the international language of love

In ALL, FOOD LOVE by Stephanie Klein50 Comments

410ecxccj8l_aa280_ I feed my children sushi. Not raw fish, mind you, but a California roll never hurt anyone. And it certainly won’t hurt mashed into itty bitty bite sized beads of sustenance accompanied by edamame. They eat smoked salmon, chilean sea bass (only off my own plate), and tilapia. They’ve had curry, now, twice. Seem to live for Saag Paneer (but don’t we all, though). Had coconut soup, some "grilled cheese muffins," and caviar on New Year’s. Today I offered them some of my sandwich: toasted rosemary bread, dijon mustard, Shallots Confit (seriously, aside from lemon curd, this is the best thing ever found in a jar), with heated pastrami and havarti cheese. While they stick to oatmeal and p-fruits (pears, plums, peaches, excluding pomegranates and prickly pear) for breakfast, when it comes to lunch, I try to take them from Italy to Istanbul. The problem?

My children have garlic breath, and it’s disgusting. We keep feeding them hummus because it’s so good for them, packs in protein, calories, veggies, all in a single tablespoon. They eat garlic portabella burgers. They don’t make the non-garlic type, so I’m out of luck there. While they love to eat all the veggie burgers and boca burgers and veggie booty I thrust on them, what I really need to do is get them to eat parsley for better breath, ready them for kissing and all that goes with the international language of love, including croissant. I don’t make them separate meals and believe they should always eat what we eat. We don’t eat hotdogs or bologna, so neither will they. We do, however, grill cherry chicken sausage and bratwurst. I know at a certain age they’ll be corrupted, that they’ll fuss and only want chicken nuggets or some such thing. Though, I’m not certain when this actually happens. When do kids refuse anything aside from grilled cheese, fries, nuggets, pb&j, and pizza? I’m going to be ready for it, with my sneaky purees, because food is my language of love.

In the coming days, I hope to have a little tasting with them. I want to present them with different tastes and see which they favor. Salty, Sweet, Sour, Crunchy, Smooth, (and fat). Fat is actually a taste. It has its own silky texture, and people crave it. Sour is under appreciated in this country. It’s why I offer them thai food and grapefruit. And you can bet, I’ll be giving them small tastes of Confit of Figs and Balsamic Vinegar (so good served with cheese, but also incredible with a roasted beet napolean, where you layer the condiment with sliced beets, then shower with minced pistachio nuts and a touch of fresh mint. Yum.)

Comments

  1. Ooooh girl….get ready for it. Its coming. My son is 16 months old, and like your beans – ate everything we put in front of him. Then out of nowhere he looks at me like i have 3 heads when I try to feed him something other then…you guessed it – chicken nuggets, hot dogs (we do the turkey ones…much better for him!) and the like. But like you, i have learned that you have to be sneaky with purees. Let us know when they start food rejecting….cuz i'll be interested in hearing about your tricky new recipes!!! GL!

    FROM SK: I have both The Sneaky Chef by Lepine and Deceptively Delicious by Sinefeld, and I've already made the grilled cheese muffins, which they love (hid away zucchini, carrots, sweet potatoes, and wheat germ). I made them mini sized, though, as if I were making brownie bites.

  2. Sorry if this double posts. I spazzed on the keyboard.

    Baby garlic breath = cute. Stinky but cute.

    My daughter was happy with whatever was put in front of her till about 2.5 years. Chinese, Indian, seafood, etc. My guess is that the start of preschool and birthday parties started her downhill slide to pizza/chicken nuggets/grilled cheese/pasta w/red sauce and NOTHING ELSE. EVER.

    She's 19. She eats about a dozen things. "It's easy to figure out, Mom. Ask yourself 'would a 5 year old eat it?' If the answer's yes, cook it up." Fortunately, she now at college and her eating habits are dining services' problem, not mine.

  3. They don't all crave such things. My daughter is nine and to this day does not like chicken nuggets, PB&J, or soda. She loves Alaskan king crab legs, fillet mignon, and grilled root veggies, asparagus with hollandaise, crab cakes, and bleu cheese topped wedge salad. She ordered her first salad at a restaurant at age three when given a pick of the entire menu. The downside to this upbringing is, she is an expensive dinner companion. She always wants an appetizer, meal and dessert with a "fancy" drink . . . In the regular glass, please, not the kids cup. Ask her where she would like to go for dinner and she'll say, "Trulucks or Eddie V's." My husband and I think this will serve us well when she starts dating. No boy will be able to afford to take her out more than once. I think a lot of kids eat and like what they are fed. If they don't eat fast food in the formative years, they don't crave it later. Just my opinion and experience.

  4. I was fortunate with two boys, now ages 10 & 12, that were never selective eaters. They ate what was in front of them…most of the time.

    I'm a firm believer their eating habits are a direct reflection of the parents. Healthy is as healthy does….. :)

    Just my opinion…..

  5. Can't you just feed them normal kid foods? Are you trying to turn them into social outcasts that they won't be able to relate to other kids. What happens when they get to school and won't know what a peanut butter and jelly sandwich is? You can be pretentious all you want, but don't force your insecurities and faux lifestyle on your children.

    FROM STEPHANIE: It's about broadening their exposure. I'm quite certain by the time they're in school they'll know what a peanut butter and jelly sandwich is. I don't think it's pretentious to expose your children to foods from around the world, nor do I find it pretentious to expose them to different cultures or religions. Given the fact that they're too young to process those types of things now, I'm starting with food.

  6. Supposedly children will eat almost anything up until they begin to walk… it's all part of evolution. Kids that started to walk and venture out of 'the cave' did not put everything into their mouth, thus they survived and passed along this method. I don't know how the brain/body knows to do this, but I guess it's a survival thing that's been passed along the many years.

    My mom has always told me that I loved, loved, loved papaya when I was an infant, but was repulsed once I became a toddler. From then on (for many years) I only wanted bland food.

    I am a huge 'Sour' fan~ just love that taste!

  7. i love this — such great stuff you are feeding them! maybe try making the hummus w/out garlic? i know that sounds sacrilegious, but it could help and they'd still be getting the healthy stuff. or try adding mint to some dishes?

  8. I second Karen's comment – when kids start to walk, their taste buds actually become much more sensitive and they really do find thinks like green veggies and fish "gross" -their tongues can't handle it anymore. That's why neutral, flavor-free ("gross" to us adults) foods are so popular – mac 'n' cheese, plain spaghetti, cheese pizza.

    The one big thing with purees that I find problematic is by being "sneaky" you make it as if the child doesn't need to eat veggies – which doesn't matter when you're adding purees, but when their in school or eating at restaurants, they don't get the benefit of a sneaky mom. And they don't get in the habit of being used to seeing that veggies are a necessary part of a meal. I've read that the most important part of being a sneaky chef is still offering the "real" veggies on the child's plate, even if they don't touch it.

    FROM STEPHANIE: That's a great tip. And yes, we still have them eat old-fashioned broccoli and brussel sprouts. And Abigail has been walking since she was 9 months, so far so good.

  9. Keep up the good work! Don't listen to the negative bashers ahem "Marco". One of the biggest battles I have with my two sons is their eating habits which is the bane of my existance. They are the pickiest eaters. They survive on chicken nuggets, mac & cheese and pizza and french fries. At 4 and 8 I cannot get them to even try a taste of anything new. I am stuck and really sad about their eating habits. Please whatever you do don't give up what you are doing…it's so frustrating to me. I love to cook well-rounded dinners but end up throwing most of it out because they pitch fits and end up going to bed without dinner. It happened last night. And tonite, once again I am giving in and making mac & cheese and chicken nuggets. My husband hates it. My parents snicker about it and my mother-in-law thinks I suck at feeding my kids. I used to sneak veggies in with meatloaf and then they decide they won't eat meatloaf anymore! I've tried everything. I even have the Jessica Seinfeld book. Oh and I tried giving them gummy bear type vitamins that are supposedly filled made with vegetables but they refused to even eat that! I am not looking for advice. Just really want to get my point across that you should ABSOLUTELY continue introducing new flavors and textures to your children.

  10. I grew up eating everything and still do. I think it's great. Soon they'll be ordering their kiddie cocktails with olives instead of cherries. I know, disgusting, but I hate those stupid cherries.

  11. My oldest was the best eater – still very adventurous. At 8 though, she now goes to dinner with her friend's parents and orders octopus salad – not exactly the cheapest part of the menu (new lesson – not ordering expensive food when someone else is paying). Next, my 5 year old – a little pickier but still loves the pad thai and tres leches. I have watched families with the "only eat" kid. My rule is "put the veggie on the plate at every meal" It may take them a while but soon they will get that they have to eat it. They need lots of exposure and if you find something they like, make it a lot! I am not a fan of "hiding" the nutrients. Face the facts here kiddies – you gotta eat it!

  12. i was raised eating all kinds of food, and kept it up – i never grew picky. i have many memories of being a little bean in footy pj's, all ready for bed, and then getting a call from our indian upstairs neighbors, asking if we wanted some leftovers, because they knew how much i loved thier food, and i got to stay up late with the grownups and eat indian food.

    i have also read that many children become picky when they become toddlers, possibly as an evolutionary was of limiting the things they are willing to eat, now that they have access to so much. my bf was a terribly picky eater but that he's a grown up he stays up late and eats spicy food with me, so g-d forbid they become picky, there is hope.

  13. oh no, no, no. On the contrary, Mommy2, in the 70's I grew up with the biggest granola head mother ever. We ate lots of fruits and veggies and home made soups, lean meats and fish, wheat germ sprinkled on everything, table sugar was evil. I was thin and healthy. My mother's one big spurlge was to make Kool Aid with half the sugar and it tasted awful but that is how I grew up drinking it, albeit very rarely. The first time I tasted a Carls Jr. burger around age 7 (in California – don't think they have in TX)I remember thinking it was the most delicious thing I ever put in my mouth. Same thing with McD's FF and candy at birthday parties? sublime! As I got older and made more food descisions on my own, there were always in favor of bad choices – I was chubby by high school and fairly overweight by college. 20 years later, I know how to prepare and eat good food but the bad stuff is a constant temptation and I battle these temptations and my weight constantly. I think there has to be a healthy compromise (there's that word)and everything in moderation.

  14. Our son Lucas will eat almost anything. He's had mussels, dragon fruit, couscous, coconut rice, all kinds of things. I always thought it was important to introduce him to lots of things. He still enjoys all that stuff (tonight we are having shrimp with snow peas), but if I give him the choice between the sushi restaurant that my husband and I love and the McDonalds that is right beside it, he will always choose Chicken McNuggets. =) Good Luck and I hope we are both teaching our kids a life long love of all different types of foods.

    Jenn

  15. Shallots Confit sounds fabulous, did you stumble upon it?
    Have you checked out that cookbook Deceptively Delicious? I'm thinking about what one could hide in Shallot Confit. Scary.

  16. I always say my daughter only likes white foods. She's 6 1/2 and has been this way since she could clearly ask for food. I tell her tales of her baby self gobbling up butternut squash risotto, and how she loved salmon and green beans, but she refuses to believe me.

    My son (5) actually likes more food, but copies his sister in refusing whatever I've cooked.

    I've read that book by Ellen Sattyr about only offering your kids what you are eating, or else they can go hungry, but my kids will literally go hungry, and then it's hell at bedtime.

    Sigh.

  17. Good for you! Stay strong on this food thing. It amazes me what kids eat today – I have one friend whose kid only eats bagels & CC for every meal. Her other – only pancakes and mac & cheese. They are 5 & 8 and I wonder how their little brains will grow! When I was a kid we ate what was put in front of us… out of respect. I know Moms will hate me because I'm a non-Mom so I must not understand. I do know it's an exhausting battle with your kids, so many Mom friends of mine have said, "I just gave up." But I hope parents will look at all these poor kids who are obese because they are carbo and fried food loading and think it might be better to insist they eat their veggies than the other ramifications.

  18. Good for you. I was never a picky eater, but I have so many cousins (that are now grown adults) that still maintain their ridiculous eating habits they had as toddlers. I'm embarrassed for them that they're 20 years old and still prefer chicken fingers to anything else on the menu. I think most people are too indulgent with their children these days, and not just with food. I firmly intend to be a "this is what we're having for dinner, take it or leave it" type of parent. It's really for their own good.

  19. My mother says I went through a white phase where all I ate was pasta bread cheeses and fruit. I see the same thing with my boyfriends daughter. She's four… Taste buds change especially from infant to toddler age. Good luck and keep up what you're doing!!!

  20. I should never read these posts after eating gummy microwaved leftover dumplings from last night's Chinese.

    Are you looking to adopt any grown children? I come law school educated, spunky, red-haired, and with an extensive DVD chick flick collection….

  21. Thank God you are not follwing some silly rule book. All children need to be exposed to things outside of the "norm". For all those that say their kids refuse to eat anything but nuggets, etc??? Who gives it to them! My son is now 27 and was one of those mono-food children for a while. I spoke to my beloved pediatrician who said, he'll eat when he's hungry. Fix his meal and don't make a big deal about it. No kid starved to death with a plate full of food. Amy Li, have strength, follow Stephanie's advice and fix no special meals. They'll eat when they figure out mom is boss, not them.

    Love the exposure. Keep it up

  22. Yup, same here. Mine ate EVERYTHING, and lots of it, but now?
    Hell to the no. Boy wont eat anything other than Chef Boyardee, Kraft MacnCheese, South Beach diet pizzas.
    I think it's great you're exposing them but definitely dont be disappointed if that alllllll changes in another year.
    Marco, I remember you before in other blogs making rude off the wall comments like a jackass waiting to pounce on anything that isn't orthodox. Why the fuck do you care if her kid eats pb&j sandwiches?
    heh.

  23. Here's my two cents' worth: no matter what you do, much of kids' preferences are hard wired and you have to maintain a sense of humor while setting the best example you can. My seven-year-old twins could not have different tastes … one eats nothing but white flour and dairy (he would happily drink milk all day and not bother chewing at all) while his sister loves Indian, Thai, Mexican, sushi and veggies, veggies, veggies. We stumbled upon a great intro to vegetables: the steamed and lightly salted edamame served in Japanese restaurants. They're fun to open and mild-tasting — even my son devours them. It's a start!

  24. Our younger son ate everything…the more exotic the more he liked it. If there was something on the menu he'd never heard of, that's what he'd order. After college he went to the C.I.A. & became a professional chef and of course that adventuresome attitude continues. Our older son was the exact opposite but over the years experienced a maturing of the palate & today is anything but picky.

    On the subject of purees so to speak. Savory souffles work beautifully with kids, particularly salmon.

  25. My sister and I were both brought up eating the same foods, a wide variety of fruits, veggies, meats, etc. However, she is now 18 and one of those people who only eats 4 things: chicken fingers, fries, steak, and rice.

    I, on the other hand, eat a variety of foods, and am constantly trying to get her to try other stuff. She won't eat sushi, thai food, or anything thats not TGI Friday's or Cheesecake Factory. Its a little scary, though, because next year she is going away to college and I want her to have good eating habits, because we all know the Freshman 15 ain't a joke!

    No, seriously, as important as it is for kids to learn to love all kinds of foods, i think its important for them to get proper nutrition, and if for now, the only way of doing it is sneaking it in the form of veggie puree in brownies or mac and cheese, then so be it!

  26. I have to echo what others have said. I, like you, fed my son an abbundant array of food choices–all cuisines, nothing out of limits. I refused to raise a picky eater. He's better than most his age still, but his sense of advneture has come to a halt. It's about textures, colors, what his frineds eat, etc. So while I think it's great to expose them, there's something strange that takes over that makes the chicken nuggets easier (and i buy healthy ones or make my own). But at your stage in the game I would have balked at anyone's suggestion that I couldn't do it differently and raise a child who would enjoy all eating explorations…and I hope you can. I've just known many, many who have tried and failed. While a random mom who relies on hot dogs as a staple gets the kid who's asking for foie gras. I think it's biological to some degree.

  27. In response to DFW, I did say this was my opinion and experience. My daughter has had McDonalds, pizza, grilled cheese, hotdogs, etc, but she prefers steak, veggies and fish. We were not oppressive in her food choices, we simply exposed her to other options at an early age.

  28. I'm with Eleanor on this – kids aren't cats. When they're hungry, they will eat. Good for you, Stephanie, for introducing your children to as many things as possible. As an adult, I will try just about anything food-wise. When I think about the picky children that I know, I try to remember that if they were introduced to a variety of tastes when they were younger, they will be curious about them when they are older.
    I can't tell you how frustrating (or how immature) it is to deal with people who are adults but only eat like children. Grow the hell up.

  29. If you expect your kids to like a wide variety of foods and make food an adventure, and if you don't cater to the stupid notion that kids will only eat mac & cheese or pb&j, they WILL continue to eat almost everything. At eight, my son will eat just about any crazy thing except asparagus. And we are all allowed one dislike, right?

  30. As a toddler I ate everything. My mom has fond memories of me licking out bowls of rice and fish. It all changed at one point (I think I was around 3 years old), my tastebuds changed and I disliked almost everything. It wasn't an act, I still recall my disgust of boiled potatos (I still won't touch them). My parents didn't cave in though, I had to eat what was in front of me, like it or not. So I never had any 'eat only' phases. They wouldn't give it to me, and I wouldn't even dare to ask.
    I loathed eating dinner for oh, 15 years. After which I got a boyfriend and occasionally had dinner with his family, and discovered all these foods I never had and actually loved! (lamchops with lots of garlic, sautéd leek, Greek food,…). There wasn't much variety at home, and I know it's an awful thing to say, but my mom is not a very good cook. When I moved out, I started to teach myself how to cook, and gained 10 kilos (20 pounds I believe) in 3 years, just from finally eating properly. I'm still pleasantly surprised when I discover a new dish I like.

    I'm not trying to diss my parents here, and am actually glad they didn't feed me junk-food as I would've had serious problems by now. I just want to say: never give in to 'phases'. But do try to find out if your kids are putting up an act when they're refusing food, or whether they really dislike it. If (like me) they truly dislike the dish, don't give up searching for something they will like. And that doesn't have to be anything obvious or junk-food, it can be something healthy too (I'm pretty sure I would've liked cous-cous as a kid too).

    I think it's great that you're exposing the kids to so many different flavours and textures Stephanie, it would've made my childhood food experiences a lot easier.

    And an obvious tip for having them eat vegetables, most kids like soup.

  31. There was an article in the NY Times last week that red flagged tuna and Chilean sea bass as containing very high concentrations of mercury – too high for pregnant women, nursing women, and small children. I kind of freaked because while I avoided the tuna and swordfish when I was pregnant, I thought the sea bass was okay and had plenty of it. Just wanted to let you know. Also, at what age do you think it's okay to let babies have salt?

    FROM SK: Good to know. I wrote that I let them eat it off my plate, meaning, I'd never give them $28/lb. fish as children… they just got tastes of mine, but now, they won't get that. I avoided all fish while pregnant because I was too scared, even the little fish that are very safe. I was just too freaked out by all the studies and didn't want to risk anything. I was so miserable when I was pregnant. Some people love it. Their allergies stop, their migranes stop. It was hell on me.

  32. Your kids won't grow into kids who only eat chicken nuggets and french fries if you don't feed them chicken nuggets and french fries. If you take your children to McDonalds, there is a chance that, when given the choice of the Japanese restaurant or McDonalds, they will choose McDonalds. Soooo, don't take them to McDonalds. Children shouldn't be eating that crap anyway. I wish I had never been exposed to fast food. It's so hard for me to stay away from it these days. However, my children won't have it. They won't know what it tastes like. When are old enough to walk or drive their asses to a restaurant and make a choice, then they can choose it.

    It's just like religion in our house. I won't force a religion onto my children like my parents did to me. When they are old enough to make their own decisions, so be it. But, until they can, it's my way.

    I'll take baby garlic breath over baby mcnugget breath anyday.

  33. About a third of all people, according to research, are "supertasters" or people with much higher concentrations of fungiform papillae, the bumps where tastebuds are located. They taste flavor with much greater intensity and tend to avoid certain types of food as a result. They tend to be skinnier than the rest of us.I grew up with a mom who, with good intentions, would force my sister to sit at the table until she had eaten her vegetables. I remember dinner as constant fights and tears. Invariably my brother and I would find a way for her to feed them to the dog or sneak them to us when mom was in the kitchen. She still doesn't eat them. I resolved that I would never turn dinner into a battle and I think it is the single most important reason my kids – including one "supertaster" – are grounded, happy, creative, good citizens. Just be sure to give them vitamins.

  34. I was visiting my sister, who you may remember was due with her baby at the same time as you, in Honolulu in October, sitting on a restaurant patio.

    Her 8-month-old was on her lap and he leaned over, took the lemon wedge off her water, and put it in his mouth. She was stunned; he'd never tasted sour before. She waited for him to throw it away, but he pulverized it with his little gums, leaving only the rind.

  35. I am not the biggest fan of the sneaky chef concept but so long as you are exposing them to veggies in their actual form, who cares? However, I found out that my mom used to put cottage cheese in our spaghetti sauce to ensure we got the necessary calcium and protein and spinach in our cheese soufflees (as if we couldn't figure it out from the green tint of the soufflee. I love your approach–I am planning on doing the same: kids eat what the adults eat. Expose them to everything.

    Re fish and pregnancy: You'd probably be okay eating fish oil pills that are certified as being lead, mercury and PCB free. I get mine at Whole Paycheck. They manufacture fish oil pills from the small fish–sardines–fishes that are low on the food chain. It is so sad that it has come to this when it was preventable.

  36. I wish my kids were more adventurous with their tastes and that I had exposed them to more "adult" foods when they were babies. Unfortunately I bought into the idea that there are kid foods. We do have a rule in our house now that they have to at least try any food I give them. If they taste and don't like then that's fine but they can't refuse without even knowing what it is. My mom was not a good cook. Salt and pepper were her only spices. And all the vegetables were straight out of the can. When I was a young professional, I was often a part of client dinners at the best restaurants around the country and exposed to so many new foods that I easily acquired a taste for. I don't think it's true that if kids arenn't exposed to foods early on, they won't like them later. It's never to late. What's most important is to have an open mind.

  37. My rule with my daughter (now age 11) has always been that she has to try something (i.e. take several bites) and then if she doesn't like it, she can have something else. I will eat just about every vegetable under the sun but my daughter isn't like that. However, she loves lima beans, edamame – unconventional things. She loves salmon at sushi restaurants (which can get very expensive) and she will eat something at any kind of ethnic restaurant we go to. I remember when I was her age, I would order hamburgers at Chinese restaurants. I just decided early on that I would not make battles over food and it has gone fairly smoothly. When she was about four, I thought we were never going to get out of the boxed macaroni and cheese phase. She loves any fruit though and always has. She loathes McDonalds and hates to eat there even when offered it. I try to stress that it is about making good choices. I remember as a kid that I had such different tastes from my brother and sister and my Mom used to say, "How can you be a member of this family becuase you don't like (whatever food was in question)." It made me feel horrible and guilty so I vowed never to make that mistake with my daughter.

    Now she is also learning to cook and loves to help in the kitchen with me. It is a lot of fun.

  38. OK. Now I normally do not come to the defense of bloggers but…

    Marco… Are you serious? She should just feed them kid foods so they can 'fit in' with their peers?? Your fear is that they will make it to school age without knowing what a PB&J is?? Because that's what young children do when they get together…they talk about their diets.

    Most kid foods are based on taste, texture, and how easy they are to hold in small hands. Health is usually not a factor, but it's more important than fitting in. As they get older, they will choose and that choice will be based on how many different options they have been exposed to.

  39. Best website for feeding the kids: gastrokid.com. They post everything from recipes to health warnings and anecdotes. It's fabulous, it may even help you avoid that white food stage.

  40. I grew up with a plethora of flavors, having Cajun grandparents. I might not have had Chinese, Thai, Lebanese, etc., way back in the late 60s, but at least I had Creole and Cajun. I never refused it either. Our Sunday ritual was dinner at my grandparents and it was spicy gumbo, jambalaya or ettoufee. And I always copied my grandfather in putting Tabasco in my gumbo. I learned quickly that only a few drops was my preference and not a third of the bottle like he did! LOL. So kids won't always grow into nugget only eaters!!

    Of my nephews, one eats turkey dogs and burgers, but also loves Thai, Chinese and Vietnamese. And Lebanese. So if we take him out to eat, at 9, he orders off the menu and never demands plain boring nuggets. His brother, who is 6, always refused to eat "tasty" foods and likes his plain. So they feed him veggie burgers, grass-fed beef burgers and turkey dogs. He will eat chinese fried rice and shawarma. So I have hope that Adam will always be a kid we take out to eat anywhere, and we will know that Eric needs some plain food on the menu. (And it may fit with those taste buds, too, because he is skinny, like his mom).

    And if they do hit a plain food phase, hopefully they will outgrow it!

  41. My girls are 5 and 7 and they still have not gone through the only chicken nuggets, hot dogs and grilled cheese phase. Maybe because I don't make those things. I never make separate meals and we don't order off of the children's menu. We love good food , we talk about it, my girls like to look at cookbooks, they help me shop, and they love to cook.(And no we are not overweight)
    I think it's fabulous that you feed your children REAL food! They are growing and need all of the high quality food you can get in them. Check out Real Food by Nina Planck-great book!

  42. I think a parent has to strike a balance between not caving into kids narrow preferences and avoiding making mealtimes a nightmare for the whole family. since i ate everything, mealtimes were fine for me, but i was (and am) very messy. i have always been messy, since i was a tiny tot, and as a result most of my childhood involved daily screaming fights about cleaning my room, leaving my books everywhere. now, i'm not saying that i should not have learned to to control it somewhat. my parents deserved respect, and i needed some skills for roomates, living with others as an adult, but i still have serious issues regarding space, cleaning, and stuff, and still fell like there is something wrong with me, like it's a moral failure that i don't keep a neat house.

    kids need to learn, but parents also need to accept that sometimes kids are just wired differently than them, and if it's a toss up between having a fight at every meal thier entire childhoods or being satisfied if they just try a bite of something new 9and then polish off the plain spaghetti), i vote for the happy childhood.

  43. For those who say "So what, let them skip a meal"… do you have kids? Do you know how it makes a parent worry that their child is not eating? My son is 2 1/2 and used to eat everything under the sun. Especially fresh fruits and vegetables.. he loved them. Now, he still loves fruit but won't touch vegetables. We don't do a lot of fast food (maybe once a month if that)… We cook him only one meal for dinner and try to always include fruit, vegetables, a protein and a side… you have no idea how many meals I have thrown away because he refuses to even try the dinner and how worried I get when he skips a meal. What do you suggest? We have tried so many different things and I would love any ideas. We all eat the same dinner, we all sit down together, I try to ask him what he would like to get his input… nothing.

  44. I really do think there is some phase where desired tastes and textures narrow for some kids–unfortunately my son is one of them. My husband was extremely picky as a child (no longer) and I was not at all. As a young toddler, he would eat an array of veggies, meats and other foods, and would try almost anything. Around three, it narrowed to potatoes (but never mashed), chicken, edamame, sharp cheddar and a few other staples and any sweets he could get his hands on. He is approaching 4 1/2 and I'm working hard to expand the repertoire. He's up to broccoli, corn, peas (carrots if in fried rice), fish, meatballs made from momo filling, chicken tikka masala, and various other Indian foods I make at home. Things are getting better, but it is work and often negotiation. If it were up to him, he'd want to fill up his "treat belly" and just ignore the "growing foods". Stephanie, at least you know what you may or may not be in for. I hope the beans maintain their adventurous palates through toddlerhood.

  45. Good for you for feeding the babes a wide variety. I love the thought of them eating Thai and sushi. :)

    My mom was a serious believer in "whole foods only!" – no processed/fast foods for us.. no chicken nuggets, hot dogs, etc. And my brother and I FOUGHT IT like cats and dogs, but she stayed firm.

    On one hand, I'm grateful that she raised us like that, foodwise, because now that I'm an adult cooking for myself, I eat a much healthier diet because healthy foods are the ones I'm most familiar with and enjoy the most (my digestive system actually goes a bit haywire if I eat processed foods now). On the other hand, our early food exposure was so unbalanced that when I got to college and discovered Fudge Rounds and Whoppers, I went crazy and gained "The Freshman Fifteen" times, oh, five.

    So yeah.. like someone else said.. all things in moderation. Nothing off-limits, but not everything is for every day.

  46. Good job Stephanie. I think it's great that you are turning your little ones on to gourmet foods at such a young age!! I plan on doing the same one day.

  47. As someone with major food allergies, I just got so nervous reading your post. Though they do not know how every single person develops each individual allergy, some studies have shown that it is due to food consumption before a certain age. I am deathly allergic to peanuts, and have been since birth. They are convinced it's because my mother fed me it too young. It's since turned into other allergies: tree nuts, certain fish, and most shellfish.

    I don't have kids, so more power to ya for feeding your children all those foods.

    FROM SK: First, we have never fed them peanuts or peanut butter, or anything including peanuts… yet. They might be old enough now, but we're waiting anyway, until the doc gives us a thumbs up. Since no one in either of our families is allergic to nuts, they'll likely be OK. I have a cousin allergic to shellfish (but these kids have already received shots that warn, "do not take this shot if allergic to shellfish or eggs" kind of thing, and they were fine. Mama is always walking around with benedryl, just in case. And, um, obviously, we know the quickest route to the Dell Children's Hospital (they know us by first name there).

  48. I was raised in an Italian household and had the opportunity to eat all sorts of "exotic" foods like lobster, snails, octopus all seasoned and sauced. It was great. I'm not a good cook, but I am an adventurous eater and while travelling, I've explored the culinary delights of a country as well as museums and other touristy things. Food is a way for people to express themselves and share and I think it's great that your children will have advanced taste buds.

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