A Banana Sized Lesson


One of the things I hear most often about my son Brooks (who is now 3) is “wow, he’s such a good eater!”. Why, yes he is. I do have to give myself & my husband a small pat on the back because we tried very hard to not create a picky eater. I subscribed to a philosophy I heard a lot growing up…you get what you get & you don’t throw a fit.

I knew one way to create a picky eater was to give him whatever he wanted just to get him to eat. I truly believe if you are truly hungry you will eat what you are given. I knew I wanted him to have a healthy appetite & have taste buds that craved real food. But more than my want was this…he doesn’t have a choice but to be a good, heathy, non-picky eater.

If you haven’t been reading very long, you may not know my son was diagnosed with extensive food allergies at just 13 months old. He was so young & so inexperienced with food it was easy(ish) to create a good eater. But in all truthfulness, his food allergies were so extensive he didn’t have the luxury to be picky. When you are allergic to wheat, cows milk, peanuts, eggs, & soy, you don’t have a lot of options. In addition to those allergies, were warnings of food to stay away from that included nuts of all kinds, seafood, certain beans & legumes, & coconut. It took nearly a year to get it all under control, but here we are almost at the 2 year anniversary of his diagnosis & he is super healthy & rarely gets sick. These allergies where a blessing in disguise & I actually find myself praising God & being thankful for something that was so devastating at the time.

But when you have such a strict diet & so many restrictions you often find the same recipes, lunches, or dinners being repeated all too often. I began to notice my son was pushing back against some of his favorite foods & after looking at what he had been eating I saw that he was eating too much of the same thing day after day. My moment of clarity came when Wouldn’t eat a banana which is one if his favorites & an entire bunch of bananas went bad. A few weeks later when presented the opportunity…he devoured another bunch in 2 days. I was left scratching my head.

Here’s the thing, in all cases variety is key. Always keep their taste buds guessing. Always give them something new & different. Give them sweet, give them bitter, give them spicy, give them bland. Let their taste buds develop a taste for what food from nature tastes like. I realized one of the best ways to get Brooks to try something different is to let him eat while I cook. Let him eat off the cutting board or out of the bowl. I’ve never seen a toddler eat raw bell peppers, shoot I don’t even do that. But he does. So maybe it’s a banana & pepper lesson.


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10 Day Detox

When people hear DETOX, the first thing that comes to mind is the person is trying to lose weight, or that crazy cayenne pepper, honey, lemon juice thing Beyoncé swears by, or nothing but water, kale, & cucumber.

Well my detox is nothing like those & it is not for the purpose of losing weight (I mean I still have baby weight to lose but that didn’t even come to mind till I wrote the first paragraph). My detox stems from a place of just feeling bad.

For the last few days, I have had a cough that won’t go away. A cough that clearly tells me my body is trying hard to fight off something. For a week or so, I have had ZERO energy, haven’t been sleeping well (a 5 month old that is transitioning to sleeping unswaddled isn’t helping); I just haven’t felt very well in general. Those factors tell me my body is wore down. Which also tells me that is a build up of bad food & bad habits.

As I started to look at the last few weeks/months & my habits, here’s what I found: too much refined/processed sugar, too much caffeine, a lot of wheat, too much eating out/convenience food, not enough exercise, sleep, or raw food. One thing I have also noticed is my head & even my vision just feel foggy- which I know if a symptom of gluten intolerance. I am not gluten intolerant, but I am wondering if I’m consuming too much.

So I am going to start with a 10-Day, gentle detox. The focus is to clean out my body & allow it to function better. When doing a detox the focus is on clean food, lots of water, & sweating with the intention of ridding the body of toxins….not weight loss (at least that is a proper detox). So here’s my plan:
– diet heavy in fresh, raw fruits & vegetables
– eliminate as much processed/refined sugar & caffeine as possible
– limit diary, meat, & gluten to 1x per day
– 32oz of water before every meal
– sweat at least once a day (this will be in the form of running to catch back up on my 10k training plan)
– yoga everyday with focus on twists & inversions

I will be keeping a daily journal to track how I’m feeling & any progress I have noticed. While I probably won’t write here everyday, I do hope to write a few times in the next 10 days. Here we go…..


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Absent but still here

Please excuse my absence, I’m still here. Still blogging….well thinking about blogging! This summer has been a crazy one for me. I’ve been trying to figure out the blog/writing/cooking, while running business 1 & business 2, still having a toddler (who will only be a toddler for a few more weeks….we are about to have a preschooler) that has started potty training & a new baby that is now 5 months old & probably not all that far from being mobile. Oh boy! I think I need to go back to bed!
But with the toddler going into Mother’s Day out 3 times a week, my hope is to be a little more consistent in my blogging attempts. My desire is to write a few blogs a week, but hope is the wire I cling to & often fall from.
Anyway, on to other things…..
Meals around here have been pretty standard, today’s breakfast was still “normal” nothing ground breaking. Gluten-free Flax waffle with Sunbutter & Wildflower honey with apple juice (our apple juice is about 3/4 water cut by 1/4 organic apple juice) for the toddler & 2 waffles for me with earth balance no-soy buttery spread & iced almond milk coffee.
I have been trying to shake up dinners a little but (with mild luck). Last week we had fish tacos which where good but still need some tweaking before I officially write the recipe. I am working on a recipe for something my mom used to call Yakisobi which is an Asian inspired beef & noodle dish.
As summer whinds down (yay….summer is not my favorite…from the sticky hot southern weather- which has been oddly mild this year- to the break in routine, I’m ready for it to be over) I will cook more & have more recipes to share. As weather turns cooler, I am much more motivated to cook & create, so for me there is lots to look forward to on the food front.
So for now…hang in there! Whether that message is for you or me, I don’t know!




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Food Allergy Kid- MDO Lunch & Snacks

I forgot to post on Wednesday, sorry! I had a few work engagements last week & got a little distracted, but I did remember to take the pictures, so here is Wednesday’s post, via Monday!

One thing that took me a little while to figure out, was how to pack lunch for my son when he had MDO (Mother’s Day Out). It took some trial & error, but eventually I figured it out. You just feed him like you do at home. I feel like it has also gotten easier as he has gotten a little older. Sometimes he gets left over pasta from the night before & sometimes he gets a more traditional school lunch. Here’s what he took last week:

Food Allergy Kid- School Lunches & Snacks www.marissa-dodgen.com

1 Slice of Rudi’s Honey Wheat bread sliced in half with Mara Narth Sunbutter (Sunflower seed Butter) & Cascadian Farms Organic Strawberry Jelly, Kind Vanilla Blueberry Bar (which has become one of his new favorite things), Lundberg Seaweed & Sesame Rice Chips (these are soooooo good!), & 4 washed, sliced strawberries. I always give him Organic Apple Juice cut with water. I know I have scored when his lunch box comes home empty…this lunch was for sure a winner.

For snacks he has discovered what he refers to as “crackers”. A cracker to him is a Lundberg Rice Cake with sunbutter & today a small drizzle of honey. I have noticed with him, like me, he really thrives on a varied diet. He will rebel if he gets the same thing over & over. So I try to continually introduce new foods, textures. & flavors. Plus i really don’t want him to become a picky eater. 



So hopefusnacks2

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Convenient vs Fast Food

One of the things that is the most difficult about clean eating is giving up fast food for its convenience purposes. That has certainly been one of the biggest struggles for our family. But recently we have made the decision to cut back, way back, on fast food (which really isn’t that much compared to a lot of people). Mainly for financial reasons, because it really is a HUGE waste of money, but also for health reasons. I purposely don’t think about the absolute awful quality of fast food because I would probably yack on my shoes. It really does make me nauseated some times to eat out.

So what do you do for convenience when you rule out fast food. Here’s the answer…. The grocery store. If you keep a stocked fridge & panty it is easy to make a meal quickly, almost quicker than you could pick up fast food. Even if you have to run to the grocery store to pick up dinner (like I did this afternoon) it is still just as quick as going to pick up something & a lot cheaper.

So this is how I chose convenience over fast….


I picked up an Amy’s Meat Lasagna & for the sides I steamed some asparagus (add a little water & salt to a skillet with asparagus. Turn the heat up all the way until the asparagus is hot but still bright green) & roasted the broccoli (drizzle olive oil over broccoli & sprinkle with salt, pepper, & garlic powder. Toss & roast at 425 until the edges start to char) . For dessert, the strawberries that will be used in a smoothie with bananas & whatever else is left over in the freezer.

What I love is that I have a ton of asparagus left over & a little lasagna for lunch tomorrow & the strawberries will be a good breakfast, so it was a far better investment than a quick, nasty meal & so so so much better for our bodies.

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