I know some kids really like strong flavors and spicy foods, and are adventurous about new foods.
I don't own one of those kids.
Claire is Extremely Very Particular. I routinely introduce her to new things, and while I try not to make it a habit of serving her foods she dislikes, sometimes she just has to go with the flow and eat what is served. I don't want her to grow up with the mistaken notion that the universe revolves around the idiosyncrasies of a five-year-old.
Claire's pickiness could be more of a problem than it is, however. The things she dislikes tend to be the "extras" of food life (or what most adults would call the "pleasures" of food life), such as sauces, spices, and condiments. She'll grow into them.
She loves fruits and vegetables, lean meats, and whole grains, so we're okay there. She's your basic "strip it down to the basics" eater. So she eats healthily, but she has many, many, many exemptions. (I tried to pass some mayonnaise off on her awhile back by calling it "white sauce." She poked around at her egg salad suspiciously for awhile, and then looked at me blankly. "This is mayonnaise, mom," she said. Busted!)
I grabbed a couple new cookbooks at the book fair the other day and am hoping to get a lot of use out of them in the next few years.
One is Lunch Boxes and Snacks: Over 120 healthy recipes from delicious sandwiches and salads to hot soups and sweet treats by Annabel Karmel, who also wrote The Healthy Baby Meal Planner: Mom-Tested Child-Approved Recipes for Your Baby and Toddler, which I loved and used a lot when Claire was a baby.
The other is Yum-o! The Family Cookbook by Rachael Ray.
Rachael Ray must run with a pack of very sophisticated children. I decided to make her Buffalo Chicken Chili from this cookbook last night, and it contains hot sauce, fire-roasted tomatoes, and blue cheese. Bob took one bite, looked at me, and mouthed "Claire is not going to eat this." "I know," I mouthed back. She took two small bites (followed by two big gulps of milk) and then I gave her something else.
It was HOT! But very good. Bob and I will have the leftovers for dinner tonight. If you're lazy (you know I am) you can buy a cup of already-diced Mirepoix from Trader Joe's and have a head start there. (I didn't do that this time, but those shortcuts are always in the back of my head floating around.)
Bob and Claire helped prepare the blue cheese chips that go on top. Claire laid out the chips, and Bob topped them with blue cheese. (Claire won't touch blue cheese, and she was plugging her nose with one hand and putting down chips with the other until Bob made her stop.)
Sadly, I had the baking sheet too close to the broiler, and they caught fire. It was a pretty spectacular fire, actually, and we had to douse it out with flour. I don't think I've had an oven fire before that I couldn't quench just by quickly closing the oven door and turning off the heat.
But after we put out the fire, aired out the kitchen to keep the smoke alarms from going off, shut the door to the kitchen, and after Claire got her two bites out of the way, we had a really enjoyable dinner. :D
So . . . Buffalo Chicken Chili. Give it a try if you think the recipe sounds good. (And just so you know, tortilla chips straight from the bag and some blue cheese thrown on top of the chili works pretty well, too, if you have any, you know, dramas.)