Amy Silverstein is a teacher, mom and writer who stars in her own reality series called “Life”. Her hobbies include embarrassing her children, crosswords, and laughing at herself.
Amy’s blog can be found at http://Tweenragers.blogspot.com, and is a must-read for anyone with kids in that precarious position of pre-teenhood. So Amy, tell us about kitchen life with a big family!
I love food and I love trying new foods. I enjoy cooking. When I was first married and had the time I used to make really nice meals for my husband and myself. Then I had children. Right from the beginning food and children can be very stressful. Do I breast feed or formula feed? Am I giving them enough or too much? Is their poop supposed to look like that (sort of a food related question)?
As they get older it does not get easier (sorry new mommies). From introducing solid foods to making PB & J sandwiches for the demanding four-year-old 30 days in a row, feeding your kids is tough. It is even harder when you work full time and your children morph into starving creatures the minute you walk in the door, even if you just picked then up during snack time in aftercare!
I have three daughters, twins that are ten and a four year old. One of my twins has Asperger’s syndrome and food is a big issue with her. Certain smells and textures bother her and anything new is impossible to introduce. She would happily live off of steak, pizza and Happy Meals if I let her! My other ten year old is a foodie’s dream. She embraces my mantra to at least try something new once. She is the kid who orders carrot sticks off the kids’ menu instead of the usual French fries. I am quite proud of her eating habits. My four year old falls somewhere in between the two, she eats fruits and vegetables but often needs a little more encouragement to try something new.
I have yet to be able to change my children’s eating habits, I don’t think I ever will, but here a few things that have worked for me along the way.
- Deny them. Whatever it is you want them to try, do not give it to them. Put it on your plate and sit down next to them. This is almost a guarantee that they will ask for it! Mommy’s food always looks and tastes better (just don’t do this when it is something you do not want to share, in this case run and hide or eat it after they are in bed!)
- Lie. I am not proud of it, but often if I am asked if a vegetable is in the meal, I tell the curious child no. If it is easily disguised, like chopped eggplant in the sauce along with the beef, there really is no harm in lying!
- Be careful with vitamins. If you are going to supplement with yummy vitamins, make sure they are way out of the reach of your children. Even if the cap is childproof. I discovered this after my three year old daughter ate the entire bottle of gummy vitamins (she read the directions on the childproof cap “push down and turn”)
- Buy fruitables™. I have been in no way compensated by this company; this is not a paid endorsement. I just like the product because all of my children will drink it and it includes 1/3 serving of vegetables in each box. For my child with only a piece of steak on her plate, it makes me feel better knowing there is something else nutritional passing her lips.
- Play dirty. I find that “no dessert” often works well, but I find that if I tell the child that not only are they not getting dessert but also that I am giving it away to their sister who did eat the peas works even better. I can be “such a mean mommy” (so I am told)!
- Be creative. My picky child refused to eat eggs. I tried all different types and she wouldn’t try it. One day as I was making sunny side up eggs for her sister I got an idea. I fried just the whites in a small circular skillet and called it “moon side up” eggs. She got a kick out of how much it looked like a full moon (craters and all) and my parody of the sunny side. She gobbled them up.
- Send them somewhere else. My mother can always get them to eat things they will never eat at home. It really works. When my three-year-old niece and nephew came to my house, my nephew scarfed down a peanut butter sandwich after my sister told me he wouldn’t touch one. You also get the added benefit of an evening off!
My kids all seem to get the thumbs from the pediatrician once a year at their check-ups, so I must be doing okay. They don’t seem to be malnourished and are even considered on the healthy side of the spectrum. It is important not to sweat the small stuff and get them that Happy Meal every once and a while for your sanity, you can just add extra spinach to the lasagna the next night!
Here is a recipe that EVERYONE in my house eats, and it is very easy to prepare!
Prep time 15-20 minutes. Cook time 2.5 hours.
- 1 6-8 lb Brisket
- 2 medium sweet onions
- 1 cup ketchup
- 1 cup Manischewitz wine
- 1 cup water
- chili powder
Pre-heat oven to 375°. Lay brisket in pan fat side up. Rub with salt, pepper, and chili powder for seasoning. Slice up onions and lay on top. Mix equal parts water, ketchup, and wine. Pour over brisket. Cover. Cook for 2 hours covered. Remove from oven and slice against the grain. Place back in juices and let cook another half hour until tender. Enjoy!
How about you? Are you a food-lover trying to maintain sanity while feeding a picky eater (I have a friend who always begs me to go out for interesting food with her, because her fiance eats only very basic and bland foods. And heaven forbid she should cook something with any sort of an ethnic twist! I don’t think I could live like that…)? Any surefire dishes that go over well with everyone? Let us know!