Until recently I would never have described Ella as a fussy eater. She has her preferences - separated food items rather than stew type meals. She loves pasta of all types with everything from simple oil, bacon and parsley to carbonara. She doesn't, however, like cooked vegetables apart from steamed kipfler potatoes (no other kind will do). She adores all vegies, but will only eat them raw. She loves olives, proscuitto, mozzarella but doesn't like boiled, scrambled or fried eggs.
Recently though, she hasn't wanted to eat any meat. She doesn't want bacon in anything, she may eat a burger on the bbq in the context of a lovely outdoor family dinner, but otherwise no. A couple of weeks ago she plainly said she didn't want to eat meat. In and of itself that doesn't actually bother me so much as we aren't huge meat eaters in our house, but I find that it's harder to cater for vegetarian meals with children than adults. For us I compensate with stronger flavourings but she doesn't necessarily enjoy them all. I've been soaking more lentils of all kinds but again, when accompanying vegies have to be raw, it can get tricky.
Last night I was not at my finest. After a long very hot day I had made risotto, very plain with stock (I did sneak in some bacon, but come on otherwise it has no flavour) and a few cooked peas for her sister which I fished out and replaced with raw ones for her. As I hope we've all done from time to time I lost it when she wouldn't eat her dinner and kept going on about dessert. Much yelling, unfortunately on both sides and probably within earshot of the neighbours, ensued.
We both calmed down and as usually happens, we discussed what happened during bathtime. We talked a lot about what she does like to eat which included nuggets, plain pasta, fresh peas and carrots. We agreed that one night she could choose what she wanted and the next we'd look together at recipes and try a little harder to have something different.
Tonight we had homemade chicken nuggets, plain pasta, green beans, peas and carrots followed by strawberries and cream. The interesting thing is that when she was helping me crumb the nuggets I referred to them as chicken and she said "not chicken mum, nuggets". I wonder if I've been the master of my own downfall. A while ago she asked me where chicken (that we eat) came from and the discussion subsequently extended to all meat types. I hesitated, but answered truthfully for I didn't see a reason to fudge. I now wonder if this isn't where it all started.
For now I'm going to try the balance between what I know she enjoys eating and isn't honestly bad for her and trying to again coax more into her diet. The other thing she loves is calamari, but heaven forbid anyone should tell her it's actually from the fish family! No-one wants a difficult dinnertime and most of us would do anything to avoid it, such a stressful time of day. In the end though, reflecting last night, why isn't she able to be "fussy" or "selective" about her diet as we all are from time to time, why do I completely inflict on her my selections. Don't get me wrong, I don't ever believe in cooking multiple meals for a fussy eaters, that's above and beyond in my mind, but we all want a simple and happy life.