I recently read the book French Kids Eat Everything, and decided to overhaul the way my family eats. I was raised by European parents, so the authors description of French food culture really spoke to me, reminding me of my childhood. My family eats a very healthy diet, by typical American standards. That said, we could definitely improve. Q, my 5 year old, turned into a very picky eater when he was 3. I used to brag about his great eating habits, and subtly scold my friends with picky kids inferring they did not offer the right foods. I bragged about his love of kale, and then he went and made a liar out of me. The pickier he got the more I tried to cook for his tastes, and he became a dairy loving, snack food addicted, child king in the kitchen.
French Kids Eat Everything, written by a Canadian mother who moved her (picky eating) children to France where picky eating is anathema to their very way of life, shows a very simple way to make dinner enjoyable; allowing foods to be new treasures to be explored instead of fights and battles of will at the table. She has a 10 step approach, but the one that rang the most damagingly true for my family was that snacking ruins your appetite. (sure it seems obvious when you spell it out like that) As a family we said good-bye to snacking in one swoop. We had been bunny cracker addicts- among other “pretend to be healthier” packaged foods. (just because it’s organic doesn’t mean it’s health food) We now stick to a schedule, albeit a loose one, and eat three meals a day with one snack after school.
My kids followed me around for a week, telling me how hungry they were. I replied, it’s ok to be hungry. Dinner is in an hour… Then something amazing happened. They were hungry at dinnertime, and actually ate their food! We serve a vegetable course first, so their hungry bellies gobble down the most nutritionally dense food. A carb and protein come second, followed by a fruit and cheese for dessert. (mainly for Q who lives for cheese plates) It’s been such an incredible month- with long family conversations, no fights about food, and really great nourishing meals.
Has Q eaten everything? Nope. But he has eaten a lot, and when he doesn’t like it- as long as he has tried it, we just move on and don’t really make a big deal out of it. I tell him that it’s ok not to like it yet, but one day he will see how yummy it is. If the three of us ate it and loved it, it really is just a matter of time until his palate develops a love for it too. Reverse psychology at it’s best. We have been introducing a lot of new foods, and enjoying a lot of vegetable soups. The cold turn to the weather marks soup season in our house.
Today’s carrot bisque is one of our absolute favorites, and it just screams fall. It’s luscious and silky smooth. One of the best soups in my repertoire When I make it the kids both clean their plates, and Q said it was the best soup he has ever tasted. Mighty high praise indeed.
Melt the butter and olive oil, then saute the onions with a pinch of salt until translucent. Add the garlic and saute for a minute. Stir in the vegetables with a pinch of salt. Cover for 10 minutes, stirring once or twice while the vegetables steam. Stir in 4 cups of vegetable broth, I used Imagine brand vegetable broth. Stir in the sage and thyme, and a bay leaf. Bring the soup to a boil, then reduce to a low boil for 5 minutes. Transfer to a blender (still madly in love with my new Vitamix!) and blend until smooth. Work in batches if you need to. Return to the pot and stir in the creme fraiche. Taste for salt, how much you add will depend on the broth you used. I added 1/2 teaspoon, and a few cranks of fresh pepper.
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 small red onion, chopped
- 3 cloves of garlic, chopped
- ½ cup fingerling or yukon potato, peeled and chopped
- 5 carrots, chopped
- 1 quart vegetable broth
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 teaspoon thyme
- ¼ teaspoon sage
- ¼ cup creme fraiche or heavy cream
- salt and pepper to taste
- melt the butter and olive oil in a soup pot on medium heat.
- add the onion and a pinch of salt, and saute until the onion starts to soften (5 minutes).
- add the garlic and stir.
- add the potato and the carrots with a pinch of salt.
- cover for 10 minutes stirring once or twice during.
- Pour the vegetable broth in and add the bay leaf and thyme and sage.
- Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce to a low boil for 5 minutes.
- Transfer to a blender, in batches if need be, and puree until smooth.
- Return to the soup pot and stir in the creme fraiche or heavy cream.
- Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper to taste.