Someone was a little crabby yesterday while at my mother’s for dinner.

Eating a second dinner of PB&J...toasted special by Nonna

Being 3 is very difficult.

Got milk? That's something to smile about.

Just seconds before he spits it out!

We thought the milk mustache was cute until Carlos surprised us all with a spitting spray of milk across the counter.

Where does he come from?  I ask myself this question numerous times a day mostly because of his eating habits.  I grew up in a big Italian family.  Food was a major focus of life.  Don’t even get me started talking about how much of a role food played on any holiday or celebration.  Considering how much food was always around I was a pretty picky child.  I didn’t eat a vegetable until I was in my 20s (it was then I discovered that corn and potatoes don’t count).

So what did I subsist on?  Breakfast was fairly easy as I ate just about any kind of cereal.  I remember really sugary cereals like Lucky Charms being a once in a while treat.  We usually ate Cheerios, Mini Wheats or Raisin Bran.  I ate toast with butter, jam, or peanut butter.  I always loved fruit.  In the winter I ate Cream of Wheat on cold mornings.  Other breakfast eats included: eggs, french toast, pancakes on occasion, and my grandmothers homemade fried dough.

Lunch was usually a peanut butter and jelly sandwich at school.  When we were home my mother would serve toasted cheese (simply bread with a slice of American cheese on top stuck in the toaster oven until the cheese gets all bubbly), macaroni and cheese, Ellio’s pizza, or hot dogs.

My mother cooked dinner every night unless we were going somewhere special.  Of course I ate pasta.  My mother says that I only ate it with butter and cheese as a toddler.  I only remember eating it with sauce and lots of grated cheese.  I would eat chicken that my mom prepared.  I ate hamburgers, pizza, potatoes, corn, soup (chicken noodle, pasta fagioli, tortellini), steak, baked beans, turkey  and probably a few other things that I’m forgetting.

Pitiful isn’t it!  The only thing green in my diet was a Granny Smith apple from time to time.  In my last year of college I lived for a semester in Mexico.  While there I finally got adventurous and tried rice.  Imagine I had never tried white rice.  Upon my return to the states I expanded my tastes to include romaine lettuce, broccoli, salsa and black beans.

In 1998 I moved to Mozambique in Southern Africa.  Surrounded by new foods and gorgeous brightly colored vegetables I adopted the motto “when in Rome.”  I tried everything that came my way.  Within months a typical dinner consisted of a big bowl of tomatoes and onions with a soft Portuguese roll or rice and beans Mozambican style.  In my time there I ate my share of king prawns, goat, tomatoes, onions, peppers, tripe, freshly killed chicken and beef, sugar cane, various kinds of fish, greens and xima (a corn meal based dish akin to grits).  There were plenty of foods that I ate that I didn’t want to know what they were like liver.

When I returned home in 2002 I couldn’t wait to try some of my favorite foods that I always ate without the vegetables.  For the first time in my life I was excited about salads, roasted vegetables, yogurt and oatmeal.  The first few years at home included lots of new foods, but it wasn’t until after my son was born four years ago that I truly began to discover how wonderful healthy food could taste.  Having always struggled with weight issues a new baby, a laptop and healthy living blogs changed my eating habits once again.

To be continued…

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