I'm the meanest mom on the planet. Just ask my kids.
You've heard me complain before about how frustrating it is to feed picky eaters. I know that I'm not alone in this. I really make an effort to serve healthy foods-- almost every meal has a salad, at least one vegetable, and some fruit. We eat more whole grains than not. My downfall, which cannot help but be translated to theirs as well, is my sweet tooth combined with my passion for baking. Plus, I guess I have catered to their picky ways, even though I have tried to avoid it. They each have the things that they like to eat and manage to just fill up on those, which mostly involves one pet vegetable, most fruits, pinto beans, and breads in any variety as long as nothing in them appears to be a seed. Some of my boys will eat chicken and meat, others will not.
Well, Tuesday night, after going through way too much effort to get my kids to eat their beef and broccoli stir fry with brown rice, I announced that we were having a day of fruits and vegetables tomorrow. I did let them choose one serving of whole grains this morning, but the rest of the day their options were veggies and fruits. They seemed to do okay until dinner time (let's face it--by then they were starving) when I served roasted sweet potato discs, parmesan and panko-crusted broccoli with a cheesy sauce (I took some liberties with the recipe), zucchini oven chips (breaded in milk and panko and baked), and a big green salad. I'll admit that I would have loved a slab of crusty bread with it, but it was all quite good and I was proud of myself for coming up with a meal of multiple veggies, each of them distinct and delicious, and all in about 45 minutes.
The boys were less impressed. They couldn't believe that there was "nothing we like" for dinner. Bronwen gobbled it down with glee. Henry and Ian discovered that the sweet potatoes were better than they looked and the overdone ones were kinda like chips. Henry actually ate his entire green salad, complete with kidney beans, olives, cucumbers, and tomatoes--and asked for more. Kimball licked the broccoli (I had him pegged as the one who would gobble it down. I was wrong), nibbled at his Romaine, and whimpered in spite of warnings from his dad against whining. At one point, he insisted the the taste of broccoli had blinded him in one eye, leading me to do an impression from A Christmas Story "It was . . . broccoli poisoning!" (in the movie it's soap poisoning, but the melodramatics were the same.)
Later, as I was sitting in their room, nursing their wounds as they dressed for bed, Henry asked, "Mom, how long we going to have nothing but fruits and vegetables?" To which I responded, "From now on!" He looked at me slyly and said, "Nah, you'll forget before that."
Drat. He knows me too well.
"Well," I said, "I guess we'll have to keep doing it until we can be enthusiastic about having broccoli for dinner. When you are as excited about broccoli as you are about bread, we'll have succeeded."
"You see," I added, "I've realized that I've been a bad mom." I was about to tell them how I had failed them by not teaching them to like vegetables more, let alone a wider variety of whole grains, or foods that are mixed together, actually touching each other on the plate.
"Oh, Mom, you were doing perfectly well until today!" Kimball said passionately. "Why won't you reform?"
"Yeah, Mom. Go back to your old ways!" said Henry.
I couldn't help it. I burst out laughing. Which only made them feel all the more persecuted.
We'll see. Henry is probably right. I may tire of this experiment before they have learned what I want them to learn. But I haven't given up yet. Tomorrow I'm thinking I'll go soft on them and prepare pizza--with caramelized onions and portabella mushrooms on it. Doesn't that sound great with a tossed salad? I can't wait for their reactions. Never a dull moment around here.