Wouldn’t it be lovely if we all enjoyed healthy foods?
Wouldn’t it be even lovelier if our children ate what we feel is healthiest with joy and pleasure and ease?
In my experience, they can and do… sometimes.
Recently, Debbie from Words to Eat By, one of my favourite Mum food bloggers came out and admitted that while she is all about the food, her little one sometimes has other ideas. Quite courageous on her part!
It got me thinking about what I eat and how it has evolved to include this little person with a lot of big opinions.
Let’s think up an example. Like, maybe, I don’t know… green smoothies. Vida Lev used to love them. I’d put everything from kale to coriander (cilantro) in there. Spinach? No problem! Chard? Bring it on! And berries and chlorella or spirulina -- even hemp seeds made an occasional appearance. If you’re a Mom and you’ve asked me for advice about feeding your kid(s) – or even if you’re not but we’ve chatted nutrition -- chances are, I’ve thrown a green smoothie at you in one form or another.
Hell, green smoothies are my breakfast almost every morning.
Sadly, not for Vida Lev. No more. This week, she said “non” for the first time – a clear, decisive, no-friggin’-way: “nonononononononon, uh uh, non non”. While her ability to verbalize is brand new, she’s been pursing her lips and shaking her head for quite a while. And green smoothies were one of the first things to get the thumbs down.
At first I was freaked out. But seeing as we’ve decided to trust Vida Lev to let us know her preferences from the first food she put into her mouth (cucumber), I figured I’d keep riding the wave and see where it led.
So far, we’ve had the mushroom phase, the cooked onion phase, the avocado phase(s), the apple and pear months, the nori phase that has yet to end. There were a couple of banana days and kelp noodle nights. And, of course raisins – those never seem to go out of style. She’s loved and hated the same foods twice in a day, gone off foods and then demanded them with a face that says Come on, didn’t you get the memo???
People ask me what I feed my child all the time.
The easy answer is this: she eats what we eat. For the most part, however, when I think I’m making something she’ll love, she turns her nose up at it. On the other hand, when I doubt my eighteen-month old will be interested, she’s all about my plate! (like when she ate most of my jicama, beetroot and hijiki salad in a tangy carrot ginger dressing!)
The recipe below was no exception. I thought it looked like mac ‘n cheese and don’t all kids like that stuff? It contains some of her favourite foods: peas, pumpkin – or so I thought. Besides, everyone says kids love pasta.
Well, not this one. She left her father and I to finish it off all by our selves.
Pasta with Pumpkin Sauce and Macadamia Kream
(allergy warning: contains nuts)
As is often the case right now, dinnertime hit way too quickly. There I was, slightly panicked but determined not to succumb to the draw of easy takeaway. I think we’ve had pasta 3 or 4 times in the last 18 months. It’s not something I make often mostly because I’m not a huge fan of how I feel after eating it. But once in a while, on nights like this one, it works: unlike many of our staples, there is no pre-soaking, no pre-planning, just boiling water and a timer. And the sauce? This crazy little invention was the result of a quick scan of what we had in our cabinets and some improv. Thirty minutes later, we were sitting down to dinner -- a much less embarrassing outcome than the last time I did improv and ended up taking my bra off in front of 20 people.
For the Pumpkin Sauce:
5 garlic cloves, clopped finely
1 15 oz. can pumpkin (425 gr)
¼ t dried sage
pinch chipotle powder*
2 c frozen peas
1 cup water + more (depending on the size of your pan)
* we use very little to keep it child-friendly but add more at the table to suit our individual tastes
For the Macadamia Kream:
½ c macadamia nuts (preferably soaked for a few hours, but not necessary)
½ c water
¼ small onion or shallot
½ T balsamic vinegar
Chop the garlic as fine as you can or, even better, use a garlic press.
Pour about an inch of water into a pan and add the garlic. Bring to a boil and allow to simmer for a few minutes, until you can properly smell the garlic. Make sure the water doesn’t all evaporate although it’s ok for some of it to.
Then add the pumpkin as well as another cup of water, the sage and the rosemary. Allow to simmer on a low flame, stirring occasionally.
In the mean time, you can make the macadamia Kream by simply combining all the ingredients – nuts, water, onion, balsamic, salt -- in a blender and blending until smooth. (Note: I didn’t use any mustard in this version though I probably would add about ¼ t next time to give it a little extra kick)
Once the pumpkin has reduced a tad, add the frozen peas. Cook until they are ready but not mushy. Then add the chipotle and stir in a squeeze of lemon. Turn off the heat and allow the sauce to cool slightly. Then stir in the macadamia kream.
The macadamia kream shouldn’t be cooked although the pumpkin sauce, being hot, will heat it up.
Serve over (gluten free brown rice or buckwheat) pasta.