Saturday, June 30, 2012

Seasons change

Now that it is Summer, I've had to shift some of my strategies. You would think that Summer would be easier as far as encouraging fruit and vegetable consumption since so much more of it is available fresh. That may be true for vegetables in our house (fresh asparagus, peas, mild flavored lettuces), but for my two kids, it doesn't hold true for fruit.

They both eat copious quantities of apples and sadly, apples are beginning to be pretty crappy: their favorite supermarket apples (Pink Lady, Honey Crisp) are no longer available so we're down to Fuji's and Gala's in the apples-that-aren't-mushy department. The girl's other regular fruits: grapefruits and navel oranges are also at the end of their season and it is a crap shoot when you cut one open as to whether it will be good or not. (I've been transforming the sour grapefruits into a really delicious cocktail with gin, lime juice and elderflower concentrate but that isn't an appropriate recipe for a "feeding-the-kids" blog!)

There's still watermelon and the occasional other melon (for the girl) and red grapes (for both) to lean on. I've made them try (again) small tastes of summer fruits that they have previously rejected (strawberries, plums, peaches, bing cherries) and all were gagged down and declared undesirable.

And yet, in all this talk of failure, there has been one modest success. I figured out a way to get both kids to consume some of these:

Neither of my kids likes bananas straight up (and this is one area that I tend to agree with them--I will occasionally eat a plain banana but usually sort of choke it down when I feel I am potassium deficient). So finding ways to mix them into stuff is a good way to increase consumption from zero to (at least) minimal. We still regularly make our high-protein banana chocolate chip muffins, but when you divide two bananas over a big batch of muffins, well, the fruit impact is pretty minimal. 

Enter the power of the freezer. A recipe on Pintrest for healthy fudgesicles caught my interest so I gave it a try. 

In a blender you whirl together: two very ripe, small bananas (the kind that would be too mushy to eat straight--their texture is disgusting but they are very, very sweet and perfect for this), 1 T cocoa powder, 1/2 C coconut milk and 1 T agave nectar. Pour into popsicle moulds and freeze.

In our smaller popsicle mould, there is a 1/4 of a banana per pop. In our larger mould, it's a 1/2 a banana (!).  The rest of the ingredients are pretty benign so I don't have a problem with the girl eating 4 at a time if that's what it takes to get a whole banana in her. 


It took a while to get the boy to agree to try one but finally I declared that he couldn't have any other frozen dessert (and he is a big ice cream lover) until he did. We engaged in a stare down for a few days, but after his sister vouched for their edibility, he tried one and thought it was fine. He wouldn't choose it over ice cream, but I'm pitching these as a healthy snack they can have any time, not as a dessert substitute. Context can make all the difference.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Progress with the tomato hater

I made one of my favorite soups, a creamy tomato soup (recipe below), and the girl had not one, but two (small) bowls of it. I left out the crushed red peppers that I usually add to the soup and settled for just sprinkling my portion with cayenne which was an acceptable modification.

To give you a sense of the momentousness of this please consider, she has:

  • vowed never to eat a raw tomato
  • won't eat tomato sauce on pasta
  • only barely tolerates tomato-based pizza sauce
To keep it interesting, the boy, who has no problem with (smooth) tomato sauce on pasta and sauce on pizza (no raw tomatoes for him, though) tasted it and threw his arms up in the air with an expression on his face that I can only call a rictus of alarm. It was only one step up from when he ran to the trash can and spat out the lentil soup I asked him to try. (And yes, I was tempted to make him try another taste just to see if he would repeat the response, sort of like a tap-to-the-knee reflex. I'm a little sick that way.)

Creamy Tomato Soup
adapted from this recipe from Food and Wine, March 2004

1 T butter
1 T olive oil
1 medium or 2 small onions, sliced thin
3 or 4 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed or chopped
2 big 28 oz cans of whole tomatoes in their juice
1 c water (use it to swish out the bits of residual tomato in the cans)
1 heaping T sugar
1/4 t crushed red pepper (leave out if you are dealing with sensitive palates and put some cayenne on the table w/in reach of those who like spice)
1/4 t celery seed
1/4-1/2 t dried oregano
2/3 - 1 C cream, half and half or whole milk (depending on how much acidity you want to off-set. For my sensitive kid, I went with cream)
salt and pepper (the latter is, again, optional)
chives, for garnish (optional)

In a saucepan, melt butter with the olive oil. Add the onion and garlic. Cook for about 5 minutes until soft. 

Add tomatoes and juice, water, sugar, crushed red peppers (optional), celery seed and oregano. Bring to a boil and break up the tomatoes with a knife or back of a spoon.

Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.

Puree in batches in the blender until smooth. Then stir in cream.

Snip some chives on each serving, unless, of course, there will be blood-curdling screams at the sight of something green.