A garbanzo by any other name…

J doesn’t know it, but he’s eating a lot less cheese.  He’s also eating “green specks” that used to send him running for the hills before.  Namely: he’s happily eating pasta that has been tossed with pesto or olive oil, garlic and parsley.  The amount of Parmesan cheese sprinkled on top is ridiculously small, and he’s not asking for more.  He also consumed, albeit unbeknownst to him, garbanzo beans that I had stewed for last night’s dinner…  When he gets home from school this afternoon, I’m making him some halibut.  I might be pressing my luck, but the world belongs to the brave ones, and to the crazy ones who don’t know any better, right????

The one thing we have noticed is that J no longer requests snacks after meals.  The other thing that we have noticed is that he will try whatever we put in front of him, and not just that token attempt that means one bite and then BYE, but rather actually tasting and thinking about what he’s experiencing.  There are things he has liked, and there are others he hasn’t been thrilled about, but we’ve yet to get the “spit it out and rinse your mouth” reaction.  This, as you can imagine, is encouraging and has filled us with some bravado, but we keep reminding ourselves (and each other) that slow and steady wins the race.  So I’m going to throw caution to the wind and make him some halibut…

And then, tonight, I’m going to make matters worse by making a pasta casserole with butternut squash in it.  I like to live dangerously.  No, I don’t really like to live dangerously, but I think I have to implement this as aggressively as possible (without scaring J into total rejection) while I still have the gumption for it.  If I tell myself that we’ve done enough for now, I will become less proactive about finding out how to make the kid eat lentils.  (My only experience with lentils was in 1971 Spain…I didn’t like them.  I was only six and had never before seen, smelled, touched or tasted lentils, but was very familiar with gandures (pigeon peas…look ’em up!)  They sort of look alike, and I bit into the lentils expecting the familiar deliciousness of gandures only to be unpleasantly surprised by what I no longer remember what it tasted like.  I steered clear from them since…I’m about to get us all reacquainted with them.)

Other ingredients are more of a mystery, and I haven’t quite figured out how to introduce them into our meals without a chorus of Doubting Thomases airing their concerns.  Outright rebellion is another concern, but that’s why I’m reading and researching and planning a reconnaissance trip to the grocery store this weekend, and another one to the library.  If I can not only COOK with these unfamiliar items, but also persuade my family to not call the authorities to express concerns about my sanity, I’ll be happy.

One thing I’ve learned is that we have been very close to implementing the Mediterranean Style Diet, but that we’ve also fallen prey to our love of sweets and beef, and haven’t been boldly adventurous when it comes to grains.  That we’ve let J get away with not diving into the ocean of vegetables out there for his consumption is rather shameful, and I think that -as with all rehabilitation- admitting we have a problem with that is the first step to recovery.

On my list of things I need to figure out before the pickaxes, pitchforks, and spades come out to declare a revolution to overthrow me from my perch as the Kitchen Captain:

– What is bulgur and what can I do with it?

– If it’s unrecognizable in a soup or casserole, does it count as a vegetable (think camouflaging through liquefying)?

– Do raisins count as grapes, and are dried pears just as nutritious as fresh pears?

– How many uses can I find for walnuts and other nuts short of handing them to J and telling him “here, eat this!”?

– If I grind things, do they mean anything?

– Can I drink the suggested amounts of red wine as a reward for having attempted this?  J IS underage…

So…there you have it.  We’re doing a bit of exercise every evening, introducing new ingredients, being very nonchalant about J’s reaction (if he sees we’re anxiously awaiting his response, he might realize that this is IMPORTANT!,) and trying our best to be practical about this.

The positives so far?  J is open to it…and that’s a HUGE plus.  He hasn’t asked for popcorn or crackers.  He hasn’t insisted on adding cheese to anything we’ve served.  I know I can do more than just stew garbanzos, or chick peas or garbos or whatever people call them (TGG referred to them as butts when he was little, but that’s not a very appealing name after a certain age, is it?)  The negatives: I still don’t have the hang of what I can do with bulgur…and, believe me, I’ve been researching.  And it’s not yet time to garden so I need to run to the store to see what’s in season or, at least, available.  Otherwise, all is well…

Onwards and upwards, people…  I’ll let you know if the fish flies or if it crashes…

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