When I became a parent I read a book by Dr. William Sears suggesting that parents of toddlers should set out a platter of small portions of nutritious foods for toddlers so they could graze throughout the day. Dr. Sears said that this would stabilize the blood sugar of small stomachs and prevent meltdowns.
We’ve taken the nibble tray in a different direction in our house. Either my husband or I prepare a nibble tray and a board game for our 7-year-old daughter before she gets off the bus at 3:10. I refer to this as a child’s equivalent of Happy Hour. She’s always excited to unpack her backpack and the stresses of the day, see what’s on the nibble tray and determine whether she’d like to be the elephant or the water buffalo in Parcheesi. While eating she gives us the bite-by-bite account of how things taste when eaten in combination.
Our daughter is a sensory seeking child so the visual combination of several colors and shapes of food delight her. Going back and forth between several tastes and textures encourages her to eat more fruits and vegetables than she would if, for example, I just gave her an apple. Being sensory seeking, she always wants something crunchy like crackers or nuts and gravitates toward them, but if I can sneak in a few carrot sticks or pear wedges in there, it rounds out the nutritional content of the snack. I can also offer a cookie with a pile of grapes and a few almonds and know that she’ll get the sweets the wants and the vitamins and protein that she needs. And, frankly, a nibble tray is way more fun than a plate of carrots.
I’m also a big fan of a Chinese theory of nutrition that I learned about when I lived in Japan. The theory goes that the ideal diet is includes 30 different foods each day. That doesn’t mean 30 servings, it just means that each food has different nutrients and that the more broadly you eat, the more likely it is that you’ll get all of the vitamins you need in a given day. For example, our family’s favorite salad of spinach, strawberries, pecans and goat cheese is more nutritious than just eating the spinach alone. So the nibble tray gets three to four more sources of nutrients into her diet each day.
So as I thought about starting this blog, I thought about wanting to provide readers with a well-rounded, but quick snack. The blog needed to have different textures and different tastes. I wanted you to discover new things and not feel that you hadn’t had a good snack if you didn’t like one of the things on the plate. I’m also hoping that in the same way our daughter finds extra deliciousness in going back and forth between foods that you too will find that the juxtaposition between tatted lace throat corsets and quilled typography is delicious indeed. So eat up…