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.