Saturday, April 17, 2010

How to Feed a Baby the Jamie Oliver Way

Just as my baby is slowly beginning to wean himself and experience the world of culinary delights, Jamie Oliver comes along with his groundbreaking series "Food Revolution." In this series, Jamie Oliver takes on Huntington, West Virginia, one of the least healthy cities in the nation and tries to start a food revolution by overhauling the cafeteria systems of the elementary and high schools.

I love this show, and at any other time in my life, I would have comfortably sat through each episode arrogantly thinking, Oh, yes, of course the children should be eating fresh and proper food. How stupid these people of Huntington are. But now that I'm a mother, the overwhelming task of doing just that, preparing wholesome food with love on a regular basis is, well, overwhelming.

It's one thing to eat healthfully yourself. It's not really hard at all. I eat a lot of same things over and over again, but those same things are varied and are very good for me. In the morning, I eat oatmeal and yogurt with walnuts or flax seed. I have a veggie sandwich on whole grain bread with cheese every day for lunch. For dinner, a little more variety - maybe grilled vegetables and a veggie burger, maybe a salad and french fries, maybe Chinese takeout. The repetition of my eating makes shopping easy as I know what things I'm likely to eat every week. And with the exception of an occasional pigging out on pizza and a blizzard from Dairy Queen, I can feel pretty good about what I put into my body.

But to feed a baby - three times a day! This is an awesome task for someone who rarely gets to sit down to eat herself. But if I want to continue watching "Food Revolution" in comfortable arrogance, I must actually do what Oliver is pushing in the series: make real food for my baby that is well considered and made with love.

I am trying. I really am. It goes like this: Atticus smells something in the kitchen and the lip-smacking begins. I think about what I am preparing and invariably it contains some dairy product unfit for a child before the age of one (as there is a potential for dairy allergies later in life for infants who are given cow's milk before age one).

So I must reconceive things. I have to think ahead. I have to plan. I cannot rely on my pat shopping list of frequently used ingredients. This is a new eater with new needs and I am ultimately responsible for his eating habits and attitude toward food. Oh, the sheer weight of this responsibility ...

And my baby is particular. He will not eat baby food or anything with the consistency of baby food. How gauche, he seems to say as I try once again to give him yogurt. Not for me, his turned head and pursed lips suggest. But there are other things, many other things that I hope will have the Oliver seal of approval.

Atticus is very fond of the following foods in descending order of appreciation:

Sweet Potato
Chicken Noodle Soup
Orange Slices
Pasta or Rice with Peas and Herbs
Chunky Apple Sauce
Scrambled Eggs

Those are the highlights, but I have intentionally left out Puffs which Atticus eats in such generous volume that I wonder if we will have to sit down and have an intervention with him someday. Puffs rehab. I don't want everyone to know how many Puffs I let my son eat. I recently read that children get 20% of their nutrition from snacks. Atticus might be getting 60% of his nutrition from Puffs. Please don't tell Jamie Oliver. I'm trying to get it right and do it proper, mate. I really am.