Hooks for Cooks™

baby's palateI’m now heading into what I call the Teen Cuisine feeding frenzy. My children range in age from 14 to 7, so the power feeding at my house can be intense.

In an effort to take stock and seek some comfort, I’ve been reminiscing about how I fed them as infants. The cloud of the infant/toddler years has finally lifted, and I am now able to see the forest from the trees.

I’m not a nutritionist or a dietitian. I’m a mom and a food writer with more than fifteen years of daily home cooking experience under my belt. When my children were little, I navigated this uncharted territory instinctively. I didn’t have a nanny or even a mom or mother in law nearby, so I had to wing it.

I started with some jarred foods when it was time for solids, but I also employed my food processor to puree much of the adult food we were eating. It was obvious early on that my kids preferred the homemade fare to the jarred. After a spoonful, they’d kick their feet and lean forward in the high chair, indicating Give Me More!

This kept my food processor whizzing often. Mushroom barley soup became Mushroom Barley Mush. Sliced Glazed carrots became Carrot Puree. Cooked chicken became Chicken Concoction when I warmed it and whizzed it with some extra broth and leftover veggies. Fresh summer peaches were frozen then gently cooked and pureed in the offseason to make a naturally sweet dessert called Peaches Chez Mom.

Not every food processor dish was a success, but I know without a shadow of a doubt that those early efforts have gone a long way towards shaping my children’s taste buds. My kids now eat a wide range of foods—Penn Cove mussels, wild Alaskan salmon, squid, brown rice, muesli, Indian food, and sushi being just a few.

This “open palate” approach helped immensely when we were traveling in England last Feb. The children were open to new choices. Thankfully, they didn’t dig in their forks and declare “Yuck!” when presented with items such as Black Pudding.

The downside for me is that their appetites are so hearty and intense these days that I’m finding it hard to keep the pace, even when my food processor is cranked to the hilt.

And, my biggest issue of all is battling our culture’s universal presence of additive and sugar laden junk food.

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