She was a 7 month mush-eater then, and I was appalled at the prospect of cooking separate meals - as many parents regularly do.
I asked myself, how do I introduce my daughter to the wonderful world of food?
The biggest challenge to my cooking had arrived.
Well, I thought that was the case. But then Billie quickly developed a reputation as a darn good eater. Nothing got in the way of her appetite. So it wasn't too hard sticking to the one-family-meal plan.
Instead, the greatest challenge to my cooking arrived a little later. It's been a gradual shift. Late last year the change began.
Now we are faced with a discerning eater. Unpredictable. Unexplainable. Surprising. Random. But often eager. Food is still fairly close to the centre of Billie's world. She's still the toddler found nibbling from the buffet when the crowd has moved on.
Foods that continue to please every time: black beans, kidney beans, white beans, any beans (but not green), cheddar, ricotta, blue cheese, Camembert, feta, soba noodles, pasta, muesli, yoghurt, blue berries, apples, mandarins, peanut butter, Vegemite, crackers, sultanas, currents, dates, prunes, potato, red sauce, spicy foods, capers, olives, grapes, pesto, vegetarian nachos, daddy's vegetable sauces and mashes and soups that taste of vegetable but don't share the texture, pancakes, anything sweet, toast, bread and did I mention bread?
That looks a fairly good list, true. But note the lack of vegetables. Here are the foods embraced with gusto one day, and refused without tasting the next: eggs, mushroom, spinach, pumpkin, fish, quinoa, rice, tofu, tempeh, sweet potato, milk, strawberries, pear, and the list does go on.
I'm sticking with my philosophy of one-meal-for-one-family. I fear I may get very frustrated, grow to dislike cooking, and wind up with a fussy five-year-old if I do anything else.
I've swung between trying to cater to Billie's ever-changing tastes - impossible as it's without rhyme nor reason - and just serving up what I feel like eating.
When I do make a separate special meal for her, she often turns up her nose at what I thought was the flavour of the week.
So I reckon the best compromise may be:
- Once a week do what Miles did tonight - cook up a vegetable sauce to be blended and stirred generously through pasta - a success every time. This gave her broccoli, onion, garlic, tomato
- Serve up a variety of whole foods each night - different textures, flavours and colours - whatever the household is eating
- Try and have one thing on the plate that she/he will LIKELY like, so at least eating something
- However, at least once a week leave out the always-favoured - Billie's is bread, pasta, noodles, cheese - so the hungry child is encouraged to broaden their palette
I'll keep you posted on our work-in-progress.
Yes, it's been a while between recipes. Hope you like the re-design for the re-launch. Tasty recipes coming your way this week: Mediterranean Quinoa Salad and Spinach, Feta and Yoghurt Pie.