Tuesday, May 20, 2014
feel the fear and cook it anyway
I am writing this for all the mamas who cook with a knot of anxiety in their stomachs and hearts each night. Wondering as they cook, will they eat it? Will there be tears or tantrums?
For the sake of peace and sanity many mothers 'give in' to their children's food likes and dislikes. They bend and weave their way through feeding their children in the small hope that they just eat something.
Falling into the pattern of mono cooking can easily happen - pasta, meat and potatoes, pasta, rice, meat and potatoes - I understand how it happens, really I do. However, it isn't doing anyone any favours. It is so boring to cook this way when we live in a world with so much beautiful food variety, and it is not in any way encouraging our children to eat a wide variety of foods, particularly the all important vegetables. If you think of vegetables as nature's multivitamin pill it makes sense that to get the most nutrients we all need to eat a variety, not just the same two or three over and over. My friend Sally says, "we need to eat a rainbow." This is a good thing to teach and regularly remind our children.
My eldest son River (age 7) is willing to taste absolutely anything from broccoli to brussel sprouts to blue cheese to scallops whatever it is he will at the very least take a bite. When it comes to vegetables my other son, Sol (age 4) is not willing. "I'll eat vegetables when I'm five" he tells me. "I only like carrots in soup" he says.
Occasionally I find Sol's defiance challenging but most of the time I am not phased, I continue to put vegetables on his plate and in his lunchbox, I continue to cook a wide variety of meals with varied ingredients and flavours. Sol knows the dinner table rules, what is served is dinner and he can decide how much he eats and if he eats at all. There is always something on his plate that I know he eats.
Sure I still make their favorites - spag bol (with heaps of veggies grated in), chicken schnitzel and mash potato, home made fish and chips - but I also cook or prepare stews, soups, salads, sushi, rice paper rolls, homemade vegetable pies, tacos, homemade burgers, dahl, roasted meats and roasted vegetables and so on.
When I cook something they haven't tried before I sometimes involve them in the cooking process, this can increase the likelihood of them eating it. I always announce the meal to them with enthusiasm not hesitation and I casually plant the idea in their head that they will love it as I model to them how much I enjoy eating it. I want my sons to develop a taste for a wide variety of good food and they can't do that if I serve them the same thing over and over just because I know they will eat it.
If you've fallen into a bit of a pasta rut it is time to branch out and have another go at presenting a colourful array of vegetables to your family, to introduce some new flavours or ingredients. And to do so with enthusiasm, from a place of leadership not fear.
Can you relate to this post? Share your story in the comments.