It's a constant battle in the kitchen. On the one hand, I want to make sure that my family eats a variety of healthy (and yet delicious) foods. On the other hand, I don't want my child to sit there, eating nothing. She's a little too young to understand how fortunate she is to go to bed hungry only by choice - or else I'd be laying on the guilt thicker than Tammy Faye's makeup.
A few weeks ago, my friend Megan posted this picture to my Facebook page:
Buddy Hackett said, many years ago, "My mother's menu consisted of two choices: take it or leave it."
I definitely haven't been in that category as a parent. I have been so focused on making sure HRH doesn't "go hungry" that I've been compromising and letting her eat her small window of "HRH-approved" foods. While many of those foods are fruits, it's really not acceptable to allow her to set limitations.
So, I have officially launched Operation Eat it or Starve.
That doesn't mean that I'm plunking down a plateful of mystery hash (or, as my mom called certain menu items, "Spinach Blob" and "Noodle Blob" - no lie) and expecting her to eat it. I want eating new foods to be a comfortable experience, so we're looking for a balance here.
Intrigued by the studies that show children prefer 6 to 7 different colors and interesting patterns on their plates, I have been trying to be creative and artistic in my efforts to offer her both "safe" and familiar foods coupled with new foods.
I say trying because I am not the most artistic person ever. Defense Exhibit A: my drawing of Princess Aurora (as requested by HRH).
|Notice the rose red lips.|
The good news is that cookie cutters are good for more that creating shapes out of cookie dough. The even better news is that The Internet has great ideas that I can copy to my little heart's content.
In: creative, fun food platings at meals
Out: snacks - unless plates are (for the most part) cleaned
In: excitement about beets and squash
Here are some snaps of what I've tried this week. I can't take credit for any of the creativity, but I can take credit for the less than perfect adaptations of plating ideas that I found online.
|Watermelon rain cloud, carrot lightning,|
blueberry rain, apple umbrella (with cheese handle),
and brown rice path
(this looks way cooler with a red apple)
Brown rice sea floor, apple anemone, carrot seaweed,
watermelon mini-fish, peanut butter sandwich fish
with cheese stripes, and grape bubbles
|Cheese sun over a rainbow of strawberries, raspberries,|
carrots, mango, kiwi, blueberry, and blackberry,
nestled between banana clouds
Last night's dinner was our first big jump, as I began adding new/different/scary/unknown foods into the mix.
|Squash and carrot sun overlooking a brown rice butterfly|
(body - black beans, design - cheese and beets, antennae - carrots)
fluttering over a squash-grape-raspberry flower bed
HRH: I want milk, please.
Me: You can have some milk after you eat one piece of squash.
HRH: But I want it.
Me: You can have some milk. But first I want you to eat one piece.
HRH: I don't like it.
Me: Remember Elmo teaches us to try foods two times before we decide if we like them or not. Please try one piece.
At which juncture she selected the smallest piece of squash, inspected every centimeter for about five minutes, licked it, sniffed it, put it in her mouth, and gagged before spitting it out.
No milk was offered for that Oscar-worthy performance.
So far, my opponent has proved tenacious and stubborn. Not that I expected a miracle (otherwise this post would be addressed to the Catholic Church about how I need to be sainted immediately), but I was hoping that the melodramatic gagging over the world's smallest piece of squash would be less... melodramatic.
Currently, I'm concocting a few ideas for the Ms. Food Face plate as well as how I can perhaps use chopsticks to
Did your parents have creative or sneaky ways to get you to eat when you were little?
Or did they have any horrifying foodstuffs that served only to create food aversions?
What creative plating ideas have you seen or tried?