The author and his sonby Bon Appétit
Nine months ago, I became a dad. I'm an anxious guy in general, but this parental situation presented a host of new issues: Would I be able to keep my son safe? Would he be healthy? And, following close behind these matters of survival, would he turn into one of those 8-year-olds who insisted on a rotating menu of chicken fingers, mac n' cheese, and PB&Js?
I know, I know. Even I'm rolling my eyes. But hear me out: When I was growing up, eating was the one thing that united my family. We all loved food, despite my sister's brief anti-potato phase. As kids, we ate tons of seafood, Italian-American classics, vegetables from the garden, mostly because we had to. My mom did not play short order cook. We all sat down and ate the same thing, together.
I wanted that.
These days, I spend a couple of hours each weekend making what I guess is "baby food": mostly vegetable, meat, and fish purees for him to eat. In fact, I cook more for him than I do for me and my wife. Here are some of his (my?) favorites:
1) Squash, cubed and roasted in olive oil with a dash of cumin
2) Carrots sauteed in butter, then simmered with orange juice and a dash of curry powder
3) Steamed fish (tilapia's good for this kind of thing) with spinach quickly sauteed in olive oil
4) Steamed chard or kale, with a squeeze of lemon juice
5) Poached boneless skinless chicken breasts with sauteed leeks and apple
6) Lentils simmered with carrots and onions
7) Beets. The kid loves just straight-up steamed beets
I puree these with chicken stock (protein!) and sometimes I'll mix in a little kefir or plain yogurt (more protein!). Worried that he'd get his mom's sweet tooth (sorry, honey), I stay away from sweet stuff--no straight-up fruits other than some homemade apple sauce to which oddly, he seemed indifferent. And go figure, the kid seems to like pretty much everything. Mostly, I'm guessing, because he doesn't KNOW that not liking is an option.
We'll see what happens when he gets a will of his own and throws a fit--and most likely a handful of Brussels sprouts--at the table.
So before my son was able to eat actual "food," I read books and blogs about babies and eating. I asked friends and colleagues for advice. I thought about why this was even an issue. After all, there's probably not a body of literature based on making Indian babies try vegetables. Right? And when the six-month mark rolled around and he could eat solid food, I dove in.
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10 Quick and Easy School-Night Dinners
10 Ways to Make Better Brownies