I received an email with a subject line that said, "My son ate!"
My heart jumped with joy, and I immediately opened the email from one of our Weekly In-Home Meal Prep Clients.
It was just a few sentences; "My heart is full. Thank you."
This story started when the mom brought a leftover soup we made to her son's school to see if the kids would eat. The kids loved the soup, so the mom asked us if we wanted to make soup for the kids and teachers to eat together when we prepared meals for her and her family weekly at their house.
Since then, we have gotten some of the cutest photos of kids around three years old enjoying our soup at the school. But that email was her son's first to eat healthy, nutritious, organic veggies: "Potatoes and Cauliflower Soup."
Their journey was long and struggling, and the mom saw the light at the end of the tunnel the first time he ate our soup at the school.
I asked permission from the mom and the teacher to write this blog to ensure that it will encourage new moms struggling with feeding young kids. It also has been our new learning curve, and it's been an exciting path to learn what kids would like and how we can make it taste good without too many spices and avoid potential food allergies such as milk, eggs, onion, and garlic since we don't have a kid.
Children and adults may experience taste differently due to various factors, including sensitivity to certain flavors and preferences shaped by age and exposure. We believe children have the best taste buds because they're young and haven't been exposed to too many things yet. So why don't kids eat vegetables? Chef Aric and I've been discussing it, looking back at our childhood and how we were raised.
Chef Aric and I both were raised very differently. I was raised by my grandmother, who was an excellent cook. She would make traditional Japanese food such as rice, miso soup, plain omelet, and pickled vegetables in the mornings. My lunchbox was leftovers from the previous night with a few salted rice balls. And dinner with rice, soup, and grilled fish and vegetables. She would buy seasonal vegetables and fresh fish from the market in the morning and cook them daily. If there would be a dessert, it would be the seasonal fruit in the evening.
Many people were surprised when I told them I didn't know what McDonald's was until junior high school after my grandmother passed away. I was shocked when I learned what McDonald's offers and how often my friends ate there. I started exploring different kinds of fast food and food influenced by American cuisine, such as pasta, pizza, and burgers. But my root was always my grandmother's food.
When I moved to Colorado from Japan, my taste buds changed again. Chef Aric worked at one of the best restaurants in Colorado, and he would bring me some exciting food I'd never seen in Japan. In the beginning, it was Veal Picatta, and he would introduce Venison, Fore-Gras, and Sweet Bread as his cooking techniques and knowledge improved. He also would cook things differently than my grandmother would make. I'd never thought I'd enjoy using fruit salsa on a grilled salmon, but it was so delicious when Chef Aric cooked for me the first time.
Since I was only familiar with Japanese vegetables, such as Daikon, Carrots, Shiitake mushrooms, Edamame, Eggplants, Napa Cabbage, and some root vegetables like Burdocks and Lotus Root, the variety of vegetables in Colorado was also new to me, such as Zucchini, Brussels Sprouts, Spaghetti Squash, Radish, Kale, Rhubarb, and Beets. Chef Aric also showed me different salad dressings, while I only knew mayonnaise as a dressing growing up. He would make different vinaigrettes each time, using Balsamic, Sherry, Red, or White Wine vinegar.
Herbs also opened my taste buds. We always have a herb garden in our front yard in the summer. Basil, Oregano, Thyme, Sage, Mint, Chives, Rosemary, and Shiso leaves. We use it for cooking or preserving it by making pesto or infused oil at the end of the summer.
Chef Aric's mother was an excellent cook, too, and he learned basic cooking from her. She would never force him or his siblings what to eat, but she would just put some vegetables on the table to have it. Because his siblings ate, Chef Aric also ate those vegetables on the table without a question. As a kid, he liked many vegetables, including Brussels Sprouts. He admitted he was a picky eater as a kid, but his taste buds drastically changed when he moved at age 14 and lived in Japan for 7 years.
After all these things, Chef Aric and I discussed and came up with some ideas to make soup for the kids.
1.) Make the soup something fun for them.
2.) Make the soup interactive.
3.) Make it the simplest.
For example, when we made Chicken Soup for the kids, we used dinosaur pasta made with tomato and spinach. We put the pasta on the side so the kids could see its colorful dinosaur shapes, and they could put it in the soup by themselves.
Another time, we made Chicken Tortilla Soup for the kids, and we gave them a small bottle of sour cream, shredded cheddar cheese, and fried tortilla on the side so they could pick and choose what they wanted to put in their soup and how much of it.
My grandmother's cooking style was simple. She would only use light seasonings and enhance the original vegetables or fish flavor. We approached the same way when we cooked for the kids. We've only used salt and pepper for the seasonings.
The more we make soup for the kids, the more we feel confident making a tasty soup for them even though we don't have a kid. We also learned many things from the kids.
1.) Kids love to use their hands when they eat. They want to investigate the veggies or pasta in their hand and then try them in their mouth.
2.) Kids love to see different shapes of food.
3.) Kids love a simple flavor.
4.) Kids learn from other kids. This was probably why our client's kid ate the soup at the school. His friend was eating their soup, and some returned to eat more. His curiosity couldn't help but try to eat the soup other kids were eating!
We are grateful this opportunity came to us, even though it was kind of accidental. As a Personal Chef, we want our future to eat healthy, whole foods and enjoy them, and we are happy we could help them to like more vegetables.
Struggling new moms, let us help you.
As an In-Home Private Cooking Coach, we could guide you on how to make good soup or anything you want to learn and cook. Do you need help to make time to cook? We can show you how to make a one-pot wonder dinner.
Are you struggling with how to plan meal prep? We can show you how easy meal prep can be, and it's delicious and exciting.
Do you need help choosing proteins, fruits, and vegetables at a grocery store? Let's grab a grocery cart together, and we will show you how we pick our groceries.
All you need is confidence to cook. We can help you side by side until you start enjoying cooking for you and your loved ones.
Cooking isn't scary or time-consuming. It's a joyful moment when you imagine your kids and loved ones smiling, showing you an empty bowl, and saying, "Mom, can I have one more, please?"