Chalk and cheese, and a quick recipe

At any given meal time with my kids, I run the risk of sounding like a schizophrenic.

To one child, I say, “Okay, I think you’ve had enough” or “Last piece, ok? Leave the rest for us”.

To the other, I say, “Would you like more meat/soup/rice/veg/egg” or “Another mouthful? You’ve had so little”.

You get the idea. I’m dealing with a foodie, and a non-foodie, at the same table. Yup, they are about as similar as chalk and cheese.

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Jason is happy to eat most things I put in front of him. He was a hefty milk monster when he was a baby, weighing in at the 97th percentile when he was fully breastfed. He is now a stocky, active eight-year-old, and his eating habits haven’t changed much. Food is a highlight for him. His favourite food was and still is egg, done in any way.

Below: Attempting to eat the sandwiches he was preparing for his class for a school party.

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When he was reluctant to go to preschool, I would whet his appetite for school by telling him what’s on the lunch menu for the day. He loved his preschool cook, Aunty Teoh’s, cooking, and made me learn her version of long beans fried rice. He would have two to three servings of lunch in preschool, likewise most of the boys in his K2 class, (I think they are given half a bowl each time). One of the things he missed about preschool when he entered primary school last year, was Aunty Teoh’s cooking, as well as the “unlimited” servings of food. A vast difference from primary school where he is given pocket money and uses that to purchase food, and from there, attempts to save some of it to buy toys for himself in future. Luckily he enjoys running around, or he wouldn’t be his current size.

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Shannon, on the other hand, was a puny, little one from young. She was consistently at the 10th percentile, and I gave up checking after a while. She is picky about her food, only improving slightly when she entered preschool. She loves most fruits and raw vegetables like cherry tomatoes and red capsicums. She also loves Chinese soups. Apart from these, anything else is optional.

Below: Her favourite is the New Zealand golden kiwi. She can eat two at one go.

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Once, she had stomach flu and I brought her to the doctor. The advice: “Don’t let her eat anything if she doesn’t feel like eating. Best if she stays off food for a day to let the stomach rest.” Shannon’s immediate reaction was a loud “Yay”, drawing chuckles from the doctor, and a comment: “She really doesn’t like to eat, huh?” Shannon spent the rest of the day reminding me that “the doctor said I don’t need to eat”.

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While Jason might whine when he doesn’t get to eat his favourite food or if I limit his portions, Shannon whines for the opposite reason.

Jason has a sweet tooth, Shannon loves savoury stuff. He would give up many things for some chocolate or ice-cream. She refused to eat any Ben & Jerry’s ice-cream when we went down for free cone day at Dempsey because “I’m full”. 

The one food item they both love and request that I cook more often, is Mac N’ Cheese – my homemade version is pasta with some meat and vegetables thrown in, mixed with some sauce (cream, tomato or BBQ), topped with cheese and cornflakes, baked for 15-20 minutes at 180 deg C. A slight variation is the baked pasta recipe here.

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