Sunday, January 20, 2013

Dedicated to picky eaters

A significant discovery has happened tonight. Unintentionally, I cooked a meal that I think is a magic way to every picky eater's stomach. Fish tacos, or really, any kind of tacos or any kind of food that your child can "cook" for him/herself right at the dinner table. It's a fact that kids will more likely to eat a meal if they participated in cooking it, but it's hard to apply this trick with very young kids, because there isn't a whole lot that you can let them do in the kitchen yet... unless you make fish tacos, as we've discovered tonight. 

I remember when I was little, my best friend Yuliya and I used to cook all the time. We usually cooked desserts and we never had all the ingredients that a recipe called for, so our cooking usually went like this:

"Next goes in a teaspoon of vanilla." I'd read off the cookbook.

"We don't have any. Let's use sugar instead." Yuliya would say. (I know...)

"That sounds right!" I confirmed.


"We need a cup of heavy cream."

"Don't have any, but there is half a cup of milk left. Let's add half milk, half water instead."

"Sounds great!"

Or we'd use flour instead of milk powder, water instead of juice, apples instead of oranges, and so on. But every time we were done cooking and tasted the "final product", it was always delicious! Even if it wasn't, it still was, as weird as it sounds. I remember the ice cream we made one time. Lots of very creative substitutions happened and not only it wouldn't freeze, but it wouldn't even harden a bit, so it was just this sweet liquid tasting like sweet cream of wheat, but we both agreed that it was the most delicious ice-cream we've ever tried. So if you cook it yourself, it will taste excellent. Lesson learnt. 

Tonight, despite the fact that Allie didn't have her nap and was being very cranky in the evening and had a whole banana and a bunch of carrots before dinner, she had the best dinner of her life [I think]. She had never had as much fun with dinner as she had tonight!

For fish tacos, I just put out a bunch of small dishes filled with flaked baked fish, chopped tomatoes, avocado, cabbage (but feel free to use iceberg lettuce for something more traditional), and some flavored mayo (I did lime juice, lime zest and some cumin) and corn tortillas. Allie kept going from sitting with me to sitting with MJ (tonight was the only time we let her do it and not sit in her chair due to the mood that was a result of no nap), and kept helping us construct our tacos. She sat with me, helped me spread the sauce on the tortilla and then piled the rest of the ingredients on top, then we wrapped it and each took a couple bites. Then she went to do the same with MJ, then again with me, etc. It was amazing how much she ate, even the tomatoes that she NEVER eats! The picture below represents the end of the taco extravaganza, so really you're just seeing empty plates. That's really because I was not going to blog about it, that was not the original plan. But seeing how much fun she had and how great she ate, I just had to share, because I think it's a perfect thing to do for pikcy eaters.

I am not going to hide the fact that the post-dinner kitchen tonight is a total disaster. My clothes are a mess, MJ's clothes are a mess, the floor is covered with taco bits, but it was so worth it! It was so much fun and Allie felt so proud of herself when she cooked each individual taco!

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