I know that I have mentioned this a few times in past posts, but my four year old son is an extremely picky eater. I was a picky eater until I was 25 years old, but he is worse than I ever was. He will not touch a vegetable with a ten foot pole. He is practically vegetarian save for chicken nuggets (don’t judge, they are not McDonald’s) and the occasional turkey dog. He will eat eggs but only the white of a hard boiled egg. The typical fare for Carlos includes toast, grilled cheese, Cheerios, gold fish crackers, macaroni and cheese, yogurt, noodles with butter, cheese pizza light on the sauce, berries, apples and occasionally a banana.
I’m not sure when it happened or why. My husband and I eat very nutritiously and our home is stocked with fruits, vegetables and healthy snacks including home baked goods. Carlos is developing properly and is a very healthy weight and height for his age.
I refuse to give up on the plight to encourage Carlos to eat a wider variety of foods. I will stop at nothing.This month we started keeping a calendar and he receives a star for every new food he tries each day. The idea is that we will count up the stars at the end of the month and give him a penny for each star to put into his piggy bank. Shhh he is only 4 and has no idea how much that really amounts to. It’s a win win for both of us. He gets money and I get the satisfaction of knowing that he has at least tasted foods that he has never tried before.
I am determined to sneak nutrition into both conversation and food whenever possible. Carlos and I bake together and discuss things like why too much sugar is bad for your body, why vegetables are important and why the orange popcorn in my grandmother’s pantry is not “natural” like the air popped popcorn I make.
This week saw one huge success. Carlos usually doesn’t eat anything that we bake together. On Monday we made these muffins from Fannetastic Food. I used zucchini instead of carrots because that’s what I had on hand. I absolutely love the recipe for its simplicity, nutrition and flavor. Carlos and I whipped up a batch in no time. He actually helped grate the zucchini so he knew it was in there. In a moment of madness I offered him 20 stars on his calendar to eat a muffin. I honestly never thought that he would take me up on the offer. Well he did! He was outside playing and came in for a snack. I said, “sure you can have a muffin.” He walked over to the plate, grabbed one and proceeded to gobble up the entire muffin. I stood there in shock and disbelief. I checked his hands and his pockets. It can’t be, I thought. I asked him where the muffin went and he simply pointed to his belly then asked for his stars!
Certain that it was just a fluke and would never happen again I waited out an entire day before offering Carlos another zucchini muffin. I didn’t even give him a whole one. I split one with him and just left a half on his breakfast plate. Again he ate it. It is truly a miracle.
Tonight I decided that I needed to go undercover and make these from Roni’s Green Lite Bites while Carlos slept. Cupcakes with spinach surely that would be gross. That’s right applesauce and spinach in lieu of oil and eggs. I was skeptical, I admit it, but oh my goodness soft, moist, flavorful…unbelievable! My husband and I each ate two because we just had to make sure you couldn’t taste the spinach. The little guy is asleep so I will have to wait until the morning to see his reaction. The only hurdle could be their bright green color. Otherwise you would never ever know that the cupcakes are chock full of such nutrition. We’ll see what happens tomorrow when Carlos tries one.
I know with kids you have to learn to pick your battles, well this is one battle I am willing to keep fighting.
UPDATE: Carlos ate an entire cupcake this morning (neither of us could wait). He didn’t even question the green color. Mommy 2 – Carlos 1 (not that I’m keeping score!)