I’ve got a picky eater. He hasn’t always been this way – this is the kid who, as a toddler, would eat all the cherry tomatoes off the plant regardless of ripeness, ate a mushroom he found growing in the yard, and devoured an entire (quite bitter) cucumber at the farmer’s market.
But once he turned four or so, it became a real challenge to get him to eat. He has some sensory processing issues, which are undoubtedly one of the root causes of the pickiness, but he’s also just a very stubborn kid who resists doing anything that isn’t something he really enjoys. He’s 7.5 now and in the last few months has been showing some willingness to try new foods. I suspect that part of it is due to peer pressure at school – everyone else in his class gets hot lunch so he wants to too, and in order to survive the day he *has* to eat the things he doesn’t like.
A couple Christmases ago we were given two different versions of this Star Wars cookbook and he’s pulled them out from time to time and asked us to make something. Usually it’s a dessert, but a couple weeks ago he had it out and asked us to make the “Han-burgers”. Well, if the kid asks for hamburgers for dinner we’ll certainly oblige! We made them with ground bison, because that’s what’s in the freezer, and he wolfed his down. Turns out he not only likes hamburgers, but he likes them rare and with a little garlic in them. Good kid.
Not to be outdone in getting special meal requests in, my daughter (nearly 10) asked for meatloaf the other night. Again, I can’t say no to that! When I was a kid, meatloaf was one pound of ground beef, one egg, and one package of Lipton onion soup mix, all mixed together and plopped into a loaf pan. It was just fine, and I loved it, but I make my meatloaf a bit differently. I like some veggies in my meatloaf – sauteed onions, garlic, and grated carrots and blanched and chopped greens, and I mix the beef or bison 50/50 with ground pork to improve the texture and add some fat. There’s an egg and bread crumbs or crushed crackers to bind it together, and a ketchup glaze on top just because.
So I made this meatloaf and while it was in the oven Arlo started asking for food. He insisted he didn’t like meatloaf, but Chris sat him down and told him that it was a lot like a hamburger. He was skeptical and wanted a bun for his slice, but since we didn’t have any he eventually ate it without bread (but with a lot of ketchup, since he’s 7). I was pretty shocked to see that slice disappear in short order, and a few bites of mashed potatoes as well! Grace devoured two slices and no potatoes, but she’s generally a good eater so I don’t tend to make much fuss when she eats whatever it is I cook.
I’ve been eating this cold for breakfast for a couple days and it’s pretty good that way. I’ll make some hash with it for lunch today, probably, since we still don’t have bread for sandwiches (though bread’s on the agenda, I think).
Picky Eater’s Meatloaf
- 1 lb ground beef or bison, at room temperature
- 1 lb ground pork, at room temperature
- 2 TB lard, bacon fat, butter, or cooking oil
- 1 large onion, minced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 large carrots, grated
- 1 bunch kale, spinach, or other hearty green, blanched, squeezed, and finely chopped
- 1 large egg
- 3/4 cup bread crumbs or crushed saltines
- 3 TB chopped parsley
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 1/4 tsp chipotle (this amount just adds a little smoky flavor, add more if you like heat)
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp pepper
Preheat oven to 350°
Saute onion in fat until translucent, then add garlic and carrots and cook for a few more minutes, until the carrots begin to soften. Transfer to a large bowl and stir in greens, bread crumbs, and seasonings. Once the veggies have cooled, mix in the ground meats and the egg until you’ve got a fairly homogeneous mixture. Transfer to a rimmed baking sheet and form into two loaves, about 2″ high and 3-4″ across. Brush with ketchup and put into the preheated oven. Bake until internal temperature reaches 160°, about 45-50 minutes. Let rest a few minutes before cutting, then dig in!
For a delicious variation, wrap the loaves with thick-cut bacon after you brush on the ketchup. If the bacon starts to get too done in baking, cover lightly with greased tinfoil for the remainder of the baking time.