Sunday, May 20, 2012

Plain Please

When Gracie was little I did the introduction to food just as the pediatrician told me to. One new food every week or so to see if there were any food allergies. She ate all of the foods like a champ. Fruits, vegetables, grains, dairy and meat. Never did she grimace at anything. I was lucky. Some of the moms in our play group would talk about how their kids were resistant to new foods. Some of the diets of these kids were limited to three or four things.

I worried. As did these moms. What are you to do? One mom tried blending smoothies. This worked until her child saw what she was putting into the smoothies. He didn't trust the blender after that. Another mom had her child drinking supplements and taking vitamins. And she felt so sad that her child wasn't getting enough nourishment by just eating.

So as the weeks went by we talked about all sorts of options for this mom. We made snacks and brought them to play group. I brought orange slices, raisins, strawberries one day. We encouraged the kids to make faces out of these fruits and then eat them. They were so creative. The faces were so cute. And then the snacking began. So this was all geared towards helping this one little fella experience new foods. Where was he? He had wandered into the bathroom and his mom caught him dumping his snack in the toilet. Oops.

The next week another mom brought dips. Ranch, of course, for the veggies and chocolate yogurt for the bananas. We had fancy toothpicks to use for dipping. It was a party! The kids loved it. But not the little fella we were targeting. He had dumped the toothpick cup over and was building with them.

And then this family relocated to a different state. So I can't give you the happy ending I had wished for. The one where I could tell you that the kid asks for fruit now and turns down chips. And this food issue isn't unusual. I see it all of the time. In fact I live it. Gracie is the champion for trying new foods. Guess who isn't? Yep. Scott. I had an awakening to his fussy eating when we first dated. I didn't know how to cook. I did however know how to open containers. So I made the man a spaghetti dinner. He loved it. He even ate seconds.

The following week we were visiting with his family and they said that they had heard that I made Scott dinner. He complimented my culinary skills. And then it happened. His mom asked, what did you make? Spaghetti. The whole family gasped and then started to laugh. Turns out the man doesn't eat red sauces. Or ketchup, mustard, relish or mayo. This was news to me. He even asked for seconds. It must be love someone said. And it was.

So this fussy eating husband of mine made my cooking a challenge. No red sauce. No chicken salad. No condiments of any kind. And yet now that we are about to embark on our healthier eating I wonder what is so bad about that? Scott may have had the right idea. We should taste our foods for their actual flavors. Just eat a carrot sometime. No ranch. Just the carrot. Not the baby ones either. Get a big one. Maybe even organic. Peel it and eat it. The taste is enough on it's own.

I now make my own salad dressing. My family prefers it. It's made with olive oil and we use very little. I don't use salt hardly ever. Pepper is more common. So I guess the happy ending to my food story, at least for this family, is that less is more. Trying foods in their natural state is a great experience. The flavors are fresh and real. They don't come from a bottle with a list of ingredients that I don't recognize.

Foods the way they were made. Not hard to digest, just plain simple.

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