Often, I joke that mothering a toddler is the grand act of not having said toddler harm himself. Or worse. I need to constantly have all eyes and hands available; ready to pull him down off of the leaning stack of chairs, buckle him back up in the stroller he finagled out of, and then there is the constant preventative measures I have to take so as to not have him slip through the beaten iron park gates like olive oil. Having kids is a joy, but keeping them alive remains unmeasured.
The same goes for food. I’d like to preach to you about how my kids aren’t at all picky eaters and I often bake barefoot on our uneven linoleum floor with my dirt-stained foot dusting away from one corner to the next. It is a rather less put-together affair. My children are early sleepers for one. And I do love to cook, but I am not keen on following all the rules outlined in cook books: A little here, a little there, that should do it. It taste the same, or better. They pick around it no matter. I digress, food and water keeps my children alive, and food, is a big undertaking for my family in-particualr.
I don’t blame my kids either. I grew up with a Panamanian father who put tomato sauce over everything, and had my palette acclimated to notes of peppers well before I knew the difference in sweetness and subtle between the bunch. And yet, as an adult, I loathe spicy foods. I want to throw coconut water across the room. And I don’t know what happened, but cilantro tastes like Palmolive.
Some battles are left to be won, but knowing my children is key. Especially on those nights when we are having a dance party and dinner runs over and so do baths.
Here are 9 of my go-to sorta healthy dinner meals.
1. Baked sweet potato fries. River now knows the difference between a “real fry” and a baked fry. She also knows I won’t make “real fries” so sweet potato fries it is.
2. Annie’s Mac & Cheese and peas. There’s always more peas than mac, and they still eat it. I think the illusion that they’re getting away with unhealthy eating helps them a bit.
3. Quessidillas. If you cook some veggies and puree them as a “sauce” with cheese, chance are my kids won’t notice.
3. Quiche. My quiche usually consists of turkey bacon, broccoli, spinach, and whatever vegetables we have on hand.
4. Cucumber sticks. KNOCK ON WOOD. The eat “cucumber sticks” every single day. I slice them up, and off the park they go. Lunches and dinner too. And no, cucumber sticks aren’t a meal, but knowing that they can accompany anything and my children still find them fascination helps the case.
5. Vegetable Rice. Turns out that my children love white rice. For years we only cooked brown rice, until River had white rice at a restaurant and then sort of gave up brown rice. Anything in white rice is fair game. I usually sauté a slew of vegetables and then add the rice. An egg on top for protein sake.
6. Salmon. Out of everything, the most surprising has been their love of salmon. They very rarely eat chicken or turkey, and we don’t eat red meat. So salmon has been a good option to always have on hand. We usually just throw it on the skillet with a tiny bit of oil and salt, cucumber sticks on the side, and some salted and buttered couscous and peas.
7. Vegetable Stew. No matter the season, I try to include a vegetable stew. Having it over rice is a sure-fire way
8. Vegetable pasta. If you invite me to a potluck, chances are I will bring this. Only this. Okay, maybe wine. My first taste was from an ex that made it for me we we awkwardly went to his friend’s barbecue. It consisted of olives and peppers and we ate it cold on a ripped sofa with two people crammed beside us. We unofficially broke it off two days later. Needless to say, I like to offer a warmer more comfortable option.