Monday, March 29, 2010

Complicating the diet

E used to be a champion eater. That child would taste anything, and odds were good that she'd love it and demand more. I remember a dinner where she ate four baby lamp chops; she wasn't even two years old. I was so proud of her tastes and that we didn't have any picky eater syndrome.

Now we have picky eater syndrome.

She doesn't like meat at all. She eats chicken but only if it's boneless, skinless breast, baked, with no visible seasonings. We used to be able to feed her on black beans if all else failed, but now she won't eat those because of the texture of the skins. She won't eat most vegetables. She won't eat American cheese or string cheese, though she will eat a very expensive two-year aged cheddar. I know a lot of you have empathy for our plight regarding feeding her, so now I'm going to trump you.

We keep kosher. So that means: no dairy with meat. No cheese on chicken. No butter to bake the chicken. No seafood. No non-kosher meat, so no chicken nuggets in a restaurant. Can you feed your picky eater without chicken in restaurants? Because mine won't eat tomato sauce or long noodles, either. And she doesn't like mac and cheese unless it's homemade (not that that inherently displeases me at all).

During a regular week she lives mostly on fruit: apples, raspberries, strawberries, mangoes and banana. She eats slices of baked chicken breast every day.  And she rounds out her daily diet with that expensive cheddar and crackers. It's not really a bad diet at all, although I wish there was something green in it.

But now, let's make it more complicated. Passover starts tonight.  The fruit is still okay. The baked chicken is still okay. But I can't get that cheese kosher for Passover, and crackers are out. It could be a long, long week.

Ever since I began writing for DC Metro Moms, I've been eligible to receive some fun new books every month. This month we got Annabel Karmel's Top 100 Finger Foods and Top 100 Baby Purees.  Now E, the child who won't eat anything, she loves to flip through a cookbook and decide, based on the pictures, what we should make.  I have a rule that I agree to anything she wants to make because I am constantly trying to expose her to new foods with the hope of re-expanding her palate. (It's working, too: in just these last three months she's decided she likes pizza again. You must understand that that's a huge victory.)  Because of the strictures of keeping kosher we often can't follow a recipe exactly, so we modify it. There's a second lesson here I love to expose her to, and that is that like her mama, she doesn't come to flexibility naturally. So we practice.

So now we have these two new beautiful cookbooks and E wants to play in the kitchen. Let's make this, she says enthusiastically. She points to "Italian Soldiers," which are breadsticks wrapped in prosciutto. We can't use ham, but we'll wrap them in corned beef or tofu bacon or something. So I agree: "sure thing, love." Ooh, let's make this! Let's bring this book to Grams's and make this at her house for Passover! She's looking at Karmel's "Welsh 'Rabbits,'" a take on Welsh rarebit made to look like a bunny face through the clever placement of fresh peas, some chives and a black olive. Welsh rarebit is little more than cheese toast, and I think we can do that on matzah. More or less, anyway. But she wants to play in the kitchen again, so naturally I agree. "We'll make that, too!"

Who knows. Maybe she'll even eat it. Pin It


This Heavenly Life said...

GOOD for E! There is hope. I always try to convince myself that having Mia choose what to make will help her be more willing to actually consume the food. But I don't have those cool cookbooks! Keep us updated. If this works for you, maybe it'll work for us?

lucybrown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
lucybrown said...

I have 4 year old twins who love to decorate their food before eating it, I just bought Annabel Karmel’s ‘mum and me cookbook’ (you can also access recipes from the book on her website:
There are so many wonderful recipes to choose from, and my kids love to help! Although I do not keep kosher, I’m sure you can substitute some of the ingredients to suit your family.

They love this recipe:

1 tbsp oil
1/3 cup milk
2 tbsp butter
1/2 cup of grated cheese
4 potatoes
salt and pepper

for decorating:
cherry tomatoes
green onions

Prick the potatoes in several places, place on a baking tray and brush all over with the oil. Bake in an oven pre-heated to 190C (375F) for 1 to 1 ¼ hours or until they feel soft when pressed.

Stacey / Create a Balance said...

Oh I feel your pain. I have one picky child who is even refusing to eat matzah with cream cheese and another demanding cheese crackers every day during passover.

We live in Chicagoland, so we can spend a fortune to go out for kosher chicken nuggets, but most of the time it's no chicken nuggets in a restaurant for us too.

Mine will eat long noodles but now short spiral noodles (and only kosher wacky mac & cheese). Mac and cheese at a restaurant? Forget it.

Happy Passover!