Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Beyond Olive Oil and Mayo

Sometimes it is hard to find ways to add calories AND add nutrition. There is only so much olive oil or mayonnaise to add. This is a great dip or spread (could call it a pate' but a bit too elegant for a kid's meal). It is full of B vitamins, zinc and protein and tastes just like the chopped liver that my Poppie used to make. Surprisingly so!

It is vegetarian not vegan and pretty easy to make. Like most recipes posted here, variations are included so you can make one that works best for your family and your child. This recipe is adapted from the Oakwood School cookbook submitted by a lovely vegetarian family. Personally, I prefer this with peas, try each variation and let me know how it works. -Patricia

1 onion finely chopped
1/2 cup lentils OR 1 1/2 cups cooked peas OR 1 1/2 cups cooked green beans
many recipes like this recommend using canned veggies for ease
1/4 cup cashews or 1/3 cup walnuts
3 hard boiled eggs

Saute the onions in olive oil until translucent, for a richer flavor, saute until golden ( carmelize them). Cook up the lentils, peas or green beans. They should be well cooked, not crispy.
Toss all of the cooked ingredients in a food processor with the nuts and eggs. Add some seasoning ( a little pepper, a little salt) and puree up. If it is too thick, you can add a bit more olive oil (more calories!)or water or soup stock.

Let sit for an hour or two to let the flavors combine and dip or spread.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Pennywise, pound foolish

Our newsletter this month (go to to view or subscribe) focused on the importance of nutrition in early intervention. Reminding that early intervention services such as occupational therapy, speech therapy, child development services and physical therapy just will not be as effective if a child is malnourished.

We can mention the importance of nutrition in a child's development and the need to provide nutrition intervention, but the reality is that these services are becoming very scarce in light of the financial situation in the state of California. We all know that when the budget passes in California this fiscal year, ALL health and related services will be cut. It is hard to argue one health need over the other. Mental health, HIV, immunizations, home health care, the list goes on and on, are all vitally important and so is early intervention. Unfortunately, early intervention often is cut first and cut hard. We all know the benefits of early intervention and now is the time to publicize these. The problem is, the recipients of early intervention are too young, the parents too tired and the interventionists are too busy providing services to research and publish.

We all need to realize the extreme risks to our state if early intervention services are cut too deeply. Already there has been a 3% cut in reimbursement to interventionists. In addition to the dollar cut, treating hours are being reduced as well. This does not mean that interventionists just get paid less, many agencies that specialize in working in early intervention have closed. Many professionals can no longer afford to practice in this area. That leaves fewer experienced professionals in this field and reduces access to services. Often there are other programs that can pick up the slack, such as MediCal, but these services are being cut back as well. Private insurance may fund some intervention but usually the services are limited and children need to use insurance specific providers. An occupational therapist or dietitian working with adults may not have the specialized skills for working with a young child, especially one at developmental risk.

Why should we worry? What are the risks? The risk to the child and family are great. Early intervention can reduce or even PREVENT some disability. Without it, the child, family and our state will be paying the cost of greater and longer lasting disability. What does that mean? Special education perhaps instead of a regular classroom. Lifelong social services instead of independence. Living to a child's potential, or not.

Please consider what is at risk. Services will be cut therefore it is important to make the most of what you receive. Be a responsible and receptive user of early intervention services. Partner with your therapists to make the most from your services. Let your physicians, service coordinators, friends and legislators know how it has helped your child and your family. Legislator information can be found at