#9: The joys of cooking for kids

Can't imagine a day when your picky eater won't be so particular? We're celebrating the moment your child loves what you make.

photo: Fertnig/iStockphoto.com

I used to be dreadful with accepting change. I guess it shouldn’t have surprised me that I’d have a child who was as stubborn and difficult as I was. Of course, having that child has made me much more of a roll-with-the-punches, fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants kind of gal. I suppose parenting an utterly astounding, not-so-great-with-change kinder has its perks.
 
I knew that having a child would probably change the way I ate and the way I cooked — for myself as well as for him. As a food blogger, I also knew I would be the type of A-personality mum who made her child’s meals with both gratification and determination…it’s who I am. I am a foodie, through and through — having a child hardly stopped that. Remember: I’m not good with change (see above.)
 
I just don’t think it ever dawned on me how thrilled I would be on the day my son ate — and enjoyed — something I had made especially for him. When he clapped his hands in excitement and smiled a heart-felt grin in appreciation as the plate hit the table. Or that when he first exclaimed, “Mama, you made this? By yourself? It is so good”, just how much those words would tug at my heart strings.

Amazingly, all this was in reference to real food, not toast or peanut butter sandwiches (because that is actually all he would eat for a while.) Food, with a capital F, that required prep time and cooking and spicing and even, dare I say it…some presentation. My son has suddenly become a connoisseur of food, at the ripe old age of nearly six. It took a while and a lot of tenacity on my part, but he loves to eat now and will devour just about anything I put in front of him.
 
He knows the difference between the low-fat cheese that mummy eats sometimes to make sure her jeans will continue to fit and the really good cheddar she chops up for him to eat with his lunch. He is accustomed to spicy food and loves strong flavours more than I had expected. He has a weakness for chopped tomatoes in olive oil with salt and pepper, and loves plain yogurt, hummus and even pesto. This child will eat onions, carrots, zucchini, broccoli and cauliflower. He loves him some beef bacon, freshly fried, next to two, perfect sunny-side up eggs. And best of all — and this is the thing that makes my heart sing — he adores his mama’s cooking. Shepherd’s Pie, Turkey Burgers, Roast Chicken in Tomato-Basil Sauce and oh, please don’t you dare forget about mama’s Spaghetti and Meatballs.
 
I knew I could cook before I had a baby — of course I could cook. And I knew I enjoyed cooking for other people, it was just who I was. But now, I plan out meals that the two of us can eat together – that my son can enjoy eating and expand his blooming palate with. It was a challenge at first but now it comes as second nature to cook something he will eat and I will also enjoy. It’s amazing, really…and something I had never expected would bring me such complete and unreserved delight.