The Food Files

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A girl refusing to eat her vegetables.Dinnertime can be defined in many ways. It can be a time to connect with family, try a new recipe for the first time, or enjoy your weekly favorite. Who doesn’t love Taco Tuesday?!

Nevertheless, nine times out of ten, if you ask a mom how they feel about dinnertime, they will most likely sum it up in one word: Aggravating.

Most kids have a limited palette and rarely deviate from chicken nuggets or mac-n-cheese. Trying to please everyone at mealtime can be a battle not worth fighting. We’ve all been there; the tedious act of planning a meal everyone will enjoy and be happy with. Yet without fail, before the serving plate even touches the table, the dreaded words are unleashed, “I don’t want that.”

After hearing that infamous phrase, you crash, burn, and promise yourself you won’t make a second meal. You may also find yourself delivering the same old threats night after night, “If you don’t eat what I’ve prepared, you will starve.” This oldie but a goodie may trigger your little ones to do what you ask for fear of going to bed hungry. However, they know well that this will never come to fruition, and deep down, so do you.

If you choose to venture down this path, do so cautiously and with an open mind. If you decide to go forth, you must be prepared for a rocky or sleepless night. The same way babies need their bottle to fill them up before bed is true for our youngsters. Following through on a rule is a must for a mom but is it a success if you wake up in the middle of the night to your kiddos nudging you for a late-night bite?

I’ve played the “eat what is on your plate” card at least twice in the past, and neither experience was pleasant. The first time resulted in me distracting my youngest with storybooks and pop-its. I even resorted to sleeping in her room, desperately waiting for her to fall back asleep. It was brutal, and the next day was even worse, filled with crankiness from both parties.

There wasn’t enough coffee in the world that could have brought me back to life. Not to mention my daughter going through an entire Fruit Loops box the following morning. No exaggeration. You would think after all that, I would have learned my lesson.

Fast forward two months later, I again found myself in familiar territory. This time, I shamelessly admit that when I felt the inevitable nudge in the middle of the night. I surrendered by making a quick trip to the kitchen for string cheese and a clementine.

I am not suggesting that one should deliver empty threats at dinner only to present your tireless tot with a midnight buffet. However, if you’ve given it your all and kept your word, but your little ones still refused to eat, you’ve done all you can, and you are in no way a pushover or failure.

The sting of defeat may bring disappointment, but the latter will be far worse when dealing with a cranky kiddo the following day. So to that, salvage your sanity and your sleep and give in if you feel the need. There will undoubtedly be plenty of other perils we moms must endure, so why not call a truce and get some rest in the process?

The truth is, we are natural-born storytellers, not only at bedtime but at mealtime too. Thanks to the invention of numerous clever food gadgets, we now have the opportunity to fill our kids’ tummies with nourishing food and still get their seal of approval at the end of the meal.

To ensure your subsequent food frenzy will be healthy and still a hit with your tots, the vegetable spiralizer may be the answer you’ve been searching for. You can quickly transform zucchini into a hearty bowl of spaghetti and tomato sauce without your little ones catching on. In addition to the amazing spiralizer, the Vitamix comes second to none. This will be your go-to for everything from soup to mashed potatoes. Make breakfast for dinner fun and colorful by mixing baby spinach, banana, and oat flour before blending to create a healthy version of everyone’s favorite – pancakes. If you don’t have this fancy gadget, a regular blender will also do the trick.

Choose from avocado and strawberry smoothies to decadent desserts filled with cacao powder, beets, and blueberries. Not only will your kids love what’s on their plate, but you will also feel proud that you’ve successfully introduced nutritious food without pushback or tantrums. Best of all, several cookbooks are available with healthy kid-friendly food hacks to help you get started.

The possibilities are endless, and with a bit of practice, the dinnertime dread will surely be a thing of the past for you and your ravenous rugrats. Bon appetite!

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