Even though I mentioned it in “The Bad”, the act of preparing her food falls much more heavily into “The Good” category. I really enjoy cooking. Usually, I find it relaxing. And especially now that I’m not spending a lot of time doing work to prepare for teaching, (I took the year off from teaching elementary school) I feel like I have time to explore recipes and learn more about food. I’m nurturing my own inner foodie and chef. So, to me, it’s fun to see what fruits and vegetables are organic at the grocery store or in the organic or “What’s Good” category from
. (I can have fresh groceries delivered to me? I will definitely
take advantage of that!)
|Broccolette with ricotta and cumin. Eliana loved it.|
And, I need to say that in an ideal world, we would live somewhere warm and tropical where a variety of organic fruits and vegetables would be available year -round from local sources. But, I live in New York City so that’s not my reality. I’ve decided that I’m going to give Eliana organic and local fruits and vegetables as much as possible. When that doesn’t work, I can use frozen organic produce from Wild Harvest or Cascadian Farm. And when all else fails, if at least the majority of the produce I feed her is organic, some non-organic produce shouldn’t ruin my day.
Anyway, after I shop, I have to figure out what to do with all the food. What interesting recipes do I already know or are available online and in my cookbooks? It’s an exciting challenge. Since I’m going the route of making Eliana’s food, and at this point, just mashing up whatever we are eating, I’m totally stepping up my cooking game (ask Matt, I’m pretty sure he agrees). I want her to have a variety of tastes, textures and flavors. So, variety I try to supply. I can now add red pepper flakes, cumin, cayenne pepper, hot sauce, and Chinese 5-spice blend to the list of flavors she recently tried.
When Eliana first gets the food in her mouth, she makes this funny, confused face for a moment. She squints her eyes, draws her eyebrows together and purses her lips. It’s like she is saying, “Huh. Well, now what do I do?” Then, if she likes the food, she leans forward, begins flapping her arms and makes either an, “OOOH!” or a ”MMMM!” sound. It’s so cute. Or, when she ate hummus for the first time, it was so sticky that she had a hard time eating it. I know she liked it because she made those “yummy” sounds and kept lunging at the spoon. But then she would close her eyes and try to open her mouth, too. Imagine a dog with peanut butter in its mouth. I probably could have added more oil or lemon juice. Oops!
|How do I eat this thing?|
And now that she “feeds” herself? It’s a full-body experience. I guess on the plus side, I don’t have so much food to freeze because I offer her more food at each meal. I need to account for almost half of the food ending up on the floor, on various parts of her chair, in her hair, all over her hands, face and bib, and, all over my hands and sometimes hair and clothes. Maybe I need a bib, too. Or a smock.
I’m working on getting better about this one. Really, I am. You all will be so proud of me. AND, I’ve got some photos to prove it. I’ve learned that eating becomes a whole lot less fun for Eliana when I constantly wipe her face. So, I try to only do it once or twice during her meal, rather than after every bite. I try very hard not to wipe her hands too, because there is no point. She eats with her hands so they are full of food the whole time. (Eliana will NOT let me offer her a spoon. She swipes the food right off it.) I’m not completely reformed, though. I can’t help but grab at least some of the huge mounds of mashed food that land on her chest or hang out on her cheek. I will admit, I still get a little anxious as I look at her hands all covered in whatever she is eating. But I love that she is enjoying eating and I know that touching the food is part of her experience so I take a lot of deep, calming breaths. (Give me a little credit, here. I’m working on my issues!)