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Palm Coast Thursday, Feb. 25, 2016 4 years ago

Salt and ketchup: Tricks my picky kids use at the dinner table

'Aren’t cucumbers just pickles with the warts scraped off?'
by: Brian McMillan Executive Editor

Food has always been stressful at the McMillan home. Our children are such picky eaters that we have given up all hope of feeding them broccoli or green beans, and we just try to survive. We celebrate small victories, like the kids learning that even if you think dinner is disgusting, you never say it’s “disgusting” to your mother.

Each child has a technique for making food more palatable. Jackson, 12, shakes salt on his food until that’s all he can taste. Grant, 10, spreads food around and pats it with his fork to make it look like he is eating more than he is, and Ellie, 6, smothers everything with loads of ketchup — even apple slices. If she is done with her food, she eats plain ketchup until someone makes her stop.

“Oh, man,” Grant said one night, “I’m so full I couldn’t eat one more bite.”

Jackson, ever the helpful big brother, noticed the large quantity of ground hamburger spread around Grant’s plate.

“Oh, really?” Jackson said. “What if we have s’mores for dessert? Would you still be too full for one more bite then?”

Grant apparently anticipated such a challenge because he didn’t hesitate with his answer: “I eat s’mores whole.”

“Would you eat them on a boat? Would you eat them with a goat?”

We also seem to be behind in teaching basic food identification.

“Aren’t cucumbers just pickles with the warts scraped off?” Grant asked one day.

It seems our only hope is our fourth child, Kennedy. She is 1 year old and hopefully hasn’t learned anything from her siblings yet. Maybe she will be a healthy eater?

The best sign so far is that she seems to be easily brainwashed. We read her Dr. Seuss over and over and ask her the key questions directly.

“Kennedy, do you like green eggs and ham?”

Eager to please, she raises her eyebrows and nods her head vigorously: Yes!

“Would you eat them on a boat? Would you eat them with a goat?”

She nods up and down, up and down. Don’t worry, Dad! I’ll eat them in a house and with a mouse, no problem!

Ketchup is a source of tomatoes. I have to keep reminding myself of that.

Meanwhile, Ellie makes a huge pile of ketchup and stands up a French fry in the middle, as if it were a candle. “Look,” she says, “it’s a ketchup birthday cake!”

I shudder at the thought of eating such a pile. But, ketchup is a source of tomatoes; I have to keep reminding myself of that. 

And, focus on Kennedy. She’s our only hope.

Later, Kennedy brings me a Ziploc Baggie full of pretzel sticks. She shakes it at me, wanting me to open it.

“You need to eat good food, something with more nutritional value than pretzels,” I tell her. “But you can have one. Just one.”

I open the bag and extend a  single pretzel stick for her to take. She looks at me, then at the pretzel in my hand. And she grabs the full bag instead and walks away, probably to go add more salt and dip them in ketchup.

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