The other night when I made this for dinner, Manchild 1 asked what was for dinner. Then, before I even had the chance to answer him, he started with his usual response: “Mom, I don’t like dinner. I do not want to eat it.”
“But it’s quinoa and black bean salad. I know you like black beans.”
“Mom, I do not like it.”
This is our nightly ritual. I’m sure it is not currently part of yours it either has been or will be. The thing is, Manchild 1 will eat pretty much anything. He’s not at all picky. He’s just very contrary. When we need to go out, he wants to stay in. When we need to go in, he wants to stay out. When it’s bedtime he can’t sleep, when it’s time to get up he’s too tired. He’s hungry, but nothing I offer him sounds good. It’s a constant battle to try to find the motivating force to get him to change his mind.
Food is doubly hard. I want him to do it himself. I can’t force him. Sometimes the no-stories-unless-you-eat-your-dinner threat works, sometimes the you-have-to-take-seven-bites-before-you-can-say-you-don’t-like-it rule works. Sometimes it’s enough to just get one bite in his mouth and he’ll do the rest himself. The other night we tried something new. We were pressed for time (as usual) and didn’t want to spend any of it coaxing the boy to get that first bite in. So I set the timer. He had 15 minutes to eat it or else he wouldn’t get a family home evening treat. I set the timer, then let Micah watch the drama unfold while I took the clothes to the laundromat.
Manchild 1 spent the first few minutes jumping around, talking about how he needed to eat his food or he wouldn’t get a treat. He watched the clock tick down from 15 minutes to 13 to 11. Then he started worrying that he wasn’t going to make it. He settled into his chair and started eating, eyes locked on the timer. As the time got closer to running out and he was still slowly making his way through his little bowlful, he began to get worried. “I do not want to miss it. I do not want to miss it,” he repeated after every bite. To which Micah responded, “Then you need to stop talking and chew.” But he kept repeating, “I don’t want to miss it, I don’t want to miss it,” every time. Even after he finished the last bite: “I don’t want to miss it, I don’t want to miss it.” He was still quite concerned about the timer. When it finally went off, he was still chanting.
“I don’t want to miss it, Dad, I don’t want to miss it.”
“Well, did you finish your food before the timer went off?”
“Then it looks like you didn’t miss it and you can have a no-bake cookie for family home evening treat.”
The Manchild was elated. He danced around the kitchen laughing giddily, uncontrollably for a few minutes. By the time I got home, the drama had past. He’d earned his cookie. He had eaten the whole bowl and liked it well enough to not complain. Which is good because I thought it was really tasty, too and will surely be making it again.
Quinoa and Black Bean Salad adapted from Savvy Vegetarian
1 cup quinoa
1 1/2 cups cold water
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups cooked black beans rinsed and drained
1 onion, coarsely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
1 green pepper, sliced thin
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
2 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
1 large ripe tomato, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup sliced olives
2 Tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tsp salt
Fresh ground pepper
Pinch cayenne or chili powder
Soak the quinoa 10 – 15 minutes in cold water. Rinse well several times. For each rinse, pour off most of the water and finish draining through a large fine mesh strainer. Place in a 2 qt pot with 1 1/2 c. water and 1/2 tsp salt then bring to a full boil, cover tightly, turn down to low, and cook for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to sit, covered, for 5 minutes. Drain any excess water and set aside to cool.*
Sauté onion and garlic in 2 Tbsp oil until garlic is fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the peppers and sauté briefly. Stir in the cumin and coriander** and let cook 5 more minutes, stirring occasionally. While the veggies are cooking, whisk dressing ingredients in a small bowl or shake in a jar. Combine sautéed veggies, tomatoes, olives, black beans, quinoa and dressing in a large bowl. Stir in cilantro, and serve either warm or chill, covered, in the fridge until ready to use.
*The original recipe says to fluff with a fork after cooking. My quinoa did not absorb all the water, so I drained it, then fluffed it a bit and set it aside.
** My salad turned out very flavorful. If you don’t like fairly intense flavors, I would recommend going easy on the spices, cutting it down to 3/4 tsp or even 1/2 tsp.