My boys, as I've mentioned before, are not adventurous eaters. And you know what? Neither am I. I've gotten better as I've gotten older: In the old days, I considered yogurt a scary food and refused to eat Chinese or Mexican food because I couldn't identify every single ingredient. Now, I eat yogurt (mostly vanilla, though; I'm still not a fan of fruit) and have recently begun considering the fact that I may be missing out on something truly fantastic due to the fact that I believe seafood to be yucky, even though I've never tasted it.
Is it any wonder that my boys are picky?
Parenting, though, has a way of bringing out the best in most of us. Because I love my boys, I want them to be as happy and healthy as possible, and I know that learning to enjoy a variety of foods is a big part of that. I also know that good nutrition is important for me. I want to be around as long as possible, and subsisting on a diet based on meat, grains and dairy won't cut it.
So I've tried to improve our diets, but...
Despite a myriad of excuses (I'm too busy; I don't have time; it's not a priority right now; the boys eat half their meals at their Dad's house anyway), I finally realized that our family faces two major obstacles to healthy eating:
1) I don't eat a particularly healthy diet
2) I don't know how to prepare healthy, interesting, good tasting foods
I eat -- and prepare -- the food I grew up with. I'm pretty good at making meat-potato-and frozen veggie meals. I can make spaghetti, pizza, burgers and all that. But when it comes to interesting, healthy meals and snacks? I'm lost.
Enter two new books, Elizabeth Pantley's The No-Cry Picky Eater Solution and Parents Need to Eat Too, by Debbie Koenig. Pantley sent me a copy of her book after I, uh, made fun of some of her suggestions in an earlier blog post. Koenig's publicist sent me her new book as part of a promotional tour to celebrate the release of Parents Need To Eat Too. (Full disclosure: If I manage to get this post up in time, I may be eligible to win some kind of cooking tool or appliance.)
I've been perusing both books for a couple weeks now, and you know what? They've affected my shopping, cooking and eating habits. Both books include plenty of recipes, and a number of them sound so yummy and easy that I tried them. Want proof? On a recent trip to the grocery store, I put brussel sprouts, asparagus AND sweet potatoes in my cart. Better yet -- I've used and enjoyed almost all of them! (The brussel sprouts are still in the fridge, but I really want to try the Leaf Us Alone Brussel Sprouts recipe in Pantley's book.)
Koenig's book is aimed at new parents. The book starts, "If you're holding this book, odds are congratulations are in order. Either you're a new parent yourself, or you know someone who is." Well, my baby just turned six, and although I know new parents, I have no intention of giving the book to any of them. That's because I want to keep it! My baby might be six, but I'm still strapped for time and struggling to figure out how to prepare nutritious, great tasting meals in little time. If you ask me, Parents Need to Eat Too is a great resource for all parents.
The book is chock-full of easy, delicious sounding recipes. I've already made Buckwheat Carrot Muffins and Baked Sweet Potato Chips. And despite the author's own full-disclosure warning about the muffins ("I'm not gonna lie: Thse are health-bomb-type muffins"), my sons gobbled them up. I think they think that anything that looks like a cupcake must be good.
I had some trouble with the Sweet Potato Chips -- they burned before they got thoroughly crisp -- but Koenig assured me in an email that slicing them thinner and taking them out sooner might resolve that problem. I hope so, because the ones that I managed to rescue from the oven were delicious! The kids didn't eat them, but they did try them because they smelled so good while baking, and I consider that a step in the right direction.
No book can solve my feeding frustrations, but with these books in the house, I feel as if I finally have resources to help me plan and prepare easy, healthy and appealing meals and snacks.