Who Says Kids Don’t Like Curry?

by jennifer on September 14, 2008

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The first time a friend offered Violet a veggie “puff,” I was puzzled. “They’re healthy,” she explained.  “They’re made from vegetables.”  Why not, I wondered, just give her the actual vegetables instead?

Western culture has an unfortunate tendency toward dumbing-down food for kids.  Whether it’s for the sake of convenience, or the mistaken assumption that kids won’t like cauliflower, it’s more common to see a toddler munching on gummy fruit snacks than a fresh nectarine.  Hoping to encourage an affinity for healthy, whole foods is one reason my husband and I opted to follow an approach I’d read about referred to as “baby-led weaning” (BLW) to introduce Violet to solid food. Instead of offering her the standard rice cereal and purees, we presented her with the real thing from the beginning and let her lead the way. Read more about Violet’s first encounter with solid food (we started with bananas) here.

BLW allows the baby to become acquainted with real food in its true form, exploring tastes and textures at her own pace. Texture is such a pivotal part of the epicurean experience, but purees eliminate that element entirely; learning to love pureed peas may not translate into an affection for the small round version that bursts in the mouth. BLW also gives the baby the chance to choose for herself among what is offered (i,e., polishing off her yam before moving on to the Quinoa with Latin Flavors and black beans or kiwi, above) and to be in control of how much she wants to consume - which helps her learn to follow her body’s signals in determining when to stop eating, rather than relying on the person wielding the spoon to decide for her.

From bananas, Violet ventured to other soft foods like avocado, squash and very ripe pears, and she didn’t stop there. By the time she was a year old, she had developed a pretty sophisticated palate, enjoying all the same dishes we do: from steel cut oats with cinnamon and raisins to Vegetarian Paella, Baked Ziti with Vegetables and Mushrooms, and grilled wild Alaskan Salmon with rosemary roasted potatoes and steamed broccoli. In a time crunch, we fall back on her favorite spinach, feta and heirloom tomato omelet.

We can’t take all the credit, of course – Violet’s willingness to sample anything we serve is in large part a product of her personality. But we certainly hope that exposing our daughter to healthy, unprocessed fare at an early age has contributed to her developing a taste for a variety of whole foods, prepared in different ways with different flavors . . . and that her preference for such delicacies will persist, even in the face of the less nutritionally desirable options she’ll no doubt encounter (and occasionally indulge in, as we all do) someday.

Jennifer blogs about her family’s journeys in attachment parenting and other “crunchy” ways of living (as well as photography) at Postcards From the East End.

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jennifer (8 Posts)


{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Maria September 14, 2008 at 6:03 pm

I agree! I did give my son a few purees, but found it easier to put things like fresh peas in to one of those mesh bag things before he could handle the outer portions. it allowed him to sample tasty veggies, fruits, etc before he might have otherwise been able to. While I realize this isn’t 100% true to allowing him to lead, I found that it gave him the chance to eat what we were eating once he had started the push towards solids (at his interest level).

These days we get all sorts of compliments re: his willingness and desire to eat fresh fruits and vegetables. I never gave him much else, so in some regards it is a learned behavior. On the other hand, I never forced him to eat a cucumber we had just picked from the garden, but he does it anyway. :)

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Mama2HoneyPies September 15, 2008 at 7:47 pm

I love the title of your post Jennifer. :) My eldest is almost 5 and says enthusiastically “You’re making curry tonight?!” whenever I break out the wok and pile the veggies high. We too, chose to skip the purees and gave him actual solid food and he loved it. He’s in a bit of a picky stage right now but I think that we have really avoided a lot of the major food fussiness that some kids go through. Maybe that’s just him and maybe it has to do more with how we started him out. I do think that food should be a holistic experience though and think that most little ones are thrilled with experiencing all that food has to offer. Now I guess I should stop complaining about all of the fruit that my boys eat on a daily basis and be grateful! ;)

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Renee September 18, 2008 at 8:47 am

Our little monkey eats what we eat ie. curry spicy food lot’s of fresh and cook veggy meat etc… she never had formula or baby food she was exclusively nursing for 12 months and then introduce real food.

Her first food was steak LOL but she is not fussy at all and LOVES food

Thanks for this post!

Ps. she does est like a pig LOL

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Nicole September 20, 2008 at 4:11 pm

Yeah! We fed my 2nd what we ate pretty much from 6mos on, when he started begging for it. Up until he was about 2-2.5 he ate everything and everything. Right now he’s a pretty selective eater, but likes really odd things for a kid (broccoli, salsa) – and I think it’s really normal to be wary of food around age 2-3.

After my 1st ended up eating so few foods I am a huge believer in feeding kids whatever real food they want to eat. I think all this puree, bland food stuff is very culturally motivated rather than real science.

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Heather September 22, 2008 at 12:02 am

We followed the BLW method with our babe and consider it one of the best decisions we’ve made. It went fantastic! Our family and friends were baffled by the approach, but once they saw him eat and learned more about it, they were on board. At 19 months now he eats near anything, with a better and more varied diet than many adults we know.

I wish more people knew about BLW. I am excited to read Gil Rapley’s book coming out in October to see if it will be the kind of thing I can share around to spread the word.

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Theresa September 22, 2008 at 12:46 pm

I’ve used this method as well and find that it works great! It is a LOT easier to give her what I have cooked for hubby and I, than to go pureeing something separately. And she eats what she likes, as much as she likes… as messily as she likes :)

I hope it pays off in a few years!

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