One of the first dishes we made was Moo Goo Gai Pan.
Now, that I have time to look back over our journey I realize what we have done. Our children are now 19 (eek!) and 16. They were 10 and 7 when we started this journey. My son is Autistic and was on the path to eating only beige foods – chicken nuggets, pasta, french fries, and pizza. He had strong preferences but I thought if I could make it fun and stretch us all (I was a picky eater too) that we would all win in the end.
I was tired of burgers, hot dogs, pasta, and the like. But, how do make this better?
Then came the game. I would make a different meal every night. Trying not to repeat any meal for as long as I could. I could make the same dish with different components – macaroni and cheese, mac & cheese with vegetables, mac & cheese with chicken, etc…. It was easy at first. The family was excited and I was excited. They became more willing over time to try new foods. In the beginning our rule was you could ask for a “No Thank You” helping. In our house that was less than a quarter cup about 2 forkfuls. That was all you had to try of the non-preferred foods. Even I was taking “No Thank You” helpings of foods the kids knew I did not like to show them hat we were all in this together and all learning and growing.
But, as the years passed slowly the kids and I became fearless tasters. We would try something new which was almost unheard of before. My daughter went to Germany for her 16th birthday and of the 20 kids on the trip she was one of only two to try oxtail for dinner. All the rest of the kids ordered chicken. She was so proud of herself. My son now seeks out unique or different foods to try. He has tried bison recently and looks forward to trying alligator meat soon. Even I will choose items with lemon, feta cheese, goat cheese, and spinach that I would never even try before.
One of our most favorite dishes was Crostini with Goat Cheese and Candied Walnuts drizzled with honey. Yum!
Over the years the game has had to be adjusted but I still post pictures and recipes 5 days a week or so. I can now repeat recipes on special occasions – the kids wanted to choose special meals for holidays and birthdays that we had before. Also, I am going back and updating certain dishes (especially from the early years) that I was kind of vague on or took horrible pictures. This is fun for us to revisit these dishes and remember where we were the first time we made them.
Pictures are still usually of my plate as we put them on the table. I don’t doctor them up with moving food with tweezers or special lighting. It is the plate I eat. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t but usually I have to say the food is good!
I highly encourage you to make the dishes your own. Don’t like or have an ingredient? Work around it. Add more garlic, less Cayenne pepper it is up to you! Have fun and sit with your family at the table. That is the most important piece for this game. For years we ate in the car on the way to rehearsals or classes but we were together. We talked and we still do. Sometimes, it is difficult to do but we eat when we can together – breakfast, lunch, or dinner sometimes at 9:30 pm but we try at least 5 days a week to be together. I will continue this as long as I can because I know how important it has been to me and my kids. Hoping you can join in and have fun!