I am really blessed by the fact that all the birdies in my nest are very good eaters. From Big One right down to the Wee One (yes, that’s from 19 years old to 21 months old – a whole lotta girliness in one house), there’s not much complaining that goes on – as far as food is concerned anyway.
For anyone who is interested, I have a few opinions about what makes a kid a “good eater”.
1) Introduce lots of food early on – one of my kiddos was eating olive tapenade at the ripe old age of 8 months.
2) Assume the best – I cringe every time I hear a parent say “Oh, s/he won’t eat that” whenever the kid is offered something new or different. Let the kid decide. Don’t limit their tasting experience.
3) Don’t give options – In our house one meal, and one meal alone, is served. There’s not a “kids menu” and an “adult menu”. You would be surprised what gets eaten when there’s not a “pizza, mac & chesse, bagel, chicken nugget, etc.” option offered in place of the main meal.
4) Let kids experience food with all their senses early on. OK, tasting is obvious, but I’m also encouraging smelling, and yes, the one most loathed by parents, touching. I really believe that this full sensory experience of food is very connected to kids loving food. So let your toddler eat with is/her hands and enjoy the full eating process.
5) Don’t fill them up on snacks. I know it’s “in” in some circles to consider your kid a “grazer”. But come on, who would want to eat a Chard and Onion Torta, when they’re jammed full of gold fish, Craisins, and string cheese. In order to enjoy eating, you have to be hungry, right?
6) Eat with your kiddo. Seriously. Do you like eating alone? Well neither does your child. So don’t fill up his/her plate and then think you have time to send that e-mail, finish that chapter in your book, or unload the dishwasher. Sit down with your child (even if you’re not eating) and interact during the mealtime. There are some fascinating studies out there about this, including video footage of the difference in kids’ eating quantities when parents / caregivers sit and eat with them vs. loading up their plate, serving it, and walking away.
I really could go on a lot more about this topic. I’m passionate about it, and have definite opinions about the matter. But I digress way too far. What I am really here to tell you about is Gnocchi. And in spite of all my musings about my children and their glorious eating habits, they ALL dislike gnocchi. ALL 5 of them. Gnocchi – a simple, bland as it gets, potato pasta. How can can someone slurp down Curried Lentil Wraps and yet shun something like gnocchi? I just don’t get it. But alas, I have tried too many times and the objections remain unified and strongly stated. So as of this posting, I will be retiring gnocchi from my menu rotation. However, I love this sauce too much to let it go by the wayside, so I’ll just be serving it over bowties or penne. I hope you will enjoy it too, whether over gnocchi or some other pasta of your choosing.
Lemon Gnocchi with Peas and Spinach
Start by grating a little lemon zest which will give this sauce just the right zip.
Then simmer some frozen baby peas, with half and half (cream if you are feeling sassy), red pepper flakes, some garlic and salt. You will want to cover it and let simmer until the peas are tender – usually around 5 minutes.
Then add in some baby spinach and continue cooking until the spinach is wilted. Remove from heat and stir in the lemon zest.
While all of this is going on, cook your gnocchi (or other pasta of choice). Drain and add it, along with some freshly grated parmesan, to your sauce and serve immediately.
Hey, and if your kids will eat it, let me know. I’ll have a moment of quiet jealousy!
Want the complete recipe? Click here.