Quick Recipes and Easy

Picky Eaters Love Ratatouille

Intrigued by the promos for Ratatouille (or perhaps it was just the title), my husband and I went to view it–childless. Our grandchildren live an hour’s drive from us and I couldn’t wait to see the latest Disney fare.

Ratatouille is one of my favorite Mediterranean vegetarian dishes featuring eggplant and tomatoes. Unfortunately, many times vegetable-challenged kids often consider Ratatouille to be “yucky” and refuse to eat it. Somehow, Ratatouille seems not only an appropriate title for an animated film about a culinary-loving rat, but justified.

The film did not disappoint! In fact, the animation is surprisingly lifelike (at times you nearly forget you’re watching an animated film). The tale centers around Remy, a cuddly rat-chef, who has an especially delicate nose. He not only appreciates finer cuisine (over a rat’s typical banquet of garbage), but has a like of the culinary arts. Ratatouille is extremely entertaining and the plot is intelligent with multi-dimensional characters. Ethics are an vital element made evident in the moral dilemmas Remy faces.

I was aware of the noise level in theater as it was extremely low, indicating the children were engrossed in the tale. At times, I glanced around, just to see if the kids were really following the storyline. If they missed the finer points of culinary cooking or the implications of the moral dilemma at hand, it didn’t take long for laugher to erupt when the tempo quickened with a catastrophic spill or chase. This more than made up for any dialog that might be lost on younger children.

As people piled out of the movie theatre, it was obvious that children and their parents alike adored “Ratatouille”. Hip, hip, hooray! At last, a healthy role model for kids. Enough of cartoon characters promoting quick foods and sugar-laden cereals. Finally, a vegetable-loving Remy. So what if he’s a rat? He likes to eat whole foods, even eggplant and of course cheese.

My enthusiasm quickly faded, as I become more aware of the children. They gleefully exited the theater with a candy box held in one hand and a soda pop in the other. Unfortunately, this entertained and amused generation is the first that’s not expected to live as long as their parents. The candy and soda pop are an obvious indication of why this is the case.

Remy is not only cute and clever; he’s a lover of whole foods. Remy’s culinary tastes are too sophisticated for junk food—remember, he likes Ratatouille! Take this is opportunity for your prodigy to emulate his enjoyment of gastronomy. “Don’t hork it down!” Remy instructs his brother, Emile, when tasting a new food creation, but slowly chew it and appreciate the flavors.

Kids can follow Remy’s example:

1) Involve them in the plotting and preparation of a meal. Make Ratatouille for dinner. After all, Remy has so much fun cooking; they can, too!

2) Discuss the ingredients listed on the nutrition mark of a sugary breakfast cereal. Would Remy eat that? NO! He would make a breakfast masterpiece with scrumptious oatmeal or cream of wheat. Let your child help prepare a breakfast grain. Observe it as it cooks. What’s the texture like as it starts to heat up? What’s the texture like when the grain is fully cooked? Take a long, slow whiff. “Mmmm, that smells soooo very excellent!”

3) Instead of a sugar-laden snack, serve cheese and crackers.

Make this recipe for with your children:

Ratatouille

1 medium eggplant (about 4 cups)

1 medium onion

1 Bell pepper

2 to 4 cloves minced garlic

2 small zucchinis

1 (14 ounce) can of chopped tomatoes

2 teaspoons fresh basil

3 tablespoons olive oil

¼ cup white wine (optional)

½ teaspoon each salt & pepper

1 cup shredded Swiss cheese (mozzarella may be substituted)

Method:

1. Cut eggplant into one-inch cubes.

2. Chop basil, onions, Bell pepper, and zucchinis.

3. Add eggplant cubes to the top of a double boiler. Boil on high heat for about 10 minutes.

4. In a large fry pan, sauté onions and Bell pepper for 5 minutes.

5. Add garlic, basil, salt, and pepper sauté for about a minute.

6. Lower heat; add tomatoes plus the juice, chopped zucchini, and white wine.

7. Cover and cook for another ten minutes.

8. Add cooked eggplant and heat through.

9. Serve Ratatouille in small soup bowls and top with shredded Swiss cheese.

Nonna Joann Bruso is a speaker and author of “Baby Bites: Transforming a Picky Eater into a Healthy Eater.” “Baby Bites” is a guide for parents of picky eaters that really works. In only 7 days, your finicky child will be tasting new foods!

For more information on how multi-sensory learning will catapult your picky eater to loving nutritious foods go to: babybites.info babybites.info



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