Monday, May 25, 2015

French Kids Eat Everything

Last autumn a friend of mine posted on Facebook that he was looking for people, parents in particular, who were willing to read Karen Le Billon's books about getting your kids to eat & have a healthy attitude about doing so. Not just to "eat" but to eat things that are GOOD for you; that have layers of tastes & textures. Having a well-rounded palette and not being expected to be catered to.

Hi, my name is Carrie and I have two small children. ONE who is particularly challenging when it comes to eating anything other than "Creamy Macaroni" or frozen nuggets & fries. *sigh* The other one isn't far from that mark either but at least gives an effort and occasionally finds something new that he loves.

YES! I want to take this challenge. I want to read these books, implement ideas, try new things, blog about it - perhaps correspond with the author? Sure! Sign me up.

And then...the holidays.

And then....randomly, suddenly and unexpectedly we bought a new house.

And then....we had to move and pack and then unpack and GAH!!!!!!

And now...

Now is the time.

I've read a few articles about getting kids to eat lately - what to DO what not to DO blah blah blah. The internet is basically a place where you can find supporting evidence for whatever side you are on of any specific topic.  Crowdsourcing via social media helps sometimes (the online version of a parental support group at times) but I was/am interested in trying some things that WORK by someone who has written, studied and thought a lot about it. Oh and applied it too. That matters.

I will not deny that I am a "picky" eater. I have issues with texture; my stomach (& tastebuds) don't really care for hot & spicy things; I have never been a huge fan of sauces or dressings. As I have become a parent over the past 7 1/2 years, I realize though that I want to be more adventurous with foods. I want to teach my children to eat a healthy variety of foods. And while I'd love to say - sure that bowl of Doritos being washed down by a Diet Coke (my total addiction - something to work on) is FINE! I know that it is not. I know that food is the answer to so many of the problems in our current society. Food is medicine. Food is life. Food is fun. Food is entertainment. Food is....I could go on and on.  I did not eat (& like) a tomato until I was IN MY THIRTIES for crying out loud. I know now that my parents weren't trying to torture me by making me try different foods, but rather they likely wanted me to enjoy them as much as they did! (although the liver thing? I can never get past that...).  When our daughter Dahlia was born, I promised my husband that I would not influence her in a negative way about foods. Even if it is green peppers which is clearly the work of satan. Dahlia adores green peppers (much to my chagrin) and I am pretty darn proud of that. I have even eating a few green peppers over the years. Shocking.

Tonight....ugh....tonight. I have been trying to pepper our weekly meal plans with a variety of foods - different cultures; meat vs. no meat; new recipes or old ones; crock pot, baked or get the idea. I want there to be "fall-back on" favorites but I want there to be new stuff too. Plus I work at the library and the lure of cookbooks cannot be denied.

So, I made Beef and Bean Taquitos tonight! They are from Beth Moncel's "Budget Bytes" - she is also the author of the blog by the same name.  I have been reading her cookbook all weekend and enjoying the idea of eating whole foods while stretching your food budget. In fact there are several recipes from her book on this week's meal plan.

These taquitos are pretty basic - beef, black beans, a few spices. Corn tortillas, rolled up. Boom.  I thought it would be a good "different" sort of fun version of a taco for my kids.


First, let me say that I think my kids were drunk on high-fructose-corn-syrup from being at their Grandparents for an overnight last night. Holy crap. Talk about belligerent, small-obnoxious people. Wow. I don't mind the giggling, but the spitting of food, tooting and mouth bubbles get to be a bit much. At the first sign of this behavior I should've just declared it a popcorn and grapes night, popped in a movie and poured myself a glass of wine. BUT NO - I had to cook a new recipe.

For my money, the recipe was lacking. I would've added some crushed tomatoes in with the meat and some cumin into the spices. Or at least some cheese.  Well, whatever. My first time making taquitos. I was proud of myself and I thought they were good (served with fresh lettuce, tomato, cheese & greek yogurt (in place of sour cream)).  But August only nibbled the crispy edges and he and Dahlia both ate copious amounts of watermelon.

When dinner was over (ie: when Steve and I finished) Dahlia asked if she could have a healthy dessert. I informed her that she just ate half a watermelon and was still jacked up on HFCS so she was probably good. Tantrum #1. Of course I AM NOT FAIR AND THIS IS THE WORST NIGHT OF HER LIFE. "Can't I even have yogurt??" No, you licked the bowl clean and didn't even use it on your taquito...I think you're good.

She stormed off, laid down on the carpet and carried on with a tantrum of epic proportions. I knew she was tired. I knew her system was off after a weekend of Grandparents (3 sets!) and friends. I let her fume. I let Steve go after her. I let her fume some more. I let her beg me for yogurt. I refused.

I felt sort of terrible, but at the same time....COME ON - eat the food given to you. I will not become a short-order cook. I will not always provide you with a peanut butter & jelly sandwich. I will not bow down to YOU.

Damn, it was hard.

We were reading and she kept freaking out about being "....SO HUNGRY I'M GOING TO DIE. I AM NOT GOING TO MAKE IT UNTIL MORNING.....WAAAAAAAAAAAAAH." Huge dramatics. I tried to explain to her that this is it. From now on, you eat (or at least try!) what's given to you. I'm not going to give in to her demands any more. Try try the very least. I promise to always have something on the table that you love. Something healthy and plentiful.....but you must try!

I think she was stunned. I think Steve was stunned too...."but what if she is really hungry...?" I said, I'm sure she is but she has to learn to eat what is presented, not what she wants all the time. She's seven for crying out loud!

Eventually I calmed her enough (lots of cuddling and soothing speech going on) and told her that if she was truly starving in 30 minutes she could come into the kitchen and I would give her something to eat. I knew that she would be asleep in about 30 seconds but she readily agreed.

That was 2 1/2 hours ago.

I did it. I stayed strong.

I don't want to be a jerk about this food thing because I KNOW how horrible it is to be forced into eating something that you truly don't like. I get that some people don't like certain things (ie: me + cilantro - NASTY....or me + the texture of raw onions = vomitous!) and I will not push this to cruelty - but we need to start being ore open minded. (myself included)

Now, I need to read this book. This is important for my sanity and for our family.

More culinary adventures tomorrow...oh no, wait. I have dinner plans. Heh. Popcorn and grapes for the kiddos then?


DD4 said...

I was so happy to see you had blogged again. Thank you! This new post is very honest, and interesting. It was so long ago that I had little kids living with me, but I can relate. Also, I found it fun that you and I have very similar dislikes when it comes to food. Could it be from the town in which we were raised? I don't know.

carrster said...

Maybe, Donna!! Although my Mom likes them....hmmm.....

And just so you all know - Dahlia MADE it through the night! She did not die of starvation. In fact, she didn't even mention the drama last night....