Two-thirds of my kids are picky eaters. Our nearly-off-the-charts-one-year-old would probably eat a phone book if we had one. My five and seven-year-old would rather eat noodles, bread, sugary stuff, snack foods, dry cereal, and some berries every day. Dinner time is interesting in our house, but it’s also fun because whenever possible we sit at the table together.There’s typically a lot of bargaining at the table which can turn fun into stress. Lots of if/then statements are made by my husband in generally thwarted attempts to get these two to try new foods. Meanwhile baby in the highchair is the only one scarfing down a warm meal.
I start to think the older kids’ palates are developing and then, wham, back to the nuggets. Don’t judge. I occasionally offer veggie nuggets which they don’t realize are not made of poultry, and I try to offer healthy options (or “healthful” if your name is Rachael Ray), but those options are sometimes quickly exhausted and so am I. Maybe I’m giving myself a bad rap as I have been known to hastily throw in the mommy towel after a long day, but... I know, I know…Yes, I’ve read Jessica Seinfeld’s sneaky cookbook and even tried some sneaky recipes, but my kids are good detectives.
Tonight my son asked me for a tortilla as I was whipping up some chicken enchiladas, one of dear hubby’s favorite meals that our kids balk at and make “BLEH” faces when they look at them. Apparently my enchiladas are stuffed with “icky stuff” like rotisserie chicken, chilies, sauce, and “ewww – cheese” (Really, kids?! Come on! Cheese is glorious). Anyway, I let him enjoy a plain tortilla (gross) as I finished making our dinners.
I hear,”Hey, Mommy, look! Mom! It’s a tortilla snowflake.”
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As creative as it was I couldn’t say, “Son, don’t play with your food.” I am a firm believer that squelching activity that sparks creativity in kids is a no-no (unless they’re harming themselves or someone else, of course; in that case I think a pleasantly raised voice is key – pronto!). Instead of putting the kibosh on his gnawing of the tortilla I took a picture of it, because naturally he asked me to, and in this day and age we photograph everything. Don’t we, folks, especially our food, right?
I wish his food choices would be as creative as his food art, but I know in time that will come. I know this, because I recall what I was like as a kid. I would pick hamburger out of things, put butter on everything like a mini Paula Deen, hid veggies under the rim of my plate like my big brother had taught me to, etc. I also recall what my sheltered palate was like before I graduated from microwaved Ramen noodle college, married a man with an adventurously spicy palate, traveled and finally sampled food from places other than the southeastern United States, and became addicted to The Food Network.
My son does eat things kids typically don’t eat, but things that we don’t keep stocked in our home like crab legs. He has champagne taste I guess when it comes to some food. My daughter would eat noodles with “Papa John cheese” (a.k.a. parmesan cheese – it’s just too cute to correct just yet) for every meal if we allowed it, but we do not. I know waiting for their palates to develop won’t be like flipping a light switch, but as they grow, accept challenges, and have senses that also mature (like taste buds and sense of smell), I assume they will in fact try enchiladas and what not and maybe actually dig them. I also know that I am in no rush for the flipping of the light switch to happen, because that will mean they’re no longer little and lately part of me just wants to freeze time and make tortilla snowflakes.