Let them eat pudding

In my earliest days of being parent, I had strong convictions about how mealtimes would go – once we had moved onto meals that required teeth, that is.

My belief was that children, given a healthy palette of foods to choose from, should be able to eat what appeals to them. I would not, I proclaimed, use dessert as an inducement.

That lasted about as long as it took my son to discover chocolate (whether I gave it to him in a moment of weakness or a relative seeking favor did, I don’t remember). Once I saw the sway this ambrosia held over him, it was hard not to harness that power and use it to my advantage, especially when I discovered that children apparently are hardwired not to like many green vegetables, despite all their parents’ conditioning to the contrary.

So our nightly routine at the table goes precisely as I swore it wouldn’t: them: “How many bites till I get dessert?” and me: “X of this, Y of that and Z of the other.”

Oh, well. Aren’t we all motivated by rewards?

So this is my go-to dessert when I need something with irresistible kid-appeal that also is cheap, quick and easy. Now you, too, have the weapon; use it wisely.

Chocolate pudding

2 cups milk

1/2 cup sugar

3/4 cup cocoa

3 teaspoons corn starch

1/2 cup chocolate chips

1 teaspoon vanilla

While the milk is warming at low temperature on the stove top, combine dry ingredients, minus the chocolate chips, and add them slowly while stirring to the milk. Continue to warm at medium-low heat, stirring occasionally but not constantly, until mixture thickens (5-10 minutes, roughly). Add chips and vanilla, stirring until smooth. Refrigerate (can be served cold or warm). Top with fruit for conscience-placated nutrition.

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