I'm constantly being asked about Ethan's eating habits -- mostly how? How do I get him to eat the strangest foods without a single bit of hesitation? My response is usually that I'm grateful for his appetite and fabulous eating skills, but everyone has their flaws -- like the fact he just flat-out doesn't sleep ever. Usually, the person doing the asking has a child who understands what a nap is or has conquered the art of nighttime sleep, so they understand where I'm coming from a little bit. Sure, they have to fight their toddler to ingest a slice of apple or maybe a half of a grilled cheese sandwich, but they get to do so on maybe eight hours of uninterrupted sleep. Ethan may be all about beets and red peppers and kale and plums but I'm starting to feel a little bit like some kind of Zombie Chef. Any meal that ends up on the table, well, is brought to this family by Starbucks and the fact that any coffee budget we implemented has flown out the window. Every baby has their thing, I think. Ethan's thing is sheer enjoyment out of whole, healthy foods and an absolute distaste for sleep.
Cooking has never been my thing. Because I had to learn how to be a chef when Ethan was ready to begin solid foods, something I didn't know I was going to look forward to would be long days in the kitchen with Ethan. Everyone is quick to point out that I'll change my tune once there is tutoring and after school lessons and carpooling to be done, or another sibling winds up thrown into the mix, but right now I like giving Ethan options for our meals. I like to consult him on recipes and meal ideas, and have him assist me in selecting ingredients both at the grocery store and when in the kitchen. It's important to me for him to understand where his food comes from and what it's comprised of, rather than be served some giant plate of unknown at dinnertime with the instruction solely to eat it. Once life becomes a little busier, when it's not just Ethan and myself at home preparing for dinnertime, I could see this changing (not that I want it to). But right now, well, right now I'm enjoying it regardless of who says this will one day end, spending time in the kitchen with Ethan and having him assist me with his meals. He enjoys helping me create meals that he gets to eat, licking spoons and shouting "mmmmm!" in a way that sounds harsher, more like a grunt than a good thing. I think this thing we have going on, this mommy and child working together to get dinner on the table thing, does wonders for his creative appetite (and my sanity).
So why? How? Why is Ethan such a great eater (when I admittedly am not) and how do I get him to remain that way? It's a good question that I don't think has an actual response, other than the kid just loves food.
Like these multifaceted Quinoa & Cauliflower Muffins that we made this afternoon, which also can double as a hearty bowl of quinoa & cauliflower -- you know, like mac 'n cheese, but better.
You'll Need: cauliflower florets (steamed), one organic carrot (steamed), quinoa, wheat germ, quick cooking oats, coconut oil, honey, black pepper, one tomato (chopped) and a handful of mozzarella cheese.
How To Make: Steam 1 1/2c of cauliflower florets and one large organic carrot. Puree until smooth. Add a small handful of mozzarella cheese and continue to puree. Once smooth, stir in cooked quinoa and chopped tomato until evenly mixed. Add black pepper to taste. To make the muffin crust, stir 1 cup oats and 3 tablespoons wheat germ in a small bowl. Add in two teaspoons of coconut oil and a drop of organic honey until mixture is clumpy, evenly coated but not wet. Push oat mixture into muffin tin and bake at 250 degrees for 15 minutes. Pour quinoa mixture into crusts and bake at 300 degrees for 20 minutes. Let cool for 10-15 minutes before popping out of the muffin tin.
Don't feel like making the crusts? No problem.