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Friday, October 19, 2007

Thank You, Genes, For Making the Wolvog a Picky Eater (Children Mentioned)

We were walking out of the bookstore and I spotted a stack of Deceptively Delicious cookbooks on one of the front tables. I showed the cover to the Wolvog and ChickieNob and then told them pointblank, "I'm going to cook something from this next week and trick you. You're going to eat it and then I'm going to scream, 'it was full of spinach'." And they laughed. They laughed and laughed and I laughed and laughed.

And then I went home and plotted.

I have to admit, when I first saw this cookbook, I didn't get it. I started skimming through the recipes, noting that there were a bunch of purees at the start of the book. Make your own baby food, I thought. But then I started noticing that all the recipes were a For instance, my brownies have butter, cocoa, and sugar in them. Jessica Seinfield laces hers with carrot and spinach puree.

The woman is an evil genius.

Every recipe in the book is healthy. It's food kids love--quesadillas, spaghetti and meatballs, pizza--but all made with fruits and vegetables tucked into the ingredients list like covert spies in a dangerous land.

The Wolvog has been described by some as a "picky eater." I, myself, call him love-wrapped-in-skin-who-happens-to-not-enjoy-anything-other-
than-eight-things. But to each their own. His eight foods? Vegetarian bacon, grilled chicken, cream of broccoli soup, peanut butter and jelly, pancakes, pizza, whole wheat Wheat Thins, and yogurt. Sometimes a food is rotated off the list. For instance, pizza was an acceptable dinner option for a while and then went out of vogue and has since come back in style along with banana clips and stirrup pants. Veeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeery rarely is a food added.

I started with the pancakes figuring that (1) he will eat pancakes and (2) sweet potatoes are one of his most dreaded foods. When the ChickieNob (who eats pretty much anything) is chomping down on sweet potatoes, he rolls around dramatically in his high chair, moaning while keeping his hands over his mouth. I once tried a different "pancake-like" egg recipe from Kids Cook 1-2-3, which is a very cool cookbook where every recipe requires only three ingredients. I renamed them "cloud pancakes" since the Wolvog does not eat eggs. He said they were delicious so I ran with the idea of introducing everything in the form of pancakes.

He was a little suspicious at first--the colour is a bit off from normal pancakes--and watched me bustle about the kitchen in an attempt to hide my guilty face. But then he started eating them absentmindedly, chatting on about cell phones and iPods while he emptied his plate.

"Do you like those pancakes?" I asked him, motioning towards his plate.

"They're sweet!" he said, dipping another piece in his maple syrup.

It took every ounce of my being not to start shrieking: "they're full of sweet potatoes" as if I were announcing that soylent green is people.

I'm really proud of the Wolvog. I am not quite as proud of myself. I could not bring myself to try the sweet potato pancakes (I also couldn't bring myself to try the cloud pancakes). I don't have a problem eating vegetables--after all, I am a vegetarian--but I couldn't wrap my mind around the idea of knowing that there were root vegetables in the pancakes. It's my own hang-up. I can eat the sweet potato and I can eat the pancake. But together?

Do you think the Wolvog inherited this from me?

The New York Times recently had an article about how picky eaters inherit this tendency from their parents. I may have given him a gag reflex that begins simply with the smell of an undesired food; but Jessica Seinfeld has given me the secret medicine to combat picky-eater-itis: Deceptively Delicious.


ms. c said...

Great story!! I am running out to gert this book for, um, me. My list list of foods since becoming pregnat is perhaps shorter than that of the Wolvog. Now I will just get my husband to cook up something nutitious without me knowing!!

(Als, it totally made me laugh that peanutbutter and jelly is ONE food.)

Dianne/Flutter said...

Do you think it would work on a husband who is a picky vegetable eater?

sltbee69 said...

I may have to get this book. I've a picky husband and kid. Thanks for the recommendation.

Michell said...

I may have to try this book too. I was a very picky eater as a child who pretty much grew up eating peanut butter sandwiches. I have since figured out that I do like most things I wouldn't eat when I was young as long as I make it and know there are no onions or green peppers in it. Those are my 2 hates. However I am still very visual and very into texture. There are certain textures I just can't do.

Bea said...

I love how it gives an evolutionary explanation of picky childhood eating.


Jenn said...

I have seen this in a couple of magazines and was wondering if the recipes were any good- I'll have to give them a try. Sweet potato pancakes- ingenious!

Jess said...

Oh my gosh, I am not officially terrified. I am Captain Picky Eater with no rhyme or reason to things I hate (hamburger in any form whatsoever, ew. Mac and cheese? Ew. Chocolate? Almost always ew.

Crap, what if bio baby has this problem? I can trace it to Dad, so I know there's genetics at work there. Not in food choice, but in pickiness.

Crap crap crap.

Sara said...

I was just thinking about the NY Times article today. As a lifelong picky eater, it kind of bugs me that so many people treat all cases of picky eating as behavioral problems. Yes, some kids are terribly spoiled and insist on eating their favorite foods at all times. However, in other cases (such as my own, I think), a particularly sharp sense of smell and taste, coupled with a sensitive stomach, conspire to make eating certain foods an absolutely miserable experience for the sensitive eater. If your child is generally agreeable, but just has a strong aversion to specific foods (as opposed to a generalized aversion to e.g. novelty or foods of a certain color), then why on earth would you insist that the kid "try" that food again and again (as many NY Times readers suggested)? My mother did this to me as a child with eggplant and zucchini, and guess what? >30 years later, I STILL hate eggplant and zucchini!

I think that the Seinfeld approach makes perfect sense. If you can prepare the foods that you want your kid to eat in a form that they enjoy eating, then where is the harm? Good for you for being creative enough to get a root vegetable into a pancake!

MLO said...

Sweet potatoes, carrots, and squashes are naturally sweet - as are apples - and go into desserts really easily. As a matter of fact, you can make a recipe too rich by using these ingredients. (Apples, when pureed, can replace butter.)

Sweet potato and egg white pancakes are a high protein food used by weight training weenies (previous life) to increase their muscle building, btw.