What to do when there are a gazillion things your kid wont eat

Recently at dinner, as I announced to my family that I was on a deadline without a subject for my column, my 6-year-old daughter, Ruby, volunteered to be the topic. “Mommy, you can write about me.”

“But Ruby, what is the Jewish food connection?”

Quick as lightning, Ruby replied, “I’m Jewish and I eat food.”

In that spirit, I think it’s part of our culture to feed our children. We all know the stereotypical Jewish mother crying, “Eat, eat, kinderlach. You’re so thin.”

Ruby is a child with a terrifically limited palate. She eats no meat or fish, unless it’s in chicken soup. She eats no fruit, save green apples. The vegetables she eats, must be uncooked, and they’re limited to green beans, English peas, carrots and dill pickles. On the other hand, she eats plenty of sweets, plain pasta, cheese pizza, tortillas, white rice and potatoes in any form.

Enough about Ruby. I know that there are plenty of particular eaters, so I thought it may be helpful to readers who prepare meals for children to have a few more interesting options than what I’ve referred to above. Hopefully, these suggestions will help make mealtimes easier for both devoted chefs and well-loved but particular children.

Potato Carrot Puree | Serves 8

6 medium baking potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
8 medium carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
1/2 cup milk
4 Tbs. unsalted butter
1 Tbs. mustard
2 tsp. fine sea salt

Fill an 8-quart stock pot with water and bring to a boil. Drop in the vegetables, bring back to a boil and simmer gently until tender. Drain the vegetables.

Puree the vegetables in a food mill or sieve.

Transfer the puree to a saucepan and reheat slowly, gradually stirring in the milk, butter and mustard. Add salt and pepper. Reheat gently to serve.

Oven French Fries | Makes 2 lbs.

2 lbs. potatoes, peeled and cut into sticks
2 Tbs. corn oil
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. Hungarian sweet paprika

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, toss the potatoes with the oil and the salt until they are well-coated. Spread them onto a parchment-lined baking sheet, sprinkle with the paprika and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until they are soft and browned.

Chicken Noodle Soup | Serves 8

8 cups chicken broth
3 carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
3 cups cooked noodles
2 cups cooked chicken
salt to taste

Bring the chicken broth to a boil, drop in the carrots and simmer a few minutes until the vegetables are soft. Add the noodles and the chicken, and heat through. Taste for salt and adjust accordingly. Serve warm.

Corn Soup | Serves 4

1 Tbs. unsalted butter
4 cups corn kernels
4 cups chicken or vegetable broth

Heat the butter in a small soup pot and sauté the corn kernels. Pour in the broth and bring to a boil. Simmer the soup for about 10 minutes, until the corn is soft. Add salt to taste. Serve warm.

Rebecca Ets-Hokin is a Bay Area cooking teacher and food professional. Her columns alternate with those of Louise Fiszer. Questions and recipe ideas can be sent to j. or to [email protected].