Friday, October 29, 2010

Food Fright (and a Fall Cookie Recipe)

Are you modeling fear of food behavior?  Scary.

 You know, that’s when someone is eating something unusual like raw oysters or roasted cactus and another diner comments, “Oooooh, gross!” Right while it’s in their mouths.  Children are picking up your signals.

If your eating habits and food outlook is limiting, your offspring can hardly be blamed for struggling too.

Your adventurousness and world knowledge is also being noted. Like when a food from a different culture is shown on TV, haggis for example, and someone squeals, “eeeew.” In many parts of the world people are not so removed from the source of their nutrition and have created dishes that extend a limited food supply.  Some of these become national dishes that use innards or blood to provide needed nutrients like the famous Spanish dish rinones al jerez (kidneys in sherry) or blood sausage (also know as black sausage.) Sometimes more of an animal is used than we are accustomed to and we find ourselves on the verge of saying something rude.  That’s bad manners in any culture. 

How about at a restaurant when an order includes, as loudly as possible, “NO ANCHOVIES!” No issues with asking for what you want or don’t want, but make sure you are not sending a message to the rest of the table about how you feel about people who don’t eat the same way as you.

Before you know it, you have both signaled and given permission to your children to say no to something new.  Now where’s the fun in that?

While researching this piece I came across lists of foods people posted online that was gross (to them).   Notice that many are distinct in texture, often the feature people find off-putting.  Also seafood and certain vegetables give some people pause.  Here were some surprising and not so surprising ones:

Carrots  (now that one surprised me)
Sea urchin
Rare beef
Garlic cloves
Hot dogs
Russian dressing
Sweet pickles
Green beans
Blue cheese
Cottage cheese

Need I go on?  What some of us find repulsive the rest of us enjoy.  As an adult you don’t have to eat everything, but show good manners and let others enjoy.  And if there are children at the table, be mindful of the thoughts that might be creeping into their heads!

Skeletons in Your Closet? 
Many moms have shared this little secret with me: they keep cookies and salty snacks on hand because of the kids but they end up eating the stuff instead. So who's really asking for the junk food?  It’s the brave parent who isn’t spooked at clearing out the pantry.  If you want cookies, make some real ones. Show your children you don’t fear food because you are the one in control.   Here’s a recipe for a small batch that can be ready to eat in 1/2 hour:

Emergency Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
Makes about 2 dozen
These have no butter so they are lower in fat.  Aside from one egg, everything can be stored in the pantry (including individual 1/2 cup portions of applesauce) so you can make these at a moment's notice.  We like the peanut butter variation that adds back in a bit of fat via crunchy, all natural peanut butter.  These cookies have a granola bar feel.   They are excellent with a glass of cold milk or a crunchy apple.  

1 c. flour
1 c. quick cooking oats
1/2 c. brown sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 egg
1/2 cup applesauce
1 tsp. vanilla
Optional: 1/2 c. raisins, chopped nuts
Peanut Butter Variation: mix in 1/3 cup crunchy peanut butter with other mix-ins. 

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray cookie sheet or line with silicone pad. 
  2. Combine all dry ingredients. 
  3. Combine egg, vanilla and applesauce and stir into dry ingredients. Add mix-ins at this stage.  
  4. Drop by teaspoon (or use a mini-cookie scoop) onto cookie sheet.  The cookies bake up in the shape you drop them so leave rounded or flatten with a fork moistened with water if you want a flatter cookie.  
  5. Bake 10-12 minutes until bottoms are slightly browned.  Cool briefly before eating.  
  6. Good warm or room temperature.  Store in an airtight container; eat within 2 days.

Happy Halloween!