I have tried very hard with my little pudding to give him nutritious dinners every day. He's not afraid of a bit of brocolli, my boy and he'll happily snack on raw red peppers and slices of root veggies. He likes salad and I think he believes that pasta is always cooked with spinach. OK, so he knows the words for 'biscuit' and 'ice-cream' and he'd prefer to eat bread than nearly anything else in the world but in general, his diet has been pretty healthy.
Recently, however, things have slipped and personally, I blame his swank new nursery. It's not that I'm getting lazy, I mean, it takes as much energy to cut and pan-fry potatoes as it does to cook something more healthy, it's just that recently it's been a little more difficult to get the fresh veggies into him. So, I've been playing that old Mum's game 'hide the vegetable' by making vegetable fritatas and home-made rice cakes and spaggheti sauce loaded with veg and then pureed. This, of course, makes him even more resistant to the idea of non-processed food and down we go. It's a slippery slope, and last night we squelched noisily to the bottom with me delivering him a dinner containing 2 fish fingers, 2 courgette frittatas and a pool of baked beans. And how did the spud greet this fast food fat mountain?
Yes, that's right. The first time my son has ever greeted his dinner with anything better than a smile; 'WOW!!' he said again. And then, I kid you not, then, he actually said 'Yay!!'
We have never had baked beans at home before. I have nothing against them, in fact I quite like baked beans. It's just that they come in bloody great big tins that we never finish and after a week we find them going a bit sort of fatty and hard at the back of the fridge. Yesterday, however, the availability of tiny tins of beans was revealed to me on the supermarket shelf. I know, I imagine they've been on sale since I was 8 but trust me, I've just never seen them. So, I thought 'why not'. Once home I was anxious to try them out so I opened one up, spooned out half, heated up the beans and inadvertantly unleashed the Power of Two on them as my toddler practiced his new fork skills until there Were No More.
The spud's new nursery is teaching him all sorts of cool things. It's Montessori and so every game has some sort of practical value and there are lots that involve transferring something from one pot to another. Water gets poured from one jug into another or squeezed in a dropper from one bottle to another and beans, beans get spooned from one bowl into another bowl and this, combined with the inevitability of beans for nursery lunch, has clearly taken our little spudlet's imagination by storm.
He leaned into his dinner, swooped the fish fingers and courgette aside and began vigourously forking up his beans. He was squishing them on, pushing them on with his knife, stabbing them, scooping them... he had a whole raft of new skills which seemed designed solely for the purpose of getting beans onto fork. Once in a while I, armed with a sneaky second fork would slip a piece of fish into his mouth and he would accept then give me a withering look as he choked it down and went in for more beans. 'More! More! he said when they were done and God help me, I went back, heated them up and gave him The Rest of the Tin. That's right, a whole 150gm tin of beans went into his maw. It was astonishing.
Now, I'm all in a dither. I mean, I know that baked beans are not the devil - I bought them, after all. It's just that they ARE fatty and full of sugar and now he expects to see them at home, on his plate and, eventually, around his ever-expanding midriff. The only solution I fear is a return to fresh steamed vegetables... Tomorrow, it's off to the market and, from now on I'm afraid that beens means greens in this house.