Nora’s Eating at 20 Months

Nora is slowly becoming less picky. She still prefers meat, but her repertoire is expanding gradually. In particular, her sudden willingness to eat green peas is a huge win. (My dad eats them for lunch nearly every day. One day, she decided she wanted some. The next day, she ate a lot. The day after that, she allowed a small amount of frozen mixed veggies to be included among the peas.)

New staples

  • peanut butter and jelly sandwiches
  • steel-cut oats with milk, walnuts, and lots of raisins
  • green peas
  • meat and fish stews with grains and veggies
  • milk
  • eggs
  • Cheerios
  • pizza
  • nori

Need to try Again

  • bean stews
  • edamame
  • carrot peanut soup
  • peanut noodles

Consistent standbys

  • fruit
  • meatloaf (with carrots, cabbage, onions, and water chestnuts)
  • salmon
  • slow-cooked pork shoulder
  • bread
  • yogurt

On-the-Go Snacks

  • fruit
  • squeezies
  • peanut butter and jelly sandwiches
  • Cheerios
  • Trader Joe’s salmon jerky

Veggies (usually small quantities and inconsistent)

  • mashed yams with lime juice, olive oil, and salt
  • kale chips (only the expensive farmer’s market ones – Trader Joes’s was rejected)
  • homemade kale chips
  • grated orange salad with currants (went for currents first, but also ate carrots)
  • nori

Treats

  • cookies
  • candied ginger (go figure!)

Still rejects

  • cheese
  • tofu
  • tempeh
  • potatoes (hash browns, mashed potatoes, even French Fries)
  • Western-style pasta (need to try smaller ones, like macaroni)
  • ice cream (this won’t last long, so we might as well enjoy it while we can)
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Vegetarian Eggflower Noodle Soup

I haven’t been blogging much because, frankly, Nora hasn’t been eating much new food. But she has thankfully resumed eating my fish and chicken stews, and she’s been sampling odd things – for example, she loved dipping breadsticks into pesto, and she was willing to eat small amounts of peanut butter and hummus after having rejected them for a while. She also finally drank cow’s milk – or rather, half-and-half for my coffee at a restaurant when she was hungry and food service was slow.

This veggie noodle soup is quite strongly flavored with ginger and chili pepper. The secret ingredient to the broth is the egg. It gives the soup a nice rich mouthfeel and keeps the chili pepper from being overpowering. Nora didn’t eat a lot, but she didn’t reject it either, which I’ll count as a win. (She was willing to eat the noodles and cabbage, but not the carrots. I didn’t even try offering the shiitakes.)

  • 2 carrots
  • 1/2 head cabbage
  • several cloves of garlic
  • 6 coin-sized slices of ginger
  • 1 dried chili pepper, minced and optionally de-seeded
  • 6 dried shiitake mushrooms
  • 2 eggs (or more, for richer soup)
  • 2 packages of udon noodles
  • olive oil for sautéing

Soak the shiitakes in boiling water until soft. Slice the carrots, ginger, and garlic, mince the chili peppers, and sauté these ingredients in the bottom of a stockpot. Slice the shiitakes, chop the cabbage finely, and add them to the pot. Add plenty of water and salt (I add more as I go along, adjusting to taste) and let simmer for 10-20 minutes until the vegetables are almost to your preferred consistency. Then add the udon noodles.

When the noodles are done, ladle out a cup of the hot soup. Beat the eggs in a bowl and slowly add the hot soup a little at a time, whisking briskly. Then pour the egg mixture back into the pot while stirring it. This will give the soup an eggflower texture and slightly thicker consistency. If you like, pick out the ginger slices before serving. (I don’t bother.)

If you don’t have time to rehydrate shiitakes, wakame is a good substitute. I’ve made the stew both ways. And, of course, wakame and shiitakes together would also be good.

Toddler Pickiness

Ever since Thanksgiving, Nora has been very difficult to feed because she’s been rejecting my fish and chicken stews. Since that was my main vehicle for getting a variety of veggies, grains, and legumes into her, I’m floundering again. She has also rejected plain chunks of cheese, which takes away a large category of snack food.

At the moment, the only foods she will eat in bulk are

  • fruit (berries, pears, oranges)
  • eggs
  • whole milk yogurt
  • my mom’s pork meatloaf (with cabbage, carrots, onions, and water chestnuts)
  • restaurant omelets with cheese and veggies (cannot replicate at home)
  • plain pieces of fish or meat as finger food
  • avocado
  • bread
  • Cheerios
  • chips, crackers, cookies, and other treat foods (offered sparingly)

There are a few other foods she will occasionally sample, but not consume more than a taste of. This list changes on an ongoing basis.

  • green peas
  • cooked tomatoes (for example, on pizza)
  • whole milk (on Cheerios)
  • apples
  • baby carrots
  • nori

For the most part, I’m not too concerned nutritionally, especially since I hope this is a phase, but I would like to find a way for Nora to consume

  • bone broth
  • probiotics
  • nuts and other allergens

I would also like to be less dependent on my mom’s cooking and restaurant food as a vehicle for veggies. Finally, I’d like to be able to eat as a family again without all this constant brainstorming.

I’m not sure if the best strategy is to keep doing what we’re doing (scattershot offerings that usually result in rejection but occasionally result in tasting), or try a full-court press of one item until it’s accepted. The real problem is that all the candidates for a full-court press are items we rotate or don’t eat on a daily basis – we’d get sick of eating the same veggies day in, day out, so we don’t.

  • whole milk
  • kefir
  • zucchini
  • leafy greens
  • carrots
  • sweet potatoes

Pipeline

A very nice pipeline is developing, now that Nora is so agreeable about eating greens.

  • We cook meat or fish once or twice a week, refrigerate some leftovers, and stockpile freezer balls.
  • I make oatmeal for the entire week in one giant batch and store it in the refrigerator. We all eat from it for breakfast and lunch.
  • I soak and dehydrate walnuts as soon as we buy them, every few weeks or so.
  • I periodically steam and chop several days’ worth of greens for Nora, making freezer balls if there’s extra.
  • I plan on making a week’s worth of grains for the family at a time, now that we have the Instant Pot. We can rotate varieties as I learn how to prepare them (right now it’s rice and millet).
  • I plan on adding large pots of legume dishes to the mix, once I work out how to soak and prepare them. Legumes, like grains, are easy to cook in bulk.

The following are all refrigerator and freezer staples that Nora eats regularly:

  • eggs
  • yogurt
  • cheese
  • fresh fruit
  • avocado
  • bread

So for any given meal, Nora always has a protein, a grain, green veggies, fruit, and some finger foods. These are always on hand either in the refrigerator or as frozen freezer balls.

She joins us for family dinners and weekend meals when we can cook something relatively quick, and gets fed her own dinner first when we can’t.