Sometimes I really miss baby food. I loved going to the store and looking at all those neat little jars of organic earth-toned purees. I loved the satisfying clink they made in my reusable grocery bag–the neat little stacks of them in the cupboard. I see how many more organic baby food options there are now, and that, along with the proliferation of amazing earth-friendly baby products, almost makes me want to do it all over again. Almost.
Back in those days my little Bean ate beans with gusto. Peas with pleasure. And prunes with…enthusiasm. And lentils and sweet potatoes and squash. And tons of other colorful fruits and veggies. Honestly, the toddler and preschooler turn against veggies came as kind of a shock to me. I never once suggested that green food was bad food. In any way. Doc Hubby and I model healthy eating as much as possible. Cate sees a colorful variety of foods on both of our plates, and I say with a bit of pride, that since moving to New York almost 20 years ago our palates have expanded exponentially. I am almost abashed to say that we have indeed, become foodies.
So when Bean started turning her nose up at vegetables and saying “I don’t like anything that’s green,” I was truly shocked. Where did this food aversion come from? Sometimes I wonder if all the songs and TV shows encouraging healthy eating actually led to her vegetable about-face. It seems that these shows make the assumption that kids are coming to them with food aversions. That when they turn on the TV or open the book or listen to the song, they already don’t like broccoli. And inadvertently teaching the kids that the standard of kid-eating is no veggies. Then again, experts say toddler food aversions are natural and unavoidable. Who knows?
Those same experts say that parents need to expose a preschooler to any new food between five and ten times before they can tolerate the unfamiliar taste and texture. So we have started making a concerted effort to include a vegetable on Cate’s plate at every dinner. For new veggies, we stick with the “big girls try new foods” policy and insist that she takes a healthy bite. For foods that we have already acclimated her to, she has to finish the small portion we give. So far, we have gotten as far as baby carrots with… moderate success.
All this to say, I have also attempted to have plates of cut up veggies on the table for Doc Hubby and me as well so we can model munching on crispy ruffage. And I’m gonna just say it, veggies remain a challenge for me too. I eat them. I don’t complain. But I’d rather have a dinner roll. So when the folks at Bolthouse Farms offered us bottles of four of their new yogurt-based salad dressings to try, I immediately said yes! Dipping fresh veggies in salad dressing, to me, is one of the best ways to turn ruffage into refinement! I may sound like Nancy, but to me, dips make any food fancy. However, if you aren’t careful, dips and dressings are also a way to turn a healthy, low-cal snack into a fatty, sugary treat that may taste more palatable, but will eat up your precious daily calorie count in a flash.
Here’s the good news! The Bolthouse Farms yogurt based dressings contain 55% less calories and 75% less fat than “leading brands” (ie. mayonnaise-based brands) and all come in at 45 calories per delicious serving. We tried the Classic Ranch, Salsa Ranch, Zesty French, and Honey Mustard dressings and they were all super tasty. I also dig that the dressings are all-natural with no preservatives, no artificial flavorings and no MSG. Doc Hubby has expressed a partiality for the Honey Mustard while I have to say the two Ranch offerings are my favorites. Bean has yet to dip her miniscule carrot sticks in, but I think it’s only a matter of time. Nutritionists say that offering your kids veggies with various dips to choose from is a great way to make eating fun. And I like that we can model healthy eating, with delicious dressings that are lower calorie and lower fat while still being totally yummy.
After all, bathing suit season is (groan, moan, whine, complain, hide under a rock, start exercising…) on it’s way. Swapping fatty foods for leaner ones is a wise move as May approaches. Veggies for baby. Veggies for Mama and Daddy. Healthy bodies and balanced diets.
That’s something families definitely gotta have.