"Sit down and feed, and welcome to our table." -William Shakespeare

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Pertussis: An Unbiased Look

While I never intended to write a series on vaccines, I have been studying the subject intensely, as I do every 3 years (i.e. when I am pregnant).  Pertussis is, for me, one of the most worrisome diseases one can vaccinate against.  There have been outbreaks all over the country, it seems, over the past few years, and we saw one of our dear friends' 2-year-old go through it a few years back.

Note that this is a pro-vaccination bulletin, which outlines the problems with current pertussis vaccines:

"Be careful about reading health books.  You may die of a misprint." 
~Mark Twain

Monday, May 28, 2012

A Few More Tidbits on Vaccines

Ok, well, I should have known I was openeing a can of worms just by typing the words "childhood vaccines."

PLEASE, dear readers, let me reiterate that I AM A MOM trying to make the best decisions for my family, NOT A HEALCARE PROFESSIONAL nor an INFECTIOUS DISEASE EXPERT!!!  My info is not always the MOSTest up-to-date-est stuff out there, because I do not spend evenings pouring over medical journals.  Well, not every evening.

Anyhoo, all my books are loaned out, but I would like to quote from a few online articles.  Feel free to take them with a grain- or 2 or 12- of salt.  And I wish you the best on your journey as a parent and health-care consumer :).

"Dr. Walter Orenstein, Director, CDC National Immunization Program, who will have a great deal to say about recommending chicken pox vaccine for all children, described being kept up for several nights with his five-year-old during a bout of chicken pox, admitting, "It's that kind of problem that the vaccine would eliminate rather than serious disease (6)."

"Dr. Arthur Lavin, Department of Pediatrics, St. Luke's Medical Center in Cleveland, Ohio wrote in The Lancet (17) of "three concerns ... (he) believe(s) argue strongly against die licensure of varicella vaccine for healthy children."

  • chicken pox "is not major in the sense of disease mortality or morbidity. In childhood, mortality is very low, and morbidity is usually minor ... Therefore, if healthy children were fully vaccinated it is unclear in what significant way the health of the children or the economic health of their families would be improved."
  • Routine chicken pox vaccination in healthy children might pose a "grave danger of advancing the age of onset of chicken pox into adulthood." After bemoaning adults' poor compliance with vaccine recommendations, e.g., influenzae vaccine, Dr. Lavin asks, "What makes the proponents of universal varicella immunization believe that adults who may be susceptible to varicella as a result of their efforts would protect themselves with a booster dose (of chicken pox vaccine)?"
  • Dr. Lavin has deep concerns "about injecting millions of young children with a mutant strain of herpes virus. As is well known, herpes viral DNA insinuates itself into the human genome for the lifetime of a host .... Although the risk of a deleterious effect on the human genome from an injected mutant herpetic viral genome is remote, the application of this risk to hundreds of millions of hosts increases the chance that we will see some adverse effect".
Dr. Lavin concludes:
"Humanity has been well served through efforts that have eliminated smallpox and nearly eradicated poliomyelitis and measles. However, not all infections demand these interventions (emphasis added). The Varicella immunization Program may be too much of a good thing. Until we actually know the duration of immunity and the risks involved in injecting mutated hepatic DNA into the host genome, I argue strongly against licensing this vaccine for use in all children."

"It appears that chicken pox vaccine will be mandated by law, not to benefit healthy children, but to save time and money for their parents with jobs outside the home, to protect children with cancer from catching chicken pox from other children, or for parental convenience so that parents will not have to stay up for two or three nights caring for their children with chicken pox
But, as Dr. Lavin states above (17), what price might society pay for this convenience?
By Kristine M. Severyn, R.Ph., Ph.D. "


"Flu seasons are unpredictable and can be severe. It is estimated that, on average, approximately 5% to 20% of U.S. residents get the flu, and more than 200,000 people are hospitalized for flu-related complications each year. Over a period of 30 years, between 1976 and 2006, estimates of flu-associated deaths in the United States range from a low of about 3,000 to a high of about 49,000 people."
Um, how many people died of varicella in 1994 (before the vaccine)? About 100-105.
On a side note, do you know that vomiting is called the flu, but usually isn't?  The flu is that awful, shakey, weak thing you get, maybe with a cough. 
"The decline in protective antibody against the flu that occurs after vaccination or after flu infection may be influenced by several factors, including a person’s age, the antigen used in the vaccine, and the person’s health situation (for example, chronic health conditions that weaken the immune system may have an impact).
This decline in protective antibody has the potential to leave some people more vulnerable to infection, illness and possibly serious complications from the same influenza viruses a year after being vaccinated or infected."
Get the vaccine and be sure your immunity to the same flu strain will be lower later- or 'risk' getting (OR NOT GETTING) it that year.  It truly is your decision.  You get to choose the risk with which you feel more comfortable.  For now.  Until yearly flu shots are mandated by the federal government.  Enjoy your freedom while you've got it, folks.
Innocent until proven guilty?
Works for people, but did you know your government extends this concept even to synthetic drugs?
That's the American way when it comes to pharmeceuticals, and it creates a BIG cloud of confusion and doubt around vaccines.  Is this method really in the best interest of children whose organs and bosy systems are growing so fast?  In the U.S., drugs- do I even need to list exaples?- do not need to be proven safe before being administered to thousands, even millions of people, and won't be pulled from the shelves until LOTS of people have been hurt by them. 
Eli Lilly's August 1993 Prozac 20 Consumer Product Information pamphlet:

"There can be no such thing as absolute safety with prescription medicines. Individual patients sometimes react differently to the same dose of the same medicine and it is possible that some unwanted side effects will not be known until a medicine has been widely prescribed for a number of years."

(Editing to note, I never intended to publish this post with mercury info.  A draft of this post accidentally went live.  While some shots do contain mercury, they are very few now.  Aluminum is a far greater concern at this point than mercury.  You can learn more about mercury in vaccines at http://www.askdrsears.com/ and at http://www.mothering.com/.)
And because I've received enough questions on this to make me dread opening my inbox, let me state for the record that we'd like to keep our family's medical choices a private affair.  I'm not out to scare anyone, or sway anyone's opinions on their healthcare choices, but to ENCOURAGE INFORMED DECISIONS for families.  Because the way childhood vaccines are presented by many family practice doctors and pediatricians is, we feel, enethical.  And if your doctor has ever threatened to 'fire' you (or actually done so), PLEASE educate them on the policy of the AAP and the AAFP; both organizations discourage pediatricians and family practice doctors from "kicking out" patients who choose not to vaccinate, to delay vaccinations, or who wish to create their own schedules or who wish to use only single-disease vaccines.  (Go to the websites of the AAP or the AAFP to read about their policies.)

AND ANOTHER SIDE NOTE:  I find it really ironic how the medical community wants to turn Dr. Bob Sears into a villain!  Do you know that Dr. Bob and the other Dr.s Sears ARE PRO-VACCINE?  I've had a personal conversation with him and I've heard him speak on the subject in person.  He advocates a different schedule of immunization, but he advocates immunization!  He wants vaccines given one-by-one so- gasp- you could actually figure out which one caused a reaction, should your child experience one!  Inconvenient for pediatricians?  Yes.  Villainous?  No. 

How many vaccines are recommended at 12 months?  Your child could potentially receive 9 different vaccines at 12 months of age, looking at the CDC schedule.  If your child has a reaction, how will you know which vaccine caused it?  You won't.

That darned doctor telling those darned parents they can make informed decisions about their children's healthcare!  How dare he inconvenience us like that!  That's how all the attacks on Dr. Bob come across to me! 
"I drive way too fast to worry about cholesterol."  ~Author Unknown
(My version:  "We eat way to much McD's to worry about vaccine safety!")
Think about your constitutional rights:
More on working with doctors who want to 'fire' you :):

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Pump Up Your Oatmeal

For the record, my husband doesn't like this oatmeal.  My little people, though, loooooove it, and so do I.  So experiment at your own risk!

We use either rolled or steel-cut oats, soaked and cooked in our usual manner.  Then, in a bowl, we crack an unwashed farm egg and whip it with some hemp or sunflower or almond milk till light and frothy, then we dump in the oatmeal and stir till it is thoroughly combined.  Pop the bowl in the microwave for 1 minute, then top with raisins and cinammon, or fresh berries, and more milk.  You can, of course, drizzle on some raw honey or agave nectar.  See how mcuh they like this?

This is a great way to sneak some protein into your little people's breakfast, if they abhor a scrambled egg, an almond, or anything like that before 11 am, like mine do.  They call this oatmeal pudding, and I think it would be delicious to add carob powder or raw cacao powder to make a chocolate oatmeal pudding, too!
"Never work before breakfast; if you have to work before breakfast, eat your breakfast first. "
~Josh Billings

Friday, May 25, 2012

Gluten-free, Dairy-free Italian Whatcha-ma-call-it Dinner

Doesn't that look good? 
It is.  I ate it last night.  I might go eat some more right now.  This month I've been trying out wheat-free recipes, still keeping things dairy-free, and MAN! that decreases your options for easy, quick, healthy, and inexpensive meals!!!  However, this pasta-substitute dish is an ABSOLUTE keeper.  The first time I made it,  I called it pizza.

Big mistake.

But now the kids call it pizza casserole and that makes it much better to them, mentally.  Either way, they eat seconds and thirds every time I make it.  And I triple-dog-dare you to try it even if you have no need of avoiding gluten and dairy.  Because besides being quite tasty, it is very nutritious.

Pizza Casserole
2-3T extra virgin olive oil
4c cooked brown rice
4 eggs (if you need to avoid eggs, just leave them out- they make the texture a bit nicer, but don't do anything else for the dish, so no biggie)
1 lb grass-fed ground beef, or sub ground turkey, browned
24 oz. pasta or pizza sauce of your choice, here I used Tader Joe's Organic Marinara
1/2c nutritional yeast flakes

In a large bowl, add the eggs to the rice and stir and whip with a fork till evenly blended.  Oil your 9x13 pan witht he evoo then spread the rice mixture on top.  Bake at 415 for 20 minutes, or until eggs are set (do this even if you are leaving out the eggs, to dry out the rice a bit).  Then top with ground beef and dump on your sauce.  Bake another 15 minutes.  (Or just leave it in there till you get back to dinner prep.  It's pretty forgiving.  I left mine in the oven last night for about 30 extra minutes and everyone liked the crunchy but not burnt stuff arond the edges!)  Remove from oven and sprinkle with the nutritional yeast flakes; this is your "cheese"- it really does taste cheesey.  Or serve the yeast on the side in a shaker jar, which kids will love.  If you want to really make it parmesan-y. mix the nutritional yeast 1/2 and 1/2 with ground walnuts and a teeny pinch of salt.  Soooo yum.  Serve with a nice green salad or a mound of quick-blanched brocolli for a quick and easy dinner.

This dish makes my kids and I miss pasta and homemade pizza a lot less.  Plus it is far more delicious than the gluten-free pastas we have tried, not to mention far cheaper.

Buen provecho!

"They claim red meat is bad for you.  But I never saw a sick-looking tiger." 
~Chi Chi Rodriguez

On a side note, my sourdough starter is dead.  In case you were wondering.  Since we are moving in 5 weeks and having a baby another 7 after that, I decided to let it go for awhile.  However, http://www.culturesforlife.com/ sells a spelt sourdough starter that I'm going to buy once I am settled into our new home, uh, wherever that may be, and I will resume my experiments then.  For now, we are enjoying our sprouted spelt in other ways!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Chicken Pox Vaccine: Let's Call a Spade a Spade

(Editing to add:  This blog post is my opinion and understanding of information gathered by myself, for myself, over the last 9 years.  Your health and your child's is your own to read up on, decide on, and make peace with.  Here is anexcellent article with more info on the history and statistics involved with chicken pox and shingles, before and after the intro of the vaccine(s):
http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2010/11/02/chicken-pox-vaccine-creates-shingles-epidemic.aspx )

How long can you write a blog on natural living and children and avoid the vaccine issue?  As long as you want, I guess! 

In my opinion, the issue of vaccination is not cut and dry by any means.  That's why my favorite vaccine to discuss with folks who get up in arms when anyone questions vaccine at all, is the chicken pox vaccine.  (And btw, this information is not esoteric, repressed, or secret in any way.  There are a number of places you can look it up.  One of my favorite, balanced books on vaccines is What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About(TM) Children's Vaccinations . It is on sale right now for $6- a serious bargain- and I can't recommend it highly enough.)

Let's start with what the chicken pox vaccine does for your child.  Does it prevent your child from getting the pox?  Many parents think it does.

It doesn't.

The vaccine, simply put, decreases the amount of time your child is contagious during the chicken pox.

Really?  Yup. 

(Editing to add: This info is based on the old recommendation of a single dose- now children get 2 doses which supposedly "fixes" this problem and gives better- but never 100%- immunity.  It is up to you to read the info from various- aleays conflicting- sources and make decisions based on your knowledge!!!)

Interestingly, your child will receive this vaccination AFTER the extreme 'danger zone' for chicken pox is past.  Why?  Because your infant's immune system is too immature to handle the vaccine before. 

Why then, does your child receive the chicken pox vaccine?

Well, Merck went to the federal government and said, hey, did you know that the economy loses about 5 billion dollars a year due to parental time off for chicken pox?  If we develop this vaccine, parents in 2 parent working homes or single parent homes will only need to take off 1/2 to 1 days versus 4-5 days of work for each incidence of chicken pox. 

And our government said "COOL! Go ahead!"  and now your child receives the vaccine, even if you stay at home and the time-off-work thing wouldn't affect you at all. 

THEREFORE, in the case of the chicken pox vaccine, if one parent stays at home already, the chicken pox vaccine carries 100% risk (medications always carry some risk) because as designed, the vaccine benefits you 0%.

So, let's see here.  A vaccine was developed to save us all money?  Hmm.  (How much of that 5 billion saved is funneled directly into the pockets of pharmeceutical giants like Merck?)  I thought vaccines were developed to safeguard the health of our children and the population at large?  Well, many were, but not all. 

(Obviously, the posters on the doctor's office wall aren't advertising the history of each vaccine!  You have to dig, but just a little, to find some of this info out.)

This is how I personally like to get informed about different vaccinations:

The first question is WHY was this vaccine developed?  You might find that question especially pertinent to any vaccine developed in the last 10-15 years, (ahem), and very especially in cases of vaccines like HepB, Hib, HPV, and HepA.  (You really might want to ask yourself if vaccinating against sexually-transmitted diseases is appropriate for newborns as opposed to, say, 20 year olds.  Then you might want to ask yourself if you find it appropriate to vaccinate against sexually-transmitted diseases if you are opposed to handing out condoms on college campuses and such... see the connection?  It's part of the same mindset.)

The second question is, when is the vaccine administered as opposed to when is the danger zone for the disease?  In the case of chicken pox, your child is already mature enough to handle the disease (assuming you are a loving, responsible, and reasonably-informed parent with competent healthcare) by the time the vaccine is generally administered.  Is there a more appropriate time to vaccinate against this disease?

The third is a more difficult to answer question, because many health care providers don't know or won't want to tell you- if I delay this vaccination, will the whole series be required?  Is there a more appropriate time to vaccinate against this disease, when my child is older and a single dose will be as effective as a 3 or 4 dose series now?  (Remember, most vaccines are the same dosage whether your child weighs 12 or 50 lbs, so vaccinating 3 times on an infant is exponentially more foreign material in his system than 1 dose at age 3 or 4!)  For instance, my John Paul recently nearly severed his big toe when a very dirty bench fell over on it.  I wanted a single-strain tetanus vaccine, but it couldn't be gotten in time.  So I agreed to the DTaP.  I asked both the ER nurse and doctor several times about the need for boosters and both very clearly explained that boosters were unnecessary.  I asked why infants receive several doses of the shot, then?  (The doctor thought the shot wasn't absolutely necessary, but the nurse kept emphasizing it was hospital policy.)  No one was willing to answer me on that!

The fourth is what does this disease do, how common is it, and what risks will it incur for my child if he or she contracts it naturally?  Is there any documentation of factors that increase natural resistance or better ability to withstand the disease?  (I'm forgetting where this came from, forgive me, but in the case of polio, it was noticed that many people had the virus but no symptoms.  Their common factor seemed to be a diet especially low in sugar.)  Your children or child may have particular issues that make it sensible to vaccinate against certain diseases.

One big criticism of non- or selective-vaccination is that the more people who do not vaccinate, the more some diseases now rare will reoccur.  However, there have always been large pockets of the population who have never vaccinated.  Think some Christian sects like the Amish (apparently many sources claim the Amish vaccinate so I will stick with the 2 groups of whom I have more first-hand knowledge), traditional Mennonite,  and Christian Scientists.  (These sects do not NOT vaccinate because they are Christian sects, but because they have beliefs as groups that make them less likely to choose an artificial drug over a natural alternative.)  These groups often live en masse, in their own communities, but with lots of co-mingling with outside populations.  Do these communities have higher incidences of the diseases we usually vaccinate against?  Do you know the answer to that question?  If you don't vaccinate, or you feel threatened by those who don't, then you SHOULD know the answer to that question!

I could probably write more on this topic, volumes and volumes more, but I hear little people stirring upstairs.

Happy reading-up and have a great day!

"Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity." 
~World Health Organization, 1948

"The... patient should be made to understand that he or she must take charge of his own life.  Don't take your body to the doctor as if he were a repair shop." 
~Quentin Regestein

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Sprouted Spelt Sourdough Starter, Days 3-5, PLUS Sprouted Spelt Muffins

Here's the progress:
Day 3- see the bubbles breaking the surface?  That's a good sign that some wild yeast has taken up residence.
 Day 4- See the nice bubble structure?  More signs of wild yeast life.
 I had lots of leftover sprouted spelt.  (I will use it to feed the wild yeast when the starter is ready.)  So we tried muffins out of it.  They came out very good.  Please note that this recipe will work ONLY in a high speed blender (Vitamix, Blendtec). 

Sprouted Spelt Muffins
2c sprouted grains (I used 1/2c sprouted almonds and 1 1/2c sprouted spelt)
(To sprout your grain: soak in water 2 or so hours, drain, and set in a dark place overnight.  Rinse in the morning, set out for several more hours. Refrigerate when you see a wee white tail just pushing out the ends of the grains.  Grains should not appear excessively swollen.)
1c milk or water
1 egg
1/2t salt
2t baking powder
1/3c NON-liquid sweetener (I used xylitol, maple sugar would be great)
1-3t cinnamon 
Place everything in your blender and process on the Grind Grain setting.  Spoon into muffin cups, well greased, or line with papers.  Bake at 425 for 20 minutes.

Voila!  High-protein, really good for you muffins.  Purdy, too, eh?
 My kids gobbled up a whole batch in no time flat!

Sprouted Spelt Sourdough Starter, Day 5:
Woops.  I stirred it an it fell flat.  Later today I will feed it and see if it bounces back tomorrow!  Wild yeast is pretty hardy so I'm sure it will.

"Never work before breakfast; if you have to work before breakfast, eat your breakfast first." 
~Josh Billings

Monday, May 7, 2012

Sprouted Spelt Sourdough Starter, day 2

Yay, the spelt berries sprouted!  I drained them after 2 hours of soaking, then covered them.  You don't want to drown the grain, just hydrate it enough to let it start coming back to life.  I rinsed them at breakfast time then covered till lunch:
You can't really see in the photo, but a little white tail is 'sprouting' from each berry.  That means the seeds have come alive!

Then I blended the grain with 1 cup water in my Blentec on the "Grind Grain" setting.  I got a nice slurry, above.  The bubbles are from the Blendtec, but in a few dyas they will be back, indicating the presence of the wild yeast that will be coming to live here.

Come back and see us tomorrow!

"All sorrows are less with bread." 
~Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quixote

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Sprouted Spelt Sourdough Starter

Here we have a bowl of spelt:

It is 1/2c spelt soaking in a cup of water.  While I prefer to wait and post things after a fair amount of success, I am 8 weeks away from moving and 14 weeks away from giving birth.  So anyone who wants to learn about Sprouted Spelt Sourdough is just gonna have to learn along with me.

Now, I hear you asking why.  WHY, Maureen?  Do you like to make your life complicated?  I mean, bake the bread, go ahead, but Sprouted Spelt Sourdough just sounds like a bit too much.... 

Well, after years of suspicion, we've confirmed the Armendariz family-wide allergy to wheat.


And along with that, a sensitivity to baker's and brewer's yeast. 

That's why!

Now, praise the Lord, because we are not allergic to spelt or kamut.  Spelt and kamut are ancient, non-hybridized wheat varieties.  While gluten is one of their proteins, about 70% of people who are sensitive to wheat can eat them with no problems.  And you can make REAL bread with them.  Yeast bread.

Um, if you're not allergic to yeast, too.

Sourdough is different.  Sourdough is leavened (risen) like 'regular' bread, but the yeast is wild.  Meaning, in a nutshell, it is chemically unrelated to baker's yeast though it does the same thing to your bread.  But more slowly!  And most people can eat it.  Which is good, because wild yeast is everywhere in the air and if you were allergic to that, well, you'd be miserable.  Pretty much all the time.

Why are grains such a problem for so many people, anyway?  After years of reading and listening to different experts with different ideas, I have my own little theory.

Grains are allergenic because we don't prepare them properly in our modern kitchens.  Everywhere in the world where rice is eaten as a staple, for instance, whole grain rice is soaked for 24 hours before cooking.  In the Middle East salt is usually used in the water to help break down and predigest the grain.  In Asia, soak water is often recycled to ferment the rice, which also predigests the difficult proteins. 

Soaking grains also starts the sprouting process, which introduces enzymes into the food.  Allergies and sensitivities are often associated with enzyme overload (you eat more of a food than your body has enzymes to digest it properly), so traditional methods of grain prep usually introduce enzymes into grains and many other foods to help digest them for us.  Smart, eh?

Sourdough bread is like the nutritional king of all breads, the ultimate long-soaked royalty of baked goods, so I figured sprouting and sourdough-ing combined should make a highly gut-friendly food.  But Google fails to turn up much on the subject.  So $2 a pound or not, I'm just striking out into the uncharted waters of sprouted spelt sourdough, relying on my intimate knowledge of bread making, and with the memories of other failed and partially successful sourdough experiments sharp in my mind. 

That plus like the 200 sourdough books I've read over the last 2 years.  Food is one of my hobbies and it does serve me well sometimes.

(And, heh-heh, if I didn't feel confident I could achieve success I prob'ly wouldn't publicly experiment.)

Basically, we leave this spelt here to sprout overnight.  We blend this mess into a fine, milkshake-like substance, and put it back on the counter.  We leave it there 3 to 4 days while it "catches" the wild yeast in my kitchen (the more you bake and cook with whole foods and use traditional preparation methods, the more wild yeast your kitchen contains and the faster your Starter will start).  It will start to fizz and bubble and be alive.  Then we feed to make it strong... then we start making bread with it! 

I have been using a variation of the no-knead bread method and I plan to just alter it a bit to make it sourdough-friendly.  Piece a' cake.  Er, bread.  Hopefully an edible one!

"One of the very nicest things about life is the way we must regularly stop whatever it is we are doing and devote our attention to eating." 
~Luciano Pavarotti and William Wright, Pavarotti, My Own Story
And, for the record, I just ate a whole dairy-free, wheat-free rice crust pizza while writing this post....

Wednesday, May 2, 2012


Thanks to all for the comments last month whilst I was so sporadically posting about our lunches!

JP picked a winner today and it is:


I was rooting for Jessica, who is my most faithful commenter- love you Jessica!  I think I need to make a runner-up package for you :).

Today I have pineapple burn on my tongue- do you ever get this?  From eating an unripe, very acidic pineapple?  It SUCKS.  I've had it for 48 hours and it still hurts.  BADLY. 

Not sure if I mentioned it, but the doctor has forbidden me to drink coffee.  This is not good.  I have been using just 1 or 2 weeeeeeeeeeeeeak cups a day just to function- I usually do in the latter half of pregnancy.  Not sure how I will survive, to tell you the truth. 

"Patience is also a form of action." 
-Auguste Rodin
And I am patiently waiting for my tongue to go back to normal.  UGH!  No more pineapple this week!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

BEABA Tray Review

OK, you have probably noticed these:
on my blog during April.  We have 2, 1 orange and 1 purple.  Rosie calls this her flower tray and she loves it.  John Paul calls it his 'fruit tray', and he loves it, too!

These are by a company called BEABA, and they are originally designed as baby food freezer trays.  They are made of a flexible silicone so you freeze the portions in there and then you can pop them out into a bag or glass jar to save room in the freezer.  We also discovered they make awesome popsicle molds!

(I plan to have dozens of all-fruit popsicles frozen and popped into freezer bags for snacking when the baby arrives.  Easy to make and easy to eat.  These trays will help speed up the process.  And the popsicles they make are not too large for a little guy, and a big guy can just eat 2!)

The lid is very secure and watertight, so if I put ranch or hummus in one well, it stays put if we take these in the car or to the park.  A toothpick is just perfect for picking up the little bits of food in each well, and Rose, my pickiest eater, is willing to eat a portion of food she doesn't "like" if it comes out of this tray, with a toothpick!

Lid on!  It snaps tightly, but little ones can pop it off just fine.

I highly recommend it as a bento box for toddlers/ preschoolers because it holds a reasonable amount of food and it is a soft material that stays put (as in, the silicone grips the table so it doesn't get knocked off easily).

Beaba also makes this nifty little device:
which is made for formula... BUT it makes a SUPER 3-decker snack pod for the purse or diaper bag.  Perfect for three kids needing tided over in a waiting room or such.  It holds a fair amount of granola or fruit in each pod, and I've been enjoying it a lot.  It is nicer than a baggie as food doesn't get smashed, and I don't lose 1 kid's snack in the black, bottomless hole of my bag.

(I will come back tomorrow, er... sometime, and link these to Amazon for you, but Amazon's linking is broken right now.)

"Experience has taught me this, that we undo ourselves by impatience.  Misfortunes have their life and their limits, their sickness and their health." 
-Michel de Montaigne