Cooking For A Vegetarian, A Carnivore And An Allergic Child Is The Death Of Me

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Are you one of my Facebook friends who posts pictures of stuff you cook – or, even worse, grow and then cook – for all the world to see? If yes, please don’t send a friend request to my husband. Seriously. I don’t need for him to find out that pita pizza, taco night and pasta isn’t what everyone else is eating on a regular basis.

I try really hard to make healthy meals for my family but there are a few complications, including the fact that I have a four-month-old baby who doesn’t like to be put down for any length of time. The bigger issue is that I am a vegetarian who eats fish; my husband is a carnivore who also enjoys fish but who hates eggs, quiche, eggplant, lentils and most bean dishes; and my picky toddler is allergic to fish and seafood. In addition, at least 66.6 percent of us are lactose intolerant. And, finally, I really don’t enjoy cooking.

In the old days, I used to make fish a couple of times a week as an easy, healthy source of protein that my husband and I could agree on. But now if we want to eat fish we have to do it after our son is in bed or eat at the table with him while he eats something else, which involves getting up about every three minutes to wash our hands using techniques gleaned from the movie Silkwood.

I won’t lie: Our picky kid is actually the easiest to feed (well, other than me, that is – and the baby, who is not yet on solids). I make him casseroles, quiches and bakes, and I freeze them in individual servings. Unlike my husband, he is also happy to eat an omelet or crepes for dinner. However, the difficulty lies in the fact that everything I read says that we should all not only be eating meals together but eating the same meal together.

I spend a lot of time on cooking websites optimistically searching through articles with promising titles like “Easy Meals For The Whole Family!” and “Everyday Dinners That Everyone Will Love!” But, generally, three out five contain meat, one is a fish dish and the last one involves lentils, beans or both. I suspect that if I had unlimited time and a modicum of talent when it comes to cooking, this wouldn’t be an issue, but I really don’t. Entertaining is always stressful for me when I have to make something new because cooking really just doesn’t come naturally to me (though, weirdly, I am a kick-ass baker. If I could serve cake, pie and squares for supper every night, there would be no issue – in part because most cakes that I make do not contain fish, lentils or beans).

This isn’t to say that I haven’t found any meals that we can all enjoy together – I have and I’ve been quick to add them to the weekly rotation. But owing to the fact that it is a weekly rotation, my husband quickly gets sick of them and we soon find ourselves eating pita pizza or Subway or TV dinners while my son enjoys quiche and broccoli.

I have come to terms with the fact that I might eventually have to start feeding my children meat, particularly if my son doesn’t outgrow his fish allergy – a fantasy of mine that has taken the place former fantasies, like waking up with perfect eyesight (or perfect breasts). I even took the step of buying free-range, locally raised, humanely slaughtered, organic beef for my son, worried that I was depriving him of an important source of protein. But he didn’t like it (we tried it a few times). And while I am okay with the fact that my husband eats meat and even barbecues aforementioned meat at our house, I just can’t bring myself to prepare it for him, as vegetarianism is something that I truly believe in for health, environmental and ethical reasons (also, who the crap wants to cook three separate meals?).

My hope is that with experience, I will become better at preparing new and exciting things for dinner. But, in the interim, if you are a Facebook friend of my husband’s and you plan to post something about the amazing six0course dinner you prepared last night, would you at least change your privacy settings? We’re having tacos again tonight and I’d like him to believe me when I tell him that you probably are, too.

(Photo: iStockphoto)