When a foodie needs to feed a toddler.

He enjoys twirling his ‘noodles’ like a true Italian.

Tonight, right before I put our dinner on the table, my Little Mister said to me, “Mommy, you make the BEST dinners!”

This warmed my heart, and I happily accepted this compliment, even though I had just plated the most typical four-year-old’s meal: chicken nuggets and steamed carrots (not really a dinner I was going to win any awards for).

I love food. I love cooking and I love eating out. I love trying new recipes at home, and tasting restaurant’s signature dishes. I’m a self-proclaimed (non snobby) foodie. I just enjoy good food.

So when the Little Mister came along, I couldn’t wait to bestow my knowledge and love of good food on my impressionable son.

One of my favorite parts of babyhood was when it was time for Little Mister to start trying solid foods. Each weekend I would steam and purée new foods, package and freeze them in single servings. Apples! Carrots! Sweet potatoes!

And the Little Mister loved every bite. In fact, the only food I couldn’t get him to like – despite weeks of trying – was avocado (how is that possible??)

Then we moved onto combination foods: puréed chicken soup, beef stew and veggies and chick peas.

As someone who loves food, and loves cooking, Little Mister’s love of food made me want to cry tears of joy. We were doing something right! Our child liked to eat different foods!

We progressed from there. Shrimp. Zucchini. Meatloaf. There was nothing he wouldn’t eat (except avocado, still).

But as time went on, and we entered ‘toddlerhood’ (cue maniacal laugh), my good little eater was nowhere to be found.

Suddenly, foods that he used to love, were met with a loud, “Blecch!” (even before a morsel was tasted).

Right before my very eyes, my wide-eyed little foodie lost his sophisticated palette, and almost over night we entered the dreaded chicken nugget phase.

There are about a dozen meals we can rotate for dinners, including:

  • Chicken soup (if it’s homemade only, and doesn’t have any “green things” in it)
  • Chicken nuggets (we prefer dino nuggets, and don’t even think about trying to pass off a genuine chicken cutlet in small shapes off to him, it will be met with, “Mom, what IS this?”
  • Hot dogs
  • Meatloaf (most of the time, as long as there’s lots of ketchup)
  • Scrabled eggs
  • Pancakes
  • Grilled cheese (it’s hit or miss with the grilled cheese, which we are sometimes told is “only a lunch food”)
  • Spaghetti with butter and cheese
  • Pasta with sauce (depends on the shape of the pasta, how soft the pasta is (he prefers al dente) and whether or not there is visible basil or oregano “green stuff” in the sauce
  • Meatballs
  • Mac and cheese (He prefers blue box, I prefer Annie’s)
  • Salmon (every third time I make it, as long as it’s drowning in lemon and there’s a promise of dessert if he finished)

We are lucky in that he does eat some vegetables: carrots, broccoli, string beans (sometimes) and peas.

When I think back to my childhood, I distinctly remember eating a cheese and mustard sandwich every day for lunch for 3 years straight in junior high. I’m pretty sure we had the same dinners each week on rotation. And I’m the first person who wants to order octopus at a restauarnt, or enjoy a big bowl of midnight pasta (made with anchovies).

So, there is hope for my Little Mister after all. And for me to keep my ‘best dinner-maker’ award.

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