My diva's always had a very sensitive gag reflex. And trust me, this is not a good thing. Ear infections made her throw up. Coughing, too - and this was a child who one winter suffered through eight rounds of bronchiolitis. The least hint of a tummy bug would send the poor thing to the hospital.
This also applied to any new foods. A couple of Thanksgivings ago my diva tried green beans for the first time. She promptly threw them up. And then demanded dessert.
My kids don't exactly have adventurous palates, mostly because when they were little I had this fabulous but very demanding job. I couldn't get home for dinner. So dad "cooked" - or rather, nuked. And they got used to a pretty standard menu of chicken nuggets, raisin bread, cheese and fruit. In fact, on dad nights that's often still what they get.
So, a couple of years ago, in a desperate bid to wean them off of over-processed, over-salted, pre-packaged ick, I began a campaign to get them eating real food. It started with homemade pizza and braised chicken tenders and moved on from there. I can now make a whole week of meals without one thing coming out of a box. Well, unless you count macaroni and cheese. Which, of course, you should.
I also introduced some very basic vegetables: peas, corn, raw carrots and cucumbers. It took forever. I'd have to put a new thing on their plates at least a dozen times before they'd start eating it. Slow and steady. We've actually managed to get broccoli in the line-up this way. I put it on their plates every time I got the urge to make it, and now, at last, all three of them will eat it.
With my recent Family Dinner initiative, though, I'm cooking more, and I'm cooking for all of us. This means that I'm making food I like, too. And that means more veggies. I do offer at least one or two things I know the kids like, just so they don't go hungry. So far, there's been bread and fruit on the table every night. But I've got this long-time rule that the kids can't be excused until they've had one bite of everything. As a result, they are suddenly trying a whole lot more food,
And I'll be damned if it isn't working!
Last week, I steamed and buttered some brussels sprouts. Every child at the table tried them. My boys, not surprisingly, went "ew" after their required one bite. My diva? "Hey, this is pretty good!" And while she still ate just the one, she ate the whole thing. Next time, she'll eat two. And eventually - just watch - brussels sprouts will be a staple of her diet.
On Sunday it was baked carnival squash, scooped & smashed with a bit of butter and syrup. Again from the diva, "Hey, this is pretty good!"
And then she demanded broccoli for Monday.
My girl loves her veggies. Isn't she awesome?