Wednesday, March 2, 2011

cooking skills, or the lack thereof

I have a confession to make: I often struggle with what to make for W for lunch and dinner. Breakfast is easy. Banana. Sippy cup full of milk. Chee.rios. Maybe an scrambled egg if there's time or it's a weekend. Other meals are hard, though. We've been raising him somewhat vegetarian because I'm vegetarian (have been for almost 20 years--egad!). It's not so much that I want him to abhor meat, but that I don't want to cook it because it's icky to me. I'm way out of practice. I don't even really remember how to make chicken that tastes good.

He's not being deprived in terms of fruits or veggies--he gets lots of these at every meal. He doesn't always eat them, of course, but he's offered them and he usually nibbles. Green beans, peas, and carrots are special favorites, as are pears and apples. Blueberries are apparently a toddler version of heaven. I almost called the doctor the other day because he ate an entire pint of blueberries almost on his own; I filched a few before he had cleaned out the bowl. LOVES blueberries, just like his mama. But protein...that's what I'm worried about. Doesn't he need protein to build strong muscles and bones? This has long been a struggle for me, too, and I've resorted to eating plenty of the processed soy products as a means to ensure that I get enough. I refuse to give him those, however, because they're really just one step away from fast food. I wish I could cut down on them.

Our usual sources of protein are black beans, lentils, cheese, tofu, eggs, and yogurt. But he picks at the beans and lentils, and while he'll eat cheese like there's a shortage on the way, I'm not crazy about it as a main source of protein. It's expensive to buy the hormone-free stuff, and I think he's getting a little bored with it. One can only eat so many cheese cubes. Tofu is hit or miss. And honestly, I'm not a great cook. I have very few tricks up my sleeve, and because I work full time (not meaning this as an excuse, but as a descriptive measure), I generally don't have time or energy to figure out other ways to fry up tofu that will work.

Oh, and purees are out of the question. W refuses purees unless we're talking applesauce. He wants to eat everything with his hands. Last night, I gave up the fork for letting him pick up chunks of scrambled egg by hand because he wouldn't eat it any other way. I think we're in the toddler "I can do it!" stage with full force.

I'm not asking for advice, here, though I'll certainly take it. I'm more just lamenting the sadness that are my cooking skills. I can make a mean loaf of bread or a fine batch of cookies, but a main dish for a toddler? Meh. What I'd really like to be doing is making meals that he and I can eat together, but that's not really working, either, as my foods tend to be ones he turns his nose up. I took him to my favorite Indian buffet last weekend, only to remember 1/2way through that he doesn't like the texture of rice. He snubbed almost everything I offered except for a few peas from the matar paneer that he could pick up with his grubbly little fingers.

I suppose that like so much in parenting, this stage, too, will pass and I'll be facing a different challenge. But for today, this is it: what am I going to make us for dinner tonight? Does anyone else face eating challenges with their LO?

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