July 16, 2010
Is My Kid the Only One Who Doesn't Eat Kale?
I receive plenty of pitches to write about how to cook for babies and toddlers -- and the genre has become a burgeoning niche ever since Jessica Seinfeld released her cookbook entitled Deceptively Delicious, which teaches parents how to puree and sneak healthy foods (beets, cauliflower, etc) into their kids' meals unbeknownst to them. In my opinion, Seinfeld's is one of the only realistic cooking for toddlers books I have come across, if your child happens to be a picky, stubborn eater who uses food as a power struggle (or any combo of the aforementioned).
Let me start by saying that my husband and I are total foodies. We spend hours at the local farmer's market, in the organic produce section of local grocery stores, and perusing labels in aisles. We take Olivia to farms to see where milk comes from, we take her berry picking to see produce growing at its source, and we prepare her meals with love and intention. So, you can imagine our frustration when we serve her up pricey, healthy, homemade nutritious food, only t get adamant rejection that often ends in tears. And I'm not even saying we are trying to make her eat broccoli and brussel sprouts. We make her completely kid-friendly foods with wholesome ingredients and she still turns her nose up.
I recently received a cookbook on cooking delicious organic meals for your baby and toddler, and found it quite blase' and clearly written by a mother whose kids are open to trying new foods, and who are experimental and curious. We've found that our daughter's palate has actually diminished in scope since she was a baby - a stage during which she was eager to try new things no matter what color they were or what they smelled like.
I read this cookbook and was baffled at how the author explained that they way to get your kids to eat healthy foods is to prepare them with love and present them with enthusiasm. (Hogwash) We could do a jig while placing Olivia's plate on the table and it would still be a no-go if she wasn't interested. The cookbook goes on to provide many recipes, all exotic and designed to expand your child's palate. The recipes included really delicious, savory ingredients that I'm certain many adults would love, but what kid is going to eat fava beans and chutney and dill dips... I mean, I am sure they are out there, but it makes me ask the question that titles this post:
Is my kid the only one who doesn't eat kale?
So, I wanted to share with you the letter I wrote to the author after reading her cookbook:
"I had the opportunity to read through your cookbook and it is beautifully done, however I was wondering if you'd be open to answering a few questions so I may share them with my readers in interview form. One of my main questions is that my toddler, and every toddler I know is so finicky and picky that beyond the purees and into the "expanding the palate" section, I think the recipes, although mouth-watering and enticing to me, would be a near impossible sell for my child and most of her peers. I have only fed my daughter healthy, organic foods since birth, but instead of her palate widening as she gets older, she is refusing to try new and exciting foods, seasonings, combinations... and as a matter of fact has turned her back on some of the healthy superfoods she used to devour as a baby.
I think an answer from you with regard to HOW to get kids to eat this beautiful food would be very empowering for parents. Most of our "try this new food" experiences, which we do at least once a day, end in a huge battle of wills... in your book you say bribes shouldn't be necessary if you're offering appetizing food... we offer our daughter gorgeous, homemade meals three times a day, and are heartbroken by her refusal to eat them and her insistence on sticking to a few items in a boring rotation. I know we're not alone in this regard."
I heard back from the author a day later and she told me she'd answer my questions shortly. That was a month ago and I still haven't heard back.
So, I pose the question to YOU. If you have a picky eater, do you have any secrets on how to get them to eat new, healthy foods? I'd love to start this conversation in the comments section of this post!