veggie toddler - a young child learning how to walk and eat vegetables, not necessarily a wobbly vegetarian.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Running Out of Ketchup

One night during dinner, I squeezed and scraped the very last drop of ketchup out of the bottle onto my daughter’s plate. “That’s it for the ketchup,” I confirmed as I rinsed the empty bottle and tossed it into the recycle bin.

“No more ketchup?” my 5-year-old daughter asked in a partial panic.
“We need to get some at the store,” my problem-solving 3-year-old son reassured her.
“Yup,” I confirmed, “we’ll get more tomorrow.”

Everyone felt satisfied with the resolution so we continued about our dinner. But then I got to thinking. What if tomorrow turned into the day after tomorrow, or the day after that? What if I didn’t rush out to buy more ketchup right away? I wondered how long my kids could survive family dinners without a bottle of ketchup in the house.

I decided to conduct a little experiment. How many family dinners in a row can I cook without needing to dip anything in ketchup?

Night 1: Spaghetti, meatballs and peas. No problem.
Night 2: Rice, black beans and corn on the cob. Again, no ketchup-dipping required.
Night 3: Pasta with olive oil and parmesan cheese, lentils and broccoli. Still no complaints.
Night 4: Sweet potato, rotisserie chicken and string beans. Ring the buzzer – I had gone too far.

Believe it or not, but my kids like to dip chicken in ketchup. Maybe they started by dipping chicken nuggets and then transferred it to all chicken products? Who knows. But there I was, putting the dinner on the table and my daughter casually asking for some ketchup.
“Oh we are still out of it,” I told her.
“What?” she stopped everything, “no ketchup?”
“We need to get some at the store,” my son said, as if several days hadn’t just passed between the last time he said that statement. But he is not a dye-hard ketchup guy. The experiment is more for my daughter’s benefit.

“Yup, we do,” I said, “maybe tomorrow we will get more ketchup.”
My daughter wasn’t falling for the same old trick. She believed me the first time, but this was too much.
“I know,” my daughter said taking matters into her own hands. “We can ask Jake for some ketchup!” And without a pause she was up out of her chair with a bowl in her hand headed for the front door to go borrow ketchup from our next door neighbor.

And that was the end of life without ketchup. Rest assured, if you ever run out of ketchup, someone nearby is bound to have some you can borrow.

So here’s my take: ketchup is here to stay. But there is ketchup and there is KETCHUP. My thought is to avoid high fructose corn syrup but allow for fun kid-dipping. Unfortunately, the old American favorite established in 1869, Heinz Tomato Ketchup, contains High Fructose Corn Syrup. But, don’t cry yet. Heinz now makes an organic ketchup without corn syrup and so does Annie’s Naturals. (I am sure there are others.) Both are readily available and make squirting ketchup a little healthier than it used to be. But don’t get carried away. Ketchup isn’t going to count as a vegetable serving any time soon.


Briana said...

There is an awesome recipe for homemade ketchup in the Nourishing Traditions Cookbook by Sally Fallon. If you look at the recipe it looks nothing like what regular ketchup is, but I swear to god, you will not know the difference. I put it in the Heinz bottle and my son has NO CLUE! He LOVES it and I could let him eat it till his eyes turn red. It is 100% healthy!!

Freda said...

I love this post because as a child I dipped everything in ketchup! I'm still a condiment lover today-but love all kinds of sauces. I think the ketchup habit starts because parents (mine and myself included think we can get our children to try new things if we dip it in something familiar instead of trusting that eventually they'll eat something given enough repetitions) My 2 year old daughter prefers most things "plain" as she calls it even when I've offered sauces including ketchup. Not her thing I guess