Recently, I had a breakthrough. A ate her first pizza! Now, you might wonder why this is such a big deal. Why would I want my kid to eat “junk food”? Well, as I’ve mentioned time and again, A is a picky eater. She eats a handful of dishes prepared in exactly a certain way, often force-fed with bribes. Combined with our love for travel, it gets inconvenient with lugging around a rice cooker and ingredients everywhere.
I’ve come to realize that pizza is common denominator food, available world-wide, and isn’t as unhealthy as we think when we have control over the ingredients (from trust-worthy sources and home-made as far as possible). A has taken an interest in cooking and baking recently, and I’ve taken advantage of this by encouraging her to participate in preparing dinner and have her eat the same food as the rest of the family, with no screens or bribes. I fight my motherly instincts to make her eat more everyday! We follow a Montessori philosophy at home (more on this in a future post) and she uses a ladder to reach the kitchen counter and participate in the daily cooking, an activity she loves. This has been a worthwhile effort.
I’ve also observed that she has a love for strong bold flavors. For example, she will always choose a pesto pasta over a mac ‘n’ cheese. So I decided to have her make her own pizza, choosing her own toppings. First, I asked her what she would like on her pizza, showing her a few options. She made a face and rejected the more traditional option of marinara. No worries, I asked her if she would like a pesto pizza. While she was suspicious (“Do you mean pesto pasta or pesto pizza?”) she did agree that she would like to make a “pesto pizza with cheese”. Brilliant! Step 1 had been accomplished – that was further along than we’d ever gotten with pizza before. And I ensured that she was involved with every step that followed.
Next, we had to buy ingredients. Trader Joe’s is a family favorite, where we all love shopping for our treats, in a trust-worthy, vegetarian-friendly environment. I asked her to please help me shop for ingredients. Since we were in a hurry that day, we chose to buy our ingredients rather than make the pesto at home, but that worked out very well as she loved looking around and finding the pesto and cheese off the shelves.
Finally, it was time to go home and make the pizza! By now, the excitement had amped up and she was extremely excited to make her own pizza. This turned out to be one of the easiest cooking experiments I had ever done with her. Other than getting the pizza in and out of the oven, she could do everything herself. She patted and rolled the dough into a circle, eagerly “painted” the pesto on the base, and got a kick out of heaping on cheese on the pizza (of course with chef’s treats of bits of cheese to snack on!) She watched eagerly through the oven door as her pizza baked. When the pizza was done, she bounced between her feet while we sliced it for her. She was so proud of it! And, best of all, she ate satisfactory amount of it!
It just goes to show that kids are way more capable than what we give them credit for. In fact, other than a light dusting of flour on the counter, the entire activity proved to be mess-free with A developing a sense of cleanliness and order as well.