Happy day after Mother’s Day! I was planning to give you a garden tour this morning to celebrate the new plantings that were part of our Mother’s Day festivities, but the rain has chased me inside… well, okay, I never made it out. A garden update is in our future, and it’s very exciting, at least in my humble opinion. Dead seedlings were replaced and the garden is exploding, and when the sun comes out, I’ll show you.
In the meantime, I’ve been thinking a lot about lunch. Okay, I think it’s pretty clear to all of you that I’m thinking about food most of the time, but lunch has been on my mind ever since I registered my wee ones for kindergarten in the fall. I have already resigned myself to packing lunches daily, a plan that was reinforced when I looked at the school lunch menu – but that’s another post for a day when I’m already in a bad mood, because it will have a pretty high percentage of rant in it. For this gentle rainy morning, I just want to explore a trend that has emerged in yummy, nutritious, fun lunches for me and my little people. I’ve stumbled upon a recurring theme. Small bites.
In Big Sis’ discussion of Lunchables (Lunchables are also a zen threatener for me, so I’ll be brief here), she conceded that the packaging of these products (many of which have as much sugar as a Snickers bar, BTW) is kid-sexy. Little compartments, small amounts, a variety that they can choose from, assemble, control. The bento box craze reveals some of the same appeal. Compartments that contain small amounts of various bits that they can choose between, manipulate, control. Honestly, this has also been one of my favorite things about eating Ethiopian food or tapas: variety, tastes, experiments.
So with these thoughts in mind, I decided to put a lunch together that really offered as many different bites a I could fit on the plate, a strong element of choice, some possibilities for assembly and experimentation. I included one new food, and some things they’ve been reluctant to eat in the past as well as some old standbys. This was not revolutionary; I’ve offered my kids strange little collections of food before, but I’ve not been this deliberate about it, nor have I ever watched and listened as carefully while we ate. I tried to be quiet (this is hard for me) and see what choices they would make without pressure. This lunch was remarkably successful. Was it the quantities? Was it the variety? The fact that they couldn’t help but have a healthy lunch if they ate any two of the items on the plate? I have no idea; what I DO know is that they both ate most of it. And my little picky one ASKED about 2/3 of the way through the meal if she could skip the rest of the celery if she ate all the other veggies, because the flavor of celery is okay, but she doesn’t like the way it feels in her mouth…. If you’ve eaten with my daughter, you know this is not the way our meal conversations usually go. Delightful. And Daddy and I got to finish the dip which they liked with the apples and on the bagel, but not on everything else. My preference was to have it with the celery and banana.
Nutty Lunch Dip
- 4 T peanut butter
- 4 T plain yogurt (I used almond yogurt)
- 1/2 t maple syrup
- generous shake cinnamon
Ready for another miraculous cooking procedure? Put all those bits in a bowl and stir them thoroughly to make smooth yum. Adjust ingredients to taste. If it seems like a little more sweet would be good, try a little more cinnamon first; you may be surprised. When you’ve got it tasting the way you want, dip a few things in it. Let your inner five your old take control of the lunch plate. Pretend you don’t already know what tastes good together; you just might find something new hiding in the guise of an old trusted and predictable vegetable. Nutty small bites for all! Delish.