Picky Eating and Foods on the Go

I hear parents talk about 'picky eating' all the time. Frankly, I think there is a big difference between avoiding certain foods (because of texture or taste preferences for example) and avoiding whole categories of foods but I've noticed that the concept of 'picky eating' is not at all set in stone. I have an uncle who won't eat anything green. Seriously. But he eats most everything else. Is he picky? Or just particular? If a child exhibited this same behavior, would the label change? Could part of the solution to picky eating lie in our approach to food preferences? How about semantics? 

My 4 year old son, for example,  genuinely does not like cheese. He never has. This is complicated because my older daughter (8 years old) loves cheese any way she can get it and my youngest daughter (21 months) can't seem to tolerate dairy. Along those same lines, my eldest won't eat chicken and my younger two love it. There are many examples that I could provide along these lines. 

But I digress. I realized recently while we were guests in someone's home that my kids are considered to be 'picky eaters' by some and it was kind of a revelation. I don't think of them as picky eaters at all, and yet, they each have their aversions, preferences and favorites. Does that make them picky? I don't think so. I would not want to live in a world where I was expected to eat and enjoy everything that was served to me and not have my own preferences taken into account. Why should I expect that of my children?

While we were in Rio, we took my son to watch the World Cup Belgium vs Russia game on his 4th birthday. I knew beforehand that there was nothing he was going to eat at the stadium so I brought packets of sunbutter for him to enjoy with a banana. I love sunbutter because it's a wonderful nut alternative and all three of my kids enjoy the flavor. Score! When I spotted these packets before our trip, I scooped them up. They were perfect for the airplane (before the whole jam-licking incident) and as it turned out, perfect for watching the World Cup in Rio with my little guy. Does his penchant for sunbutter and his aversion to stadium pizza make him picky? Not in my opinion. I'm happy that he knows what he likes and doesn't like and that he has the ability to articulate those preferences. 

How do you define 'picky eating'? Are your kids picky eaters? 

Brazilian Farmer's Markets

Small in size but sizable in impact, these markets move from neighborhood to neighborhood in Rio during the week. Brazil has several different varieties of banana and we tried all of them. The kids loved the 'golden bananas' best -- tiny bananas that are sweet and not starchy. My husband preferred the apple bananas.

The mangoes we bought on our second visit were the best I have ever tasted and we all went nuts for the passion fruit, melon and fresh figs. 


Wacky Cake

My son turned four on our vacation in Rio and we celebrated with a family favorite, Wacky Cake. It's a classic version of a dairy-free, egg free chocolate cake but because of the differences in available ingredients here,  I had to make a few changes. 

Delicious nonetheless! We took the tram up the Sugar Loaf and celebrated with cake and the phenomenal views of Rio.


Here's my usual go-to recipe for wacky cake and below is the recipe with substitutions. 

1 1/2 cups flour 
1/4 cup of sugar
1/2 cup cocoa (with added sugar)
1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon of white vinegar
1 cup of water
5 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 vanilla bean (scraped from the inside of the pod)
1/2 cup chocolate chips (optional)
Sliced dried apricots (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350. Mix all of the dry ingredients together and sift them to prevent the cocoa from getting clumpy. Add vinegar, water, oil and vanilla paste and stir until thoroughly combined.  Add chocolate chips. Lightly grease a baking pan (9x9 can work nicely). Bake at 350 for approximately 25 minutes. We cut this into 16 small slices and topped with sliced dried apricots.