Toddler eating is getting to be a little crazy-making in our home. No, the throwing hasn't really begun (and please, Lord let it not!), but picky eaters? Spitting out food? Dropping loads of painstakingly-prepared food onto the floor? Oh, my yes.
The favorite food group by far is fruit. These boys would eat only fruit all day long if I let them. The canned peaches I put up are going fast, and the 20 pounds of blueberries we picked and froze are eaten up already. Next spring I am seriously going to have to invest in a chest freezer to put up many times more than what I did this year. Max signs peach, apple, pear, and grape with glee, squeals for berries and apricots, and tucks into whatever fruit I set before him with great enthusiasm.
Last week, zucchini sauteed in garlic was the only veggie I could get them to eat; this week, they won't have anything to do with it. Last night I made a seriously fabulous sweet potato dish that they wouldn't touch. The most frustrating part is the whining and clingyness that descends upon our home after 4pm -- prime time for dinner making. Shoghi wants only to be in my arms - he has a great fascination with chopping, cooking, and the stove. When I put him down he cries bitter tears and bites my legs. I had to stop wearing him in the ergo last week when he bit my shoulder so hard I wondered if he was going to come away with a mouthful of flesh. That wasn't one of my prettiest mama moments, lemme tell ya.
So, after practicing mindfulness, patience, and measured breathing for the better part of an hour (or more) at the end of a long day, when we sit down to eat and they won't take more than 2 bites of whatever I have cooked, I find myself feeling rather grumpy. I crack open another jar of pears; I spoon out yet another bowl of yogurt. Goldfish, anyone? I remember reading recently that toddlers have gotten most of their calories already during the day, so dinner doesn't need to be too big, and I remind myself that dinner can actually be the smallest meal of the day... but then I put them to bed with anxieties of them waking up in the middle of the night, and so I beg them to take one bite more.
So, in the spirit of leaving these exploring, blossoming little beings who are developing opinions and preferences to their little devices, I thought we'd take a moment to share some yummies that the grown-ups will certainly enjoy. Let toddler have yogurt and fruit only... we have other things to eat!
First, I give you this cookbook: Feeding the Whole Family: Cooking with Whole Foods which I read about over the summer. I adore this book, from its lovely cover art, to its explanations of cooking whole grains, to its pages of inspiring recipes that I can't wait to try. I've made the maple nut granola so many times already - it's becoming a weekly activity. It is so good, it's worth getting the book just for that.
Second, I thought that you might appreciate the wonderfully delicious sweet potato dish I concocted last night, so here you have it:
Carmelized Sweet Potatoes with Pine Nuts
2 medium sweet potatoes, cubed
1 small onion, chopped
1T minced or grated ginger
1/4c pine nuts
salt and pepper to taste
Steam sweet potatoes in a basket steamer for approximately 10 minutes, or until fork tender, set aside.
While the sweet potatoes are steaming, carmelize the chopped or sliced onion in 1T of butter and 1T olive oil and a dash of salt. Cook over medium heat to slowly soften, then brown the onion. When onion is almost done, add a pinch of crushed, dry rosemary and ginger, continuing to sautee until onion is nicely done.
In a separate dry pan, roast pine nuts until light brown and fragrant. Set aside when done.
Increase heat to medium-high, adding more oil if necessary to ensure that the sweet potatoes will be well-coated after adding. When the pan it hot, add sweet potatoes and then honey, turning to cover with oil/onion. Allow to cook slowly and brown, stirring every few minutes, adjusting heat as necessary.Salt and pepper to taste.
When there's a nice brown crust on the potatoes, add the pine nuts. Garnish with parsley if desired.
Let me know if you try it - I'd love to hear what you think! And if you have any toddler favorite recipes or tips, bring em on - I beg of you!