Tuesday, January 27, 2015

My Brave Little Toaster

Compromise is the name of the game when it comes to relationships. A little give; a little take. While Chuck and I are alike in so many ways, it is uncanny; there are some ways we are different. Our pace; I'm distractedly frantic, and he is deliberately calm. Our taste in music; he loves all things classical, and music that never has had words (so grocery store muzak does not count), and I love instrumentals (guitar and piano), but not necessarily classical, and an eclectic collection of music ranging from indie to country to folk to pop. 

He looks so innocent; my 55-year-old with the
eating habits of a four-year-old.
Our taste in tastes; oh, yes, the way we approach food is worlds apart. Chuck is cautious; I am adventurous. Chuck has never met a fruit he liked; I love them all. He hates eggs; I will eat them any way they are served, although the harder the yolk, the better. He is suspicious of most vegetables; I will eat them all, but I would prefer not to partake of broccoli, if other options are available.

As a child, I detested watermelon, but have tried it every year, in case my tastes changed, and whaddayaknow? Two years ago, I had watermelon salad, and loved it!

When I told Chuck about my watermelon experience, I think he thought I was quite brave, but mostly nuts. He sticks with what he knows he likes. "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" seems to translate into "If I know I don't like it, there's no sense in trying it again" for him. 

He adores carbs; carbs with heaping amounts of butter. Chuck is a carnivore, a carbivore, and a VERY selective herbivore (that "herb" list includes peas, green beans, and, occasionally, carrots. That's it. Don't bother asking.) I am an omnivore; I'll eat anything once, and I'll overeat anything I love, given the chance, and I tend to eschew fats.

Enter diabetes into Chuck's equation, and I have my hands full with meal-planning for us. Limiting carb intake without introducing veggies into a meal makes this harder. I love having variety in our menus. I use Chuck's favorite veggies, corn and peas more as a garnish since they're higher in carbs.  Consequently, we buy the only other veggie he will eat, canned green beans, in bulk.

Cooking for finicky eaters is not new to me. I'm a mom, after all, but my previous picky diners were toddlers, not grown men. I am "cooking for a 55 year old with the dietary habits of a four-year-old." Chuck's phrase, not mine. That is my challenge, according to my husband. 

"I will try to be a brave little toaster" he said, when we discussed recipes I wanted to make for him. I admire his courage. Many middle-aged men are set in their ways. Chuck realizes he is picky, and is willing to overcome some of his aversions to certain foods.
During our honeymoon, while dining at the Calamari CafĂ©, a fine Italian restaurant, Chuck took a very tiny spinach leaf off my plate, and with raised eyebrows, and a very silly grin, said, "Look at me. Look at me." Yes, he managed to eat one leaf. I was sort of amazed. 

Encouraged by his attempt at trying a food he previously detested, I wondered what else I might try to introduce more vegetables into his meals. 

My first attempt was a Shepherd's Pie dish which substituted mashed cauliflower for the mashed potatoes. Being a brave little toaster, Chuck agreed to try it, and guess what? He LIKED it! We both prefer the dish with a blend of potatoes and cauliflower, so that's how I prepared it the next time, but hey! He's eating something besides green beans!

Last night I made a lasagna-like dish, and needed more sauce. What to do; what to do? I thought I might sneak in some diced tomatoes. If I turned the lights off, and lit some candles, he might be none the wiser. 

Ha! After he was done, and had proclaimed more than once that dinner was delicious, I admitted my sneakiness. He still liked it, but when he went back for seconds, he picked out a couple of the more obvious offenders, and with a good natured grin, put the diced tomatoes on my plate.

"I was a brave little toaster to eat tomatoes. They were barely noticeable. I ate them, and I didn't complain."

This morning, I made him a chocolate protein shake with spinach "hidden" in it, if one can actually hide a vegetable that turns a chocolate drink a ghastly shade of greenish brown. Again, with dimmed lights, and glowing candles, I presented my fussy eater with another opportunity for courageous dining. Again, he offered raised eyebrows and nervous laughter. 

"If you drink this protein drink, I will reward you with the leftover breakfast skillet from Sunday." He LOVES breakfast skillets, as long as no eggs are present.

He took two sips of the spinach concoction, and said, "I was a brave little toaster again. I tried it." Two sips, and he was done, but I have to admit, for a self-professed four-year-old when it comes to food, he has already tried much more than I thought he would. No whining. No tantrums. He has been pretty brave for such a cautious eater. 

Now, how am I going to sneak eggs into his diet? (Insert maniacal laugh here.) We'll see just how brave my little toaster is one of these days. 

Be brave, little toaster. Who knows? You might even like them!

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