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Thursday, July 24, 2008

Stuffed Peppers – a Picky Eater's Nightmare?

I hated stuffed peppers as a child. I hated any stuffed vegetable as a child. When I had no choice, I would eat the content – usually a mixture of ground beef, rice and herbs, but refuse to touch the vegetable containing the stuffing.
But now, as an adult, I love it.

It has been about five years since the last time I made this dish. As a mom I remember my aversion of this particular dish, and didn't want to put my child through it. But he is five years old now and I was curious to see what his reaction would be.
Well, I pretty much guessed what his reaction would be and made corn on the cob as a side dish (so the kid won't starve until breakfast time).
So here's what happened.

When I declared what's for dinner tonight his first comment was "I'm not going to eat it". He didn't even see it! Then he added "I might eat the rice and meat but not the peppers". After seeing it, still no doubts in his mind. We sat and ate. My husband and I already had seconds and he was still staring at his plate, not touching the food. We encourage him to give it a try, without being too excited about it (keeping a casual tone and expression, as if you don't really care, and you shouldn't really care, is key). Still nothing.

At this point we reminded him of the "one bite rule". He answered "I didn't make that rule". Well, we, the parents, made that rule.
So he took a bite, not before he whined about the green specs=herbs which I had to remove. Then tasted it and made a final declaration about not liking it. No surprise so far.
So, he had one bite of stuffed peppers stuffing and corn for dinner.

Of course, I am not going to cook this dish again any time soon. But if I do make it again in the near future, I will make an additional dish for everyone (not just for him), since I anticipate it will take a couple of years for him to change his mind, or maybe he never will...

UPDATE: Recipe for stuffed peppers below...

My points:
1 – If you (or your kids) didn't like a certain dish as a child, it doesn't mean you are going to hate it as an adult too. Both my husband and I hated it as kids, and now we like it. Conclusion: never say "never".
2 – Deconstruction of the dish might work. If a child does not like the vegetable, they can still eat the content, and vice versa. They can even separate the rice from the beef, and even remove the herbs J
3 – We showed our son how much we enjoyed it. We didn't have to pretend. I'm sure he will remember that when he grows up and maybe he will be willing to eat it in the future.
4 – We did not fight, force, beg, threaten, bribe, or made a big deal out of it.
5 – We respect his opinion and choice not to eat it after he tried one bite, a fork full of rice and meat.
6 – After trying one bite and refusing to eat more of the peppers, we moved on to discuss other topics, like how our day went, what we did, etc.

Overall, we had a nice dinner.

Bell Peppers Stuffed with Rice and Meat

8 bell peppers

For stuffing:
1 large onion, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
Olive oil
1 lb. ground beef
½ cup rice, rinsed until water is clear
Black pepper, ground
1 tablespoon tomato paste
3 tablespoons parsley, finely chopped

For sauce:
Olive oil
1 large tomato, grated
1 tablespoon tomato paste

Preheat oven to 375 F degrees.
Sauté the onion until it is golden. Add the garlic and meat and break with a fork. Cook until the meat is browned. Add the rice, salt, black pepper, and tomato paste. Cook for 1 minute. Remove from heat. Add parsley and mix.
Cut the top part of the peppers (see photo) and set aside. Take out the seeds and membrane carefully. Stab the peppers with a knife all around. Fill each peppers with filling (don’t overstuff). Put their “lids” back on. Place peppers, standing, in an ovenproof pot.
In the same skillet you used for the filling, put the sauce ingredients with 1 cup of water and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and add this to the pot with the peppers. Cover with a lid and cook for about 45 minutes.

Good night.


DAFNIC said...

great points - thanks for sharing.
I also hated Stuffed veg when I was little and now love them. My child on the other hand switch between eating only the veg to eating just the filling.

Anonymous said...

Yeah. I didn't like tofu before and now I do.

When it comes to kids, you can't make it some challenge "Oh if you eat this, we'll reward you." That just puts it in their mind that it is a bad thing that has to be suffered. Just be indifferent and if they miss out their loss when you go back for 2nds...3rds...4ths..:O

Nurit said...

That's right!
I totally agree.

Hillary said...

I recently realized that I really like stuffed peppers but for some reason when my mom and I make them, they always come out spewingl liquid. How do you prevent this from happening? No one likes watery stuffed peppers! :)

Nurit "1 family. friendly. food." said...

I have posted the recipe today. Maybe you can find the trick you are looking for in it. Hope this helps. Nurit