When you move past purees and on to the world of finger foods or toddler food it’s really not that much different than adult food, except toddlers are, for the most part, picky and unable to tell you exactly what they want. Not to mention, they are messy. They are very, very messy. And since you’re not the one wielding the spoon anymore, it makes for quite a lovely scene at the table. I will confess that I only allow my son to eat particularly messy meals, like spaghetti, on bath nights.
Toddler food threw me for a loop. I went from being the Betty Crocker of making breast milk and purees, right back to realizing that I kind of suck at cooking. It was pretty easy to get sucked into the trap known as the “Frozen Bag of Chicken Nuggets.” It was easy to get stuck in quite a few traps, actually. Before I knew it, my once wholesomely, naturally fed son, was now living off of hot dogs, processed chicken nuggets, Goldfish crackers, and the occasional quesadilla. I will say he maintained his love for a lot of fruits and vegetables, though, which I mainly got from a frozen bag or a can.
Then a couple important events took place. First, I had the opportunity to hear Dr. Greene speak at a Metro Moms event in Dallas. I came home with an autographed copy of Feeding Baby Green, and a renewed interest in what I was feeding my son. I was reminded how well I’d done in the past, laying the groundwork for a healthy eater throughout pregnancy, breastfeeding and first foods. I didn’t want to see all of that go to waste, so I committed myself to trying harder, to taking the time to really think about what I was exposing my son to and the implications that may have down the road.
Shortly after, I began listening to The Omnivore’s Dilemma on audio book by Michael Pollan. I don’t have the time or the word count here to give you a review of the book, but I will say it was profoundly life changing, and I will never look at a processed chicken nugget the same way again. Heck, I’ll never look at chicken the same way again. I found this recipe for homemade chicken nuggets that even manages to hide some veggies in them, and I’m happy to report I’ve made several batches that my son gobbles up just as quickly as those from the freezer case. I make them with mostly organic ingredients, and, inspired by Pollan, am hoping to switch to LOCAL, responsibly raised ingredients soon. It’s not that Dr. Greene and Michael Pollan made me a better cook. I’m still pretty crappy at it, but at least I’m trying to do the little things I can.
Just like all the other small steps we’ve taken over the last two and a half years to become more eco-friendly and a positive impact on our local environment, I’ll continue to take baby steps, learn new recipes and seek out better sources of local food until we are eating better as a family. One day I’ll realize that I’m not working at it anymore, that it’s just our way of life, and my children will come by it naturally.