it's a wrap

During Michael’s recent low-carb resolution, and while mourning the loss of his beloved sandwich, I saw a brief segment on some talk show about using collard greens as a sandwich wrap. It turns out it works really well! Take the stem mostly off then soak leaf in simmering hot water for about 3-5 minutes. Dry off on a paper towel and wrap your filling starting at the bottom, then sides, then roll up. You can soak a few leaves at a time and then store them in a paper towel in tupperware in the fridge until ready to use.

It’s a good, healthy, low carb container for leftovers or your regular sandwich filling—turkey, cheese, tuna, even a hot dog. Then again, if bread is your thing, please forget everything I’ve said.

are picky eaters mentally ill?

Oy. So there's this new study in the journal Pediatrics which every major publication has now written about that claims kids who are very picky eaters have a greater chance of having mental health issues as adults. The study was done at Duke University by Dr. Zucker who urges parents not to panic. Not every picky kid will be severely depressed or have an eating disorder.

But this part of Dr. Zucker's analysis rings true to me, and always has:

“Their sensory experience is more intense in the areas of taste, texture and visual cues. And their internal experience may be more intense, so they have stronger feelings. They’re sensitive kids who may be anxious or a little depressed; so cutting up fruits into funny shapes is not going to do the trick for these kids.”

I've long noticed Nate's aversion to foods is really not remedied with games or tricks. He feels very strongly about not eating certain foods in a way that seems to go deep. Something about a texture or smell will disgust him completely. I've fantasized that he will turn into a "super taster" or foodie with highly developed senses who actually excels at all things culinary but it's probably more likely this extreme sensitivity will apply to other aspects of his life. Which might not be bad—I'm all for him being a sensitive guy with a rich internal world even though it's a harder role to play in this world.

Another part of the study urges parents to create positive experiences around eating. Family dinner should be more about family than dinner. I think about him crying alone before sandwich night and wonder if we should just lay off him.

can someone get a sandwich around here?

Sandwich dinner is many family's cop-out meal. Not ours. For us, sandwiches for dinner turned out to be an emotional journey and a major turning point on our road to better times. Some people don't know this but my husband, Michael, is actually the self proclaimed king of sandwiches. See this post. Our kids however shun sandwiches. Last week Mack ate a few bites of salami and cheese sandwich and Michael was glowing for days.

The idea arose this morning. Me: Nate you've eaten 85 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches this summer. Can we try another kind? Nate: no. Michael  "Nate I'm going to make some sandwiches for you to try tonight at dinner," translation: mommy is going to make sandwiches for us.

I bought some new breads and salami, then made egg salad. (It occurred to me that Nate likes hard boiled eggs so what if they were just mashed up?) I'll admit, I was somewhat hopeful that this dinner would change the rest of our lives,

An hour before dinner Nate fell into a funk. I don't want sandwiches for dinner, Don't worry, I said. There are lots of options...." he looked intrigued. "Like hot dogs," I lied. Nate made his way to his room saying he wanted to be alone. I gave him some cool down time then entered to find him crying. I held him, then threw a couple hot dogs in the microwave.

When we sat down to dinner, I was nervous, standing up a lot, making announcements and stopping Michael from saying anything that might ruin my master plan which was anything at all. I quickly spread some egg salad (but refrained from calling it "salad") on a lenders bagel and gave it to Nate, then proceeded to pretend to not care what happened next. Michael made Mack a salami sandwich  and I started to make myself a sandwich when a crazy thing happened. Nate ate the open-faced egg salad bagel and liked it. Next we tried a closed egg salad bagel with toothpicks and he ate that too. I was so excited that I rewarded him with no carrots required AND candy. Michael was pleased. Well done he said.

My theory is that seeing foods that Nate could reject (salami, ham, etc) gave him the leeway to choose something that looked familiar even if in a different form.

Unfortunately neither of us noticed that Mack didn't eat anything and he was up all night, hungry. It was a big cleanup and Michael had to leave early to play tennis in Queens. Looking back I will probably realize what a ridiculous person I have become, with fucked up values and an unhealthy need for my kids to eat well. But for the night, I called it a triumph.

car talk

Whenever we drive to my parents house in Maryland, Michael and I have the same conversation (usually while eating the sandwiches I packed for the ride.): Am I capable of making a winning sandwich. The answer is almost always no. I don't get it. I don't have the knowledge, passion, instinct for making a perfect sandwich -- aka one of Michaels favorite things to eat.

This year as we discussed the sandwich, I noted some lessons I have learned:

1. never put mustard and cheese on same sandwich, use mayo instead

2. hard thick bread is best but Rye is also good

3. Salami stands alone-no other meats or cheeses. add mustard.

4. hot peppers and other toppings are welcome if they don't sog the bread

The thing is I like softer soggy mustardy sandwiches. I like when the bread mushes into the filling. I don't like stacks of salami. We are clearly on opposite sides of this issue--Michael would say he's on the right side but maybe we just have to agree to disagree -- at least until the next five hour car trip.