Lessons from Leigh: Toddlers fighting food

Food is a constant fight at my house.

Sometimes things get thrown about. Whether it is a plate, cup or the items that fill them, dinnertime at my house can seem a lot like World War III. Although, I lose battles here and there, I am determined to win the war!

These battles ensue because, like most toddlers, my Luka is a picky eater, but that’s saying it mildly. One day he may eat a plateful of something, and the next he may not touch it at all. So, I am constantly struggling to find something beyond the typical kid’s fare of chicken fingers or mac and cheese to feed him.

Because of his aversion for most foods, I opted to think outside the box, as it is my New Year’s resolution to eat healthful foods.

I recalled hearing about a book written by Jerry Sienfeld’s wife, Jessica. Her book, “Deceptively Delicious” contains recipes of child staples like chicken fingers, but adds pureed vegetables to the mixture. This particular recipe adds broccoli, spinach, sweet potato or beets to it.

The results were startling. Luka devoured every bite. And I felt a little less guilty for serving chicken fingers again.

Other recipes appeal to your sweet tooth, like brownies made with carrots and spinach. If I didn’t make them myself, I would’ve never known.

Another “Luka approved” recipe is the mac and cheese, made with butternut squash. However, the squash changes the texture a bit.

While the additional veggies may only add up to ½-cup to the dish, it still gives me some satisfaction knowing that he is consuming at least one more serving. A little is better than none at all.

As I sought a larger variety of foods to serve my family, it was discouraging to realize that I was a worse offender than Luka. He obviously inherited his picky palate legitimately from me.

I used to claim, “It’s the texture,” not the food that bothered me. Like eating tomatoes, those little seeds would touch other parts of my meal and contaminate it. It would gross me out.

So, I never offered Luka anything that I didn’t like, which is a lot! It wasn’t until one day he took a huge bite out of a tomato before I realized I was failing as a mom. I was passing my bad eating habits onto my kids.

Armed with the cookbook, I’ve introduced foods to my family that I’d never dared to eat before. Like zucchini added to oatmeal raisin cookies — love them!

Lesson learned: Refrain from teaching Luka bad habits and set a good eating example. (I’m still working on that one!)

Check out Jessica’s Web site with the link below. You can find the aforementioned recipes there, or e-mail me if you have one of your own you’d like to share.

Leigh Tahirovic is a mother of two, living in Naples. Somehow she is surviving motherhood. Catch up with her and other moms at swflmoms.com.

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