Is This Kid For Real?

I don’t want to jinx things, but this last week has felt like a miracle with our ultra-picky almost-10-year-old vegetarian. I dare not say we have fully turned a corner, but I have renewed hope in being able to get that kid to eat a wider variety of foods.

First, there was a cheese souffle. She ate it. She didn’t clean her plate, but she ate a good amount. So, for a Monday night dinner, I made manicotti (vegetarian) for her and canelloni (meaty) for my husband and I. She ate it all. I was in shock. I was convinced the texture of the ricotta and spinach filling would be a definite no. I got a “this is actually good,” which she frequently says with a tone of surprise that would be offensive if it wasn’t just so damned funny. Then on Wednesday, I actually just reheated the same thing with a different side vegetable. She ate it. The child who usually instantly hates anything leftover ate the reheated manicotti that I never dreamed she’d eat the first time.

Then I found spinach on sale, so I decided to base my dinner plan for Friday night around my intense desire for creamed spinach. I served it with sauteed king royal mushrooms we also found at the store and reheated some chicken I had previously made for my husband and I. The mushrooms were not a hit. We had never tried them before, so I googled and prepared them in the simplest manner I found. She finally found a mushroom she didn’t like. I may try them again in a different preparation, as I read some interesting articles about using them as a calamari substitute. But she ate the spinach and asked for more. She loved it. I got a “pure deliciousness,” a compliment I have not heard before.

Saturday, we had two victories in one day. For breakfast, I made biscuits and chocolate gravy. (I also made some sausage gravy for my husband.) Of course, it should be noted here that I’m pretty sure I could put anything chocolate in front of this kid, and she’d eat/drink/inhale it. But this was a new dish for her, and she didn’t even hesitate. I got another “pure deliciousness.” Then for dinner, I made cheese fondue using the classic recipe with Gruyere and Swiss cheeses. I served it with granny smith apples, home-made french bread slices, celery, diced mini sweet bell peppers, and lightly steamed broccoli. It was another home run. She is now super excited about the idea of going to a fondue restaurant.

Sunday was a real home-run. I made eggs benedict (leaving out the ham for hers). I only made one egg benedict for her, as she doesn’t usually eat as much at breakfast, so I buttered and put the other half of her English muffin on the plate. Not only did she eat the benedict, she ate it all before touching the plain piece of English muffin. It is absolutely unheard of for this kid to not eat the bread on her plate before anything else. She told me my egg was perfectly poached! I was stunned. I had trouble not getting up and dancing on the table during breakfast.

The bottom line is that we had a solid week with no battles over meals and no stifling of my frustration over working so hard to provide a delicious and varied menu, only to have her eat nothing but bread and cheese! I’m not sure if her taste buds are finally developing, or her mind opening a little, or if it was just a fluke streak of luck. My plan is to continue for as long as she is open to trying new things. This next week will include chickpea cakes (a vegetarian version of crab cakes), dill sauce, and lentil sloppy joes at the very least. And with that, I’m going to make the creamed spinach she loved so much to balance the trying new things. I’m excited to see how long this trend lasts.

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