Baby steps…

Ok,  I’ve been a tad lazy on the whole “kick this fussy eating in the butt project” this week. Baby is teething and has caught a horrendous cold, so I’ve been dealing with rivers of snot and tears and Master C has been pushing the boundaries more than usual. Mealtimes have once again become a battleground, so I resorted to giving him fish fingers for most meals and really should have tried harder *slaps own wrist*

But really, this was me:

 

 Anyway, I thought I’d do things a bit differently this lunchtime. You know, mix it up a bit to see if it made a difference. I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve been crap not just for this week but for these preceding years; what with having the TV on to ‘distract him’, letting him sit on the sofa to eat and *gasp* sometimes feed him if he really isn’t keen.

So today I turned the TV off, let him help me set the table, put the food in separate bowls in the middle and let him serve himself. I also made sure that I ate with him, as I’m often too busy to actually sit down at any point during the day, let alone when Master C is actually distracted. I read an article last week that said that letting them choose what and how much they eat can improve things a lot as it gives them a sense of ownership over the meal. As opposed to dumping, what is to them, a truckload of food onto a plate and ordering them to eat the lot. So I thought I’d give it a try.

 

I’ve got to say, he did quite well. Yes it was fish fingers again as I wanted to start with something that I knew he liked.. He obviously took a few of them. Then I made mashed potato and mixed in some sweet potato (he won’t usually touch sweet potato because it’s orange) and to my surprise he dolloped a, albeit small, portion onto his plate after a little moan about the colour and a few suspicious looks thrown my way. The carrots and cucumber I included weren’t touched, of course, but just having them on the table invoked conversation about their colour, if they were soft or crunchy, if they were juicy, etc. Usually it’s just a scream of “Get them off my plate!!” and refusal to eat anything that came within 10 meters of them. 

He did plonk all of the carrots onto my plate at one point, making me say “don’t give me all of them, there’ll be none left for you!” (Hint hint master C, hint hint!) but no, his response was “it’s ok mummy, I don’t like carrots” (huge smile on his face. Like I don’t know that already!)

I feel like this may be the start of something! 

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Pasta

pasta

Pasta is our magic food. Its the one thing I know that Master C will always eat (except when hes tired, then nothing works). The great thing about pasta is that it needs a sauce, and sooooooo many vegetables can be hidden in a sauce. But lets not dismiss the importance of getting it absolutely right, for our picky eaters it must be perfect. Now I know that all picky eaters are different, for some its a texture issue so sauces must be smooth, for some its a taste thing so meals must be bland, for some its just the look of the food that can put them off… and the list goes on.

For Master C, it’s all of the above, though due to my shoddy workmanship hes had no choice but to accept that all meals put together by moi look awful (as you can probably tell by the photos). What I’ve picked up on mostly though is the texture issue, and I can’t stress this enough, if this is also true in your household then THE BLENDER IS YOUR BEST FRIEND!! Love that piece of plastic, whirly loveliness, treat it well, use it every single bloody day. It hides a multitude of toddler sins (i.e. vegetables), except spinach.. spinach makes the whole lot turn green if you use a speck too much of it and I have never managed to get that right. With the taste thing, I played about with herbs for a while but he seemed much happier not having any so me and the Mr have to put up with obscenely bland food.. but at least the little guy is eating (sometimes) and that’s what matters right?

So, basically you tip a whole load of veggies into the blender, add a tin or two of chopped tomatoes and you have a pasta sauce fit for any veggie hating toddler, right? Wrong. For about a year I was doing this and Master C was rejecting my efforts until I stumbled upon an Annabel Karmel recipe that was doing exactly what I was but adding Marscapone cheese to the mix. So I tried it, and that sauce has been his favourite ever since. I tweak it according to what we have in at the time but here is the recipe:

Marscapone pasta sauce (yes, the one in the photo):

Ingredients: 1 carrot, 1 courgette, about 200g of baby button mushrooms (these don’t taste as strong as the big ones), 1 red onion (but I often use white as these are usually all I have in the cupboard), 1 clove of garlic (or a shake of the powder), pinch of basil (or a hearty shake if your child likes that sort of stuff and wont see a spec of it on the pasta and deem you as a liar and the whole meal a disgusting mess…ahem… Master C!), a tin of tomatoes or carton of passata (about 400g) and any other vegetable you have lying around.. I have been known to add in leek, celery, bell peppers, anything really as it all blends in together.  and the magic ingredient, 100g marscapone (Or half a tub).

Method: Fry the onion, garlic and carrot until soft (remember these vegetables are going undercover and must not be detected!), add the mushrooms and courgette and fry some more. Throw in the basil and tomatoes/ pasatta and simmer for about 10 mins or not at all if you’re in a rush. Leave to cool for a minute and throw in the blender. Leave to blend for AAAAAGES (we need it smoother than smooth remember!). If your child is particularly particular about lumps then you can push it through sift after this and get a super fine sauce, though I don’t bother with this and Master C seems fine with it. Put back on the stove on a very low heat and add the marscapone cheese (its not too pricey and well worth the satisfaction of being able to sit back and watch your child gobble up vegetables they don’t even know are there). When it’s all melted in it will look much lighter in colour and it gives it smoother, more gentle taste.

Rub your hands together and give yourself a pat on the back. You just got your child to eat vegetables.

Oh and its extra yummy with cheese sprinkled on top (and a bit of salt for the adults)

If you are really short of money and can’t afford a mountain of vegetables this week, then another favourite in our house is simply a tin of chopped tomatoes (the cheaper the better) poured over pasta with grated cheddar cheese on top. It was one of our staples when I was a kid and it really does taste quite nice… I swear!

In the kitchen, on a budget

Read the title. These are my first two stumbling blocks.

Firstly, being in the kitchen. I live in a house where you can’t see what is happening in the living room from the kitchen. And having a 3 month old, I can’t leave Master C alone with him for long (we wouldn’t want a repeat of the ‘trying to feed baby a banana’ incident again now would we!). I also have a tiny kitchen with no space to put baby down in. So I’m either hopping around with baby in my arms, trying to stir the pot on the stove with one hand and hold baby at arms length as far away from the hob as possible with the other. Or I’m running back and fourth between rooms every 30 seconds checking the boys are ok. With the latter, the food more often than not gets burnt and this does not help the fussy eating problem. 

In any case, I have to be quick. And with my New Years resolution of always feeding Master C home-cooked nutritious meals (within reason of course, a maccy d now and again never hurt anyone) this gets tricky.

Something you should definately know about me is that I am not in domesticated in the slightest. I hate cleaning and I hate cooking even more. I am not fantastic at it and, quite frankly, I find it boring. But needs must and, with my partner working full time , it lies with me to feed the kiddies and throw some slop/ leftovers onto plates for me and the hubby. 

What makes it all even harder (I know, I know, like I haven’t moaned enough in this post!) is that everything has to be done on a budget. We aren’t well off in the slightest and there have been plenty of times where I have gone without eating for the pleasure of seeing Master C take one bite of his meal and refuse to eat anymore (but this means more leftovers for me, and I am partial to a cold fish finger!) . Anyhoo, this means that I have become better at finding good food, for a very fussy eater at a good price. 

Here is one of my favourite budget recipes:

Sweetcorn and carrot pancakes

sweet-corn-fritters-all

Ingredients: 200g tin of sweetcorn, 1 small finely grated carrot, 1 egg, 30g flour, tsp baking powder

Method: Chuck it all in the blender until smooth (the blender is your friend! It hides the veggies!), heat a teaspoon of oil in a pan (yes frying is bad, but a bit better if you use olive oil and I’ve tried doing them in the oven.. Master C was not impressed), take a teaspoon of the blended mixture and drop into the pan flattening into circles until brown on both sides. 

Voila! You can hardly taste the vegetables and you definately cannot see them. If you are feeling particularly flush, a few chopped, spring onions thrown into the mix give it a bit more flavour.

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