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Kids Cannot Survive On Waffles Alone

Dexter mom embarks on quest to broaden her kids' horizons.

I am not going to pretend today’s column will take you by surprise or throw you off your game.  Today, I hope I am preaching to the choir. 

I would hate to think I am alone when I confess that my kids can be picky eaters.  And most days, they don’t eat enough vegetables!

There, I said it. 

It isn’t like I don’t try.  I prepare home-cooked meals five out of seven nights per week.  Night six is usually pizza and on night seven, I hang up my apron, close the kitchen and we go out and pay someone to cook us a meal that the kids don’t eat either. 

When we do go out, I’m sure to the uninitiated strangers around us, we appear to either look cheap or neglectful when we tell the kids that they can order any one of the kids’ meals, but that they will be splitting it between them.  To us, that is normal, and they never complain because, secretly, we know that they aren’t going to eat it anyway. I think that they just like to order off the menu.

One of our favorite lunch spots has been the Alpha Coney Island here in Dexter.  The girls know all the wait staff by name and they know the girls.  They also know Claire’s refined palette favors a big bowl of shredded cheese for lunch.

I did think for a long time that it was just my cooking, and though I am no Rachel Ray or Pioneer Woman, I make some tasty dishes and make great strides to convert all of my meals to more kid-friendly offerings.  I have had little success turning the kids on to new things, though.  If it isn’t one of the standard four entrees they love, it is a struggle to get them to eat more than a bite.

At what point should I just throw in the oven mitt and stop racking my brain for new, exciting and delicious concoctions aimed at encouraging the kids to broaden their horizons? At what point should I give up stir frying, sautéing, boiling, baking, roasting, flambéing, grilling and disguising the same 20 vegetables in hopes that they will eat more of them?

The answer is never.  I will never give up.  This is a quest to help my daughters break free from the prison of picky eating and fling open the gates of choice when it comes to food.  I’m not trying to turn them on to ox tail, pig’s feet or sushi.  I just want them to know there is more than kielbasa, buttered noodles and waffles out there.

I stopped making multiple entrees at dinner years ago, saying things like “I’m not a short-order cook” and “what am I, a waitress?”  I still do try to, of course, make things I know they like and cater, a bit, to their specific tastes. If I make spaghetti and meatballs, for example, I only butter Paige’s noodles.  If peas and carrots are on the menu, I make sure they both get them cold because that is how they like them.

I guess I am a bit of a cook and a waitress, but, if it’ll get them to eat something different, then I’m willing to do it. 

mary ann leblanc March 12, 2011 at 05:36 PM
Dear Mrs. Vander Haagen, I have just been sitting here reading all of your articles and looking at the pictures; I had missed a couple and wanted to make sure I read and saw them all. I am very impressed and very much enjoy your articles - they are funny and informative at the same time and I'm sure are well received by all young moms like you. Congratulations and PLEASE keep them coming!! Love, Mom
Abby April 09, 2011 at 02:22 AM
I feel your "picky eaters" pain! I also do my best to continue to get them to push the envelop (so to speak) of tasting ventures, however, to help make myself feel a little better about it all we (their Father and I) started using "Kidz SuperFood". It's made by a company called "Amazing Grass" and we bought it at Whole Foods. 70% organic ingredients, whole food source of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, all natural! It's even Non dairy, gluten free, decaf, and vegan. Our kids get one scoopful of the "outrageous chocolate flavor" in a glass of milk about 2 to 3 times a week. If you try it - I recommend putting the scoop-full in a glass with a little hot water first - mix that up, then add the milk....goes great with waffles or mini-corn dogs : ) -Abby
Christy Vander Haagen April 10, 2011 at 01:28 PM
Abby, Thanks so much for the tip! I am going to try the 'SuperFood' this week! I also just keep trying new foods and revisiting the ones they formerly refused. Just this weekend, my big girl decided she wanted to try asparagus again. I told her she doesn't know what she has been missing. It didn't 'take' this time but we'll keep trying. :)

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