Thursday, November 10, 2011

Check your “control freak” at the kitchen door!

Picky Eater Alert!!  Yes, I have a picky eater on my hands and there has been days when I’m so ready to just throw in the towel and be done.  I’ve listened to the doctors and nutritionists who say, “Just keep trying….keep introducing the same food about 10 times and eventually they will like it.”  

We make family trips to the Farmer’s Markets with all of us picking out the fruits and vegetables that will be a part of our meals.  The carrots and pears she so loved the week before won’t be touched with a ten foot pole this week!

I know she won’t go hungry, she will eventually come around and nibble something off her plate.  I, however, am having a hard time being patient and waiting for her to “come around.”  That is, until this weekend when I cracked open a new cookbook (Family Meals:Creating Traditions in the Kitchen) to browse through on our weekend getaway.  I usually skip through all the front pages and get to the good stuff…the recipes!  But the pictures in the front of this book caught my eye and curiosity got the best of me.  The pictures were of two young girls with flour on their noses, aprons tied around their wastes, mixing spoons in hand, and well, you get the picture!  So I read on, all the while thinking that I could never put into practice what this mother had so cleverly done.  She had her girls preparing almost every meal in the kitchen right along with her (by age 7 one of her daughters was rolling out corn tortillas for the whole family!).  This mother had her two girls, at very young ages, take “ownership” of the family meals.  

I’ve often entertained the thought of having the princesses cook with me (they like to bake cookies or granola bars with me at times), but I really do like my space in the kitchen.  I like things organized (surprise! surprise!) and I like to clean as I go.  Let’s just say that I have a system goin’ on in the kitchen and bringing the princesses in would probably throw it completely off whack.  Can you say “Control Freak?!”  Control freak or not, I’m ready to take the plunge, show my princesses their way around the kitchen, and remind myself that there is nothing that can’t be mopped up or wiped down!  

So, I checked my “control freak” at the kitchen door, asked the Lord to take over, rolled up my sleeves, tied up our aprons, and away we went.  I am SO BUMMED that I didn’t get any pictures of this historical event that took place in our home, but my hands were a bit occupied trying to manage a four-year old cutting squash and zucchini with a butter knife and catching potato and carrot peels that my seven-year old just couldn’t manage to get in the trashcan!  It was a three-ring circus in my kitchen, but I remained calm and all appendages remained in tact.  The princesses  learned how to cut and peel veggies, how to saute an onion, use a can-opener, and my 7 year-old did a mighty fine job of reading the recipe!  

We laid the foundation for a new tradition in our kitchen and together we made:
Three Bean Soup with Vegetables
Yields 6-8 servings
1 1/2 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
1 stalk of celery, chopped
1 medium zucchini, sliced
1 medium yellow squash, sliced
1 large potato, peeled and cubed
2 cups shredded cabbage
1 can diced tomatoes
6 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
2 cups water
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried thyme leaves
salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
1 cup brown rice pasta, uncooked
1/2 cup chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup navy beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup kidney beans, drained and rinsed
In a large stockpot, heat oil over medium heat.  Add onion, celery, and carrots.  Cook, stirring until softened and fragrant, about 5 minutes.
Add the broth, water, tomatoes with the juice, cabbage, potato, zucchini, squash, oregano, thyme, salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil over high heat.  Add remaining ingredients (pasta and beans) and return to a boil. 
Reduce heat slightly and cook, uncovered, until pasta is tender, about 15 minutes.  Stir occasionally. 
Enjoy with a warm slice of French bread!!
As the soup simmered away on the stove, the princesses kept a close watch over their creation.  And me, I was praying that the Lord would prepare my heart for whatever the reaction was to be, from the ever-so-picky one, before we sat down to the dinner table.  There was a chance that my picky princess would not enjoy this meal she labored so hard at making and I didn’t want my frustrations to get the best of me. 
We sat down at the table, said our prayers and began sharing with one another about our day.  Much to my surprise, my little Cailyn didn’t have a whole lot to say because she was filling her mouth with spoonful after spoonful of soup!  Before I even had a chance to ask she was eagerly shouting across the table, “Look Mommy, I ate all my soup that I made!” 
So, last night was a success and I praise the Lord that there is hope for all those picky eaters out there (I know I was once one of them)!  I’m not quite ready to make this an everyday event, but we’ve definitely made it a new weekly family tradition!

Nourishing Thought for Today:
Do you cook with your family?  And does it make a difference with how your kids eat?


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