Crock Pot to the Rescue!

Kyla Ababio, M.D.

Kyla Ababio, M.D.

You are dropping off the last child in your soccer mom carpool and you hear your child yell out, “What’s for dinner?” Immediately you rack your brain, should you just pick up something quick from McDonalds (after all you can get apple wedges instead of fries now), or should you search the freezer for something that you can throw together quickly and hope that they don’t have too much homework to do tonight.

If this scenario sounds familiar, the solution may be no further than the slow cooker on your kitchen counter. A slow cooker does all the work of cooking for you while you’re at work or busy with the kids — minimizing time spent in the kitchen.

As a mom of now two young children, I am learning the joys of using a slow cooker to produce fast, hot, healthy meals right when we get home. The kids are ready to eat, and I am ready to relax with the family! Eating more homemade meals, and less fast food, can ensure that kids get the fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains and low-fat dairy their growing bodies need.A crock pot slow-cooking a homely beef casserole.

The best part is slow cookers aren’t just for winter soups and stews — you can make appetizers, side dishes, fillings for sandwiches and tacos, and even desserts in a slow cooker. They are also great for hot days when you don’t want to heat up your kitchen by turning the oven on. A slow cooker gives off very little heat beyond the base, keeping your kitchen cool when it’s hot outside.

Try these simple tips to make the most of this versatile kitchen tool:

1- Prep ingredients in advance - Chop vegetables and trim meats on a Saturday or Sunday when you have extra time. Be sure to cut uniform pieces for even cooking, and store prepped ingredients in airtight containers or zip-top bags in the refrigerator for up to three days.

2-  Make-ahead when possible - If your slow cooker has a removable insert, assemble the ingredients the night before and refrigerate the entire insert overnight. It’s important to note that starting with cool ingredients may lengthen cooking time.

3-  Reinvent leftovers – Instead of serving the same recipe two nights in a row, turn last night’s dinner into something new. If you make a large roast, serve the leftovers as a filling for quesadillas or sandwiches.

Check out this recipe for a healthy, fun, delicious meal that my co-worker gave me (Thanks Val!)

P.S.  You can also get the kids involved. Have them cut/tear up the ingredients and dump them into the crock pot. When the cooking is complete let them enjoy their masterpiece!

I found a lot of these great tips on the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics website. Check out this site for more information.

Happy slow cooking!



The Scoop on Poop

Before you became a parent, you probably never thought that you would fixate on the quality of another individual’s poop. Yet, here you are: My child’s poop is blue. My baby has loose, like diarrhea, poops. My toddler is passing poop that looks like balls. Is this ok? A newborn’s poop is called “meconium”: it […]

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Vrinda Kumar, M.D.

Vrinda Kumar, M.D.

Teething: Can you handle the tooth?

The teething process generally begins between four to eight months of age.  Some babies will start earlier, and some babies won’t get their first tooth until after a year old. Usually (but not always), the two bottom middle teeth come first, then the two upper middle teeth, then the teeth to the side of those, and then finally the teeth in the back. By the age of two, most kids will have all 20 of their baby teeth!

It is normal for the teeth to not come in straight, and it is normal for those first few teeth to have wide gaps in between them.  Don’t worry!  They usually straighten themselves out as the other teeth start coming in.

Symptoms of teething:

  • drooling
  • gum swelling/redness
  • fussiness
  • difficulty sleeping
  • solid food aversion
  • biting and chewing everything in sight!

Some babies may also have:

  • low grade fevers (<101 degrees F)
  • loose stools (they can be green and slimy from all that extra drool making its way through the gut)
  • diaper rash (from all those loose stools)
  • ear pain (it is normal for teething babies to pull on their ears because in babies, tooth pain is felt in the ears)

If your child has high fevers >101 F, signs of dehydration (not a lot of wet diapers, not a lot of drooling, no tears when crying), or other symptoms that are persistent, you should call your doctor.

Things you can try to help your teething baby deal with the pain:

  • give your child something clean and safe to chew on (firm teething toys or a cold clean washcloth, for example)
  • try giving your baby cold foods if he/she is eating solidsteething
  • Orajel naturals (The active ingredient Benzocaine in regular Orajel has some rare but serious side effects: the benzocaine, if swallowed, can numb a child’s airway cause them to potentially choke on their saliva, and it can also affect the hemoglobin in your child’s red blood cells, a condition called methemoglobinemia)
  • teething tablets and teething gels are available, and are generally safe if used as directed
  • for those nights where nothing else seems to help, an occasional dose of Tylenol

Teething necklaces with amber beads are available as alternative to medication. Even though some parents say they work, it makes me very nervous to have a choking hazard hanging around a child’s neck, and I do not generally recommend it.

I hope this helps. And remember your child won’t teethe forever, so hang in there!

Dispelling Vaccine Myths

As pediatricians, one of the common topics of discussion we face is in regards to vaccinations. As a group, Dr. Ababio, Dr. Kumar, Dr. Alessia, Dr. Granoff and I whole-heartedly believe in the necessity, safety and effectiveness of vaccines. We want you as parents to have reliable, scientific, unbiased and ACCURATE information about how to […]

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