If you’ve been around here for any length of time, you know that food and I enjoy a close, fulfilling relationship. Other than that whole gluten thing, food has generally been good to me (maybe a little TOO good to my thighs, but it means well) and I love to eat. I eat just about everything. Food good! Food delicious! I very much like food!
(I’m not sure how or why I turned into a bizarre cross between Cookie Monster and the Hulk just then. Forgive me.)
Having a kid who has a complicated relationship with food has been one of those things where my internal How To Handle It computer simply returns a “COPING METHOD NOT FOUND,” 404 Error style. Because it’s FOOD. And food is DELICIOUS. Also COMFORTING and did I mention DELICIOUS and also what do you MEAN you’re not hungry? I am not innately programmed to deal with this. I don’t know if anyone is. You can like food, love to cook food, like to bake, enjoy feeding your family, and BAM! Here comes life, and its various fangs and claws, and hey, howzabout you figure out how to get this kid to gain 15 pounds like, right now?
Life is kind of a demanding asshole.
All is this is preface to explaining why I ended up covered in hemp powder in my kitchen last night, trying to finish baking a batch of high-protein muffins before Otto got home and we needed to sit down for dinner (during which I would be biting my tongue and trying not to utter any of the verboten phrases like “but you need to eat more” or “what else are you going to have”). But I’m getting ahead of things.
We’re seeing a new nutritionist. She’s lovely. [Sidebar: She's not covered on our insurance, of course, because why would your MEDICAL insurance cover a nutritionist for a starving child? YOU SO CRAZY! It's almost like you expect that incredibly expensive health insurance to actually, I don't know, cover health issues, or something. WEIRD.] She has a very calm and friendly way about her, so Chickadee seems to like her, which is good. She is not bombastic at all, and works with a lot of teen girls, so she gets it.
I am forever posing questions to the nutritionist like, “Okay, WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO DO when she refuses anything nutritive but wants cookies? Do we say yes to cookies because at least it’s SOMETHING or do we say no to cookies until other foods are consumed? What’s the right balance? WOULD YOU LIKE TO BORROW HER UNTIL SHE’S GAINED THOSE 15 POUNDS SO I DON’T HAVE TO KEEP BEING THE BITCH HERE?” (I have never asked that last one. Though not for lack of desire, I assure you.)
And then the nutritionist makes Thinking Eyebrows and says things like “It’s a delicate balancing act” and “we’re still figuring out what works best” and then I give her all my money and my kid gains no weight and I’m a little bitter, frankly. Ahem.
I’m kidding! Well, no, I’m not kidding. It’s all true. But it’s fine. Because of the delicate balancing act and the figuring out and hey, at least she’s not losing weight anymore! Yay for that!
So here I am, someone who has worked her way around to an appreciation of cooking and baking and fresh foods and blah blah blah whatever, apparently none of those yummy foods we love are going to put weight on the way they should. Chickie doesn’t eat meat, and has never actually agreed to just sit down and eat a stick of butter despite my threats of making her do it, so high-cal, high-protein foods are hard to work into her normal (limited) repertoire. Yes, she eats beans. Lots and lots and lots of beans. I am single-handedly keeping American lentil farmers in business. But the other things she favors are either good for her but too low in calories (like fresh snap peas, nom nom, practically all water) or terrible for her but calorie-laden (Oreos are not a food group, child).
The strategy at this point seems to be to come up with as many junk-food-looking actually-kinda-good-for-you foods as possible. I don’t know if you know this, but all of those foods cost a fortune and are also sort of scary. (Warning: I shall now link to said foods on Amazon because I feel like if you want to explore this world of bizarre nutrition, yourself, why not?)
My non-breakfast-eater is now grudgingly having a Quest Bar for breakfast every morning. It’s basically a candy bar, y’know, except that it has 20 grams of protein and a bunch of other nutrients and fiber and whatnot. I am pretty sure the nutritionist struck some sort of deal with my child about how she would “cut her some slack” with the rest of her diet if she knew she was eating one of these each day, so that’s how that went down. Alternatively, she’s also trying the Good Greens bars, which have slightly less protein but are still basically mega-healthy antioxidant blahbitty blah GOOD STUFF packed into bar form.
We were also advised to try the Post Great Grains Protein Blends cereals, though that didn’t go as well. My darling daughter poured herself a giant bowlful, drowned it in milk, then took one bite and proclaimed it “weird tasting” and unacceptable. Due to an unfortunate mix of circumstances which is one part scared shitless my child is going to require hospitalization again and one part cheapskate indignation over the amount of food being thrown in the trash courtesy of said child, I reacted in the most unhelpful way possible, which was just short of a full-out tantrum. Yeah. Not my proudest moment, frankly. In fact, Chickie ended up suggesting that I take a time-out to collect myself. Yay, her! Too bad her mom is such a petulant baby, though.
When it comes to packing lunches, well, it turns out that there are chips that are delicious but actually have real nutrients in them; they’re called Eat Your Vegetables and that makes me laugh. That’s a good thing, because, as a bonus, they cost three times as much as regular potato chips!
I never buy regular potato chips. But I buy these chips, now. YAY CALORIES. I also, apparently, buy JUICE now. And you know what’s better than almonds? Almonds covered in sugar! Yayyyyyy!
You understand that—under the nutritionist’s guidance—I will buy whatever foods are going to safely help my kid get the fuel she needs and gain some weight. But I think the nutritionist could tell that I’m uncomfortable with all of the prepackaged stuff (plus Chickie kept saying things like “NEED MORE COOKIES, PLEASE!”), so she started talking about ways to add protein to baked goods.
That’s how I ended up with the hemp powder. See, I wanted whey protein powder—that’s what I buy for smoothies—but I couldn’t find any that wasn’t flavored. So I bought the hemp. And it wasn’t until I got home and set about baking that I discovered that (duh) the hemp powder is green. Like, REALLY green.
Pumpkin it would have to be. Nice and dark! The resultant muffins are only slightly moldy looking. Kidding! They look like pumpkin muffins. No, really. See?
(Whoa, that pic came out kind of huge. Sorry ’bout that.)
I love to bake, so it was no biggie, except I had to find a couple of recipes and kind of Frankenstein them together, plus I kept looking up conversions for substituting in various ingredients, because—GO FIGURE!—there wasn’t a recipe out there I could find for Pumpkin Oatmeal Chia Hemp Almond Meal Chocolate Chip muffins already. Does that name make you gag a little? It probably should. But the muffins just taste like… muffins. And have around 10g of protein apiece. So hey. MORE HEMP POWDER.
I don’t know what my point was here, other than that I now buy lots of food which I believe may not actually be food. And also that the nutritionist is probably sitting around with her friends laughing her fool head off, gasping between giggles, “And then, THEN I told her that she could bake with HEMP!” And I’m the sucker who did it because she said so.
But tomorrow for breakfast I am giving Chickie a stick of butter. Just because in rereading all of this, that no longer seems that outlandish, and butter seems cheap.