Every now and again, I come across a small collection of recipes that claim to be so good, even picky eaters will love them. The title is enough to pique my curiosity, which is quite possibly the articles’s only purpose.
Here’s one, just as an example.
The claims that the vegetables will never be detected is laughable. Broccoli Pesto Pasta is covered in green sh…tuff!! With all due respect to Good Housekeeping and their editors, I’m not sure who they had in mind for these dishes. There’s picky eating – the toddler who pushes his bowl of noodles away because he wants cake. And then there’s “picky” (read resistant) eating, known to many as selective eating disorder (SED), a condition that makes every meal a high anxiety event. Guys, it’s an eating disorder, not a visual impairment.
Before you can expect to get food like this into the mouth of a selective eater (who, by the way, isn’t putting on a practiced, attention-seeking act), you first have to convince them that this is food.
This collection has successfully failed that challenge.
Kris, a 23 year old with SED, finds these recipe collections insulting. “It’s really messed up to see articles like this. It does nothing more than publicly humiliate [adult picky eaters].” His opinion is common among those with SED. “Even using foods we like and adding the foods we don’t like or are afraid to try, still wouldn’t hide the texture or the taste. If you don’t like tomatoes, sticking it on a plain sandwich of chicken or turkey won’t hide the fact that it’s a tomato and you don’t like it.”
Recipe collections like this one example are all over the Internet and only illustrate how misunderstood SED is among an adventurous eating public. It is not the result of a lazy parent enabling their child’s picky eating. It has nothing to do with trying to gain control via food. It is not a phase. There are children who do grow out of it, sometimes before their tweens, some get adventurous with adolescent peer pressure. For many others, their limited childhood diet lasts for their entire lifetime.
Because there are no collections of recipes-for-the-picky-eater that selective eaters will actually eat, I have decided to compile my own collection. And here it is:
You can stop looking for the scroll bar and no, I didn’t get distracted by something shiny mid post. That’s the list. French fries. Across the pond, they call them “chips”.
In all fairness, SED permits a little more variety than a diet that consists solely of french fries, but finding items considered universally palatable to a large percentage of people with SED makes for a very short list. I could have added peanut butter, but the preference is brand specific, as would also be true for bread. French Fries are well and widely tolerated among selective eaters regardless of what continent they are from. There is no group of people anywhere who are more knowledgeable about the nuances of a deep fried potato.
TJ eats a lot of french fries, and by default, so do we as a family. Almost any fast food brand is acceptable, provided they are cooked properly and free of blemishes and burn marks. A fellow SED parent recommended the T-Fal ActiFry. What convinced me to investigate the purchase of our own was the product’s claim of preserving a familiar taste via a healthier method of cooking.
“Foods get the color and texture you expect… and have very little oil which allows the true taste of the ingredients to reveal themselves. ActiFry uses one tablespoon of oil or less to cook most meals. This means there’s no hot oil in your kitchen and no splatter as you cook your food.”
To sweeten the deal, the ActiFry was on sale this week, $60 off the regular $249.99 price tag. It may seem like an expensive alternative to fast food, but like I said, we eat a lot of french fries. The ActiFry, however, does more than just fries.
I brought the box home and showed it to TJ. “This is our new french fry making machine. What do you think?”
Both TJ and his sister ran over to inspect the pictures on the box and gasped in excitement.
“Turn it on, Mom!”
Fortunately, I had half a 10-lb bag of red russet potatoes handy for the inaugural ActiFry experiment. The potatoes were cut into strips and drizzled with extra virgin olive oil (because that’s what was in the cupboard).
The ActiFry heated and spun the potatoes for 25 minutes. The finished fries were lightly dusted with sea salt.
I didn’t make just french fries. I had successfully created a plate of delicious, home-made, french fried bliss.
TJ is usually easily distracted away from eating, but not with a plate of these fries in front of him. He hoovered those fries down like a freshly rescued castaway, and when he came up for air, he spied his sister’s unattended, half-eaten plate of fries. He ate those too.
I’ve never been able to convince TJ to eat a potato. Now I can’t keep a bag in the house. The cost of the machine will soon pay for itself with the elimination of far too many trips to the drive thru window. Even more rewarding than the savings of frequent take away fries, we have added a home cooked vegetable to the menu.