A snack crack down

One of my most determined of goals for 2012 was to get Miss Two eating more normally.  At this stage she pretty much refuses all actual meals and just survives of small snacks here and there, mostly fruit, dried fruit and cheese.  This is immensely frustrating as she will ask for something for lunch or dinner, I will prepare it and then she takes one mouthful and declares “I’m done!”  I’m happy that she is at least eating fairly healthy food, but her intake of meat or vegetables is basically non-existent and this does concern me a little. I read somewhere that kids can survive off a diet of milk and potatoes, but what if they only eat sultanas all day?  She’s never been a fan of either milk or potatoes!

The other part of this situation which I worry about is the social side, she seems almost incapable of sitting down to eat with others.  She is constantly on and off her chair, kneeling, standing on her chair, trying to climb on the table, putting her feet on the table, basically anything that is deemed unacceptable table behaviour.  Taking her to a restaurant is a nightmare and even eating at other people’s houses can be pretty embarrassing.  I’m a foodie, a self-confessed food obsessive, so to end up with a child that I feel I can’t take out or who spoils any attempt at eating out is rather disappointing.  I used to look at other people’s children being ratbags in restaurants and think to myself, “My child will never be like that, they’ll know how to eat at the table.”  Oh how naive I was!

But I am now determined, my child will learn how to eat a meal at a table and if I really push it maybe I can get her using cutlery instead of her fingers (but let’s not get carried away with it just yet).  So as of this week I’m putting my foot down on the snacks.  If she doesn’t eat breakfast too bad.  If lunch is still sitting on the table untouched at 3pm then tough.  The last two days I have stayed strong and refused all requests of the snack kind until a meal has been eaten.  So far the results have been promising, in fact last night for the first time EVER she finished dinner.  Granted it was a very small bowl of pasta (in fact the same size as the one her eight month old sister was having) but it was finished nonetheless.

On top of cracking down on the snacks I have also been on the hunt for dishes that kids can’t resist, but are still tasty enough to satisfy Mr Good and myself.  A while ago I stumbled upon this website  and then thought nothing more of it.  I was, again in my naive state, never going to ‘hide’ vegies in food, my kids were going to know what they were eating and be willing to given anything a go… HAHA.  So with reality hitting home I had another look at the site and found a page with Wendy’s top five ‘go-to’ dinners for kids.  This is where I decided to start in my search for some more successful meals.  I liked that the list was more varied and culturally diverse than the standard kids fare and many of the dishes had the potential to be easily adapted for more advanced tastes.

So with list in hand I put the first one to the test tonight, beef pho.  This appealed for a number of reasons, Miss Two likes noodles (though hates soup so it was a bit of a risk) and Mr Good and I had the most fabulous month travelling around Vietnam where we ate pho (chicken or beef) for breakfast every morning.  It took a little adjusting to get used to having soup for breakfast, but it was so delicious we were happy to eat it anytime.  My final reason for starting with this one was the bean shoots, I find these go off in the fridge so quickly that I try to use them the day I buy them (though I still have half a bag to do something with, any ideas?) and having done the shopping yesterday I felt the pressure to use these quick smart.

It was very easy to make and took no time at all, two important factors when cooking for little children who can go from happy campers to having hunger-induced meltdowns in a matter of minutes.  The broth can be made ahead (which I did) and left to simmer for up to an hour.  Then it’s just a matter of adding the vegies and meat for a few minutes and serving with noodles and bean shoots in bowls.  The only change I made to Wendy’s recipe was swapping sugar snap peas (which I couldn’t get at the green grocer this week) for home-grown green beans.

And the verdict, not an empty bowl, though given the size of her serving this was never going to happen – I must get better at dishing up a more reasonable amount for her –  however she ate every piece of carrot, one bean (obviously need to work on that one) and most of the meat.  She loved slurping the noodles and even had a few spoonfuls of the soup.    I think the real appeal might have been the neat little Asian spoons and the chop sticks we used to eat it.  I did give Miss Two a fork, but she was having none of that so I had to help her use her own chop sticks – she was better at it then I expected.  Not a raving success but better than most nights.  And importantly, Mr Good and I thoroughly enjoyed our meals as well – granted with a little chilli added to our bowls.  The broth was beautifully spiced with the star anise and cinnamon and the coriander that I added at the end finished the dish off perfectly.   Definitely something I will try again.

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8 Responses to A snack crack down

  1. Nice work with the dinner!

    I’m a bit of a no-nonsense parent myself, and I have on several occasions packaged up J’s weetbix for her to consume at lunchtime. I do have the benefit of the fact that J has always been a large (extremely tall and solid) child. Little D has had growth problems related to his CMP allergy, so I’ve been reluctant to be so tough with him, but I think I’m going to have to adopt the same approach shortly, because his understanding is improving.

    I think anything that makes food fun is very helpful, so you did well with the asian cutlery. Little D will eat most things if you feed him “aeroplane – style”, but let him choose the vehicle. First spoonful might be a train, next a plane, the following one a boat etc.

    • Barbara Good says:

      L I think I need to take a leaf out of your book, no nonsense from here on. Mind you Mr Good is such a push over anything I accomplish during the week is destroyed in the two hours he’s up with the girls on Saturday and Sunday morning while I either have a sleep in or go for a run (depending on energy levels). Both my girls hare small and just hanging onto the bottom rung on the growth charts (not that I bother looking at them anymore) so I’ve always worried a little about volume of food going in. I need to remember what my Dad said a while back – she’s not going to starve herself!

      We have in the past tried the ‘areoplane style’ with various vehicles, but the novelty wore off that one quite quickly. Miss Two has always been far too independent to let anyone feed her much at all.

  2. Liz says:

    Both my kids enjoy noodle soup too. I do find predicting what kids will eat very difficult at times. My top kids dinners (other than noodle soup) would be: risotto, chicken curry, pasta -particularly with salty type sauces eg olives & anchovies with tomato, pizza, fish in breadcrumbs & roast. I have two rules: We all eat together every night and we all eat the same thing. Other than that I let them eat with their fingers, eat nothing, or eat everything. It kind of works – my 5 year old is generally a very good eater (unless she’s filled up on the dreaded snacks) and a excellent restaurant goer. My 2 year old is a good eater if the food is salty or sweet but otherwise he’s a bit hit and miss. His restaurant behaviour depends on both cuisine & tiredness – if not tired and he likes the food (eg Asian) then he’s generally good, although loud. If he doesn’t like the food he’s an absolute nightmare and does all the things your Miss 2 does, and probably more. As a result we usually eat out at Wang Wang Dumpling in Coburg or on Preston High St…..

  3. Liz says:

    P.S – we just had dinner – chicken in a sage , Thyme & lemon sauce with veg. Miss 5 ate all hers, Mr2 did not but shoved 3 bits of carrot, a 2 pieces of chicken in his mouth at the same time when the ice cream bribe was offered, then almost choked and spat it all out at me (fortunately it missed)……familiar?

    • Barbara Good says:

      Liz, sounds like you have a nice range of top dinners there. Pasta is a regular here and is sometimes a hit, especially ham carbonara and spag bol. I love your chicken curry recipe to try though, I’ve never had any luck getting curries eaten. Pizza is hit and miss and roasts are definitely not a fav.

      I agree with your two rules and was very good at sticking to them until Baby Good started solids and Miss Two cut out her day sleeps. Both happened at the same time coincidentally, but meant that both girls were really needing dinner at about 5pm which is just too early for me and before Mr Good is home from work. So we do eat separately for the moment, but I do sit with them at the table while they eat and we do usually all eat the same thing (I just reheat ours later) unless I’m feeling like something spicy.

      I hope Miss Two turns into an excellent restaurant goer like your daughter, in the meantime I must try Wang Wang Dumpling by the sounds of it.

      Oh and YES I have had plenty of food spat out at me – mostly green in colour!

  4. bruisemouse says:

    I forgot how frustrating meal times could be. Now mine are older, dinner is quite a pleasant time with conversation (and all feet off the table).
    Good luck.

    • Barbara Good says:

      Bruisemouse you give me hope – this is just a phase… mealtimes will once again be enjoyable. Though I must say we have plenty of conversation, one of Miss Two’s avoidance tactics is to talk non-stop when she should be eating, asking questions at a million miles a minute all the while shifting food around her plate.

  5. Pingback: Another attempt at toddler dining | The New Good Life

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