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It’s really never too late to try something new
Bopper Eating
THE ‘WAYLEE-BOPPER’ is carrying on the family tradition of reveling in his food. Like most parents, Emily has a plethora of messy baby eating photos, perfect for showing his future girlfriends.

GAYS MILLS - Examining my life long relationship to food and what I eat or don’t eat is another one of those things that go on the giant list of ‘Things I didn’t expect to come along with parenting.’  I would never claim to be a picky eater. Things have to be fairly out there for me to not even try them. In fact, parenting has probably pushed me to go even further beyond my list of normal eats, in order to be a better example for my little people. 

I have to admit, I like to brag about my toddlers excellent eating habits. Early and often, I’ll inject myself into a conversation, probably in an obnoxious way, about how Thatcher, and now Waylon, love whole foods. Things like steamed beets, zucchini pie, and all-of-the-broccoli excite the curly haired toddler. I love to share how he will merely pick at the childhood staple of chicken strips, and never require a dousing of condiments to complete his meal.  And really, seldom gets candy, gummies, or other too sweet treats. 

We have taken a different approach to our kids eating habits than some, by being pretty strict about it. We don't offer him alternatives if he turns down dinner and we insist he at least tries everything. We even get creative at times and convince him that by eating copious amounts of squash he will achieve eyesight like a mighty eagle–an exciting prospect to a three year old. This has luckily helped him to develop pretty solid eating habits. He isn’t a total oddity though. He won’t eat tomatoes, and is fairly hesitant about fresh green beans. Oh. And rest assured, he’d smack down scoops of ice cream and popsicles like any other kid when given the opportunity. 

Chasca too, is much like this, a dedicated good eater. He really is probably the best food consumption example in our house, despite being the skinniest one. Lucky for him, he was raised to be a good eater. His family cooked wholesome home-cooked meals. His mom once said, “I often find myself trying to think of things to cook these days. When the kids were little, it seems like I cooked and I cooked and I COOKED, I can’t remember what I cooked though, just that I did a lot of cooking.” 

Chasca has only met one food that he doesn’t like, and that is clam chowder–of all things. However, he’ll still eat it if he’s served it. 

Little Waylon has started to take on the world of consuming food nearly full time now as well. We are lucky he takes after his dad and brother and is interested in eating anything and everything thrown his way. We haven’t found a food he rejects yet, which is fine by us. To date, boiled cabbage and rotisserie chicken seem to be the favorites. 

And then, there is me.  As I’ve mentioned in columns past, I am a fairly bad cook. I mean, I can create big, sloppy, carb-filled greasy comfort food. Things that cause Chasca to say, “The surprise in that dish you call ‘Emily’s Surprise’ is a stomach ache and gas.” But, that hasn’t stopped me from trying. 

I wouldn’t say I am too picky of an eater. I am willing to try nearly everything, even if I am hesitant at first. I however, grew up on a steady diet of frozen fish sticks, ramen noodles, Tombstone pizzas and generic mac and cheese. My favorite vegetable was French style green beans with a Kraft cheese single melted over top in the microwave, yum yum! 

I am lucky though my dad was able to manage that much to feed us. While my mom worked nights, he was the lone parent responsible for creating dishes for two little kids day in and day out. And now, as a parent of two little kids, I know how much of a challenge the after work/school and before bed race is. It makes me think about how lucky I am I have someone who likes to eat well and cook to boot. 

This weekend on our way to the grocery store, I was pondering out loud all of the foods I never ate until I was an adult. All of the foods I never ate until I was in my late 20s and began getting fed by Chasca is almost more accurate to say. Pomegranates, whole garlic, regular old stir fried zucchini, kale, rainbow chard, and golden beets? Where have these things been all my life!? 

This wonder and amazement will sometimes cause me to be consumed by wild obsession for my new discovery. Much to Chasca’s chagrin who isn’t always a fan of my outrageous experiments with giant hunks of raw garlic or pomegranate seeds in places they probably don't belong. 

One of my good friends is a fairly picky eater and we often times find ourselves marveling at what each other is cooking for dinner. She, is frequently shocked when I am unable to completely identify something I am putting in the pot to steam and toss on top of rice. I can almost hear her sigh over my text message, when I use phrases like “mysterious, non-offensive nutritional filler.” 

All I can do is continue to hope my little people remain wiling to try anything and everything in the world of food. For as I’m learning at 30 years old, it's a great, big delicious world out there and there is still a whole lot left to try.