A Recipe for Success for the Neophobic

Neophobic = roughly translates to someone who eats less the 10 foods


It is our family tradition to have 13 vegetables at Christmas.  For some strange reason this has slipped into Thanksgiving too.



1. Roast potatoes – crispy please. Mashed potatoes for the faint hearted.

2. Brussel sprouts with roasted chestnuts [throw out the burnt ones]

3. Carrots discs in sweet potato puree [don’t for forget the Thyme]

4. Whole garlic mushrooms with white wine [the alcohol burns off]

5. Courgettes and yellow crook neck squash, circles in Herbs de Provence

6. Cauliflower and broccoli florets in bechamel [grated nutmeg for that lightly browned effect]

7. Leeks and pearl onions in Parmesan cheese sauce

8. Parsnips, roasted whole on a bed of Rosemary

9. Creamed spinach with toasted almonds [use double cream to ensure compulsory coronary]

10. Quarter white corn on the cobs, whole

11. Swede pureed with caramelized onions

12. Green beans with fresh pesto glaze

13. Dahl with okra – gotta have something spicy

One cup full of frozen mixed veg to show willing

The cranberry sauce, crispy bacon, stuffing and turkey don’t count as vegetables of course.

Require all children to attend to the general vicinity of the table and the feast for 3 minutes. Ensure visual timer and quiet beeping timer are prominently displayed.

Permit children to believe that they have escaped following the passage of three minutes. Enjoy as much as the feast as possible during the next unsupervised five minutes without inducing indigestion.

Solemnly puree all food in the magimix [cuisinart] and pour into all the ice cube trays you possess. Freeze and then transfer into rigid freezer boxes. Consider the possibility of sieving the 3 gallons first.

Present each child with a subsequently thawed and warmed cube at every meal for the next six months.

Repeat following Christmas to enjoy a full year of exposure to vegetation.

Well…..it is better to travel hopefully……Happy Thanksgiving

P.s. in case anyone takes issue with the word ‘success’ in the title, and there are always a few quibblers, I should like to point out that ‘success’ is all about defining your terms. In this instance ‘exposure to food,’ on a daily basis, is success, and this makes it all the more easier. Eating may take a little longer.

p.p.s. why does the phrase ‘exposure to food’ sound vaguely rude?

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When I mention that my son has a limited diet, many people are sympathetic. Many people experience the child who only eats a diet of pizza, chicken nuggets and other fast food items. My son eats “none of these” things, with the exception of fries. [translation = chips] Currently he enjoys a diet of some 17 exclusive items. Whilst I take many opportunities to widen his diet, I'm not in the least averse to a little help from any quarter. [translation = I have no shame]

I am up a ladder in the kitchen replacing the camping items. It is a galley kitchen. [translation = major thoroughfare with the family room and garage at one end, and access to the rest of the house at the other end.] My daughter pursues her little brother with a vengeance. I stand back and let her do her stuff. I have no idea why she has suddenly got a bee in her bonnet, but I'm more than happy to give her free reign, if only for my own amusement. The bag of salty pistachio nuts was a treat for the camping trip. My eldest son is the nut aficionado, like his Dad. My daughters like nuts, but they can more or less take them or leave them. Junior has yet to eat a nut, any nut. Even the universal peanut butter is poison to him.

Junior now likes salt, preferably from the salt cellar in a continuous stream. [translation = the consequence of permitting ordinary household items to exist without being bolted down or locked up]

She grasps a handful of pistachio nut shells, not the nuts. She's eaten the nuts herself. She figures that the shell without the nut, salt covered, would be a great preliminary step, shell licking, prior to nut licking. I'm with her. It's a sound theory. A shell is an inert thing, not a nut, a mere casing and not food.

“Lick it!” she commands. Junior makes rooster noises in response and legs it. translation = runs away very fast] She is nine and a half, and fit. He is six and a half but he has greater motivation on his side. [She stomps after him, “Come here you! You'll like it, it's salty, hmmm yummy, I just love it, you'll like it too, give it a go.” Jumping Jack flash is still careening all over the house, utilizing a zig zag running approach to throw her off the scent. “Stop it! Stop it now! Stand still or I'll sit on yah!” she bellows. Still shriller shrieks are emitted from Sparky as she hunts him down, a squib on the loose. “Just lick it. You love salt, you'll love this, it's great,” she persuades.
“Come here you little monkey!” she squalks, getting breathless. Junior responds with monkey noises and swings his body around the newel post of the staircase with aplomb. His agility is startling and his tippy toe escape sounds like a machine gun on the wooden floor.

They traverse through the kitchen, back and forth on switch backs. “I'm gonna get you!” she taunts, more positive than practical. Squeaky now has springs under his feet and wings for arms, so light on his feet, as fleet as a hummingbird. [translation = but a lot noisier] “They're just shells darn it! There's no nut, just the shell, the salty shell, it's not even food!” she barks with frustration. “They're only……er……..made of….? What are nut shells made of mum?” she asks, leaning against the ladder for a breather whilst junior sputs and spurts.
“Well, they're er. … made of……woody….” I'm saved from declaring my ignorance as she hares off after her prey. “Stop it. Stop running. You know I'm gonna win,” she declares without any corroborative evidence. They dodge around the sofa, each vying for position. “Listen, sea shells aren't food right? So nut shells aren't food either. You'd lick a salty sea shell wouldn't ya? This is no different it's just a shell!” She launches herself over the body of the sofa, but he's off like a whippet at the starter gate, miles ahead. They streak back through the kitchen. She pauses. “Why won't he lick em Mom? Aren't they just like sea shells? What are sea shells made of?”
“Well….they're er…..made of……” Junior skates past again darting hither and thither like a beserk clockwork mouse. She plops herself down on the floor, “I just don't get it. What is his problem?” I step down from the ladder and hunker down next to her, beads of sweat forming on her brow.

“Thanks for trying lovie, but maybe we can find better ways?”
“I thought that was a better way.”
“I know you did dear, very logical, and I think he was having fun really. I think you're right, that making food more fun is a good way to go.”
“Do you remember when we made things out of mini marshmallows and cocktail sticks?” she beams.
“I do.”
“Didn't work though huh!”
“Well he “touched” them and after a few days, he would join in and make them too.”
“Do you remember when we played finger soccer with peas? That was fun too.”
“I do.”
“Do you remember when we made faces outta fruit?” I listen to her list the many ways in which we have attempted to entice her brother to at least be on touching terms with food stuffs. It is a very long list. I'm surprised that she remembers so many of them.
“Do you know what?”
“What dear?”
“I told my friend about the funny things we do with him.”
“Oh yes.” I wait, her shoulders curl inwards, her chin drops ever so slightly, her fringe languishes over her eye lashes.
“They said that he was weird.”
“I know,” she sighs, “everyone is different, it’s o.k. to like different things,” she parrots back at me. There’s nothing like a direct quote to make your appreciate the full banality of your own words. [translation = tolerance sounds so feeble]
“Ah! Well…..did you have fun doing those things? He started to have fun too. As long as we're happy doing the things that we're doing, and not hurting anyone else, then I don't think it matters what “other people think?” Now there’s fighting talk!

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Weaning onto ‘solid’ food

I attempt friendly chit chat with a stiff upper lip to hide the cat's cradle of elastic bands covering “my braces.” As it turns out, this woman works at some health thigummy place and her husband has had jaw surgery. She commiserates with me about liquid food and stray fibres. She advises me of the importance of protein in my diet. I used to have a vague and random knowledge of the subject, but over the last few years and especially lately, such matters have dwindled in priority. Too stress the point, she reminds me that a lack of protein can have dire consequences for an otherwise healthy person. She leans forward to belabour the point, 'yur hair il fall out in hand fulls!” I consider the tufts of grey hair that currently decorate my scalp.

I return home with renewed vigour to consume yet another chocolate shake with extra soy protein powder to clog up the braces and lure cavities.

I do not share my son's need for perfection. The 'that'll do' approach dominates. [translation = if in doubt, give up] For novelty's sake, I decide to read the label and torture my brain with a little mathematical calculation. I determine that two 'scoops' of foul protein powder should be the new order of the day. The only problem with this plan is that I have mislaid the measuring scoop, or more truthfully, that “a certain lizard” of our acquaintance, has a greater need than mine. Now that it has been contaminated I am less inclined to retrieve it. I 'guess,' plop a couple of shovelfuls into the liquidizer and stab 'on.' Once the power has been cut, junior emerges from his hiding spot with his hands still over his ears, with a touch of “enthusiasm.”

“You are have chocolate milkshake?” he beams rhetorically.
“I am.”
“It is cold?”
“Oh no, just room temperature, just the way you like it.”
“I do not like it.”
“I know.”
“You do not like it either I am finking.”
“You're not wrong there matey.” I tip it into a tall glass, a glass glass because plastic tumblers that are mangled in a dish washer are foul. It takes a long time for the contents to empty, thick, foamy, glutenous. We look at it together.
“It is a liquid?” I don't answer immediately as I try to work out the 'right' answer.
“I fink maybe you are going to be eating it.” Always better to let him answer his own questions, as it's bound to save on a few meltdowns. “Maybe you are wanting a straw?” he seems to ask himself. I am delighted with this considerate consideration. “Perhaps, you are needing a spoon. You are needing a very small spoon?” he mentions in a dubious tone as we both contemplate braces, elastic bands and mouth hardware in general. We look at each other, pupils locked on pupils. I lift the glass and tilt it to my lips. The surface fails to yield. My glass is filled with a solid cylinder of milkshake. For the moment I would prefer to avoid the debate about what foods are “solid” to be eaten, and which are liquid, to be drunk.

“I know!” he pipes, “it is chocolate pudding, so I can be eating it for you!”
Oh good o, that solves that one then! He is such a solution orientated little guy. If there is a causal connection between “male pattern balding” and “neophobia,” he may just have licked it! Or maybe, eaten it. It’s enough to make your “hair” stand on end, if you have any. I assume that I am therefore destined to be the bald one of the family. At least I already have my “glasses” as a prop.

p.s.Yes, it is a 'new food' because it's voluntary, it is a familiar food in a different form or at least it is if “neophobia” is in your household.

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