Tag Archives: picky eaters

Culinary Minefield

Zachary rang out 2009 much the same way he rang it in: complaining about dinner and eating nothing.  Come to think of it, that’s how he spent the last half a decade.

We went around the table, performing our nightly ritual of asking each person what the worst and best parts of the day had been.  Zachary’s worst?  “You making food I don’t like for dinner.”

Hmmm.  “Well, babe, that’s a mighty short list: foods you don’t like.”

“No it’s not.  It’s a very long list,” he spat back.  Five-year-olds lack a capacity for sarcasm.  He went on: “You can’t just make food for one person.  You have to think about everyone.”

“Dude.  I made pizza. I am pretty sure I was thinking about you.  Do you think Daddy and I want to eat pizza?”  My husband, mid-bite, shook his head.  The pizza was unbelievably bland by the time I left out the garlic and olive oil to which Lilah is allergic and the various herbs to which Zachary would no doubt have vociferous objections.  Benjamin was far too engaged in his third piece of pizza to bother telling us the best part of his day.

No one knows why Zach elects not to eat.  All we know is that food is enormously stressful for him.  We’ve tried hard to make our house a stress-free zone.  I bake muffins with all the fruits and veggies pureed in.  We buy the fruits he likes.  We try to make sure there is one healthful item at each dinner that he will enjoy, even if it is just fresh, whole wheat bread.  Going out to eat is another story.  It is an experience fraught with potential disasters.  Butter!  Sauce!  Green things!

How is a small boy to know what could show up on his plate in a place as wildly out of control as a restaurant?

I feel sad for him.  While the rest of the world is out, gorging on flavors of all sorts, Zachary is hiding in the corner, terrified that someone might try to slip some butter onto his popcorn.

Life, I am quite certain, is not meant to be lived this way.

Yes he is the muffin man

Having made yet another batch of muffins, only to have them rejected because there are drops of apricot preserves instead of raspberry, I was about ready to throw in the towel.  Not into the muffins, of course, although towels are about the only thing I have not yet tried to bake into muffins.

Zachary, you may recall, is a picky eater.  I use the term “picky” rather loosely, as it implies that he sometimes does pick something.  Most of the time, frankly, he seems to survive on air and carbohydrates.  Hence the muffins.  A clever mother can sneak a surprising amount of stuff into a muffin, disguised as yet another round of carbs.

This kid would give Dr. Atkins heart palpitations, assuming the good doctor’s steady diet of red meat and eggs hasn’t already done his ticker in.

The problem is that there’s something wrong with every muffin recipe I can find.  When muffins are the main source of one’s child’s caloric intake, one tries to make them as healthful as possible.  I want a recipe with no sugar, lots of whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and low saturated fats.

Zachary can detect any grated fruits and veggies, which was his reason for rejecting last week’s muffins, so I puree them, but that throws off the consistency.  For years I have been finding recipes and then tinkering with them, never fully satisfied with the results.  And it grows more complicated as I try to steer away from canned goods, due to my reluctance to feed my kids Bisphenol-A.   (If there’s a Bisphenol-B, I’m pretty sure I want to avoid that one, too.)  Not that I can put canned pumpkin in the muffins anyway, given Lilah’s squash-induced hives, which also rule out zucchini.

It becomes a problem worthy of Socrates after awhile.

And then it occurred to me: I have been making a batch of muffins every week for four-and-a-half years.  I am a reasonably intelligent woman.  I’ll bet that, with some trial and error, I could design my own pureed vegetable, honey sweetened, BPA-free, squashless, olive-oil moistened, whole grain muffins.  With no nuts.  Or raisins.  Or apricot preserves.

Hell, I’ll bet with some practice I could figure out how to get protein in there while still adhering to the school’s no-nut policy.  Especially since my kid is one of the children that policy is designed to protect.  But it’ll have to be beans, since I am trying to cut back on our processed soy and meat intake.  And because beef would be kind of weird in carrot-bran muffins…

I will be posting from time to time, letting you know our progress.  It may be deadly dull, and for that I apologize, but it may also yield some lovely recipes.  Feel free to contribute with ideas and suggestions.

We’re going to be going through a lot of honey around here.  In glass containers, of course.

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Recipe one:

1 cup white flour

¼ cup whole wheat flour

1 cup oatmeal, run through food processor

tablespoon baking powder

teaspoon cinnamon

½ teaspoon salt

2 carrots, pureed

1 peach pureed, with skin

½ cup honey

½ cup olive oil

1 cup milk

2 egg

At the last minute, Zachary asked me to put dollops of raspberry jam in, whereupon I extracted a promise from him that he would actually EAT the muffins if I put jam in.  Usually, such fancy-pants tinkering renders them unacceptable.

The muffins were pretty good but too moist, which he doesn’t mind too much but dissatisfies me. I need to realign the wet/dry balance.  Next time, I think less milk, as the pureed peach is very moist.  And perhaps a teaspoon of baking soda so they aren’t so dense.

Damned if he didn’t say he couldn’t eat them because of the fucking jam.  Next time, no godforsaken jam.