June 11, 2019

Mom Talk: Dinner Time Battles?

I remember being maybe around 7 or 8 and sitting down at the table with my brothers and sisters.  Dad brought this big pot over to the table and we are all anxiously waiting to see what he came up with for dinner.  That was how Dad cooked.  Unless you were in the kitchen helping, you just never knew what he was going to put on the table.  I feel so bad for all the kids that came over to eat and were absolutely horrified by our dinners.  Or maybe not.  I liked to think, in a way, Dad gave me a little something that I have passed down to my boys.

He raised us on a very diverse diet.  He taught us to keep an open mind try new foods. He also taught us to be respectful and not to turn up our noses at what someone took the time to put together and serve us.  That's not to say we didn't run into things that we really really didn't like.  The point was we tried it and then decided if we liked it or not.  Food can be quite deceiving...

That night, Dad sat down and with the biggest smile on his face he told us he had spent all day making a stew.  With blood sausage.  BLOOD SAUSAGE?!?!  I wish you guys could have seen the looks on our faces as we thought about running from the table.  Gulp.  Then we handed him our bowls and watched in horror as he spooned the dark red soup into our bowls.  

This was the one and ONLY time in my childhood, I was not honest about dinner.  Each of us took time distracting Dad while another one carefully snuck those sausage chunks back into the pot when he wasn't looking.  If we had a dog, I would have felt so bad for him that night for sure!  Thankfully Dad noticed that no one was as excited about dinner as he was and he never made it again.  But he didn't let that stop his creativity in the kitchen.  We are all still talking about his homemade gravy from the summer of 2003.  

In my mothers culture, it is rude to turn down food.  We were also happy to offer our food to our guests.  Even if it sometimes it meant we had to share a plate and sometimes just hand it over.  Always accept the food you are offered and eat it with out complaining.  It was what we were taught to do.  Dad would tell us to at least try it and eat what we could.  And that is what I tell my boys now.

If you have been following me here or on any of my other channels, you know in this family, we like to eat.  I love making new things and the boys love trying them.  There are still so many things we haven't tried yet.  And people are always asking me how I convince the boys to eat so many different kinds of food.  So today today I'm sharing a few ways we have managed to get through dinnertime battles.

A few summers ago, we were at the Zoo and they were offering up some crickets.  Yes, crickets.  I about lost it when Anthony looked at me and said "Ill try them if you try them too!"  Part of me wanted to panic but the other part of me was fist pumping the air because he was excited to eat a bug.  But then I realized he was only repeating back to me what I say to him.  And by showing them that I will eat a variety of foods and give everything a chance once, you had better believe I ate that cricket.  And it was much better than blood sausage!  The boys eat what they see us eating.  When Anthony was little I made dinner once and Grandma didn't eat the mushrooms.  Anthony asked her why she didn't eat them and she said "Because mushrooms are gross!"  Guess who never wanted mushrooms anymore???

I grew up on the kitchen counter.  Sitting up there while dad cooked.  Standing on a chair peeling and chopping garlic.  Snapping green beans.  Watching Dad taste and adjust his seasonings.  And getting to taste test too.  We all spent time in the kitchen.  And one of the things I love most in life is when the boys are in the kitchen with me.  Now they get to peel and cut veggies and sometimes even make their own dinners.  They are so proud of their creations that they can't wait to eat it!  Teach them!  Invite them in to cook with you.  The memories are worth the mess! 

This was the most normal thing my family ever did growing up.  It was probably the only time you would find us all in the same room too.  Making polite conversation even.  Most days anyways.  There were a few exceptions we still laugh about to this day.  But we were together and that's what mattered.  When people tell me that they don't do family dinner or that they just eat in front of the TV, part of me says don't judge and the other part of me is sad for what they are missing out on.  There are days that I don't eat dinner and so I don't sit down and then when every ones done eating, I hate that I didn't just sit down.  Sit down with your family.  Take that time to talk to your kids.  Talk about how their days were.  Talk about what they are eating.  Talk about why its healthy and what else they would like to try!  And pay attention to what they like.  And yes, that means no phones at the table!

How else are they supposed to know if they like something if they have never tried it.  Make it fun!  Maybe they are learning about a certain country in school so suggest you try a food from that country.  Is there a cartoon that they love, or a movie?  Make a dish inspired by that!  Try new fruits and veggies.  Try new cuisines.  What ever you do, make it fun.  Make it an experiment and let them form their own opinions.  Offer a variety and options.  Let them show with you and pick out something new to try.  Not only are you making memories but creating good eating habits.

That being said, I try to avoid dinner time struggles.  For example, I LOVE salmon.  Alex, not so much.  So I make sure I don't make it as often.  That's not to say I don't have it for lunch 2 or three times a week while they are at school.  David isn't a fan of zucchini so I offer a second or third veggie when I make them. I know some people are willing to cook 2 or 3 different meals for their family and then are frustrated afterward.  Why not cook one meal everyone likes and then sit down and enjoy it as a family.  The only time we don't all eat the same meal is on leftover nights.  I'm a mom, not a short order cook.

I know some of you are probably rolling your eyes at me right now.  But this is something that kills me.  I know a lot of people think it's funny.  I saw a whole montage of it on Americas Funniest Videos.  You know what I'm talking about right?  The video where the mom threatens to take away the boys video games if he doesn't eat his broccoli so he keeps trying and gags over and over.  Or where kids are left to sit at the table until their plate is empty.  Breaks my heart every time.   And I feel like if it will ruin food for kids.  Food is life.  Literally, we need it to live.  Will that boy ever be willing to try broccoli again?  Probably not.  He probably grew up hating all veggies.  And forcing plates to be emptied creates awful eating habits.  We should eat until we are content not until someone says we can be done.  Dinner time should be a good experience, not a traumatizing one.

For us,  dinner time is our time to sit down as a family and catch up over a good meal.  The dinner table is where all the questions are asked.  Where we laugh the hardest.  Where we nourish our bodies and our hearts.

For as long as I can remember I have always served everyone.  But I'm kinda missing the way we did it when I was little.  Dinner on the table and we would pass the dishes around.  I think I will try to do that more often!

So, let's talk!  What are some foods that you would like you kids to eat, but they don't like?  What are you kids most and least favorite foods.  And what is the craziest things you or your kids have ever eaten? Also, what are your thoughts on Blood Sausage??

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