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raising a chowpup and her non-chowish friends

How many hounds out there are trying to get their kids to try chowish food while fighting back against nuggets, mystery dogs, burgers and fries?

My little chowkid loves trying new food, but her little friends are having problems with seeing guacamole, hummus, homemade soups (eek! it's not Campbell's), chili, and other "weird" looking foods appear at lunch. Don't even get me started on dumplings, soy sauce chicken and rice, etc. Tempted to make some chicken feet and tripe just to harass them. Give me a recipe with with those and some sea cucumbers and I know what I'm doing tomorrow.

When we bought a school lunch one day, she told us about the green hotdogs, toaster pizza, and freezer mystery nuggets. She's still asking for school lunches because she wants to fit in.

I remember doing the same thing. I got delicious pot stickers and soups from mom, and all I wanted was bologna and pbj sandwiches (well, I still like those).

What are you doing to encourage your little chowkid?

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  1. Have you thought about sending a bento box as a packed lunch? You can pack all kinds of excellent food and make it look really fun.

    4 Replies
    1. re: greenish

      IIRC there's a blog dedicated to this, but I don't remember what it's called ... such a fun idea!

      1. re: SAHCook

        I would recommend two sites to take a look at, though I'm sure there are dozens of others. Lunch in a Box was a really great website/blog, but, unfortunately, the woman whose blog it is abruptly stopped new entries about a year ago. Still, the site is still there, so you can read the whole four years of posts for ideas. You'll find them at: http://lunchinabox.net/

        I would also suggest perusing some Flick'r groups, where people just post pictures of their bento lunches. Here are some I look at occasionally. Some of what you'll see is far more fussy than what you'd probably want to do on a daily basis, but they still can be fun to look at. The first in the list is devoted specifically to the American bento-style box called a Laptop Lunch box. I have no connection to the company, though I do own two of the boxes (one for dairy, one for meat, as I keep kosher). One can get tons of ideas from these places.
        http://www.flickr.com/groups/laptop_l...
        http://www.flickr.com/groups/bentoboxes/
        http://www.flickr.com/groups/show-me-...
        http://www.flickr.com/groups/broughtm...

        1. re: queenscook

          Thanks! I've been looking for something less wasteful than plastic baggies, and for more creative lunch ideas. I just do leftovers at home, but with three kids in school this year ... we go through a lot of plasic. I peeked at the web sites and liked what I saw, so I'll definitely take more time to look through them.

          1. re: SAHCook

            By the way, the site for the Laptop Lunchbox itself also has useful info. It's laptoplunches.com. (Plus, of course, they'd be happy to sell you one from there!)

    2. I had an interesting experience recently with my chowpup. At six years old I find him to be very good with his food. We still have some 'interesting' fads pass through the house, but generally he'll try most foods, enjoys a wide variety and we tend to not have mealtime battles. He does still want McDonalds on occasion and all that kind of stuff, but in general I'm quite happy with how he's developing chow-wise.

      He had a little friend come over for a sleepover recently. I have never had to cook seperate 'kids meals' before and I wasn't about to start. I remember exactly what I cooked because it was so beautiful - little individual middle easten lamb pies with lovely veggies and apple pies. I asked my chow-pups friend if he liked all the ingredients in them before I started, which he said he did, so I was a bit surprised when he had barely eaten half of his dinner. I shrugged my shoulders, wondered why I'd bothered and took the plate away. I thought to myself that not all kids are chow pups and not to worry about it.

      Turns out when I ran into his mother at a later date that he's been raving about that meal ever since. He went home and told his mum that he thought I was the best cook ever and asked if she could start making real food like that. So I made a (wong!) assumption based on what I thought other kids liked to eat. Not all kids are exposed to good food and in this case, given the opportunity, it was a new and exciting experience for my chow pups friend.

      So I just keep up the encouragement at home. I like that bento box suggestion made by greenish - kids love sushi and it is interesting, good food and (hopefully) socially acceptable. Maybe you can make your own chicken nuggets (hey at least you know whats in them!) for her to take with a dipping sauce, or deli-meat sandwiches (I'm not sure what bologna is, but I get the impression on Chow it's pretty awful) with interesting cold cuts from a deli with some salad and fresh fruit.

      6 Replies
      1. re: TheHuntress

        I think bologna might be like the stuff called devon in our supermarkets.

          1. re: srsone

            Oh, ok - Devon is "similar in taste and appearance to boloney" (that's if you click through to the page for devon)
            Thanks srsone.

            1. re: srsone

              Ah, now that looks similar to what is called poloney over here. Nasty, nasty stuff, thankfully it was never fed to me as a child.

              1. re: TheHuntress

                i had/have it now and then ..when i was a kid it was oscar mayer
                i like boars head garlic bologna more now

                and my daughter likes it as well...
                she will try lots of things...

                but she has her weird moments as well...
                like the time we asked her what she wants for dinner...she about yelled out "garlic bread"
                (we had made it a few weeks prior when we had spaghetti)

                and just to annoy my wife i have got her to say broccoli is "yucky" because i cant stand it ...but my wife loves it...

                but she is still too young i think to be a "hound"
                we just keep her fed with whatever fruits,veg and meats she will eat...
                she does love to help me cook..so i do plan on teaching her whatever she wants to learn

                1. re: srsone

                  My ex for some reason really liked it, but I have a feeling it was a recollection from childhood thing for him. My mother is a bit of a health freak, so there was no way we would have found poloney in our sandwiches. It's probably one of a few things I am grateful for. I am fortunate enough that my little chowpup has quite a varied palate - he still has his stubborn moments and fads, but he eats pretty well. What more can you ask for?

          2. We are blessed with an adventurous child, and she will try anything at least once. More often than not, she loves it. Her most recent discovery is raw oysters. That one surprised even me.

            Her school lunches are very good with a wide variety of ethnic foods and less than the usual amount of standard kid options like mac n cheese, burgers, etc. I credit her school cafeteria and those wonderful lunch ladies with getting her to expand her horizons when she was in first grade and a bit finicky. She wouldn't eat Mexican or teriyaki at home, but loved it at school so then decided it was something we needed to have more of at home.

            One thing we enjoy is going to H-Mart, which is a wonderful Korean grocery in our town. The produce selection is amazing, as is the fish and meats, and pretty much anything else you can imagine. Each time we go, I let her select a few new veggies we haven't tried before so it is something she looks forward to, and is then pretty invested in getting the rest of the family to enjoy. (Rest of the family is my husband, elderly parents, and adult brother.) H-Mart has food samples on weekends and she eats her way through the store, and has tried and loved sashimi, kimchi, and other things that most of her friends won't even try.

            We definitely let her know we value her being adventurous and she gets lots of kudos for trying more unusual foods.. And because we know she will give new food a fair chance, if she says she doesn't like something, we respect that and do not push.

            When she has friends over, I treat them as I would any guest. I serve reasonably crowd-pleasing items but do not cater specifically to idiosyncracies. Meaning, I will serve things that I know kids generally like but will not make a special meal if little Johnny doesn't want to eat chicken parmesan and salad.

            1. I know I'm in the minority here, but I think most chowkids are born, not made, and I'm pretty sure there's a chow gene. ;) Sure, you can get your kids to try new foods by raising them to do so, but you can't get them to really seek out and love new tastes unless they've got the chow gene.

              My husband and I are both chowhounds, and we have a daughter who is the same way, but our son, who is now 14, would still order the mystery nuggets off the children's menu if he weren't embarrassed to do so.

              That said, I agree with Greenish that a bento box would be a fun way to bring a lunch to school that appeals to even the non-chow people (although many elementary schools have a no food sharing rule due to allergies.) My daughter brings her lunch every day, and many of her friends ask to try her food. One of her friends even asked her to bring an entire lunch because she claimed that all she had in her house was peanut butter. This girl is likely another example of a person with the chow gene, unfortunately living among non-chow parents. Must be a recessive trait....

              8 Replies
              1. re: Isolda

                I completely agree, Isolda. Our daughter was definitely born curious, we did not make her that way. I've seen several examples of families just like yours. Kids are remarkably unique and IMO are hard-wired that way. For our family, we are just trying to encourage and reward the innate interest our daughter has in variety and to ward off the group-think that will threaten to take over as adolescence approaches!

                1. re: Isolda

                  While I love the idea of a bento box, I'm wondering how practical it is. My child's school does not have a cafeteria so she brings lunch every day. It's just about all I can do in the morning to make sure she get outs the door with all her clothes, books, and sports equipment in the right places, let alone remind her to grab her lunch bag. I'd love to be able to do something more elaborate than turkey, PB&J, hummus, etc but time is an issue. And I only have to do it for 1 kid. I'd hate to try to make multiple lunches every morning.

                  A lot of times kids will eat what they see others eating. We have some friends who are foodies with chowpups, we have others who are McD's all the way. My child adores xiao long bao, sushi, and other chowish foods, but she also likes bologna (I usually insist on buying mortadella) and ham and cheese on white. She didn't learn those last two at home and some less chowish foods on occasion won't be the end of the world.

                  1. re: Isolda

                    What with gaming and anime these days, a lot of kids are interested in Japanese culture. A nice sturdy reusable (green!) bento box may go over very well indeed.

                    1. re: Isolda

                      I have to chime in with my agreement on the born not made theory, as a non-parent, but godmother to fraternal twin girls who have been raised the same in terms of exposure to and attitudes toward food (one parent is an adventurous eater, the other not so much), yet at the age of 6 their tastes are so different. Twin #1 will try anything, as long as you assure her it's not too spicy, and she eats whatever the adults are eating. If she tries something and doesn't like it, she'll tell you why (it's too bitter, I don't like fruit and meat together), and move on, no drama. Twin #2 has a very limited list of things she will eat, and has survived many a restaurant meal on bread or french fries because she won't touch anything else. And her parents fairly quickly got to the point of not trying to cajole, bribe, threaten, entice, etc. to get her to try new things because it's not worth the drama. They figure she's not going to starve - she eats cereal, cheese, fruit, peanut butter, yogurt - so the necessary nutrients are there.

                      1. re: cookie monster

                        I think it 's a bit of both - my son was never a terrible eater as a very young child but he was certainly picky and could be quite stubborn about his food resistance - and it got worse when he entered 1st grade. I love to cook and we love to go out to eat so I wasn't too willing to accept his food "issues." It took a few years of repeatedly insisting that he try new foods etc., but now he's 10 and he loves great food, loves to go out to eat and has almost no food resistance issues any more whatsoever.

                        If my husband & I had been different people who didn't care about great food as much as we do, I can certainly see where my son could have grown up with a lot of limitations food-wise. There is just no doubt in my mind that he is who he is food-wise because of how he was raised.

                        That said, I absolutely believe that a kid can be born with very hard-wired ideas about food that can be quite difficult to overcome. So this is in no way meant to be a judgment on those who are struggling with picky eaters. This is just my observation of one child, my own. My brother has 2 kids, a girl and a boy, just a few yrs apart & raised more or less the same. The girl is a pretty good eater, including veggies - but their boy, who's 4 now, has absolutely refused to touch anything green that even faintly resembles a vegetable from the very beginning. Every kid is different.

                      2. re: Isolda

                        There is some truth that chowkids are born. I believe there have been studies that have shown that a mom's diet influences the child's likes and dislikes.

                        The basis of the study was looking at cultures where mom's ate a wide variety of spices and compared to a culture where mom's ate milder foods. The mom with the mild/bland diet produced kids that were pickier.

                        1. re: Isolda

                          I disagree with this. I was the pickiest of eaters as a child. I was very skinny, and my dad had trouble getting me to eat enough, so he ridiculously catered to my idiosyncrasies. For at least 2 years, I ate only whites, tans, browns, and yellows. In order to get me to eat protein, my dad would make me bean and cheese burritos for breakfast and lunch every day, and on the weekends, I'd usually eat (get this!) buttered noodle omelets. Snacks were usually flour tortillas, spread with butter, folded into quarters, and microwaved.

                          I didn't begin to discover food until my parents got divorced when I was 12 and it became PAINFULLY clear that my mom was wholly unable to provide homecooked meals past steamed broccoli and yaki soba noodles from the refrigerated section of the grocery store.

                          1. re: LaureltQ

                            Me too - I was SO not a chowpup. Don't give up on your kids! You really never know. Whenever I visit my family, my mother is shocked at things I eat now (I haven't lived w/ my parents since I was 14) - she just about fainted when I gobbled down raw oysters. My tastebuds didn't really develop until I was around 17. And my mother was totally a chowhound, as well as her family, though she didn't cook - she even owned a high-end Korean restaurant and one of her brothers was a sushi chef. Yet I would bring my "own food" (like chicken strips from KFC) while her family feasted on sushi and sashimi.

                        2. Thankfully, we have a pretty user-friendly kid. He loves good food and will cheerfully eat anything. He always begs me to pack lunch because the lunches at school are "lame". He understands good food and will come home critiquing the school lunch offerings. I don't mind packing something delicious, but usually he's reminding me 10 mins. before the bus comes that it's Turkey Tuesday, and "mom, that can't possibly be real meat".

                          I'm always surprised at how picky his friends are. We end up with a bunch of kids most weekends. I've stopped cooking for them completely. These kids' dinner plates end up looking like dissection experiments. They don't eat this, they can't touch that. Ewwwww, "IS THAT A PIECE OF SPINACH ON MY PLATE?!"

                          I'm over it. Our go-to sleepover dinner is pizza. We stop for breakfast before we drop 'em off.