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I can't believe my chowbaby ate it...

I recently read an old article on Ming Tsai. His young son has several food allergies, probably most if not all of the 'Top 8'. He explained that no one should feel sorry for his son. He cannot have dairy, soy, eggs etc....just like my 20 month old daughter. His son eats lamb chops and fried rice noodles for dinner. What an inspiration! I thought I have to give this a try. I love lamb so why not expose the lil one to it.

So that's what I did this evening. I roasted her lamb chop well done, served it with steamed rice and roasted cauliflower. She ate it all up. I was pleasantly surprised. I had Plan B, frozen spaghetti sauce ready for reheat. But, I can save that one for a future dinner disaster.

Thanks Ming!

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  1. I hope you are now inspired to help your daughter explore her food world. I am of the opinion to try everything you can; several times.

    My parents had the atitude, and I am sure is where my houndishness comes from. Plus, we had the Polish saying (which I have no idea what it is in Polish, just translated) for if you say you don't like something, you were told "to scratch your tongue". I was pretty old before I caught on!

    1. I'm very impressed with how Ming Tsai responded once he learned of his son's allergies. He's a proponent of a law in Mass. that would require a recipe "bible" for all restaurants listing all of the ingredients in each dish. It sounds like a great idea to me and might result in some rather scary ingredients being eliminated from dishes entirely (just a nice side benefit). Food allergies are a serious thing and should be treated as such. (A quick parenthetical: I know many people will say "oh, I'm allergic to X" when they are very surely not...but that's a seperate thing entirely.)

      Congrats on finding something new for your tot! Nice work.

      1. My niece has been eating almost everything her parents eat since she was able to chew. She eats everything. I know she had lamb just before her first birthday -- the family went out to dinner and my sister gave her some of her lamb. This was after she helped herself to some radicchio off her grandma's plate. I think she liked the color.

        I think the whole babyfood industry is a scam. There's really only a very short period of time between when babies start eating solid food and when they can eat "regular" food that's cut into small pieces, and it's not hard to puree your own fruit and cooked veggies for a tiny fraction of the cost. And now they're pushing packed meals for toddlers!

        4 Replies
        1. re: Ruth Lafler

          That seems like an extension of the "Lunchables" brand or some such thing. A few years back, Jay Leno did a bit that I always remember in which they renamed products to accurately reflect what the product was for. The lunchables box was renamed "I'm a bad parent."

          1. re: ccbweb

            That's great. I'm going to tell my husband, who's willing to buy Lunchables. We try to limit her to 2-4 in a school year, but I FEEL like a bad parent every time I give it to her.

          2. re: Ruth Lafler

            Yup my kid pretty much skipped the pureed food stage - was not interested - soon figured out the food we ate was better tasting and started grabbing it. Loved to feed herself little bits of this and that (everything from steak to swiss chard) from around 9 months. She is now 17 months and starting to display some pickiness, but we still offer her whatever we're eating (unless it is too spicy, because she will eat it until she's in pain and then cry - nursing helps with that though).

            One thing my kid loves is hummus. She can eat it with a spoon, or dip crackers into it - both activities which she enjoys. She also unfortunately loves Kraft mac n cheese (not that we serve it often), and clearly prefers white bread and rice over whole grain. So I do think they have preferences, but their horizons can be much broader than people might suspect.

            1. re: julesrules

              The added bonus to feeding table food is that the baby can feed herself, and you don't have to sit there shoving spoonfuls of babyfood into their mouths only to have them spit them out.

          3. Think about how much time you spend keeping your home safe because your baby puts everything in his mouth! Turn that into an asset. As long as what you put in front of him isn't a choking hazard, your baby will explore it with his fingers and mouth. He'll pick it up and pop it right in. Sure, some things may eject but he'll keep trying. As long as he sees you eating it and you keep putting it in front of him, he'll accept the notion that those are normal things that everybody eats.
            I popped my kids in their highchairs when I fixed meals and we "chatted" while they concentrated on getting bits of food into their mouths. I spent a lot of time sweeping and mopping at first but they got good at hitting the target pretty soon.
            You create picky eaters by deciding that kids won't accept certain foods. Chinese kids eat Chinese food. Mexican kids eat Mexican food. Your kid will eat whatever is normal for your family. If you're a picky eater, you're going to raise one. Time to change your ways.

            12 Replies
            1. re: MakingSense

              Makes feeding time much more pleasant for everyone, doesn't it? My niece has a large plastic "bib" that goes under the highchair to contain the mess.

              1. re: MakingSense

                I like that; your kid doesn't know what food he/she is "supposed" to like. It's great we have so many choices here. I was hesitant in letting her eat sashimi because it's raw, but we finally did several years ago, and she loves it (OK, maybe she just likes the soy sauce, but she eats it). Ahh, but even though I'm very picky, she's not - right now the only normal stuff she won't eat is zuchinni and whole pieces of tomato, but she eats a lot of stuff that I won't. I think that's also her personality too; she's always been a great eater (it's the sleeping we had issues with, even today!).

                1. re: MakingSense

                  Once my kids had solids, they ate everything we did (chinese, mexican, japanese, american, italian, etc.) and loved it. When both of them hit about 2 - 2 1/2, they stopped and became picky. I hear this all the time (don't spoil them, don't cater to them, make everything available), or things like have them grow their own foods, make their own food and they'll enjoy it. Nope, I started them with home made food, have NEVER made them special foods, they have grown their own foods, picked fruits/veggies from farms, made dinners with me and they're still picky, less now than when they were two but still picky. My husband and I are not picky eaters. Every child is different and you can't say, with anything as all people go, as long as you do xxxx, you'll get yyyy results.

                  1. re: chowser

                    I have to agree with chowser - the best we can do with each kid is just expose them to everything and often and not expect miracles. Patience and persistence is the key - both of my kids went through a severe fish stick and goldfish cracker stage that seemed to last forEVer, but I'm happy to report that they've safely come out the other side and are chowing right along with us for the most part. My 6 year old announced to me last night that her favorite vegetable is kale - some of my grown friends don't even know what it is! I was all self-satisfied smirk and dancing inside.

                    Exposing them to a farm or garden can make a huge difference. Alivia has eaten a whole bag of raw sugar snap peas on the way home from our CSA. She also sneaks outside on summer mornings and eats all the cherry tomatoes from the garden before I get a chance to harvest them. <grin> Is that because she knows where the food comes from or because it's just her? I don't know, but I'll take it.

                    One thing I try to do is find different ways to prepare veggies - if one method doesn't fly, I try something else. My kids prefer roasted dishes to boiled or steamed ones and they definitely like sesame oil and soy sauce. So I'll usually try a new food prepared a way they usually like but be open to trying it again a different way. You can't make everything a battle ground - sometimes we'll negotiate down to "you can be finished if you eat two bites of green beans" but then the next time they'll eat four, the next time six, you get the picture.

                    Of course, your mileage will vary. They're kids, after all! It's nice to hear from other chowparents dealing with this issue, though.

                    1. re: Bivalve88

                      Ooh, I'm jealous. My kids know what kale is, have tried it prepared in every way I can think of and they still don't like it. I think they also have extra sensitive taste buds. My son threw up when he tried cooked spinach--the texture and taste didn't sit right with him and it was much younger and adventurous then so it wasn't a rebellious thing. I also have no doubt that they will outgrow it one day.

                      1. re: chowser

                        Our kids' eating habits definitely did not happen overnight, and there are still plenty of things they don't like. I found that I was getting all offended if they didn't like something I cooked and went "blecch", which often resulted in my taking a hard line with them about finishing whatever the offending item was, so our euphemism for it now is "it's not my favorite". I get that probably three times a week! But at least Mommy's feelings aren't hurt and they're more likely to try more of it. Rice is still a big no-no with the kids (oddly enough) and the 4 year old refuses to eat cooked tomatoes. But they'll chow on portuguese kale soup or spaghetti with pesto. Go figure.

                        BTW, I make a "polish stir fry" recipe I found in a Rachael Ray cookbook and they love it - sauteed keilbasa, thinly sliced onions, sauerkraut and kale with dijon mustard mixed in, topped with pan fried potato pierogis. Must be my German heritage shining through!

                    2. re: chowser

                      I don't have children, but my BF is a picky eater that has non-picky parents. Even his parents are rather confounded as to how un-adventurous he is when it comes to food.

                      We've been together for a long time, so he realizes that with me (he calls me the human garbage disposal... I'll try everything at least once), he does have to try some things or not survive. I try not to push him too hard. I've told him that when the little ones come along, he doesn't get to say a word about food. ;)

                    3. re: MakingSense

                      "If you're a picky eater, you're going to raise one. Time to change your ways."

                      AMEN!!!

                      The only downside to rearing non-picky eaters is the cost as their appetites increase with age. Instead of fobbing the kids off with mac 'n cheese or PB&J, I was buying lobster, Roquefort and artichokes for them because that's what they enjoyed eating.

                      Early on my pediatrician gave me two excellent pieces of advice:
                      1. Get a dog, he'll find the highchair and the floor cleanup problem will pretty much take care of itself.
                      2. Your children are at least as smart as the dog who will not starve to death in the presence of food.

                      If food is not a battlefield, the power struggles cease.

                      NB: everyone was allowed to choose foods they did not want to eat. We made it a joke, you got as many "taboo" foods as your number of birthdays. By the time they were five or six, they struggled to find that many objectionable foods and the whole thing went away.

                      It probably was a "plus" that we ate dinner as a family, even when the kids had our last night's leftovers and the grownups had a glass of wine. We all sat at table together and talked about our day. Our three year old was particularly fond of sauerkraut, green olives, marinated mushrooms, smoked oysters and smelly cheese - non-children foods for sure but no one had ever told him that. Same kid who'd turned an alarming shade of marigold requiring a trip to the E.R. (fearing liver disease) only to find that he ate too much butternut squash and carrots. His older brother stripped the vegetable garden of cherry tomatoes and spent the night in another E.R. fearing severe allergic reaction. This same boy could eat his weight in oysters.

                      Today they're in their thirties and we still hang out in the kitchen together. When we're apart (living in different states), we are often on the phone with food-related questions and discussions. The cherry tomato-oyster loving son just called to crow about his dinner plans (which sound more interesting than mine). Each son is the main cook in their own family.

                      1. re: Sherri

                        Sounds like our house, Sherri. We figured everybody has a right to dislike something and didn't make a case over it. The rule was that you tried it even if you washed it down right away with your milk.
                        Our younger daughter had a really strong gag reflex though so the older one made up a game she called Kid Olympics. We had to rate the faces the younger one made. Oh! That was a 6.7. Nope, a 7.3. Of course a Perfect 10 meant actually throwing up which never happened. We all laughed our heads off and they ended up eating about everything over time. The younger one called me recently from Istanbul to describe something she had been served at dinner as about an 8.7 but said that she had been too polite to make a face and had just pushed it to the side of her plate. We howled with glee.

                        1. re: Sherri

                          I was at a family gathering recently where we ended up sitting around a table full of Chinese takeout. My sister and cousin had ordered the stuff and had gotten a lot of things, including some crab Rangoon (can't figure out for the life of me why they call these things "crab" anything, since as near as I can tell all they are is cream cheese with a little Krab-with-a-K thrown in for color). My three-year-old nephew Cameron was sitting between my sister and me, and I got a crab Rangoon and was getting ready to eat it. Cameron looked at it, and asked me what it was, and I was about to break off a piece for him to try, when my sister said to him, "Oh, you won't like it." At that point he wouldn't have anything to do with it. I wanted to slug his mom; he probably would have liked it fine if she had kept her mouth shut. But she's a picky eater and so's her husband. (He doesn't like sour cream, not allergic, just doesn't like it, but I didn't know that and used some to make mashed potatoes once, and he absolutely raved about those wonderful potatoes.) Poor kid doesn't stand a chance--except that when he's at his grandparents' house they feed him what they're eating and he eats just fine.

                          1. re: revsharkie

                            My husband was really tricky. Whenever one of my kids pulled the inevitable picky routine, he said, "Oh, no. Only grown ups and BIG kids like it." They could never resist the challenge.

                            1. re: revsharkie

                              Out of curiousity, do you think she said that because she didn't want him to like specifically that food... you know, high calorie fried thing with fatty cream cheese? Or is that just your sister?

                              Especially when DD was younger, I would discourage certain normal foods, such as the syrup on waffles (because I felt it was unneeded sugar for the time being, like if she ate it without the syrup now, then after this time, she might not ever again). It's not because I'm so healthy (ha! au contraire) but that I had just wanted to delay the extra stuff she didn't need.

                              I don't eat sour cream either, but if you hide it, yeah, like in mashed potatoes, I'll eat all of it! :-) Oh yeah, I don't use butter on my bread either, but if I had hot toast or bagel where the butter would quickly become liquid, bring it on. I know it's psychological... I just don't want to see the solid form... denial.

                        2. Ive seen kids (between 1 year and 3years) eat olives, goat cheese, foie gras etc. On the weekend I saw a little girl with her mom who got 8 filet mignon steaks and some veal scallopini because she wont eat poultry anymore and prefers fancy (expensive) meats. Strange tastes for a small child, but if you can afford it i guess...

                          I have a cousin who only eats toast and pea or peanut butter. Her mom brings it to where ever we go for hoilday meals.

                          1. I am lucky (for many reasons). I have a 2 1/2 year old daughter who eats everything, and I mean everything. I can honestly say that I have not found anything that she doesn't like (sometimes it scares me!). She ate baby food for a short period and then started grabbing things off of my plate, and at 10 months she was completely done with baby food. Any time she refuses to eat something at dinner, I always think "oh no, here comes the picky stage". But it generally means that she just had a big lunch or a late snack and she's just not that hungry at the moment. My son is 7 months and so far so good with him too. His only preference so far is that he likes his oatmeal warmed up a bit.

                            However, and this is a big however, I have a niece, age 10, and a nephew, age 5. They are raised in the same house, by the same parents and given the same food. My niece has always been a champion eater (although slightly pickier as she got older). My nephew is a horror when it comes to food. He just has no interest whatsoever. And it's not even that he only wants chicken nuggets and macaroni and cheese, etc. He just doesn't want to eat at all. He takes 2 or 3 bites of something and declares "I'm done". It is so frustrating for my sister and everyone who has ever sat at a table with him. You just want him to eat anything. There are 2 things he loves, though. Yogurt and Tic-Tacs.

                            My point is this...nature vs. nurture. Same house, same food, same table, same parameters. One eats, one doesn't. Some of it is just the luck of the draw.

                            1. I don't have children of my own yet, but I was raised in a household where it was not an option to dislike something. When a meal was served, if there was something I didn't like (or thought I didn't like) I was allowed to say "I haven't yet learned to like ___" but still had to try three bites of it. My parents never catered to pickiness, and I think that has played a huge part in the fact that I am not a picky eater now.

                              I agree with Revsharkie that some parents can get in the way of what their children might actually like by making predetermined statments about what someone does or doesn't like. I'm of the opinion that you give a child something to try without making a big deal out of it, and let them form their own opinions.

                              1. I have a 7 and 8 year old and generally they will eat anything that is put in front of them. I try not to make it a big deal-- what's for dinner is what's for dinner. What makes me laugh is how you can name a food one thing and they will gobble it up, and if you call it something else they may recoil in horror. example-- the enchanted forest, from the old moosewood cookbook is essentially broccoli with brown rice. My son says he hates broccoli, but he loves the enchanted forest. Same thing with tofu-- he loves chinese "cheese" with vegetables, but hates tofu. Go figure.

                                On a funny note, my daughter was dying for spaghetti'o's "cause all her friends get them". I caved. My son took one bite and said-- yuck, that's not spaghetti. My daughter bravley finished her plate as we watched in horror.

                                Then she spent all last night throwing up. The Chowhound god works in mysterious ways.
                                :-) I'll never have to buy spaghetti-o's again.

                                1. Good for you! Keep it up!

                                  I too have been exposing my kids to whatever we eat since they could chew and have consistently been surprised and pleased with their little palates.

                                  They do get picky now and again, but I never force them to eat everything on their plate, but they do have to try at least one bite of everything on the table.

                                  I also have found that as they got older (my youngest is 6 now), including them in the food preparation process helps them be a little braver around new foods.

                                  I am lucky that my babes don't have allergies, but I am whole heartedly for you sharing your tastes with your baby! At 20 months, they can eat almost anything you do, as long as it's not something she's allergic to and it's cut into a tiny enough piece!

                                  1. I went to a Japanese restaurant with brother's family. My niece, who is three, has been picky at times, but generally will eat a bit of most things. My brother and I went to town on ordering sushi and sashimi, it's a great Mom and Pop place and my brother is a regular. We can both eat a lot because, well, I'm fat and he is in great shape and always doing fitness stuff and sports which requires a lot of body fuel. My brother and I are inhaling the sushi. He doesn't get so much variety unless I'm around. His wife is eating a bento box (the combo of food on the box, not the actual box) and feeding some of the teriyaki whatever to my niece. She normally just eats a llittle teriyaki and a bunch of edamame. She loves to play with edamame. On a whim I hand her a bit of salmon sashimi and say "It's like butta". She laughs and then eats it. She then grabs another full piece from the platter and eats that too. She then peels another piece of salmon off of a nigiri and eats it. I give her a piece of hamachi, she eats it. She then goes back to the sashimi platter and grabs some more. She then grabs pieces of tuna and white tuna. My 3 year old niece has turned into a sushi monster, well sashimi monster because she doesn't seem to big on the rice. I suddenly become concerned, this kid's eating all the good stuff! I make a grab for the last of the salmon but I'm too late. Down it goes. There's two pieces of hamachi nigiri left, I grab one whole with my chopsticks and my niece grabs the other and peels off the neta and eats it. Now we're out of salmon and hamachi. My brother and his wife are shocked because their 3 year old has eaten more varieties of sushi than my sister in law. SIL is strictly California rolls. Now comes the dilemma. I've got some amaebi and uni on the platter and briefly contemplate giving my niece a taste, but change my mind, no way this kid is getting my uni. Luckily, we'd eaten the toro first. Anyway it was quite the evening and I am glad to see the kid has got a taste for sushi. She's one quarter Japanese, so maybe it is genetic.