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Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The Mouths of Babes, Part II

I always swore that I wouldn’t be one of those moms who make separate meals for their kids. My master plan was to introduce a variety of flavors early on, so Junior wouldn’t experience culinary culture shock when he made the leap from baby food to table food. So, I started adding small amounts of curry powder, soy sauce, and other flavorings that I cook with regularly so that he’d get used to the flavors in the food served at our house.

For over a year I’ve been strategizing, cooking, and serving him a healthy, balanced diet that includes a dizzying array of fresh fruit and a decent number of vegetables. Some examples: I use an overnight method to cook organic, steel-cut oats for his breakfast porridge (enhanced with unsweetened applesauce, almond butter, and sometimes ground flaxseeds). While he naps, I cook organic green veggies (broccoli or kale; frozen green beans or Brussels sprouts in a pinch), roast a Butternut squash, or microwave sweet potatoes to use at lunch or dinner, or even as snacks. The freezer is always stocked with kiddie-sized portions of homemade soups, stews, lasagna, muffins, and waffles for meals and snacks when I didn’t have time to cook during the day.

In other words, an embarrassingly large portion of my time is spent to ensure that an overabundance of healthy food is available to serve to my child on a moment’s notice.

In the middle of a cooking frenzy one day, it dawned on me that I was doing the very thing I’d vowed to avoid. I AM making separate meals for my child, but not because he’s a picky eater. The sad truth is that Mommy is a picky eater and she eats, well, poorly. As long as my son will accept it, I’ll keep giving him plain yogurt with tahini and wheat germ. But I’ll also keep sneaking bites of donut when I go into the pantry to get his organic, high-fiber crackers.

Discovering a dirty little secret about oneself is one thing; actually doing something about it is, well - is it necessary to do anything? If I’m making extra meals in the name of health, rather than catering to a picky toddler, it’s okay, right? With the way our schedules run, we don’t really have a family meal at our house, so we have some time before Junior discovers that Mommy and Daddy eat according to different rules. The day of reckoning will come, though, and I suspect that in the end, my boy will join his father (and me) on the Dark Side. Hopefully the positive effects of his current, über-healthy diet will carry on long after he begins to think of Cheetos an orange vegetable.

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