Thursday, March 29, 2012

My Kids Will Eat Anything

This child is terrifying.
I once made the mistake of telling our friend the Yenta that my kids will eat anything. Being a newlywed who is not a mom yet, she thought that meant they ate a balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables and whole grains and other crap like that. I had to correct her. I was like: "Yenta, when I said they'll eat anything, I meant that literally. Yesterday Mini ate a rock she found on my neighbor's driveway."

But you know what? She still asked me to write a post for her about how to coerce adorable small people into eating food that is healthy for them. And here it is:

Do you have any questions for the Yenta for her next foodie post for us? I for one, want some recipes for Spring and Summer that are crock potty. I love my Crock but feel like I only use it in the winter. I also want to know about eggplant. Why does it always make my mouth feel stingy? I love it so much but it doesn't seem to love me back. Is that normal? Or is my eggplant just being dickish?

One more thing, our darling Yenta has been nominated as one of the top food blogs by our buddies at Babble. Would you mind talking a minute to vote for her? Just click here (she's #386 if you search alphabetically). I tried to use my influence over there to get them to just go ahead and pick her and they were like: "There are rules, jackass."*

*They didn't actually say that but I'm pretty sure they were thinking it.

xo, Lydia

(c)Herding Turtles, Inc. 2009 - 2011

53 comments:

  1. Eggplant is a whore. That is all.

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    1. I just almost spit my coffee all over my desk! LOVE IT!

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  2. Had the "pleasure" of a persnickety grandchild. Took her to the local farmer's market and let her pick out something new to try each visit. The only rule was: She picks it, she eats it (or at least tasted it before going Yewwwwww). I'll be she's one of the few youngsters who actually likes brussels spouts!

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  3. I'd love some good one-dish recipes that can be popped in the oven directly from the freezer. So when I realize that I have no ingredients for the meal I had planned, and nothing defrosted, and the kids are climbing my legs and the curtains, I can just pull one of my emergency frozen casseroles out and stick it in the oven and forget about it until the table is set for dinner.

    And then I'll have something new to make for new-baby families, too.

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  4. My kids really will eat anything, including things like seaweed, fermented soy beans, and broccoli! Lots and lots of broccoli! One of the benefits of multicultural living.

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    1. My daughter is like that too... I can barely get her to eat meat but she'll eat any vegetable set before her! And she loves daikon pickles... well, any pickles...

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    2. I have a 5 year old who loves his broccoli as well - plus just about every veggie we put in front of him. He also tries everything at least twice and loves his pickles as well. He even eats meat. I have no idea what I did to get a kid who loves food, but I'm not complaining!

      As for the eggplant, I always make darn sure I soak it in salt water for at least an hour before I cook it. Then I pat it dry and ready it for cooking.

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  5. Maybe if she could tell us about some healthy but yummy snacks. As in recipes for cookies that are not too unhealthy, not as in carrot sticks.

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    1. Yes! Definitely could use some healthy yummy snack recipes! I do have one for copies, but don't think it's the app place to share. Maybe we can all contribute to a "RantsFromMommyLand" Cookbook! THAT would be cool!

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    2. This isn't really a healthy recipe, just a healthy tip. You can substitute avocado for butter in cookie recipes to replace the unhealthy fat with "healthy" fat. I've tried it with my usual oatmeal-raisin cookie recipe with great success. They don't spread as much, and have a little darker/different color than when made with butter, but taste just the same! never tried it with chocolate chip or any others.

      You can also replace some or all of the oil in a quick bread or cake recipe with unsweetened applesauce.

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  6. i love eggplant,but it can be a picky lover. That stingy feeling means you have a mild allergic reaction to it. Strawberries do the same to me, so ihad to kick them to the curb. just remember that when a food back talks to you remind it your the crazy BI*#@ with the knife. xoxoxoxo

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  7. http://www.slowcookerfromscratch.com/

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  8. My son is AWFUL I am a former chef, we have a garden, I made his babyfood, he eats like CRAP. I offer him organic waffles with organic maple syrup and strawberries and he says NOPE. Basically I went from My Baby Shall Only Eat Homemade Organic Well Balanced Meals made by ME to please eat ANYTHING. I have even fed him Cheetos and felt nothing but happy that he was eating something. I have tried everything. Home made banana gelato, blueberry jello, banana bread with marscapone, soups, stews, Mexican, Italian, American, German, you name it. it's been both lovingly prepared and refused.

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    1. You could come cook for me and my family! Though my youngest is a total starchitarian.

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    2. I <3 "starchitarian"!

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  9. I have a strict "eat it or starve" policy. My kids eat everything...they have no other choice.

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    1. This is the best policy. Kids need to learn that you are the mom, you are feeding them good food that will help them grow up healthy, and if they don't eat it there is NOTHING until breakfast. An accompanying policy is "once you leave the table you are done sorry buster" policy. Once they get this down there is less squirming. You know . . . ideally. ;)

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    2. these are our basic policies, too. we also have a no dinner/no dessert policy. it's amazing to see our little peeps swear up and down they don't care for *insert whatever is for dinner* and then pop it happily and quickly in their mouths when they find out there's pie and ice cream for dessert.

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    3. Our rule isn't just that they get nothing until breakfast... it's that whatever they didn't finish for dinner IS their breakfast. Nothing makes them finish up that lasagna faster than being told they can't have their Kix or Cheerios in the morning. >:]

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    4. We started trying this too. Turns out they don't need as many calories as we think they do as they continually choose "starve"

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    5. As long as I can remember, my parents had that rule too - eat, starve or make yourself a PB sammie. Conveniently, we were often "out of bread" - leaving us lazy children w/no other option but to eat what was made...Maude forbid we starve ;) Mom's rules do not apply to yer grandchildren - she does daycare for us all and she's like a short order cook. But at my house, it's the ol' "eat it, starve, or make it yourself" rule. My kids are as lazy as I am - so they usually eat what was made. And have actually requested I make dishes that they didn't even want to try. I feel lucky that I don't have to hide veggies etc - they'll eat them! (Even eggplant, zucchini, squash, etc). Oddly enough, they will not eat potatoes, unless it's in fry/chip form...but are otherwise "starchitarian" as well. They'll eat anything mixed w/noodles and cheese ;)

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    6. My cousin's son frequently chooses to skip dinner & go to bed! He's 4, and getting better, but between 2 & 3 he would just cram food into his mouth & then not swallow it. They finally said, "eat it or spit it out & go to bed." He still gets the choice & his parents don't have to be the bad guys. Sometimes he just chooses early bed time!

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  10. I would also love some crockpot meals for Spring/Summer. We have crazy busy schedules and that would totally make me super happy. :)

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  11. The stinging could also be the acidity in the eggplant. If you soak the cubes or slices in salt water, it will neutralize the stingy.
    I'd love some yummy summer make ahead recipes, especially for the cocky pot.
    Thank you for all the laughs!

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  12. My 5-year-old kid seems only to want to eat things like seaweed or tuna sushi or wild-caught salmon. Peanut butter and milk are a struggle, but we need to save money for the rest of us to eat, right?

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  13. I agree with mayasmiles about the acidity in the eggplant. I was taught to slice it in circles about an inch thick, then lay them out on the cuttingboard and sprinkle salt (generously, so you can SEE the coating of salt) over each slice. Let sit for several minutes, and you'll see a brown ooze start leaking out! I've never timed how long I let them sit, as I do other prep work during that time (or referee screaming children), but after a bit you rinse them under cold running water. I was taught to then turn them over and do the other side, but I usually don't. I don't add any salt to the recipe, either! Eggplant usually comes out sweet tasting with no stinging.

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    1. I just make a heavy salt water bath and let them sit for at least an hour, then pat dry and cook.

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  14. Getting my stepson to help me make dinner was amazing! I cringed when I realized he would know that I put carrots in the pasta sauce, but he loved it. "You mean you put carrots in spaghettis? That's so cool! That way I don't taste the yuck, but still get the vitamins!" (he's so smart! haha) It also gave us good quality bonding time every day!

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    1. That works here too. I have the "Deceptively Delicious" cookbook for sneaking veggies into things, but I don't have to be sneaky about it. I leave it up to my picky eater to pick a receipe. He chooses, we make together, he usually enjoys!!! Broccoli chicken nuggets, pumpkin French toast, and avocado chocolate pudding are some of our faves.

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    2. I have "Deceptively Delicious" too but the this is, cooked veggies develop nitrates, so it's actually not that good to precook and store em like she suggests.

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    3. Gah, really?! I had no idea; I'm so careful not to buy nitrated meats... I guess it's good that I'm not organized enough to prepare stuff ahead (lol!). Good to know for future, though! Thanks

      It also makes me wonder about picky man's distain for nearly all cooked veggies, he's ok if they're raw, but not cooked. Always figured it as a texture thing...

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  15. Alida L. - I would love to hear more about your "eat it or starve" policy! We are trying that for kids 5 and 4 and it is NOT working. Very frustrated. And I am tired of being a short order cook! Thanks!

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    1. We have started a modified "eat it or starve" policy with my 5.5 year old. My problem is that I know if she doesn't eat anything for supper (and she is stubborn enough at times not to) I will be the one dealing with horrible over hungry behaviour later. She can either eat what I have cooked (assuming it is reasonable something she "should" like) or have something else that I choose that I do NOT have too cook. PB&J, cheese and crackers, etc. She didn't like the stuffed shells I made the other night (they had a bit of spinach in them). She had to have one (they were small) and then she could have a bowl of healthy cereal (not the fruit loops we also have in the cupboard, but the rice crispies or raisin bran). I used to make two meals, one for me and hubby and one for the kids. No more. Cereal and milk is healthy! Hope that helps!
      Heather

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    2. We also do a "it's okay if you're not hungry to finish dinner, but no cookies, treats, snacks, (etc) if you don't." They usually opt to finish dinner. I make a balanced meal for dinners, ya know, a veggie, a starch, a protein... I try to make certain there is one "sure thing" that they *do* like. They have to have at least one bite of everything. They may make a meal of broccoli one night and scoff at the pork chops- but then the next day they'll chow down on the steak & turn their nose up at the asparagus. I figure at least they'rebeing exposed to everything & eventually it'll even out. They're always on board with crispy fried potatoes or pasta. Of course if Thing 1 likes something, Thing 2 won't (and vice versa) - so it makes for some creative planning- but they're both pretty good eaters & they know the rules.

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  16. I would love to know how to cook those crazy "other" grains like Bulgur and Millet -- I have heard that kids will eat them and love them like rice or pasta but they are intimidating as hell. But apparently chalk full of good for you stuff... unlike the crackers or cheese puffs I give my Little One just to see some form of substantive carbohydrate go into her stomach that will (if God is kind and He loves me) keep her full long enough to help her sleep through the night!

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    1. Try some of the "boxed sides" in the natural foods section for starters to see if you like them... usually the grains will come with cooking directions on the package... I cook a lot of strange grain dishes and my monkey has always loved them

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  17. Before I had kids, (I worked with them) I had a strict try what is served rule. Kids will not starve themselves right? Then the power of mommy guilt kicked in with my first born, and she happens to be really small for her age. (I would really like to thank the way the evil nurse worded it at her 3 year check up, that she had "fallen off the chart." While giving me absolutely no advice or anything to do about it.) Bring on extra fries, chips, butter...yeah that lead to problems too...I just keep telling myself picky is a stage--She used to eat whole yellow bell peppers like others eat apples--and it will pass and let her indulge in her favorites once in a while, while still offering variety.

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  18. My favourite "one dish" (?sort of?) freezer meal is "Pizza Casserole". Make spaghetti sauce (brown ground beef, onion, garlic, mushrooms, peppers, etc....whatever you like). Add a can of Tomatoes (diced, seasoned..less work), and a can/jar of spaghetti sauce. Let simmer. In the mean time, boil noodles....elbow, spiral, penne, small shells...something short works best (about a pound). Combine the sp. sauce, noodles and add about a lb of pepperoni, chopped up. Add some mozzerella to the dish and save some for on top (about 1-1.5 lbs total...more if you like). I generally split it into two 8x8 pans...one for now and one for the freezer. It freezes great like this and bake it later (350 for about 1+ hour). Bake the fresh one at 350 until bubbly...30 min? A GREAT freezer meal and my kids (who are fairly picky) LOVE it!
    Slow cooker mac and cheese or chicken in mushroom soup or just a broth. Great for the week for reinventing into different meals!
    Crock Potty...so funny! ha!
    Heather

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  19. My son got picky when he was in about Grade 3 or so. He was a great eater before that but then he would get to school or have a jerky little friend over who would comment on what he was eating. To be cool, or whatever you do when you are in Gr. 3, he stopped eating the good stuff. I decided "enough of this crap" and handed him a basic cookbook and told him he was going to start cooking once a week. He could pick a recipe, anyone, and I would shop with him and help him prep. It started off exactly as you would think it would...PAINFUL...but within a couple of months he was pretty impressed with himself and loved the positive comments he got from his family. He's now 21 years old and is an amazing cook. I am not saying every little Gr 3 person will become an amazing cook but it was a good way to get him to see what he could create with all the wonderful fresh foods out there. Now I totally use this to my advantage when he comes home to visit...Son:"hey mom what are you cooking tonight?"...Me: "oh I was just going to fry up these chicken breasts and maybe pop on some rice" (I love cooking and would never do that to chicken breasts but I have an evil plan). Son: "what!! You can't do that with those beautiful breasts (snigger)"...he then proceeds to take over and use all the "handy" fresh herbs I just happen to have in the fridge and cooks an amazing meal for us. Trickery, bribery and deceit works on them even when they are 21!! Anyhow, long story short, but by involving him and making him part of the process, I was able to get him interested in food again and he ate great, healthy stuff from Gr 3 on. (And the odds of getting him married off to a nice girl and out of my basement, go up exponentially when he can impress her with a wonderful meal)!!

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    1. (And the odds of getting him married off to a nice girl and out of my basement, go up exponentially when he can impress her with a wonderful meal)

      LOL!! Did you teach him to clean up the mess he makes while cooking too? THAT'S the kicker!

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  20. In one of his "Good Eats" books, TV cook Alton Brown says that he's gotten his daughter to eat a huge variety of foods by simply telling her that she cannot have any. It worked for me! I took it a little farther, but then, I can be a good actress.

    I'll sit down with a plate or bowl of whatever thing I would love for my kid to eat - the last thing was shrimp bisque. I inhaled the fumes wafting from the bowl and smiled and was all, "Mmm, I can't *wait* to eat my soup!" Younger daughter stood next to me and said, "Can I have a bite?" I replied, "Eh, I don't know if you'll like it, so I'm just gonna eat my lunch now, 'kay?" She was a little indignant-like, and said, "But it smells really good, I think I *will* like it, Mama!" I took my time "deciding", waited till she got just a wee bit antsy and finally said, "Okay, you can try some." She took a spoonful and her face transformed, "That's the best soup in the history of ever, Mama!"

    I gave her the rest of that bowl and got some more for myself out of the fridge. Touchdown!

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  21. Thank you, thank you for this post. We also have an "eat it or starve" policy in our house. If it is something reasonable, our daughter would normally eat, we put the plate of food in front of her. She has until we finish to eat. If she chooses not to start eating by then, usually a half hour or so. It is then removed and she is removed from the table. If it is a new food, we talk about the food and we ask that she take one bite. She is three. This has worked well for us and she eats extremely well.

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  22. My older kids are decent eaters, but the baby is suuuuper picky. This morning I had to feed her Lil Smokies sausages (gagggg) and strung cheese for breakfast, for fear she'd starve otherwise. Eh, she has plenty of time to get nutrition. And a triple bypass.

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  23. They certainly will eat anything.

    How 'bout slurpees, macdonald's, pizza hut, pepsi, jack in the box, taco bell, and all the frozen fast "food" that is shoveled into them to substitute for dinner.

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  24. I think I got lucky. I do not have picky kids at all. My kids eat sushi (the raw fish kind) and homemade baked beans and steamed cabbage and broccoli and whole oatmeal and plain greek yogurt etc etc. But they are both under 6 and neither are in school yet, so my theory is that they will eat healthy stuff because the crap isn't on they radar. We don't keep anything processed in our house at all. Not breakfast cereal or fruit juice, not yogurt cups or fishy crackers, not cheese strings or granola bars. I take them grocery shopping with me every week and whenever they ask for anything processed or marketed for kids the answer is "Nope, that's yucky." They probably don't believe me, but so far we haven't had any tantrums over it. Processed stuff is easy and that's why parents and kids like it, but I know for myself that when it's in our house (on rare occasions) or when it turns up at playgroups, it's all they will eat and all the normally whole and healthy food they get is ignored. The other stuff is easier and more fun. One thing I do is make their lunches and snacks LOOK fun. It's all about packaging. If I stuff a ton of fresh veggies in a little cloth baggie with stars on it, they think it's special and munch away on it while we're on the bus or out with the stroller. Or I take them out for sushi once a week and they get to order. It probably won't last, but it's working at the moment. One thing we have never figured out how to do is make them stay at the table at dinner time. Whether they like what's for dinner or not, getting them to stay at the table and finish has always been a battle.

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  25. Dude, I think you're allergic to eggplant.

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  26. That stingy feeling is the same I get to avocado. I still love it tho. But "Litza's Musings" is right, you should salt the eggplant like she says, let them sit for a half hour, wash them, brush them with oil and bake them @ 400 degrees for a half hour. EGGcellent!!! Great recipe: http://www.livingwellspendingless.com/2011/06/25/stockpile-meals-roasted-eggplant-flatbread-sandwich/

    Great crock pottiness: http://crockpot365.blogspot.com/ <--she is THE EXPERT!!! I crock pot all summer now cuz it doesn't heat up my kitchen and it's not all soups!

    And my daughter is strange: she's two and doesn't know that you're not supposed to like beans, avocados, carrots, broccoli, brussels sprouts, oatmeal and meat. She eats alot of things, but she's so allergic to eggs, soy, dairy, peanut, tree nut, and sesame, that it might be a self-preservation mechanism. Alot of those easy, processed foods other kids get to eat on a regular basis, would mean sickness to her. So a frequent phrase heard around our house is, "That'll make you sick, honey."

    I <3 "starchitarian", too.

    I am all about a "RantsFromMommyLand" Cookbook!!! EVEN YESSER!!! In fact, it is the YESEST!

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  27. I think exposing kids to not only different foods, but the cultures that go along with them helps. At least for mine, the environment in which they eat is just as important to them as what they are eating. We are currently living in Okinawa, Japan. And as a result of exposing my kids to the culture, my 5 year old will as to go to the sushi-go-round if you give him a choice of where to eat, and my 2 year old tries to drag me into every soba shop she sees (It does help that my son has big blues eyes that he looks at all the girls with as he says "Konnichiwa" or that my daughter is blond haired and blue-eyed..... The locals here just eat them up, steal them away, and bring them back with some random Japanese snack all the time......). When I ask them to eat a new veggie, I try to take them out to the farm where it grows, so they can pick it and try it (You would be amazed at how many small farmers LOVE to have kids come and do this, they take a great pride in sharing their knowledge with little minds). I also try to go to ethnic restaurants where the food is cooked and served by people from the same country (We have a few places here, Chinese, Indian, and Thai that are owned and operated by people from the originating country, and the kids have to say please and thank you in the host language when we go), when they are completely surrounded by the culture, getting them to eat the food is never and issue.

    Getting to eat the same food at home is a bit more of a struggle, but when I remind them of this trip or that place..... they sudden;y seem to remember how much they liked this or that food, and gobble it up :)

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  28. Could The Yenta maybe do some recipes about garden veggies? I really want to put in a garden this year, and it's an awesome trick that makes my kids eat veggies if they grow them - but I really don't know what to do with zucchini, garden beans, cucumbers, artichokes, etc. and if my tomatoes grow like crazy like last year, I'm gonna need some new tricks for those...

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  29. One night my girls & I were having dinner at a friend's house. When dinner (a casserole) was served, my daughters looked at it, horrified. Luckily my friend's youngest daughter looked at them and told them "If it looks yucky, it probably tastes really good!" so they tried it and then made me learn how to make it because it was their new favorite dinner.

    Unfortunately, such an observation usually only works when coming from another child. But, feel free to try it!

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