughter ate it all up and loved it.

You MUST try it, it’s soooo yummy:

I’m calling it…..




– 1 small bunch curly or flat kale (we used flat) or spinach – diced very finely.
– Two eggs
– 1 medium onion (diced small)
– 1.5 cups cooked, cooled brown rice (can be done the day before if you want a 20 minute weeknight meal)
– 2 cloves garlic (grated or pressed)

What to do:

1. Fry garlic and onion on medium heat in a heated, oiled, non-stick pan. Allow them to lightly brown.
2. Add 2 eggs into pan and scramble “in situ” – right there in the pan, all around the onions.
3. Add cooked, cooled brown rice (I got the cool part from chinese fried rice recipe – it helps with texture)
4. continue to mix together on medium to high heat until the rice is sizzling. Add a dash of tamari and a teaspoon of rice vinegar (or other favourite seasonings).
5. Add chopped greens to pan, mix all together, reduce heat and cover for 5 minutes.

Ready to eat – enjoy!