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Feeding toddlers - make that, getting them to eat healthy, nutritious things -- is a tricky thing. I know - I have two of them. But I'm not sure disguising broccoli as something else or spending inordinate amounts of time shaping food into dinosaurs and stars and Mickey Mouse heads is the best way to go.


That's why I love the two wonderful recipes from chefs Phillip Foss and Kristine Subido in today's Food cover story on helping kids develop an appreciation for other cultures' foods. Meatballs and noodles are both inherently kid-friendly, but these dishes aren't dumbed down either. Subido's rice noodles have an aggressive gingery bite, and Foss' turkey meatballs have a pleasant twist thanks to cinnamon and Coca-Cola.

A note on Subido's noodles: Indonesian sweet soy sauce, or as Subido calls it, 'ABC sauce,' is the key here. It has a can't-miss red label and is available in Asian grocery stores (I found it at Joong Boo Market, a Korean market at 3333 N. Kimball.) It comes in sweet, medium sweet and salty flavors; drizzle the sweet sauce over any stir-fried, or use it in marinades. You'll swear it tastes just like what you order from your neighborhood Thai joint.

Outrageous is but one of the words that can describe a bill before the New York state assembly, which would prohibit "the use of salt by restaurants in the preparation of food by restaurants."

Introduced last Friday, not only would it prohibit the use of salt by restaurants, but it would also impose a fine of $1,000 (One Thousand Dollars!) per offense. So a meal that starts with grilled eggplant with sea salt, followed by, say, some lemon-grilled salmon with a pinch of salt, and chocolate cake that was also made with a little salt, would cost the chef $3,000? Is Assemblyman Felix Ortiz, who sponsored the bill, serious?

Yes, salt is a problem. The overuse of salt can lead to health problems including and not limited to, heart disease, high blood pressure and obesity, and diners often have no idea just how much salt is loaded onto their food. But prohibiting all use of salt, and imposing ridiculous fines for offenders, is not the answer. What's next -- outlawing food that naturally has a high salt content? Limiting the amount of olive oil a chef can use?

And people thought the foie gras ban was silly?

For those who really want to address the health problems caused by misuse of products such as salt, the answer isn't to ban salt; it's the education of the public, and encouraging people to eat real food and pay attention to their food and the way it is produced and not to eat so much of it. But I suppose it's easier to make the grand gesture of trying to ban salt in restaurant kitchens. Public health may not be improved, but it gets an assemblyman's name in the papers.

About the blog

Janet Rausa Fuller

Sun-Times Food editor Janet Rausa Fuller is always thinking about her next meal.



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