Finding balance with food, movement, and community for my (dairy-free) family.


Friday, July 20, 2012

Frenchifying Dinner, Step 1: More Courses

No, not french fries for dinner . . . Frenchifying . . . make like the French and linger over a multi-course meal of real food, relaxing and savoring the food, the company, and the setting.

As the next baby step in our French food-attitude makeover, I have plunged into changing up our dinner time habits with four French attributes in mind:  more courses, a more leisurely pace, a fancier table, better conversation.  First up . . .

More Courses

 Veggie Starter Plates:   A Playful Way to Serve Salad
In a recent post on her blog, Karen Le Billion (author of French Kids Eat Everything), writes that a typical French meal includes  . . .

1.  A vegetable starter
2.  Protein rich main-dish, with a vegetable side
3.  Dairy (usually cheese or yogurt)
4.  Dessert (usually fresh fruit)

Being dairy-free, I can scratch the third course off (phew--one less thing to do).

Previously our dinners have generally just been a protein rich main-dish--sometimes with a vegetable side, sometimes with the vegetables incorporated into the main dish.

What I've Noticed . . . 

  • I've noticed that starting with vegetables when the kids are hungriest makes them slightly more willing to experiment with something new.  
  • It also seems to help that we're all eating each element at the same time--positive modeling.  Previously my husband and I ate our vegetable sides first while the kids plunged into the main dish.  
  • For myself, I've noticed that starting with vegetables (usually some sort of salad), has made it easier to stick to a modest portion size of the main dish.
  • Ending with fresh fruit (very easy this time of year, but what will we do this winter??) is refreshing.
  • Ending with fresh fruit also makes it easier to stick to a modest portion of the main dish.  I look forward to enjoying the fruit, so I'm more likely to transition away from the main dish while I still have space to enjoy the fruit.  It also makes it less likely that I find myself smuggling chocolate chips from the pantry while I clean up after dinner.
  • Ending with fresh fruit is much better than ending with any sort of sugary dessert--which tends to become an obsession for the kids.  When they know there's a dessert (other than fruit), dinner becomes an agonizing barter over how much they have to eat in order to get the dessert.  
Apricots for Dessert

Check out other posts about our French food-attitude makeover:

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