The Foodie Report
Ruminations on food, cooking in and eating out in our area.

It's entirely possible to be a vegetarian in Porkopolis. Pop culture reporter Lauren Bishop blogs about products, recipes and restaurants she's tried for others who eat meat-free. E-mail her at lbishop@enquirer.com.

Nicci King is an unabashed foodie and the Lifestyle/Food editor in The Enquirer's features department. She loves to discover new food faves, and she's on a daily quest to answer one burning question: What's for dinner? E-mail her at nking@enquirer.com.

Enquirer Weekend editor Julie Gaw tends to order the same dish every time she eats at a restaurant, but periodically ventures out to discover something new and fabulous. After living in China, Hong Kong, the Philippines and Thailand for more than 8 years, she craves tasty Asian food. E-mail her at jgaw@enquirer.com.

Food/dining writer Polly Campbell loves every quirk and secret of Cincinnati's food personality, and is on a constant lookout for something good to eat. Keep an eye out for her restaurant picks, or see how she's progressing toward becoming famous for her apple pie. E-mail her at pcampbell@enquirer.com.

Communities reporter Rachel Richardson is on a mission to prove vegetarians eat more than lettuce. She shares both her graduate work on American food culture and food-related news.. E-mail her at rrichardson@enquirer.com.

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Tuesday, February 05, 2008

The chicken (tender) or the (fertilized) egg...

Which came first?

First of all, I'm not a mommy. Yet. So I need to confess that I have never been on the receiving end of a dinner-hour tantrum. Now that we have that disclaimer out of the way, I just wanted to rant a bit about "kids' menus." Is it me or is just about everything on said menus fried and/or beige? The most colorful thing about the options for kids in most restaurants are the crayons. That usually means lots of simple sugars, fat and little nutrition. And applesauce doesn't count in my book... Heck, maybe the crayons wouldn't be such a bad snack when you weigh the limited options. At least those are supposed to be non-toxic...

I have visions of bearing small people who look like me and eat as I do. OK, so perhaps the first part is ridiculous (not to mention vain). But am I wrong to expect to have children that try different cuisines, eat fruit AND vegetables AND grains, and keep the minced/fried chicken snacks to a serious minimum?

I can't imagine that babies are born with a hankering for fries, macaroni and cheese and fried bits of chicken? Not that there is anything wrong with any of those in moderation! Do parents introduce such foods too soon and turn their mini-me's into monsters, making it difficult to not cave in to stop the screams and tears when kids want that stuff at every meal? Maybe it's like an addiction, making chicken nuggets the gateway food to poor nutrition. If these study findings released last year are correct, I'll just put carrot sticks in paper that is covered with arches... Have any of you managed to rear children who eat more than grilled cheese?

It's clear that I have given this too much thought, especially since my two "children" have fur and floppy ears. Matter of fact, here's a picture I took of my "kids," Bailey (left), 10 months and Bree, 11 years old. Yeah, I know, I know. The picture isn't food-related. But, darnit if they aren't the sweetest...

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at 8:29 PM Anonymous baydar said...

I am a mom of two (8 and 5 year old boys) and a big foodie. I swore before I had kids that they would be adventurous and healthy eaters. Son #1 is an extremely picky eater, son #2 isn't. Sometimes they just come that way. Sometimes it's the parenting. Often it's a combination of things. My kids get as much unprocessed, whole grain, organic food as I can get in them. Luckily, they both love fruit.
As for dining out, for many parents a restaurant is not the place to have that battle. The path of least resistance is a good one, especially if parents can get a decent meal, a glass of wine and everyone's happy.
There's a great article by Mark Kurlansky in the new issue of Bon Appetit that addresses kids and eating.
That said, kona bistro has a great kids' menu.

at 11:27 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Personal Chef story...I took on a new family a few years ago and began cooking for them 3 nights a week. They had three kids all under the age of 10.....The first thing Mom mentioned is that they LOVED chicken nuggets....so one night I decided I would make my chicken strips ( they are amish free-range chicken breasts soaked in buttermilk then given a flour dusting and then a combo coating of panko, crushed corn flakes and a touch of brown sugar.) I was shell shocked when they would not eat the chicken because they did not like the texture....they were so used to the processed chicken parts in the nugget form these kids did not even know what real chicken tasted like. Sad..... it took awhile but they came around! The little one suprised eveyone by loving fresh figs....I couldn't get them in the house fast enough.
Kids are funny like that!

at 10:02 AM Blogger Kel Klump said...

I dont have children of my own, however I do mentor with my boyfriend and we have discussed this topic quite a bit. The little boy we mentor loves the usual, pizza, chips, soda, hamburgers from McDonalds etc. We have recently started talking to him about nutrition and how he needs to try different things on a regular basis. We recently were eating at Deweys (not my first choice but it was a special occasion for him) and we ordered a salad. To our suprise, he ate more of the salad than my boyfriend and I were eating. We just keep reminding him that he might not like something one place and find its very good at another and worth a try. I do agree with the first posting though, its getting harder to find a meal out with a kid who might not want to eat the normal fried kids food.

at 2:39 PM Blogger Nicci King said...


I just looked and you're right... Kona does have some interesting options on their kids' menu:

peanut butter & jelly on wheat bread with sliced green apple $3.5

linguini with marinara sauce topped with cheddar cheese $4.5

cheese quesadilla with sliced
green apple $3.5

tofu sauteed in olive oil & soy sauce, served with a baked sweet potato $4.5

at 2:41 PM Blogger Nicci King said...

Oh, and Anon, you can make your chicken nuggets for me ANYTIME...

at 11:26 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks Nicci....Gladly! :-)

at 12:42 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

My 18 month old son can't get enough of avocados (or "dos" as he calls them). Although, trying to get him to eat anything else green has been an issue lately. He also is a big fan of craisins (which arent the best for his teeth).

at 9:30 AM Blogger Nicci King said...

Now, that surprises me about the avocados. Then again, avocados in the buff have a rather mild taste and a buttery texture... Not such a stretch for some young palates, I suppose. I've read some studies/articles about food rejection and children. Very interesting stuff. Flavor is just one facet. Texture, odor, appearance, etc... are other factors. My friend's son would not eat anything that was the least bit fibrous when he was young. We were afraid he would never eat anything but pureed foods! :)

One major thing I took away from such readings is that you cannot give up just because your child rejects food once or even 8 times. Some say you should offer the food 15-20 times before giving in. I get that. Then again, I'd be willing to accept that my kid simple doesn't like, say, lima beans. Plenty of other ways to get fiber and vitamins into his/her little body...

Besides, I'm 30 and there are some foods that I'd rather not eat! So, who am I to judge? ;)

at 4:01 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

My kids are 4 and almost 7 and I have never made anything special for them. They eat what we're eating. They love salmon, olives, salad, brown rice, beets. My daughter doesn't like raw cheese but will eat it cooked/melted. It drives me crazy that people think their kids will only eat beige. As for kids' menus, I've found the restaurants that have terrible kids' menus (fries, chicken nuggets, etc.) usually have terrible adult menus too (fries, burgers, ginormous portions of simple carbs). My kids like Andy's Mediterranean and Lemon Grass. Another key to helping them like good food is letting them help prepare (and if possible grow) it. My 4-year-old loves to mix batters or cut soft vegetables and fruits with a butter knife; my older one stands at the stove and sautees. Sorry if this sounds sanctimonious, but it's not that hard.

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