Guestpost: Sweet Rebecca from CakeWalk

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Hi!  My name is Rebecca Gagnon, and for the past year, I’ve been writing CakeWalk - a food blog.  I am a stay-at-home Mom to a lovely, yet picky eating boy named Luc, and it has been the best job of my life.  Luc was a surprise to me and my Husband both, a true blessing in all senses of the word.  I am amazed at the way I saw life change before my eyes, and suddenly I saw the most important things became even more important.


I grew up with a Mother who was a great home cook.  We always grew a garden, and she preserved most of our fruits and vegetables each summer for us to enjoy until gardening season came around again.  She taught me the importance and fulfillment of kitchen work, even though when I was younger, I would have been more content to be outside getting dirty with my two younger brothers.  Those seeds she was able to plant in me did grow, however, and since high school I have been interested in cooking and baking.

After I had a child, I felt even more dedicated to healthful cooking and eating.  The lessons my Mom taught me came back to me, and along with the explosion of the Internet, more information on cooking and baking was at my fingertips. When Luc was a baby, some of the first children’s cookbooks I got were from Annabel Karmel.  A British mother and authority on creative child-centered foods,  her books were so visually appealing and inspiring to me, when I felt overwhelmed and didn‘t even know where to start.  I felt a huge responsibility to look after the nutritional needs of my growing Luc!  After my Boy-O graduated from his solid food beginnings of rice cereal, some of my first cooking efforts for him were her fruit and vegetable purees.  Afterwards he was happily eating most everything I set before him.  This book became a well-used resource, and was a good guide through the early developmental stages of toddler-dom.  Another great thing about the Karmel books, is that the food is also sophisticated enough to happily please adult palates and entire families, while usually appealing to small children as well. 


My young kid is now almost 4 and has been what I’d classify as a picky eater for nearly 2 years!  I wonder where I went wrong sometimes, but know that it most likely has nothing to do with me - after all, he ate nearly everything before he turned 2!  I am glad that he likes some healthy things: whole grains, nuts, seeds, fruits, and of all things broccoli.  But meat, eggs, and a whole host of other things seem to be on the “I don’t like it list” for an indefinite period of time.  My Husband says, “Luc, one day you are going to want to eat pizza every single day”, even though now he won’t touch it - and I’ve even made some very cute little individual ones with cool faces on them for him… well, at least it was fun for me!

You can find a recipe for Annabel’s Buzzy Bees here, we used peanut butter and Wheatabix biscuits to make these little guys.  Luc wasn’t so much into making bees as he was eating them, so we took a shortcut, and formed most of them into balls. He’ll likely be more interested the next time we make them!

While it seems trying to cook and not cater to a toddler, one can focus on healthy things that the child can help make, and that is what I’ve been trying to do.  He loves granola, so I have him help measure the ingredients and be my “stirrer”.  The benefits of making your own cereals are so great, since you can control everything that goes into them.  So many times, boxed cereals contain ample amounts of sugar and salt, which train children from an early age to look for these tastes.  If you happen to have a food allergy in your home, it is also an excellent way of ensuring that your most important meal of the day is free of potential hazards!  If you are fortunate to live near a food co-op or grocery with bulk bins, you can usually make homemade versions for a fraction of the cost, as well.

Granola is among the most adaptable things, and lends itself to endless variation.  If you like more or less of an ingredient, go ahead and alter it!  Chances are, you will find a version that you can’t live without.  It also stores well in a glass container (I use canning jars) for several weeks, or if you like, you can freeze it indefinitely.  One of our favorite recipes recently, I adapted from Marisa at
Food In Jars.  If you have a honey allergy, try using maple syrup or brown rice syrup if you can find it - it is a delicious alternative!

Granola (adapted from Marisa McClellan)

4 c. rolled oats
1 c. chopped walnuts
¼ c. sesame seeds
1/4 c. sunflower seeds
½ c. coconut (I like
this unsweetened version from Let’s Do Organic!)
¼ c. flax meal (you can grind whole flax seeds in a spice or coffee grinder)
pinch of salt
scant ¼ c. oil (olive or canola, I don’t mind the flavor of olive oil – but some do.)
scant ½ c. honey
1 c. dried fruit (I usually use raisins and dried cranberries)

Preheat oven to 325.  Mix all ingredients except oil, honey and dried fruit in a large bowl.  In a small mixing bowl, whisk oil and honey until well combined.  Pour over the dry ingredients and stir thoroughly.  Spread out onto a large rimmed baking sheet (or two sheets if you have smaller pans).  You can first line the pans with parchment paper if you are worried about sticking, or want easier clean-up.  Roast for 30-40 minutes, stirring every 8-10 minutes until the granola is as nicely brown as you would like it to be.  Let it cool on the counter to nearly room temperature before adding the dried fruit, and stir it in well to combine.  Enjoy it out of hand, on yogurt, with milk, even on ice cream!

Luc helping me make corn tortillas

I’m excited that my son now enjoys helping me with simple tasks in the kitchen, and am looking forward to days when he may grow out of his pickiness.  But you know, instead of looking forward to it too much, I’m learning to appreciate each and every day for what it brings. I am reminded that my own Mother couldn’t get me to do what she felt was best for me at the time, but then her quiet example and steadfastness stuck with me as I grew up.  I am happy that he does enjoy eating some healthful things, and I need to remember to enjoy watching his progress along the way.  He is growing, after all, and I know he is in good health. Every day I can be home with him is such a gift, and one I never want to take for granted!


  1. I think some of the best and most noble things we experience in life have been passed down to us from our parents. In fact, a parent's ability to lead by example is one of the most powerful tools in this Universe.

    You're right, though -- there's no such thing as instant gratification in parenting. Although I'm not a parent myself, I can name very few aspects of my life and value system that weren't somehow shaped by those wonderful people I call my parents.

  2. Oh so good to hear that someone who loves food as much as you do has a picky child. I LOVE food and my boys hate it. Dinner time for them is a constant heartache for me. Have started reading your blog recently and am really enjoying it.


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