Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Picky Eating as a Medical Condition?

If a grown adult refuses to eat anything but grilled cheese sandwiches, fries, and waffles, it may now be considered a legitimate medical condition. Well, call me ignorant because I'd always thought picky eating was bad habit or hang up. Or downright childish behavior.

But apparently it's a disease. So be worried…Your kid is sick if he or she avoids all green foods or consumes only foods that are orange. You should seek medical help if broccoli disgusts you. I'm calling the advice nurse and getting a prescription because I dislike fennel and anything that tastes like fennel. I'm really concerned for my father, who feels violated if there's salad (or any vegetable, for that matter) on his plate. And my sister-in-law, who is repulsed by tomatoes, caviar, and anything else that pops because it makes her think of eyes—I'm wondering if a trip to the emergency room is in order?

I will admit that picky eating could lead to a variety of medical problems that a varied, balanced diet would avoid. But seriously folks. I can't tell you how many times I've witnessed first hand a child reach to taste something new, only to have the parent say, "Little Johnny, you wouldn't like that." Is it any wonder little Johnny grows up to be afraid of trying new foods? Even worse, it's considered perfectly normal when adults prepare one meal for themselves and a completely different meal for the kids. I don't know whether they think they're doing themselves or their kids a favor, or if it's a lack of sense or ability to discipline. My parents taught me that our house wasn't a restaurant and that if I was hungry, I would eat whatever food was put in front of me. I didn't get dessert until I finished my dinner either. Now I eat almost everything, and I'm even working on my fennel-and-anything-that-tastes-like-fennel-hate. And another thing, a kid may grow up to be a picky eater simply because his or her mom was a bad cook. The fact that my husband hated steak most of his life can be directly attributed to a childhood of eating well-done sirloin. The fact is, we are a nation of picky eaters because we are raised to be, not because it's some sort of disorder.

…On the other hand, the next time my husband tries to pick out the almonds from a cake I bake, I'm sending him to have his head examined.

Anyway, here's a recipe for a vegetable that's sure to make picky eaters head for the hills…

Fried Okra
Printable Recipe

¾ cup fine cornmeal
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon granulated garlic
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Canola oil, for frying
¾ pound fresh okra, cut into ¾-inch pieces
1/3 cup buttermilk

Whisk together the cornmeal, flour, granulated garlic, cayenne, and a generous pinch of salt and pepper in a large, shallow dish. Add enough oil to a large, heavy frying pan to come to a depth of ¾ inch. Heat over medium-high heat until a pinch of the cornmeal mixture sizzles immediately when added. Meanwhile, add the okra to the buttermilk, and stir to coat. Transfer the okra to the cornmeal mixture and toss to coat, separating any pieces that stick together. Shaking off any excess cornmeal mixture, add about half of the okra to the oil and fry, stirring occasionally, for 3 to 4 minutes, or until golden brown. Using a skimmer, remove to a paper towel-lined plate and immediately season to taste with salt. Fry the remaining okra in the same manner. Transfer to a bowl and serve immediately.

Serves 4 to 6. Fried okra is extremely popular in the South, and for good reason—it’s downright addictive! Summer is okra season. Select small okra pods, no larger than your pinkie finger, since large pods can be tough and stringy. Although fresh okra is best, you can substitute the fresh okra with a 16-ounce bag of frozen whole okra with good results. Thaw the frozen okra pods about half way for this recipe. Serve with ketchup or ranch dressing for dipping.


Fran said...

Amen! Well said and to the point. Picky eating a medical disorder? Puleeease!

Loved your comment about getting your husband's head examined for nuts in the cake you baked. Classic.

carter @ the kitchenette said...

When I was growing up, both my brothers and I were picky eaters. I know that I grew up with a fear of unknown foods, and that my parents would regularly make different meals for my brother, or an extra side dish for me.

Now that I'm 26, I'm trying all sorts of dishes for the first time. After loving various different foods that I had always refused as a child, and LOVING them, I've pretty much come to the conclusion that if I don't like a vegetable, it's only because it hasn't been prepared a way that I like it. I still haven't found a way that I like broccoli yet, but asparagus, cauliflower, and artichokes have all become regulars at my dinner table.

When my husband and I have children, there will no extra options for my kids. I've learned my lesson!

Anonymous said...

I am heartily in agreement and not surprised at the number of picky eaters (kids and adults I meet). Take a look at the kids menus, chicken fingers, mac n' cheese and grilled cheese sandwiches! My kid eats green olives, roasted cauliflower and stinky cheese garlic bread. People are amazed, but they shouldn't be, kids will eat what's put in front of them if there are no 'kid' options available. He recently tried spaghettios and told me he thought they had gone bad.

UrMomCooks said...

You, me and Paula Deen rockin' the fried okra!!! I luv this buttermilk cornmeal treatment -- I think it would work wonderfully on most any veggie folks are reluctant to eat! Great post!

Anonymous said...

I was a picky eater. My parents tried! They really did! I didnt get dessert until i finished, i always had to try everything, i just didnt like it. Mealtimes were a battle. I would always rather not eat than eat food i hated.

Of course, some kids may be different. But although i wouldnt say its a disorder, I certainly wasn't raised this way.

Foodiewife said...

I always kept a supply of yogurt on hand. If my son didn't like what I served, he could have a yogurt. Period. He has grown up to be a kid who eats almost anything, thank goodness. The only reason I have an aversion to fennel is from a stupid night of drinking to much Ouzo. Suffice it to say, the hangover is still vivid from decades ago. I'm trying to overcome that, but it'll take time, too. As for Okra... I think I'd try a taste of this. But, can I bring myself to make it? We shall see!

Catherine said...

I agree with you wholeheartedly! It is not without some outrage that I remember not ever getting any kind of vegetables with my dinners growing up - because my dad didn't like vegetables :o

I know more picky eaters than experimental ones, and I believe it is completely out of bad habits as opposed to a genuine illness, thats crazy.

Plain Chicken said...

I am a picky eater - I was really picky as a child, but fried okra was, and still is, my favorite vegetable!

The Wind Attack said...

I will agree that the whole picky eating as a medical condition thing is laughable. I know some people who are like that and it drives me crazy.

I was a picky eater as a child, but I think it was because my parents seldom served good, fresh vegetables. Now I love all fruits and veggies... even fennel... and especially okra. yum, yum. Looks great!

Amy said...

Tell that to my cousin who (for 15 years now) hasn't been able to eat certain foods without throwing up. His parents have tried force, therapy, even hypnosis. He still won't eat. For some kids, yes, it most certainly is a medical condition.

avaserfi said...

Fried okra is the perfect gateway veggie. I haven't met anyone who can say no to this recipe. The best part is our CSA is still bringing us lovely okra.

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