Monday, April 03, 2006
Waging the Food Battle:

There's this lady who comes to Rav Plony's Monday morning shiur. She feeds her toddler the most beautiful food. I mamesh envy her good eating habits. Last week she was feeding her daughter grits. She confided that she mixed a fruit and vegetable vitamin powder into it. This week her daughter was eating a fruit leather (you know, the kind you buy at the heath food store, made with REAL fruit). Then her daughter had a cheese stick. Then she had a bowl of avocados.

There was a time, back in the good ol' days, when I was a vegetarian. When Chaya was born, I vowed to never give her white flour. Oh, how the mighty have fallen.

When Chaya started playgroup, I asked the teacher that she shouldn't be given food-colored treats, blah blah. If someone is having a birthday, okay. I didn't want her to feel excluded. But I didn't want her eating garbage all the time, either.

I made quinoa muffins. I made sunflower seed patties. I used to bake beautiful carob and spelt desserts for shabbos, until Yaakov put his foot down. "It's dessert! It's supposed to be junky!"

My favorite story is how I once made kamut-flour pasta for supper. Yaakov was horrified. Even I didn't like it. We put the pan of noodles in the alley, to feed the poor, hungry cats. It was a freezing Brooklyn winter, but those cats wouldn't eat it, either.

Chaya goes to school, and they serve lunch there. I'm pretty sure she eats it. Rivky, G-d bless her, loves to eat (she happily hums while eating). Srulik, on the other hand, barely eats at all. I'm lucky if he even eats dinner. I think he's surviving on soy and cow milk (I have to wash the cow milk bottle in the bathroom, boo hoo).

I just don't know what to feed them! Fish sticks, sometimes they'll eat, sometimes not. Same with tuna. Same with everything, basically. I'll make them something and if they're not in the mood, forget it. Srulik went through a banana phase, where he ate one every day. I was thrilled! Then he got over it. I'd like to give them yogurt, but they end up just playing with it and making a huge mess. Rivky is always happy with a bowl of corn flakes and soy milk, but how healthy is that?

I'm not as hard-core as I used to be. We're not organic anymore, but we still have healthful suppers. Once a week we have tofu, and I make soy dogs and brown rice, and fish. Most of the week we eat pareve, and save fleishigs for shabbos. But I'm finding that my kids aren't eating what I make. Srulik and Rivky won't touch the soy dogs, and none of the kids will eat the tofu. I keep thinking that they'll eat what I serve them, but they simply don't. Chaya's idea of a good supper is noodles with ketchup. (Mr. Heinz reassures, "a GREAT source of lycopene!")

I had an epiphany: I want to make suppers that everybody is going to enjoy. Tonight I made REAL hot dogs (ok, chicken-dogs, but fleishig hot dogs instead of soy). I served them with mashed potatoes. And green beans (only Yaakov ate them). But they did eat the mashed potatoes and hot dogs! Even Srulik ate two of them.

One time a mother told me that she served her kids fleishigs every night for supper. I was aghast. "Yep," she said. "My kids love it - and they go to bed happy." I'm beginning to wonder if she was onto something. Especially since I'm noticing how much Srulik loves fleishigs. Pesach is a major fleishig holiday, so I'll see how he does. It's just expensive.

My kitchen is fleishig, so I can't cook dairy. After pesach, though, I want to get one of those sandwich maker thingamajigs. I want to make them grilled cheese. They'll love it! And I think they can be cleaned with a damp paper towel, no sink required.

I'm tired of making beautiful suppers that nobody eats. I'm tired of trying to make them eat my health food. I just want them to eat, period.


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