Feeding Max used to be really stressful for me. There were a few weeks earlier this year where he refused to eat anything. (The culprits: two front teeth and two molars erupting at the same time, and a cold.) To be honest though, I think I took it harder than Max did (I definitely cried more than him). He was actually fine, he just didn’t want to eat. After a week of barely eating anything, he bounced back and ate normally again. After that, I was even more stressed during meal times. I realized that part of the problem was because I never really learned how to feed myself. Before getting pregnant, eating was just another thing I had to get off of my list. If I could survive all day on cups of coffee (which I often did), I would. I like food, but it was never a priority.
Mikey is the opposite. Eating wasn’t just something he had to do, it was the main event of his days. He took time to savor the food at meals, he wasn’t just getting through it like I was. I would often finish my meals quickly and it usually took him twice as long to finish. “Dishonest” food offended him, while it didn’t really matter to me (as long as the price was right).
I started seeing our contrast more clearly when Squish started solids. I would try to power through each meal, getting him to eat as much as he could. I wouldn’t even be able to think of eating my own food until I was done with the task at hand. On the other hand, Mikey would take forever to feed Max. He would eat his own meal while feeding the baby. And for some reason, Max always got really, really messy when his Papa was in charge of feeding him. It used to drive me a little nuts, until I realized that Max was gaining so much from these long meals with his Papa.
Because Mikey savored all his food, it would make Max really curious and he would ask to taste it. There were times when he would completely ignore all the food I prepared for him and would eat off of Mikey’s plate. Whenever it seemed like I was enjoying my food, Max would always ask to taste. He’s never outright rejected food just because it was new or different.
Slowly, I started taking it easy. I read that unless your toddler’s doctor prescribes a dietary plan for medical reasons, you shouldn’t judge how much they eat on a day to day basis. If your child doesn’t eat as much today, a healthy child will likely make up for it in the coming days. And I see that with Max. If all he has is a few bites of his breakfast, he makes up for it at lunch or dinner. Also, after reading Pamela Duckerman’s Briniging Up Bebe, I learned to appreciate the way the French sees mealtimes with kids—they aren’t forced to eat a lot or to finish a certain amount of food, but they are highly encouraged to try a little bit of everything that’s served. I realized that more than the calories gained at each meal, these early mealtime experiences actually shape their attitude towards eating and food. And I really want Max to enjoy food as much as his Papa does.
Taking it easy also means that I’m less stressed about meal prep and I take more chances. While we’re trying to slowly transition away from making food just for Max (we want him to start eating the food we eat), it’s still easier for me when I know I have something ready for him for lunch (because I don’t really eat lunch if I have breakfast). This strange transitionary period led to the creation of Mashed Potacos!
One night, we were having tacos and quesadillas for dinner. We finished dinner pretty early, so I decided to make Max some food for the next day. When I opened our refrigerator, I realized that we had a lot of potatoes. I figured I’d make him some mashed potatoes since I still had leftover grated cheese from dinner. When I was putting everything into the blender, I realized that I also had some leftover taco meat, so I threw that in for fun. And voila! Mashed Potacos was born!
This is what I used:
-three medium/small potatoes (the ones we have here are baseball ball sized ones)
-1/2 stick unsalted butter
-2 small tetra packs of Cheez Whiz (the new mild variant)
-1 small bowl (about three tablespoons) of taco meat (ground beef cooked with taco seasoning)
This is what I did:
-peel and slice potatoes in quarters
-put potatoes in boiling water and cook for 20 minutes
-layer a few potatoes, some of the butter, some of the grated cheese, Cheez Whiz, and taco meat in the blender (saves you from having to mix it if you put in one ingredient at a time)
-blend until you get the thickness that you like. If it’s too thick add a little milk/all-purpose cream to make it smoother.
I don’t season it with salt and pepper anymore because the meat is heavily seasoned and the cheese and Cheez Whiz adds the saltiness it needs. It actually comes out mildly spicy, but Max really likes it (and so does Mikey, hahaha). I can’t wait to see what happy kitchen accidents we’ll come up with next!