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Baby Bellied Up to the Bar

On Saturday we stayed out pretty late as a family running errands so we stopped for dinner at a little deli with a fantastic salad bar. I didn’t think about the possibilities of the salad bar, all I knew was that it was 80 degrees in March IN INDIANA. The last thing I wanted to eat was steak and potatoes or anything with a temperature above 40 degrees (did you know that food oogie boogies grow between 40 and 140 degrees? That’s food safety training right there), so salad was a desirable option. (Aside: I am very well-behaved at salad bars despite my desire to cover an entire bowl of bacon with ranch and proceed to eat it with a spoon.) We haven’t eaten out much with the baby, but the times we have we’ve always brought along little pouches of baby food — but with her adventurous new eating style (EAT ALL THE THINGS! … Except kiwi) we decided to give her a smorgasbord of choices from the salad bar and we were surprised by what she liked the most (hint: it wasn’t ranch-covered bacon.)

We have one of those little silicone placemats with the suction cups and a food catcher. We had one with Addie and it is easily one of the best $10 investments a parent can make. It lets you put a variety of foods in front of your baby without risking plates crashing to the floor or table cooties getting all over their food. We started with some tried and true foods: avocado, peas and beans. Then we got a little riskier with red pepper, broccoli and shaved carrots. She’s had all of these foods already, but in cooked and smooshed form. She tried them all, sucking them dry like a little vegetable vampire, then demanding more.

The winner by a long shot was the red bell pepper. I swear my mom eats at least three a day — she’ll be proud of Vivi’s similar adoration. We’ve since added yellow and orange peppers to the mix and I have grand plans (SUCH GRAND PLANS!) of planting a little garden this summer. It’s one thing to feed Vivi fresh fruits and vegetables I buy from the store or even a farmer at a market. It will be an entirely different thing to feed Vivi fruits and vegetables I grew myself (well, that my husband grew, let’s just be honest about the fact that my thumbs are very, very black. But the baby! She is alive!).

I’ve paid closer attention to the foods available at restaurants and what I would be comfortable with Vivi eating. The bad news? It isn’t much. The good news? Having this baby around is changing all of our eating habits. Vivi and Addie sat at the table yesterday and devoured a couple of bell peppers and a plum. I usually cut up an extra just in case and end up eating it myself.

Aside from my garden fantasy, I now have wild dreams about exotic salad bars where my baby can try a little bit of everything. Hummus, couscous, naan and mole. Surely places like that exist? Baby salad bars, just you watch. It will be the next big thing, like cupcakes, but without sugar, salt or crumbs in your cleavage.

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