Tuesday, March 6, 2012

cooking for a toddler

Before Elias was born, I made breakfast for myself-- usually a scramble of eggs, spinach, and whatever else looked good. I knew that was a privilege that I wouldn't have much longer-- the luxury of time-- and so I made the most of it. And yes, when he was born, that stopped quickly.

It's been nice lately, as we've moved into the house, and I've gotten over this current pregnancy's bout of nausea, to get into the breakfast routine again. I usually make a banana bread the night before, or set up the materials for pancakes so that the morning goes smoothly (and quickly-- Elias likes to eat very first thing). We usually have some scrambled eggs on the side; since the kid won't really eat meat, I have to make sure he gets his dose of iron somehow!

I also make the point of preparing a hot lunch for us everyday. I want E to know what it's like to see someone preparing food: watching me cutting up vegetables, listening to sizzle of oil in the pan, checking the doneness of hot bread in the oven. In a day where so many children are so far removed from the simple task of cooking, I want to make sure that Elias, and any other siblings that follow, is always aware of good food and how to prepare it.

That being said, I have a son who is a "picky eater". I know that to many it may seem normal that a toddler wouldn't put chicken in his mouth, or will spit out spinach or zucchini, but my friends' kids do it, and so I've been pretty horrified at what Elias won't eat. I'm attempting to take it in stride though, knowing that this, as with all things Baby, will pass. Everything at this point is a phase, and so I just keep putting all that good stuff on his plate so that he knows what real food looks like. I rejoice when he eats it, and sigh when he doesn't, but I try to keep both of those emotions off my face. I do not want food to become a war.

Today at lunch I made a stir fry with soba (buckwheat) noodles, scrambled egg, red bell pepper, carrots (blanched first), and rainbow chard, and he ate every bite of it. And I told myself to remember this-- and perhaps even blog about it so I remember it well-- because tonight, when he spits out whatever I make and refuses to eat even bread, I can recall that the kid ate his weight in veggies and whole grain noodles, and gloat.

I thought about putting my basic recipe up here for anyone to try, but it's really loose, and mostly adapted from Heidi Swanson's cookbooks Super Natural Cooking ("Otsu") and Super Natural Everyday ("Kale and Coconut Salad"). She has really great recipes that I consistently use (and also a fabulous blog). I will say, though, that if you haven't tried soba noodles yet, I really encourage you to do so. They are my favorite kind of noodle, and Elias' too, although the kid hasn't met a noodle he didn't like. So far. They are soft, mild, and perfect for little ones. I usually make up a quick sauce of soy sauce and sesame oil, and add whatever else sounds good-- brown rice vinegar, minced garlic and/or ginger. Then I'll put whatever veggies I have around in the wok, cook them for a sec, and call it Lunch.


  1. Alanna, this post has just inspired me to try making homemade soba noodles. And Lunch sounds divine.

    1. Ooh, let me know how it goes! I saw Ming Tsai do it once, but homemade pasta is just beyond my comfort (and skill!) level, I think.