1. a person who rejects or avoids conventional behavior when it comes to cooking, eating, or discussing food
2. a person who has a taste for the ordinary and for the unusual
3. a member of the Eat generation (let’s just embrace this.)
Breaking All of my Own Rules
I love food — I always have. After I graduated from college I decided it was time to teach myself how to cook, so I did. (“Teach myself” = watching Rachel Ray and Bobby Flay regularly.) When I was pregnant, I would fantasize about introducing my child to the wide world of food. Honestly. I read a book about a guy who never fed his baby classic baby food, but rather he pureed what he and his wife were eating. I wanted that. I was going to be that parent.
My daughter is now 14 months old and, as if someone is playing a cruel prank, is a picky eater. Your classic toddler. Cheese, waffles, bananas and yogurt are her staples. It is torture to a foodie like me.
Like a lot of parents, I had expectations of how things would go. I had rules about what would and would not be a part of my kid’s day. Most of those had to do with food. But now that I’ve got a picky tot on my hands who I have to somehow coax into consuming a nutritious diet, keeping some of those rules has become impractical.
My 2 Big Food Rules That I Break so My Kid Gets Vegetables
1. I don’t believe in pouches. Sucking fruit, vegetables and grains out of a bag just isn’t how you teach a kid to enjoy and understand food. That’s not how we eat! And don’t even get me started on the meat pouches. Pureed beef stew? That my kid should suck from a plastic pouch? No way. That is just too disgusting.
Oh right. We have a closet full of pouches. Why? Because that’s one of the only ways she’ll eat vegetables. And for a while, that was the only way she would eat meat. (She still doesn’t eat meat and won’t eat the pouches anymore.) Even though I only buy organic pouches with no added sugar, I still hate them. But which is more important? My hatred of pouches or my desire to have my kid eat well rounded meals? Damn it. I know. Pass the pouches.
2. I don’t believe in hiding vegetables. Tucking veggies into unassuming snacks is not how you show your kid that veggies are delicious. They aren’t learning anything about food and eating. Veggies are colorful! Many veggies are sweet! Love your veggies!
My daughter loves yogurt that I always mix for her (I don’t buy it pre-flavored because of the added sugar). Plain whole milk yogurt with fruit (usually apples and bananas) and veggies (beets, zucchini, cauliflower, and/or pumpkin) hidden in there. You can’t taste the veggies, but they are there giving her the nutrition she needs. Every time I toss a few frozen cubes of zucchini into her yogurt, I cringe. The angel on my shoulder says “We don’t hide veggies, Michelle! It isn’t good parenting!” And then the little devil says, “Shut UP! She needs nutrition and who cares how she gets it?! Loser.” I go with the devil there. And I hate it.
These days it is a victory if she tastes something new. Yes, victory! I cheer! Parents of picky toddlers understand where I’m coming from. Most recently it was cornbread. Whole grain cornbread, mind you! Score one for Mama.
This cornbread is very easy to make and delicious — plus it has a bit of hidden nutrition (although I wouldn’t quite call this “nutritious”). This is not baby food — this is grown-up food that I gave to my baby. Don’t have a baby? Make it anyway.
Recipe from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian by Mark Bittman* with a few minor adaptations
1 1/4 cups whole milk or yogurt
2 tablespoons butter or extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 cups medium-grind cornmeal
1/2 cup white whole wheat flour (all purpose flour will work fine)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar, plus more if you like sweet corn bread
1 cup cooked corn (fresh or frozen)
Preheat your oven to 375.
I used a cast iron skillet for this. If you don’t have one, Bittman says an 8×8 baking dish will work fine. Once the oven is hot, put the butter or oil into the pan and put in the oven to get hot. Once the butter is melted (about 2 minutes), remove to add the batter.
Mix the dry ingredients including the corn (no need to defrost if you’re using frozen) in a bowl. In a smaller bowl, mix the egg and milk.
Mix the wet ingredients into the dry ones.
Pour the batter into the hot skillet or baking dish. Bake for about 30 minutes (mine took 25) or until the top is brown, the edges have pulled away from the sides of the skillet/dish and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
Remove from the pan. Slice. Serve. Eat. Enjoy.
My kiddo loved this almost as much as I did. Victory!