Have your taste buds grown up yet? Maybe one day they will!

Hello Everyone!

What an interesting foodie household we have had here in the past few weeks.  Kirina is almost three and Ela is almost 3 months.  Kirina, my original “ethnic baby” (aka guinea pig for recipes from my please-let-me-get-published-soon-book) is in toddler-eating mode and Ela is in full-on nursing mode (forming her own tastes through breast milk based on what I eat).  Mommy and daddy eat when we remember to, often late-night suppers once Kirina is in bed and Ela snoozes in my lap.

The main dinner table drama these days involves dear Kirina, who, as a toddler, has her own will, her own wants and her own tastes.  Which would be fine, except her tastes involve graham crackers with cream cheese, grapes, and hummus with strawberries….over and over and over and over and over….and over again.   Coming from someone who craves variety on a daily basis, I just don’t understand how this little munchkin of mine can have such a boring (to me) diet.  She used to love variety, but has now settled into a sort of cracker and dip complacency.

Which is why I keep introducing new tastes, just so we keep up the habit.  The other day we were eating an eggplant and potato curry, two vegetables that she hasn’t warmed up to (yes, she is the only child on the planet that does not like potatoes.  she will not take them mashed, she will not take them fried, she will not take them baked, broiled or otherwise, Sam I Am).  The vegetables were cooked in an onion, tomato and yogurt gravy and sautéed with spices such as cumin, coriander and garam masala.  She took a small spoonful and made a face.  Not a happy one at that.

The title of this post is based on some words from my dear friend Valerie, who shared this wonderful (non-chicken) nugget of advice that she tells her own children when it comes to new foods or flavors.  Which we promptly said to Kirina when she made her yucky face:

“Maybe one day your taste buds will grow up and will like potatoes later!”

Oh my goodness, this sentence was great! She started asking us if taste buds grow like hair (hair?) and we told her yes indeed, taste buds grow like everything else! And truly they do.  Imagining taste buds like any other organ in the body helps to understand…they, like other body parts, need time and nurturing to mature and grow.  Only with taste buds they grow to appreciate new tastes and flavors.   We have used this sentence with Kirina for all sorts of things she doesn’t have a taste for yet–olives, squash, eggplant.  And the key is not giving up.  I always ask Kirina to taste everything, especially if it is a new ingredient, usually telling her she doesn’t have to like it, but she at least has to try it.  Now with this new bit of advice about her taste buds growing up, she really does try harder to taste new things.  She’s excited by the concept of things growing and this helps her relate to new things instead of just shutting down the idea, as many toddlers are prone to do.

Motherhood is SUCH a day-by-day learning experience.  I never fully feel like I know what I’m doing or if I am doing it right (no matter the topic).  Little nuggets of advice from other mommies surely helps lead the way.

From Kirina’s highchair to yours, bon appetit!

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Have an ear? Make it spicy!

Hello all!

Hope everyone’s Friday is going well! Had a fun snack from Kirina’s table this week to post.  I was thinking a lot about my mom, particularly since Mother’s Day is coming up (she passed away 8 years ago this June.  I miss her loads, and miss her cooking just as much).  We had a few rainy days here and it made me remember an Indian snack she used to talk about a lot from her childhood.  She said she would eat it during monsoon season in India, a terribly wet and muddy time in Western India.  I’m not sure what the official name of this snack is, but it involves fresh-roasted ears of corn and spices.  My mom said it was a nice, warm, treat when you felt cold and wet from the rain.

I thought Kirina would get a huge kick out of this snack (what kid doesn’t like eating things off a stick or a cob of some sort?) and also she could eat something from her grandmother’s kitchen and we could remember her that way.  It’s an easy snack and there are variations with the spices.  You know we are all about spices here when it comes to babies, toddlers, and adults! No one is too young to experience zesty food if you ask me.  So here goes…try this out on your little one and see how it goes.

Start with an ear:

This one happens to be sweet Jersey corn (New Jersey is the Garden State after all.  We are not just Newark Airport).

Make the corn naked (shuck the corn) and place on a medium flame on your burner if you have gas.  You do this on an outdoor grill as well.  And my mom only had an electric cooktop and somehow made it work too (stick to medium heat).

Keep rotating the cob until you start to see browning (be careful not to char too much.  though if this happens, it’s ok, just lightly rub it off with a paper towel).

Next, get your spices ready.  I tried to take nice pictures, but, as usual, they kind of turned out blurry, or in this case, just plain creepy, lol:

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I told you it was creepy. 🙂  This is my grandmother’s cutting board.  My grandmother! Her name is Gigi, and she is amazing.  Anyway, what you see on the board is paprika, chili powder, salt and lemon.  That’s all you need!

Here’s what the roasted corn looks like when cooked (the steam kind of messed up the picture):

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In a separate plate, take the roasted corn and rub all over with lemon first, then salt. And here is the variation…rub with paprika for a toddler just trying this snack out.  Adults eat full-on chili, and so do children in India who are used to the seasonings.  With Kirina I’ve started her on paprika because it is a mild chili flavor, and now we do a mixture of paprika and chili as she gets older.  That’s the great thing with introducing your little one to spices…it’s easy! And you can vary the amounts and strengths as your little one gets older. The goal for us is always to expose Kirina to new tastes so she gets used to all the yummy flavors of the world.  How did she like it?

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It was a hit! Though she didn’t like getting corn stuck in her teeth and we had some adventures with dental floss, but hey, I guess it got her to like dental floss and brushing more, so it was an added bonus!

For you adults who are curious, this is a flavorful way to prepare corn without the fat of butter (even though butter is totally my best friend).

Good luck and hope your little one finds it tasty.  From Kirina’s table to yours, bon appetit!

 

‘Tis the Seasonings!

‘Tis the Seasonings!

Just a quick post to talk about the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday.  I’m still building my site here, but I wanted to make sure to post some thoughts about making Thanksgiving tasty for the littlest butterballs in our lives.

That would be babies, not turkeys.

As adults we are lucky to enjoy the all the flavors and spices of the season. Turkeys are rubbed down with savory herbed butters.  Rosemary, thyme and sage play prominent roles in seasoning everything from turkeys, to stuffings to gravies.  Nutmeg and cinnamon are wonderful warming spices used in sweet potatoes, yams and pumpkin pies. 

How can we bring these flavors to our babies and toddlers?

You might be thinking they are too young for such tastes, but I assure you they are not. Thanksgiving is the perfect time of year to introduce your little one to different seasonings and ingredients.  The idea is to use, for lack of a better word, baby steps.  A pinch of this or a pinch of that is all you need.  In fact, each holiday or family feast should be looked at as an opportunity to broaden your babies’ taste buds.  As I will discuss in future posts, baby taste buds need to be nurtured from the start.  Feeding baby a diverse array of seasonings from the moment they can enjoy solids will enable them to appreciate a wider variety of foods as they get older. 

Take this time of year to share these flavors with your baby and toddler. Here are some quick and easy ideas for your little ones (for full recipes hop over to the recipe page):

Babies (6 months and up):

Sweet Potato and Cinnamon Purée

Nutmeg Sweet Potatoes

Rosemary Mashed Potatoes

Carrot or Parsnip Purée with Sage

Curried Carrot Purée

For Toddlers (12 months and up):

Since toddlers can eat a wider variety of textures, be sure to introduce them to the above spices via your regular Thanksgiving table food.  Stuffing and potatoes are obvious favorites.  It’s ok, and actually encouraged, to give your toddler tastes of full-seasoned dishes.  If your little one refuses, don’t give up! Remember, it can take 10-15 tries before a baby/toddler starts to like the taste of a particular seasoning or ingredient.  Experiment and have fun.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!!