Monday, July 09, 2007

The Great Food Debate

My alternative title for this post is "Help—My Daughter Won't Eat Tomatoes, or Vegetables, or Drink Milk."

I am inspired by a lot of things and, even though I don't write about it a lot, I am passionate about food (not in a romantic way—although I could be convinced to marry chocolate if I weren't already committed to someone else). What I find challenging is making meals everyday, three times a day, for three other people. Not just because of the work load but, with kids especially, it isn't always easy to get everyone geared up about the same meal. I try to offer foods that get me excited to eat dinner. Items my three year old may not eat now served along with foods she is sure to eat with the hope that one day she may appreciate a variety of foods. Yesterday I was totally inspired by these Ontario grown heirloom tomatoes. The colours are amazing, and they made an awesome salad which I ate (Vic was golfing) while the kids ate grilled chicken sandwiches and, of course, feta cheese.

My salad (in case you all eat your vegetables) was made with red leaf lettuce, thinly sliced heirloom tomatoes, with crumbled feta cheese. I made an onion vinaigrette with red onion—finely chopped, 1 part white wine vinegar to 2 parts olive oil, a splash of balsamic vinegar, some dried oregano—rubbed, a little honey, salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste. Ah, I almost feel like I travelled to Greece for dinner tonight.

My point in all of this is, when do children change from picky eaters (a.k.a. little dinner control freaks) to being a little more adventurous, try-it-just-once-before-saying-you-don't-like-it eaters?

Now I feel a little guilty for complaining. Daughter one does eat a lot of things other kids may not even touch, it isn't all bad. Still, what has she got against a cute, little, delictible tomato?


Lydee said...

First, Oh My Gosh! Those are the most BEAUTIFUL tomatoes I have ever seen (and I love tomatoes). It's a shame to consume them!

Second, can we say Food Stylist? What a gorgeous photograph you took of the tomatoes! A food magazine has not done better (perhaps because they don't use real food in all their pics). And I spied the "Kitchen Aid" mixer in the background! That is a sign of a true food connoisseur!

Third, kid appetites, ah! What are the stats on that? How many times should they be offered a new food before they'll develop a taste for it? Isn't it like 20? I don't know, I read it somewhere... my 3 and 4 year old go through phases, sometimes they're more picky than others. I think you're doing the right thing by continuing to offer it because they're getting exposed to different foods. And that's good.

The_Add_Knitter said...

Those heirloom tomatoes are truly inspiring and gorgeous in every daughters (9 and 12--I feel so old) ate well as little ones but became pickier as they got older. Now the oldest will eat everything but the younger one won't. I think it's important to have the kids eat what you eat--so many families only serve their kids those 'kiddie' meals, which I think is limiting.

Anonymous said...

Lydee is right, they need to be exposed to a new food at least 10 times before it becomes familiar. It's a full time job!
Tomatoes are tricky, they do have a different texture and are acidic. My sister is 28 and still doesn't eat them.
And where did those come from???

Natalie said...

Yum! Is it dinner time yet? Kids can be fickle when it comes to food(even the best eaters).

If I look at what my kids eat in one day, it looks distorted, but if I look at 3-4 days, it is really quite balanced.

Have you ever noticed that when presented with healthy choices, kids don't overeat (unlike adults)? I wish I still had that kind of willpower!

Kasi said...

I agree. My 3 year old does pretty good, but my 4 year old is horribly picky. I get so tired of the same foods, shouldn't they? I too keep offering in hopes that one day she will change her mind. Let me know if you figure out the secret.

So Much Fun said...

That is such a good question. I think if you keep presenting 'good' foods as an option they will catch on. I know I was really picky and my mom stopped presenting the 'good' options...let's just say I definitely take a multi-vitamin these days!
On another note, those tomatoes make me drool, and that salad sounds delish, and it is breakfast time here!

Kaet said...

how beautiful! they are really really lovely! and thanks for sharing the recipe...always in the mood for a good salad, especially when the thermometer reads 96degrees!!!

Yarnhog said...

First of all, you need to post a warning for this post; something along the lines of "Do not read this if you're starving"--which I am.

I have two young sons. One wants only meat, milk, and sweets, while the other wants only fruits and vegetables. I have always given them a variety of foods, including foods they don't like, and always insisted they try it every time. I don't make them clean their plates or make a big deal about what they choose to eat, because I don't think what they eat is a battle I need to fight. I make sure I offer them balanced meals and give them a multivitamin and a calcium supplement every day, just in case. I treat fast food as a rare treat and don't keep soda in the house. I limit their sugar intake, because it makes one of them crazy. Other than that, I don't worry too much about what they eat.

I've read that it may take 20 or more tries before kids start to like a new food. I don't know if this is true, but my kids have slowly learned to eat a lot of different things. The other night, we took them out for Indian food--a first for them--and they both tried everything and liked most of it. I was so proud of them for being adventurous about trying something new.

I don't know that they ever stop wanting to eat only the things that they like--I certainly don't like to eat things I don't like. But as they get older, it gets easier to insist that they eat things that are good for them even if they don't especially like them. My meat-eater knows he needs vegetables for their vitamins and fiber, so he eats them, reluctantly. And my would-be vegetarian eats his broiled chicken for the protein.

I guess there's not really one point at which they stop being picky; if you gradually introduce new foods and make it clear that they have to eat some things that are good for them ("you can have broccoli or green beans"), they eventually acquire a wider repertoire of healthy foods that they like.

shelly d said...

well, i was such a picky poor mom. Now, I'm willing to try new things. I hope your daughter is more adventurous sooner than I was.The heirloom tomatoes are fab!!! In taste and color. we are lucky enough to find them here in NJ.

a friend to knit with said...

Love your salad dressing! I just got back from the market with lots of "salad stuff" so will be making your dressing tonight!

I am such a mean mommy.....I make one meal, and let my kids eat what they want out of that meal. That is not to say that I don't serve them their favorite kids meals once or twice a week. I have two that eat tomatoes, and one that can't stand them.

I actually don't know when it completely turns, and when they start eating everything. I just say....keep trying! :)

Romi said...

That looks amazing! I love Heirlooms. :)

Lydee said...

Miss you Sarah, hope you're doing well.