About once a week, I go the extra mile to cook a truly delicious dinner for my family. More often than not, this makes my children cry.
To be fair, my 7-year-old son has a logical reason to fear new foods. He has a severe tree nut allergy and some very unpleasant memories of his most harrowing reaction. His food anxiety is real, as it is for many children, and new aromas and flavors bring out his worries in full force. Meanwhile, my 3-year-old will eat anything when her brother is away, but once his dinner drama starts, she becomes a front-runner for Best Supporting Actress, stealing the scene by wailing and writhing on the floor as though the shiitake she just ingested was laced with arsenic.
Welcome to dinner, friends!
I suppose we could survive on bland, kid-approved foods, but I love to cook and eat. If we were to live on chicken fingers, white rice, and animal-shaped ravioli, I’d be the one weeping under the table.
So, I’ve found that our happiest meals involve dishes that can be sauced, seasoned, and heaped deliciously onto plates for the adventurous eaters at our table—but separated onto sectioned plates for those who are shivering on the floor.
One of our weeknight go-to dishes, Miso-Glazed Tofu and Veggie Stir-Fry, is adapted from this Cooking Light Soba Noodles recipe . To make the recipe even simpler, I substitute spaghetti for the soba. My husband and I savor the swirl of noodles, golden-crusted pan-fried tofu, crisp-tender asparagus, and earthy shiitakes in a gingery, garlicky, umami-rich miso glaze. Some kids might find it as delicious as we do.
To please my own children, I simply set aside some raw asparagus, plain spaghetti, and seared tofu. If tofu is too challenging for your picky little friends, then you might want to provide a protein they prefer. Scramble an egg into the dish or add some canned chickpeas to the vegetable stir-fry. I subscribe to the Ellyn Satter method, which involves “providing each eater with one or two familiar foods they generally enjoy.” My main goal is to make family dinners fun, and I hope that the list of foods my kids enjoy will grow as they do.