Food Fight; Waving the white flag at the dinner table
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January 29, 2016

One of the great challenges of blending a family is pleasing everyone. And it seems as if it rarely happens, right? Well, there is hope, at least at the dinner table.

Before I remarried, it was just my son and I sitting down at the dinner table each night. Preparing healthy dinners was manageable. I knew what he liked and what he tended to gag upon (I am not joking.)  He had always been a "good eater" with a big appetite and palate to match.

When I got re-hitched, I was excited about our new family joining to break bread. I was excited to have four more hungry guys at the table. I was whipped up at the idea of cooking big family meals, dusting off some of my cookbooks and getting creative.

It had not dawned on me that there were not only four more mouths to feed, but now, there were also four different palates to please.

For the most part, it was a cinch. But there were challenges.

Moms, as you may know, food can be super-tricky.  Food is fuel. It nourishes our bodies and minds. It is enjoyable, to be savored, and a means by which we gather.

But there is the other side of the coin, too. 

As a parent, I am keenly aware of the complexity around food. The two things I emphasize the most are:

  • Don't force your kids to eat. They will eat when they get hungry.
  • Never use food as a punishment or a reward.  They are mutually exclusive. Taking food away or giving food as an expression of acknowledging behavior can be super- dangerous.

Now, how do we get our kids to open up their mouths and their minds to try new things? 

  1. Point out how your child is doing well in sports or school and remark how the healthy dinner they ate last night helps that. A healthy attitude about eating is important as nutrition itself. 
  2. Suggest don't demand.  If your young'un chooses not to try a bite, don't make a big deal about it.  
  3. Take it easy. Suggest but do not demand. The more you try to force feed, the more your child will clamp her mouth shut. Move on and make that bagel. Tomorrow is another day.
  4. Serve at least one thing that you know your child will eat.  I usually put dishes of different fruits and veggies on the table. That way, everyone gets a choice.
  5. "Give it a lick." A lick is so much easier than committing to a big mouthful or the "three bite rule." Many times that one lick led to licking the plate clean.
  6. Thank your child.  "I know that you don't typically like (fill in the blank), but I appreciate that you tasted it. It makes me feel good that you tried what I worked hard preparing."

SO- Here is a piece that I recently posted on LivingLovelier www.livinglovelier.com. Here are the boys top menu choices in our home. Enjoy

 I just interviewed my boys about their top 10 favorite recipes from my kitchen.

IN THE WORDS OF MY BOYS

Grilled Striper

(Best if freshly caught off of our friend Dave's boat.) Simply seasoned with EVOO, sea salt, fresh pepper and a sprinkle of garlic powder this is light and dee EEE Lish. You can't get enough. "Mom, I love Striper! It is tasty!" (Ronan)

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Fried Chicken:

Homemade. (25 recipes tried.) We finally settled on this custom gem. "Southern-fried heaven." (Michael)
 
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Linguine ala Vodka:

Sounds simple and standard but-nope. And you don't need and ID to eat it. Hands down, this is the most requested choice for birthday dinners in our house. A touch of cream and some freshly grated parmesan gives it another layer of flavor.

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Arancini:

(a.k.a. Risotto Balls) Much like the fried chicken, I tried many recipes but finally found the home run. "If you hit one of these out of the park it would go everywhere!" (Andrew)


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Tacos:

In the house tonight! These make us speak fluent Espanol! No joke. Well. Kind of a joke. Soft flour tacos with seasoned spicy carne chili, shredded romaine, homemade salsa, guacamole and refried beans. Estupendo!


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Grilled Filet of Beef

"Mortons, DelFriscos, Louie's step aside!" (My Michael) He is biased.



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Twice Baked Potatoes

"The crusty outside kind of makes a bowl for the yummy and creamy mashed potatoes on the inside of the jacket. Smooth and crunchy. 10 out of 10 would potato again"(Andrew.)

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Popovers

"The perfect mixture of all of the ingredients baked at the exact temp with all of the perfect precautions make this pastry more than a dinner roll 's counterpart"(Andrew.) By the way, he is a future judge for Chopped.

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Fish Chowder

Totally fresh just like my (boys) I mean, husband.

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Grilled Pork Tenderloin

Give pork a break. It doesn't have to be tough and gross. Redefine how good pork can be. This is tender and melts in your mouth. Don't cook the hell out of pork! New Servesafe guidelines say to cook pork at 145. A juicy pink middle is perfect.

 
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