Blog of Sara Jakša

One Way of How to Introduce your Child to Vegetables

The following have been the standard picture of the picky children. The whole thing happened in the kitchen. The mother prepares a meal for the child, and the child eats it, but he leaves the peas on the plate. The mother tries to get him to eat them, but he is stubborn, and he ends up in tears, hoping to get his parent to understand. But they still try to force him to eat his vegetables.

The more I listen to the parents with children, the more the common problem arises. The most problematic food group, at least according to the parents I talked about, seems to be vegetables. For some reason their children to not like to eat them.

So that got me thinking; why it that?

I think the reason is most likely, that they just aren't used to the vegetables. Some of the parents are the type, to also not eat any vegetables so why do they even think, that their children are going to embrace it.

The studies indicate, that the more a child is exposed to the vegetables, especially if it doesn't involve any negative feeling, the more likely he is to eventually try it.

So the one way to introduce the vegetables to children is to actually eat more vegetables yourself. Start eating vegetables in front of your children. Maybe even take him to the market and let him choose a vegetable, he want to eat. Or let him help you cook the meal, and see, what is inside of it.

The last way is probably also useful for any picky eater. Just make sure, you are actually making something good-looking. If the ingredients look horrible, it might make him even more picky.

But first of all, embrace the vegetables yourself. Do not be like overweight doctor, who tried to get you to lose weight. It doesn't work that way, and the child might even found you contradictory.

Review: Leo Babauta - The Little Book of Contentment

As a belated birthday present, from him to us, Leo Babauta, the writer of the blog Zen Habits had written a book titled ‘The Little Book of Contentment'.

He said it on the beginning, that this book is only for people, that are ready to spend the hour reading. It is not a book, to be put aside. It this case, it is better to not even think about it (since you can end up feeling guilty or bad for not reading it).

Since the book have a small amount of words per page, and it is only 111 pages long, it is a quick read, and suitable, even if you do not have a lot of time.

It this book, he uses the simple, but extremely friendly writing style, to outline the root causes of the non contentment with ourselves, the feeling and the effects, that we get from not being content. He uses the short anecdotes, that illustrate the different points and are easy to relate to.

The chapters themselves are extremely short, and can be read separately. More like blog posts, easily digested and easy to implement. To make it even easier, he added little exercises on the end of every chapter. But as the book continues through to the end, there are more and more practical advice inside the chapters as well.

The exercises are really simple, and they seemed effective (I only read the book today), and most of them take less than a couple of minutes. Most of them can be done on the toilet, if you have no other time, since they only require thinking. Or they are exercise, that only require awareness, like noticing when you are jealous.

As I mentioned, the style is simple and extremely friendly. He uses questions, to illustrate the points, along with the stories. He tries to make us think, by reflecting on ourselves and seeing our situation.

He finishes the book with the frequently asked question, that explain some of the most common obstacles, that can come our way when trying to be more content.

It is a great book. It is easy to read and really understandable. But the simplicity does not hide the non logical components. I didn't notice any contradictions in the book.

If you want to read it, you can get it for free on http://zenhabits.net/contentmentbook/

What is the Difference Between Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner?

Think about the word breakfast. What are the associations, that your mind conjure it, when you think about it? What about lunch? Or dinner? Now compare the pictures that your mind had conjured. Are these things the same or different?

For me, there is not much difference between them. Not inside my mind, not outside, looking at my meals.

I had grown up in a country, where three meals are considered the norm, but my family never really lived to that standard. We had Sunday lunch, but other than that, we ate when we were hungry, or if somebody was making something, then you could eat as well.

When I was little, my mom did used to make ‘lunch’, but there was a great variation in when did we ate these. It could be at midday or in seven o’clock in the evening. But we called it lunch, because it was convenient.

I did pose this question recently, and one of the answers that I did get was the number of calories in the meal. The lunch being most calorie heavy of the three, and the dinner the least.

But most people do not count their calories, so this is not the difference than normal people perceive.

I see it more as a socially accepted way of telling. If you say I eat for breakfast, it is understandable, that this was probably the first meal of the day. Or eaten in the morning.

But people wake up in different times of the day. People start eating in different intervals since they woke up. I once forgot to eat until it was 9 o’clock in the evening. The meal that I ate, was it breakfast or dinner?

It could also be a culture thing, but every language that I did started to learn, had the words for these three meals. So that makes me believe, that there is some universal differences, because otherwise, it would not be in so many languages. But I do not know every language, so I might be wrong with this hypothesis.

So no, I do not know what is the difference. I don’t see or experience any, that would be applicable to the everyday life. But I do wonder, what is the other people’s opinion...

The One Method, that Helps Me Beat Procrastination

I am a huge procrastinator. Mostly because there are so many interesting things in the world, that the things that would help me with any of my long-term goal can sometimes be pushed on the sideline for a long time. And just because I know, I will eventually return to them, sometimes it is nice to have a reminder before that. Or I would move too little in the direction I want to go.

I start by closing my computer, usually going to the kitchen and preparing myself a pot of tea. Or just a cup, if there is no pot to use. I take the piece of paper and a pan. Now I write down everything, that I think I could be doing to move closer to any of my goals and the things around the house/in my life, that I kind of forgotten about them for a while.

I continue writing the list, until all the tasks are written down.

Next, I simply skim through the list and notice anything, where people depend on me or if the goal is something, I don't want to give up on (like graduating from the University).

I take a note of anything that I think I would better have it done. Some of them are even time sensitive, so I usually note the last date, if I can remember it from the top of my head.

I take care, that I never choose more than 1/5 of the tasks as something I would better do. I try to choose as few tasks as possible.

I enumerate them with the numbers, just so I have some kind of order.

Then I look over them again, and I notice all the really important stuff among them. I make a mark (like *) next to them.

Then I simply look at the list and ask myself... is there anything on the list, I would really like doing right now?

If the answer is yes, then i start doing that thing, even if it was not among the tasks, that I had chosen as important. If the answer is no, then I simply go by the number system, one thing at the time.

After finishing the task, I take a break and ask myself the same question. And I continue to repeat them, until all the numbered and really important items are crossed out.

I usually get reminded how much I like doing some of the things, so most stuff will get finished. But not all on the list. But that is not really my goal. My goal was to stop procrastinating on the really important stuff, that remained after two eliminations. If it is not on the list after that, then I only do it, if it is fun.

I also never stress myself because of that. There is too little time on the world, to be spent worrying about anything or spent on the things that are not fun.

Food for Children and Food for Parents

To me, there was never any difference between the food that we ate as children and the food that my parents ate. We all had the same things for our meal, and we could take our snack from the same place they did.

They were differences in preferences, but that only meant, that my sister ate more tomatoes, I ate more apples, my dad was usually skipping the fruit and snacked on salami with bread or chocolate and my mom ate salad.

I am a part of the course in Coursera, that deals with child nutrition. In one of the forum threads, the person remarked, that the barriers between the children food and the adult food should go down.

It took me awhile, to realize, what she was talking about. The words following that dispelled my first idea, that we could start eating the baby food. But it was rather, that the children food, as defined in the US, is different from the adult food. It is bland, fried, sugary, salty and does not have a large variety of fruits and vegetables.

After incorporating idea, that in some cultures, the children eat different food than their parents, I still couldn't understand the reason. Why would people go through more trouble, just to give their children different food. The food that sound suboptimal.

If children are eating different food than their parents, that means that before every meal, people have to prepare two different types of meal, for themselves, and their little ones. That ends up in more dishes to clean and a waste of time.

I could better understand, if the food would be better, and they wouldn't have the money to feed all of them, but it does not seems to be the case. US is not such a poor country that the low-level of income would have affected the culture awareness of the food.

So what could be the reason? Or just share if it is different in your culture or the same.

Are you Afraid of Reading Email?

Email had become important channel of communication. These days, instead of exchanging home addresses and maybe phone numbers, a more usual approach is to exchange emails and maybe some of the social networking sites user names.

While sending a snail mail and making a phone call can cost money, the email does not have any cost, except having an access to the computer and an internet. Every library in my city have that, so it is free, if you are willing to go there.

That also increased the numbers of mails, that we get in our mail inboxes. The numbers are increasing. Also the people contacting us could be anywhere on the spectrum of closest friends to complete strangers.

The ease and the variety of people make some of the emails the ones, that I do not want to face. I am afraid to face them. To even read them, let alone to reply to them.

Usually, these mails are from people, that I really respect. No matter, if they are a stranger or a close friend, if I really respect the person, then every time, I get the email from them, I usually glance at it, and immediately close the email program.

After some time, I get the courage to actually read the email. Most of the time. It had happened, that I had deleted the email, without reading it. Usually by accident, but the relief of not having to deal with that was so great, I didn't care.

Then after reading it, I have to take at least one walk before replying. It doesn't matter, when that walk happens, but it has to be between the reading and replying. I have to think through the response.

I then compose the response, taking a lot of time to write. I recently wrote a reply, that I was composing for 3 days. I had an email program open on that message, that I was composing for more than 2 hours.

Then I try to send of my email, before I manage to talk myself out of it. I succeed most of the time.

When I get the reply back, the whole cycle starts again.

It is even worse, when I know, I did something wrong. Like forgetting something important, because I didn't look at the clock, or I was just so focused on something, that it slipped my mind.

It is a fear, that I am dealing on every day basis.

What about you? Do you like reading and replying to mails, or do you prefer to procrastinate on it? Or are you like me, and actually afraid of it?

Why Are People Afraid Of North Korea's Nuclear Weapons?

I am hearing it all the time. The North Korea is going to use the nuclear weapons to attack us. The Iran is having a nuclear weapon program (even if only in speculations).

North Korea is the only nation, that made nuclear tests in the 21 century, that is true. But if you think other countries stopped their Nuclear weapon development after the cold war, you would be wrong.

Every nation, that own the Nuclear weapons (except Israel) participated in Nuclear weapons testings after the Berlin's wall had fallen.

Not only that, the numbers of Nuclear weapons in specific country could tell you, that sane people would never attack them. The North Korea have estimated at most 10 warheads. Compare that with 2100 operational nuclear warheads in USA (+ 2500 in storage). Or Russia, with about 1700 operational nuclear warheads (+2700 in reserve).

Countries like Great Britain, France, China, Pakistan and India have higher number of nuclear warheads, but I never heard anybody being afraid of attacked by them.

So why is North Korea so different? Or Iran or Israel, being among the other nations, used in examples of possible attackers with nuclear weapons.

Lets take the North Korea.

Is it because it doesn't have democracy?

I highly doubt that. The North Korea have a one party system, the same way as China. And yet, China is mostly left alone with this type of government. One of the reasons is, that China is big economical partner for the USA.

But if they are ready to overlook that in China, why not anywhere else? So we can assume, that this is not the main reason.

It is because it is a closed system, both politically and economically?

That could be the possible reason. The North Korea follow the principles of self-sufficiency of economy, politics power and military power. They do not want, nor need, any help from the outside on these points.

Not being involved in the international trade or in international political decision-making, it makes them hard to influence. They do not need to make compromises with any other country, since they produce everything they need. Also, having a capable army for himself, the other countries can't just attack them and force them to do what they want.

Is that the real reason, why people are more afraid of North Korea than other countries with nuclear warheads? I don't know, but it might be. What do you think?

Why the Supermarkets are Throwing Food Away?

There was an article, that shocked me. It started with the story, that happened in the local supermarket.

The two older women were shopping in the late hours. Just a little before the store closed. They looked around, until coming closer, to buy the bread.

There they say the supermarket worker throwing away all the unsold bread. They naively asked the worker, who gets the food. The answer was shrug and that they end up on the trash sites.

They expressed their view by buying a piece of that unsold bread each.

But that probably reinforced the message to the supermarket. After all, did they bought the bread for tomorrow as well? What happened to every other piece of bread?

After the article was published in the magazine, the debate started in our country. There are too many poor people in our country, and we are throwing food away. Or at least that was the loudest argument. The result was, that most of the supermarkets started to offer the bread at the lower price in the evening, right before the store closed.

But one or two chains of markets started to offer yesterday's bread at the even lower prices. I have to say, the never have any left in the afternoon, but if I go in the morning, I can see bread there, waiting to be bought.

But the turnover of the fresh bread is still higher.

That means, that while most people prefer to pay more for the fresh bread, there are some people, that prefer the old bread for the lower price (or can simply not afford anything else). And with this action, they managed to lower the thrown away food in at least some aspects.

Which means, that we can effect supermarket's choice in what they are going to offer.

So as long as we are not showing, that we are willing to buy old food, they are not going to be offering us any. But if we are start showing them this, then they will slowly change.

But the people just do not think about that, when they go to the supermarket. All of them want the best looking fruit, and they are not going to pick less good-looking fruit to buy. They see no reason to by yesterday's bread, if there is the bread on sale, that was baked today. And so on...

But if we become more aware of it, we can slowly change their opinion. I recently bought the expired milk that was still good. I picked the brand, before checking that (I wouldn't even checked, if I didn't think that the price was too low). I also do not mind buying fruits, that is about to go bad.

And when more and more people make choices like that, the more and more will the supermarkets follow.

That is, if the government isn't having any laws preventing that (but this one would be a little harder to change).

Recipe: Rice Pudding with Fruits - Take 1

A while ago, but not too long ago, I saw the recipe for milked pudding with mango. The original name for the recipe was Thai Mango with sticky rice pudding. I found the idea interesting. I really adore rice pudding, but I had never tried to prepare it with fruits before.

I found mango a too expensive for experimenting. But there was a pineapple on sale. One pineapple was about the same price as one mango, even if mango is a lot smaller. I regard the pineapple and mango as the similar fruits, so I got one. There were also strawberries on sale, so I got them as well.

I also bought the rice, made for making rice pudding. The grains of it are smaller, but fatter. I was a little sceptical of the cooking time 40 minutes, but I let it go.

I started cooking by purring the coconut milk inside my pot. I managed to use the remanded in the first can, but then I had trouble finding my unopened can of coconut milk. I finally found one, that looked like the one I bought, and even had the same price on it. I hope it was mine and not from my flatmate.

So I added some coconut milk from the other can as well. I found the milk to be a little too transparent for my case, so I added some soy milk as well. I added rice, and put it on small to medium fire.

I reminded myself to look at the pot every 5 minute, but I might have forgotten. After 15 minutes, the rice on the bottom of the pot was black. I scooped the white part of the rice on the plate, cleaned the pot, added some more soy milk and put the rice back there. It appeared finished after additional 10 minutes.

I waited a little, finishing my writing. Then I came back and chopped the pineapple in small little pieces. I mixed it in the rice pudding. Than I did the same with the strawberries.

It was really tasty, but it would have been even better, if I could do that without almost destroying my pot. I have to be more careful next time.

Recipe: The Chocolate Balls - Take 2

I really liked the recipe from the last time, when I tried making the chocolate balls. But first making the chocolate and then making the balls out if it seems too complicated. I am a lazy person, so I tried to simplify the process as much as possible.

I started by mixing together the cocoa powder and the coconut flour. I like the taste and the structure of the coconut flour, but here is has to be used more than cacao powder, to be even noticeable. I just used however much did I have each ingredient in the kitchen.

After mixing it together, I started mixing the mixture with soy milk. I think that any milk could be used here without much difference. The cacao’s taste is so powerful, that it overrides any taste left by the milk (but watch out for addictions - if a person, that is going to eat that is addicted to soy or cow milk, use some other one, like rice milk).

I continued adding soy milk and mixing, until I found the whole thing in about the same structure as the cake’s top paste. Maybe a little more firm, but not much.

Then I started adding rolled oats, until I had trouble mixing the mixture with spatula. Not small trouble, but barely be able to still mix.

Then I made the balls out of the mixture. I realized, that making the balls from this mixture was a lot more messy than from the previous one. I simply continued doing that, until I ran out of the mixture to make some more.

I licked the pot clean and put the balls in the refrigerator, even though I do not think it was necessary.

But I know, that when I go and eat them (they are my guilty pleasure/my poison or whatever you want to call that), they were not messy at all.

My first recipe can be found on http://expertscolumn.com/content/recipe-chocolate-balls-take-1