Hudson Valley Parent

HVP March 2020

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Page 22 of 35 n Hudson Valley Parent 23 more time outside," Anderson said. Get creative with sensitive eaters. For the springtime holi- days like Easter, Anderson's mother - Avi's grandmother - whips up the feast, with Avi serving as sous chef for a very important part of the meal: dessert. "Avi and my mother absolutely love to bake together," Anderson said. "Chocolate chip cookies are their specialty." Of course, getting some kids engaged in the kitchen is harder than it is with others. That has been the case for Kristina Mulligan of Highland, whose three-year-old son Flynn has a hard time with many food textures and flavors, making mealtimes challenging. "Not too long ago, he wasn't even able to tolerate purees," she said, although she proudly reports that he is a huge pasta fan. To get Flynn to open to new foods, Mulligan gets creative. "Re- cently, I made Flynn his own social story about how his favorite super- heroes like to try different foods, and how all kinds of foods are good for our bodies for different reasons," she said. "He seemed to respond to that and will now point out the foods he sees and recognizes from his book." Building on that momentum, Mulligan got Flynn his own set of mixing bowls for Christmas to get him more comfortable in the kitch- en. "He likes to pour the pre-mea- sured dry ingredients and try to mix everything together," Mulligan said. "He also likes to explore foods that have layers, like oranges and avocados. While he may not eat them, he is interested in the process of getting them open," she said. Take things one step at a time. Because Flynn can be fin- icky, Mulligan is careful to follow his lead in the kitchen. "I've learned that any type of interaction with a new food - a bite, a lick, a touch with a fingertip, or even just leaving it on the plate - is a win," she said. Flynn also has a dairy sensitivity that Mulligan has creatively turned from a barrier into an opportunity. "Learning ways to modify certain foods has been something we can do together," she said. And, with the upcoming spring holidays, she added that she foresees a lot of cakes and cookies in the coming season. Ultimately, Flynn's food limita- tions have taught Mulligan import- ant lessons about food, bodies, and parenting. "Before Flynn, I never really understood the complexities of the human body and how much effort goes into every part of us," she said. "I think that a lot of us take that for granted - I know I did. I would have never imagined the creativity, patience, and work from all sides that could be a part of mealtime. Flynn is an incredible teacher and I'm so grateful for him. If you are a parent that also strug- gles with food and your child(ren), know that you're not alone." Anderson has also found another parenting philosophy by way of the family kitchen. "The whole pro- cess of parenting is about finding time and putting in the effort," she said. "It's really rewarding to see Avi's growth and transformation as opposed to being stuck in a rut with food. I'm not expecting her to have the most expansive palette at nine years old, but it's so nice to see her comfortable and confident enough to try different things and deviate from what had been the norm." Hover your phone's camera here for a link to at-home eating with kids, including a recipe for home- made macaroni and cheese. Elora Tocci is a communications director and freelance writer who was born and raised in Newburgh. Nine-year-old Avi Woerner has fun making meals with her mother, Erin Anderson, and proudly displays one of her dishes, a tasty bruschetta.

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