I'm a big believer in not feeding kids "kid food" — know what I mean? I never order from the kids' menu in restaurants. I think a parent is their own worst enemy if they never allow their kid's palate to extend beyond noodles, cheese and ketchup (how my daughter's tastes run if left to her own devices). Why not add dijon mustard to the sauce? Hey, why not chilis for that matter? As I said, this is what I believe. Firmly.
Now, how I actually behave.… yep, it's another story. Like most people, I'm no fan of criticism. Particularly the cold and heartless variety doled out by children. "Yuck," says my four-year old. That's if she's feeling benevolent. "Gross, I hate… (insert goat cheese, spinach, sauce, mayonnaise here)" if she's not. My toddler is an even more scathing critic. If he touches a piece of food to his little kissy lips and finds it unappealing in anyway, he tosses it to the floor.
photos: Maya Visnyei
It's hard on a person. Luckily in my life I have Rob, the amazing cook at my daughter's daycare. I don't know what his secret is but he has them eating curry, lentils, curried lentils, you name it. What has always blown me away most is the soup. All them, right down to the toddlers, have one soup meal each week. Imagine the mess involved in feeding a group of one-year olds soup? But they do it — they learn how to manage the spoon and they learn to love soup, one of my favourite foods.
I think the key to soup for small children is either going for something smooth and creamy that will cling to the spoon, like black bean or mushroom, or if you're making a broth-y soup, make the pieces of meat and vegetable small enough to be picked up by a small spoon. I love chicken noodle soup — there's just nothing more comforting and when you use alphabets for noodles, it's pretty cute, too.
Chicken Noodle Soup
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped small
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 carrots, peeled and chopped small
2 celery stalks, chopped small
3 or 4 stems fresh thyme, leaves pull off the stems
1 bay leaf
2 940 ml low sodium chicken stock containers
250 grams noodles
1 1/2 cup cooked chicken (I poached chicken thighs for 15 minutes in water with another chopped onion and carrot)
salt and pepper to taste
In a large pot, sautee onion, garlic, carrots, celery, thyme and bay leaf in olive oil over medium heat until soft, about 6 minutes.
Add stock and allow to boil. Reduce heat to simmer. Add noodles just until cooked. Add chicken. Taste before adding salt and pepper if necessary.