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What’s a Dad to do?

December 30, 2010

Children will be children. And by definition they are picky and finicky. They like what they like and hate everything else. Take this for an example: “Mia (my daughter), would you like to have a grilled cheese sandwich for dinner?” I ask. “No, I don’t like grilled cheese anymore,” she says. “Oh really, but you just had it for lunch yesterday,” I say. “Yeah, I know, Daaad.  But that was then and this is now,” she says.

What’s a dad to do?

I struggle with this constant change of heart. One moment she likes pasta and red sauce, the next she refuses to have sauce if the word pasta is anywhere on the jar (and don’t even get me going on home-made sauce). One moment she likes almonds, the next she won’t eat any nuts unless they’re the kind in shells and are called pistachios; and even then they have to be from the right store, on the right day, in the right package.  I know better; nevertheless, I can’t help but find this struggle completely infuriating, and it sometimes causes me to act in completely illogical ways.

I’ve done all the things parents have done for aeons prior to me. I’ve tried to bribe her into eating her peas by offering the biggest, tastiest, chocolatiest dessert. I’ve offered to buy her a pony if she just tries one spoonful of vegetable (which actually worked until yesterday when she figured out that she wasn’t really going to get a pony out of the deal). I’ve tried to convince her that if she doesn’t eat her food she won’t grow big and strong. I know, according to the experts, that I’m really not supposed to be resorting to threats and bribery, but here’s the thing–I’m fairly convinced she will die of malnutrition if left to her own devices. Okay, that’s probably not true, but my logic is not always sound–especially when it comes to my kids.

Of course I know in truth that these tactics don’t work with kids. In fact, these are things I tell my clients NOT to do. These things never have worked and they never will. I know that most children change their minds about what food they like more often than they change their underwear. I know that what I need to do is be patient and let her guide her own food choices. I know I have a choice. I can either continue to fight this battle and ultimately lose, or I can compromise and create a calmer me and a more enjoyable food experience for her . . . and hopefully avoid feeling like I want to run screaming and yelling that the sky is falling because she has eaten nothing but peanut butter sandwiches for the past week.

So, what do I do? I acknowledge that each kid is different and trying to find some magic answer is impossible. It doesn’t exist. What does work, however, is listening to my daughter; hearing what she wants, having conversations with her about food choices and nutrition, and trying to present tasty, nutritious foods to her that she will enjoy.

And if that doesn’t work I can always offer her a trip to Disneyland.

Spinach Pancakes

We actually have one recipe that she likes even though she is aware that there are vegetables in it. I can’t tell you how many nights we eat these. When we first served these pancakes we told Mia that they were leprechaun pancakes. She asked if we had to kill many leprechauns to make the pancakes green. I assure you, and her, that no leprechauns were hurt in the making of these pancakes. The great thing about these pancakes is that they don’t taste at all like spinach–they’re light, and tasty.

2 eggs

1 1/4 cups unsweetened soy milk (or any milk)

1 teaspoon vanilla

3 tablespoons coconut oil

1/2 cup – flour

1 cup whole wheat flour

3/4 tbsp salt

2 teaspoons baking powder

2 – 3 cups fresh baby spinach

1. Blend eggs, milk, vanilla, and spinach in a blender or food processor until light and airy (about 3 minutes).

2 . Mix dry ingredients together (flour, salt, baking powder,sugar) in a large bowl.

3. Gently fold egg mixture into dry ingredients and stir until completely mixed.

4. Let the batter rest while the griddle is heating (batter will thicken upon standing). Heat coconut oil until hot, but not smoking, and pour 1/4 cupfuls of batter on the griddle.

5. Cook on one side until bubbles begin to form. Then turn the pancakes and cook on the other side until brown.

Serve with your choice of topping such as strawberries, yogurt, or maple syrup.

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