This week I’m doing something a little special here at Words to Eat By: an entire week of guest posts! I’ve invited some blogger friends, all parents, to write about their families’ experiences with food. Today’s post is from Winnie Abramson at Healthy Green Kitchen. Winnie comes to food blogging from a unique perspective: She’s a naturopathic doctor by training, but she grew up at New York City’s fabled luxury restaurant, The Quilted Giraffe, which her parents owned until it closed in the early 90s. This woman knows good food, but she also knows health and nutrition. Here, Winnie writes about the challenges of feeding two children with opposing eating habits.
My kids could not be more different when it comes to the way they eat.
In one camp, there’s my son, who’s 11. Apart from the two years he spent as a vegetarian (his choice; he went back to eating meat about a year ago), he’s always been a very adventurous eater. He’s as happy with polenta topped with sautéed vegetables and goat cheese as he is with Thai meatballs with curry sauce… and he likes pretty much everything in between. There are really only a few things he won’t touch: anything with ground beef is a no-no and he detests parsley. Because he truly enjoys so many foods, it’s truly fun to cook for him.
My daughter, 8, is a very different story. She’s the kind of kid who constantly asks for snacks and sweets and has no interest in ever sitting down to a meal. As far as “real” foods go, she’ll eat a handful of things (fruits, nuts, black beans, buttered pasta, pizza, and, well, that‘s pretty much it) and generally refuses to try anything else. She does also eat a few vegetables: edamame (with salt), carrots (with hummus), tomatoes and cucumbers (plain), broccoli, peas and corn (with butter), so I guess things could be worse. While I do wish she wasn’t quite so picky, I gave up being frustrated about how she eats a long time ago. Good food is really important in our family, and I’m pretty sure she’ll join the party eventually.
Because the kids have different palates, it’s really tough to find one dish that pleases both of them (not to mention the grown-ups, too). That’s where this Tortellini Salad with Fresh Mozzarella comes in: it is one of our absolute favorite meals in the summer, and I make some variation of it just about every week. I love it because it’s so easy to prepare, and because it’s more than just a pasta salad: the cheese in the tortellini and the fresh mozzarella have some protein, and it’s got lots of healthy raw vegetables, too.
My daughter will have this as her “main course,” while the rest of us might have a small portion alongside grilled chicken or steak. This recipe makes quite a bit, so there’s enough to serve at dinner, and still have leftovers to send for school or camp lunch the next day. This is also perfect for serving at a barbeque or bring to a potluck…
Tortellini Salad with Fresh Mozzarella
Makes 6-8 servings
1 lb. all-natural cheese tortellini, cooked according to package directions, then drained and cooled
8 oz. fresh mozzarella, cut into cubes (naturally smoked mozzarella is also good)
2 cups chopped tomatoes
2 cups peeled and chopped cucumbers
1/2 cup trimmed and chopped sugar snap peas- optional
1/2 cup peeled and chopped carrots- optional
1/4 cup minced green onions, or more to taste
1 large handful of fresh basil, chopped fine
1/4 cup olive oil, or more to taste
1/8 cup balsamic vinegar, or more to taste
coarse sea salt and freshly ground pepper
Combine cooked and cooled tortellini with vegetables, basil, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper. Toss to combine. Taste and adjust seasonings, if necessary. Refrigerate until ready to serve.