My son’s playschool has an interesting theme every month. September was fruit and vegetable month.
He came home with the following diary message:
“Please include a fruit or vegetable, sprout or nut in your child’s snack-box every day as part of the fruit/vegetable month”
“Please dress your child as a fruit a vegetable or a vendor on September 27th and bring a fruit/vegetable for show and tell”
I know this image I picked now looks so vibrant, so healthy (and reflects my current state of mind)... but my reaction then was to cringe. I usually fill his snack box with whatever I can find. (Edible stuff, I promise!). I don’t feel too bad because he eats a healthy breakfast before he goes and I feed him well when he gets back home for lunch. To me, this snack box was just a formality and meant for those kids that woke up late and did not have time for breakfast. Besides, I was not very convinced with my son eating by himself. He is usually playing with his food and needs some heavy duty distraction to open his mouth and accept a morsel.
But now, this meant I had to really plan my grocery list to ensure that his snack box met the “theme”. And add to that- get creative and come up with an outfit for his dress-up day! Oh no!!
I should confess that, when it comes to fruits I play safe with the apple, the orange and the banana. My husband on the other hand always comes back with more exotic stuff like mangosteen, lychee and the rambutan. This got me fretting and fuming. I mean how much apple, banana and orange can you eat. And sprouts?? YUCK! I wondered if I needed a green thumb to sprout a moong dal.
I was very nervous. I remembered at his first parent teacher’s meeting, his teacher gently advising (chiding?) me to pack his snack box with what he likes to eat. Maybe she had enough of the bland boiled potatoes, carrots and plantain that I was sending him. I felt bad that I was packing his snack box for the sake of it and not really putting my heart and his little but developing taste buds into it.
Anyway, I rolled up my sleeves and got to work on a grocery list. This was not easy as I found myself ignoring the ones I did not like much. I forced myself to keep an open mind. After half an hour I was done.
The colourful fruit list had- Apples, Bananas, Oranges, Pineapple, Guava, Pomegranate, Mangoes, Watermelon, Grapes, Papaya and Tomato. Exhaustive right? Of course I could only dream about red strawberries, crimson cherries, dark blue berries, bumpy black berries and fresh kiwis- all the exotic fruits we savored so frequently when we were in Chicago. But they are not easily available here and are way more expensive.
The veggies included- carrots, peas, corn, potato, beans. I stopped at that, it was getting a bit overwhelming now.
The sprouts list- I left blank. YUCK.
The Nuts list – Almonds, Cashews and Peanuts.
It's October now and I should say the fruit/vegetable month went by pretty eventfully. It was not as hard as I expected it to be. In fact I enjoyed it. All the planning, the grocery shopping, the prepping and the packing left me feeling restless in a happy way. I found myself waking up earlier just so that I had enough time to pack that snack box. I tried to stick to what was in season and I made sure not to repeat items so he would not get bored quickly. Of course I threw in some of his favourite Chocos and Cheerios once in a while. In the process, I noticed I was paying more attention to what my family was eating.
I was thrilled when he came home shouting “Papaya” in his little huggable voice. He is turning 2 in a few days.
The highlights were discovering that:
-My son loves ruby red pomegranate, yellow sweet corn and French fries.
-He is not very fond of the green peas.
-He will not eat almonds- dry, roasted or soaked in water.
-He can actually say no to Chocos and choose papaya instead. Yay!
-You don't need a green thumb to sprout a moong dal. Just some water and an air tight box. It will sprout and it’s delicious- steamed or crunchy.
-He can say “appella”, “nana”, “owanga”, “papaya”, “nuttt” and “chocos”.
Of course, my creative side did not fail to impress. I came up with a nice apple outfit using a fabindia shopping bag and some red felt fabric that he could wear over his head.