1/13/11

Culinary Goddess...for a Week

The tofu nuggets were a mistake. I see that now. Even when C. dubbed them “tuggets” in an attempt to jazz them up, the kids weren’t buying it. They remained unmoved by the breaded, gelatinous cubes of soybean curd on their plates. Oh, well. Can’t blame a mom for trying, right?

As a New Year’s resolution of sorts, I have decided to step up my game in the kitchen this year. Our meals had gotten so pathetic they barely qualified as meals. Plain pasta and peas. Mac & cheese with broccoli. Slices of turkey, cheese, and apple, naked on a plate, not even combined into a sandwich. I told myself it was because the kids were so picky and my husband was rarely home for dinner, so it didn’t matter. But the truth is, this food wasn’t appetizing to anybody.

So I decided to get more creative, a little healthier and more well-rounded, and actually – gasp! – PLAN some meals in advance. I don’t know why, but meal planning has always seemed like such a chore. Of course, the alternative is that I consistently end up 1 or 2 ingredients shy of a recipe I want to try and resort back to pasta.

Here’s the thing, though: in my house, meal-planning is extra tricky. That’s because a) I’m a vegetarian, b) my husband is currently on a meat-heavy, anti-carb diet, and c) I have 2 extremely finicky children. I’d like to point out that even as a vegetarian, I’m usually the least picky one in the group. It’s true. I’ll eat whatever’s on the menu, just hold the cow.

I’m not gonna lie; cooking has been a challenge so far. And there have been some surprises along the way. For instance, the first meal I made was chipotle shrimp tacos. (I do eat seafood now and then.) To my surprise, both my 4yo and my 22mo gobbled them up. So, let me get this straight. My preschooler will not eat cucumber, but he WILL eat shellfish? And my toddler will turn up his nose at avocado, but finds CHIPOTLES pleasing to his palate? And both of them will eat olives, but not baby carrots. Go figure.

The next meal was a vegetable lo mein. It took some threatening coaxing, but the boys did eat a few bites. C. and I thought it was pretty tasty, although he did balk at the carbs in the noodles. The next night I made the ill-fated “tuggets.” Even I had to admit they were less than delicious. It feels like blasphemy for a vegetarian to admit she doesn’t like tofu, but there you have it. C.’s side dish of garlic-sauteed broccoli was much better received.

Another winner was my veggie Crockpot chili, which the kids scarfed down when heaped liberally with cheese and tortilla chips on top. Personally, I thought the linguini with tapenade, artichokes, tomato, and feta was fabulous. But apparently, even though both my boys will eat whole olives, they will NOT eat them when they’re chopped up. (UGHH!! These kids are killing me!)

Tuna & rice casserole: flop. Anchormommy’s crustless spinach and tomato quiche: hit. (And the ONLY way I can get Riley to eat spinach.) Zucchini bread (while technically not a meal): hit.

Miles and I also whipped up some homemade playdough, which – while not edible – still qualifies me as a culinary goddess. Shut up. IT DOES. I also made Jello, which my mother-in-law introduced to the boys over Christmas. What are you gonna do? Sometimes you have to play to the crowd.

I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty impressed with myself. I’ll be honest: getting my family to eat a healthy homemade meal is almost as thrilling as seeing my byline in a national magazine. Of course, I realize it’s only been a week or so. I better pace myself.

So tell me: have you found any crowd-pleasing meals in your house?

5 comments:

Angie Mizzell said...

Abby, we are on vacation (Disney) and my husband and I are collectively cracking up at your post. Tuggets. Hubs says, Fu-- :)

Anyhoo-- I'm still that terrible mom who cooks two separate meals. The real, adult meal and the dino chicken/frozen pizza microwave dinner (I alternate) for the kids. I balance them out with fruit and the occasional veggie.

Loukia said...

Hmm. I actually make a great meatsauce, and my secret is blending all the veggies so they're like, mush almost, and adding it to the beef. Red peppers, green peppers, garlic, onions, etc. My boys love it and don't even know all the good veggies they're eating! :) I hardly cook though becuase I work full time and my children are looked after by my parents/inlaws, so dinner is usually on the table by the time I come home, which I am super thankful for! I bought 2 cookbooks recently, to try to do more though!

Modern Mom said...

When I make chicken breast dishes, I serve cut up pieces of that chicken to my 3 yr old and tell him it's another kind of chicken nugget. It works. :)

My 3 yr old LOVES pasta dishes - any kind - when I make spaghetti I mix a little cream cheese in with his noodles and sauce - and he devours it and asks for more!

ToddleToots! said...

I'm in the same boat you are, trying to be more "meal friendly" this year. I've been checking out http://weelicious.com/ they have some interesting/creative family friendly meals.

You Are Kidding Me! said...

I'm vegetarian, too, and cannot stand tofu! I even tried the "tugget" once, much to my family's (and my own!) dismay. Ew. Yuck.
I have an awesome bean burger recipe that is as thick and "hearty" as a burger - pair it with some baked homemade sweet potato fries with a little spice, and it's a great healthy meal!

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