Cinco de Mayo is mostly celebrated in the United States, recognizing Mexican heritage and culture. It is not Mexican Independence Day, contrary to popular belief.
I love Mexico, and remember my first trip there when I was seven. My family had meaningful ties to Mexico, and it left a real impression on me at a young age. So I get excited to celebrate Mexican culture each May 5th. And, it comes at just the time when we are sick and tired of New England weather...
...and ready for a little Cinco de Mayo family fiesta! It seems to be an unofficial taste of an awesome spring and summer just around the corner! Margaritas, Mexican beer with lime, and guacamole for grownups? All in moderation, of course, but count me in!
A book that I often talk about with families of picky eaters is Food Chaining, by Fraker, Fishbein, Cox and Walbert. I worked for several years as the nutritionist on a multidisciplinary feeding team for children. Food chaining is a strategy we used with picky eaters and extremely picky eaters. It entails changing a child's accepted food ever so slightly to promote acceptance of a new food, and slowly expanding a child's food repertoire. For extremely selective eaters, the changes must be miniscule, but for run-of-the-mill picky eaters, changes can be more moderate. Don't get discouraged if kids don't like the change the first time, persevere on, and serve that food again.
My own kids are good eaters but finicky about unfamiliar foods. I have used this strategy to promote diversification and expand their repertoire over the years. I remember early on "marketing" cauliflower as "white broccoli" (it totally worked). This strategy also worked for us with fish tacos. They ate fish, they ate tacos, but never fish tacos until our trip to Mexico two years ago. There was no Children's Menu (Amen - more on that in another post), so they started eating fish tacos, reluctantly at first, and then, enthusiastically.
Any kind of taco has great nutrition for kids. Serve the fixins family style (photo above) and let your kids create their own unique masterpiece. Serving colorful veggies this way is enticing, and a non-threatening way for kids to try them on their own terms. Kids love to be in control, so don't pressure kids to eat all the fixins. Praise them for their great creation, however many fixins are included. As they gain comfort and more exposure to these vegetables, they will likely try more next time. My fixins include purple and green cabbage, avocado, red onion, cilantro, grated jicama (remove skin first), tomatillo sauce, and Greek yogurt (feel free to substitute sour cream if you prefer). I usually serve whole wheat tortillas, but could not find the small ones this time. These fish tacos are fast and easy, AND got the thumbs up from my clan; hope yours love them as well!
Annie's Fish Tacos
1.5 lbs tilapia (about 4 filets) or other firm (boneless )white fish
1 large bunch cilantro, roughly chopped
1 1/2 tsp Aunt Janie's Everyday Spice Rub* or Old Bay Seasoning
4 Tbsp Organic Canola Oil
1 package small tortillas (corn or whole wheat, "fajita style")
1/4 jicama (carefully peeled - discard skin, it is inedible) and grated (white flesh part)
1/4 medium red onion, diced
1 avocado, sliced
1/4 Purple Cabbage, shredded
1/4 Green Cabbage, shredded
Tomatillo sauce (such as Trader Joe's Salsa Verde)
Sprinkle spice rub over fish filets, and add 2 Tbsp oil and handful of chopped cilantro. Allow fish to marinate while you chop the vegetables. While cooking fish, wrap tortillas in aluminum foil, place on baking pan, and place in 250 degree oven for about 5 minutes until tortillas are warm. Heat non-stick pan to medium high heat and add 1 Tbsp. canola oil. Allow to heat up for 2 minutes. Add fish and sear, cooking about 3 minutes per side until fish is cooked through, and easily flakes apart with a fork. If you need to cook a second batch (2 more filets), add 1 Tbsp oil and repeat. Cut each tilapia filet into quarters and serve with all accompaniments family style.
* My Aunt Janie's Everyday Spice Rub is a rub I use for meat and fish alike. If you don't have time to put it together, use Old Bay Seasoning. It works well for these fish tacos also.