It is challenging to satisfy young appetites. Why can’t kids’ eat what adults eat? I don’t want to make separate meals anymore! As parents, we struggle to present one meal without food waste. We get frustrated, give up and resort to American’s version of kid-friendly meals.
My husband will tell you that I can bring any food assembly line to a screeching halt by ordering outside the menu! Overall I have adopted strategies to order adult meals with extra sides of rice, beans and fruit to split between my kids. I just want my kids to try new things and eat healthier!
A pediatrician once advised me that it’s not how much kids eat, but what they eat that counts. My son had to overcome extreme failure to thrive during his first year of life. After hiring a nutritionist, I learned how to pack nutrients into recipes. Baby formula became rocket fuel. Recipe enhancements included apple-carrot muffins or zucchini-banana pancakes.
I began this journey with a basic wish list of proteins, starches, grains, vegetables and fruits that made sense for our family. My goal was to get a handle on grocery shopping, minimize food waste and make regular meals. I add new twists, different sauces and new side dishes along the way. For example, white sweet potato and a golden apple would be simmered and mashed together with Yukon gold potatoes.
Now my kids are encouraged to get involved in the cooking process which gives them a sense of pride. Some days, I’d rather fling our stepping stool off the back deck and kick them out of the kitchen. I do belly breaths, silently count to ten and remind myself that family craziness will get quieter as time passes.
My theory is that everyone should taste a little bite of everything. Food waste is a factor, so I make less and continually reinvent left overs. A red pepper is served fresh with hummus, then grilled with olive oil or later chopped into rice. It took over thirty presentations of broccoli before all my kids would eat it! I steamed, sautéed, and even pureed broccoli into a variety of recipes!
Satisfying five appetites is hard work and frustrating. I’m not saying that there isn’t a time for boxed mac ‘n cheese, but I try real hard to make better food. My style is not to withhold or force food, but limit my kids to healthy alternatives. If my child refuses a meal, one tactic is to provide plain cereal or fruit as their only alternatives.
So this is my journey. To bring family and friends together at mealtime in a healthy, balanced manner!