Mexican Menu… going “South of the Border” for dinner

As you may have noted, my picky-palated young sons have recently been broadening their food horizons…trying out good old American cheeseburgers and even venturing “south” to taste new cuisines such as chimichurri sauce from Argentina, and fare typically seen on menus at NYC Mexican restaurants.
Quite understandably, I’ve been on a mission to help my children develop neutral relationships with food…much like I help my clients. For a few years when my boys were very young, I was working during many of their regularly scheduled meal times. Fortunately now, I’m able to be home for most dinner meals…and the boys are able to have dinner later than when they were toddlers. Also of great importance, we now live quite close to my husband’s office; he can more easily get home in time for family dinner. As a result, family meals have become an ever more frequent event on our household’s weekly calendar. Our family stars have finally aligned—allowing us to share more mealtimes together—and our boys have grown older and more adventurous in tastes and textures. Our lives are clearly changing…very often a difficult scenario for Bobby who once said to me, “Mom, I go to school every day and it’s always different. Why can’t I just have the same thing every night? I like things the same.”
Nevertheless, the changes seem to be leading to positive effects…even for Bobby. He now takes at least one carrot from the Health Valley carrots and ranch dressing that I send to camp for him and his younger brother Billy each day. They both gobble organic Braeburn apples from Washington State; Because of this, I waive my usual “preferred local produce” stance and let them have the Braeburn apples from Washington State. I just have to peel the skin off and little Billy will eat the entire apple and ask for more. A mommy RD’s dream come true! Can you see how big my smile is?
Billy is now drinking some of the smoothies I regularly make for Bobby and has even tried mac and cheese. But that’s a whole other story for another post. Today we are talking Mexican.
As I mentioned in one of my previous blogs on MDIO, I recently made blue corn tacos for my husband and me using >90% lean grass-fed beef and chicken mixed with the seasoning packet from the taco package. And on the night before, my husband made us venison fajitas with peppers and onions. Absolutely delicious! The boys didn’t share these terrific entrees; instead, they ate their chosen foods at the table with us. Although I honestly can’t remember, I do think Bobby may have eaten the venison too. I’d decided to serve leftovers the next night, so I added refried beans to the menu as an extra protein because I feared there would not be enough grilled chicken, taco meat and/or venison for us. I also placed blue corn chips out on the table for Billy and me…and he willingly tried dipping the chips into the refried beans. Well, the confetti fell all around us!!! It was an amazing celebration. This turned into a big, happy family event. Billy is usually so skittish about food but knew that trying new things, whether foods or activities, is a big positive in our home.
Billy always wants to accompany my husband and me when we go out for dinner but his food “likes” are so limited that we don’t want to waste money and/or have him just sit there in a restaurant eating nothing at all. We tell both boys that when they begin to eat like big boys they can join us for dinner out. And now, since Billy could finally find a protein he liked that would be served at a Mexican restaurant, we could go to a Mexican restaurant together. So, my husband visited the “Open Table” app on his phone and booked a family date night for us. The plan: Billy would have refried beans and chips and also try guacamole; Bobby was going to order quesadillas and corn on the cob (a new food for him!) with queso.
Unfortunately, my hubby never checked to see if the restaurant served refried beans. And they didn’t! So I just mashed the black beans and gave them to Billy; he was not convinced…and clearly was not pleased about it. He moved on to try the guacamole and said it was too spicy. And it was, so we left it at that. And then suddenly, he said he would have a cheese quesadilla. I immediately grabbed his brother’s and let Billy try it. He was all smiles and so proud of himself! He absolutely loved it…and we ordered one for him. Although he ate less than half of it plus many more chips, we were all happy. Even his brother was glad that he’d just tried it. When Billy arrived home, he called Grammie and Pop to tell them he tried new foods. He said, “I am proud of me. Are you proud of me?”
Well, we are all proud of both of our boys for trying new foods. Now I wonder what will happen on our upcoming camping trip! Have your kids been trying new foods? What is working in your household? Any cute stories out there? We would love to hear them.

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