fruit tapioca

When I ask you a question, you always come through. Holey, moley. And when you take those few minutes in your day today to zone out and procrastinate on the internet (Who me? Procrastinate on the internet? NEVER!)–read through the comments from the last post. Really, really beautiful, guys. I’m walking into this day with a good kick of inspiration. Thank you for that.

The winner of Laurie Colwin’s books is Suzanne Hasty. Suzanne, I think you’re going to love these. Just send me your address and I’ll get them out to you. I feel a little tingly at the prospect of sending Laurie out to someone who has never seen her books–I can’t be held responsible for what happens or if you stay up all night cooking.

Now for a story that ends with a snack.

In the year before I went to college, I worked in a coffee shop here in my town. There was a mother and daughter who came in a lot after school, and every time, the mother would buy the daughter a cookie. We had maybe 4 or 5 kinds of cookies, all in jars lined up on the counter. So the mom would tell the little girl to choose a cookie, and when she did, her mom would always have the same response.

“Are you sure?”

The little girl would nod her head, and then her mom would ask her again, “Are you really sure?”

This drove me nuts. And at the time, I thought that she was such a horrible parent! I went on and on in my head as I steamed the milk for the mom’s cappuccino about teaching children to trust their instincts and to just let them make a decision and know what they want. I said that when I had children, I would never do that to them.

Of course, like all the things I said I would never do, I DO do that to them, sometimes. Because when you’re about to shell out precious dollars for a cookie, and your child chooses a peanut butter cookie even though you know she hates peanut butter cookies, and you can see what’s coming, which is exactly one uneaten peanut butter cookie and one very unhappy child who is begging (maybe even with some crying if your lucky) you to buy her another cookie, because she didn’t realize that a peanut butter cookie would actually taste like peanuts, then sometimes you can’t help but ask, “Are you sure?”

I get that now. I’m sorry, cappuccino-drinking-mom who got my stink eye and silent judgement. Please forgive me. I’m sure you were doing your best, and that was good enough.

However, even though I was eighteen and ages (okay, a few years) away from being a parent, I think I had the right overall idea. I still feel that if we can support our children in the work of learning to close their eyes and imagine just what they want to eat, then we are giving them a skill that will serve them for the rest of their lives. I want my girls to be able to trust food, and to able to trust that own instincts and desires will lead them in the right direction.

If you’ve been with me for a bit, you might now that I’ve got one picky eater at the table. Her list of preferred foods is short, and most of it is white. It goes something like this: bread, crackers, noodles, cheese, and yogurt. If there is a dessert in the mix to use as a bribe (did I say that out loud?), we can expand the list to steamed kale, carrot sticks, avocado, and salad with no dressing.

Most of the time, I’m good and laid-back about this. Rosie’s healthy, she’s not wasting away, and she gets sick less than any of us. But lately, since that stomach bug hit in the winter,, Rosie has been complaining about her tummy.

This weekend, when I was at work (I still make cappuccinos one day a week, just at a different coffee shop now), Rosie told Joey that she wanted to stop eating wheat. She said that she thought wheat was making her stomach hurt.

Rosie, my wheat-eating picky eater, has decided to go wheat free.

I trust that she knows what she needs. And so I’m trying to make sure that she has lots of good treats to expand her list of preferred foods now that so many of them are off limits. We’ll try this for a few weeks, and we’ll see how the tummy’s doing. I seem to have passed down my tendency of putting stress into my tummy (and getting a stomach ache from it), so it seems possible that just Rosie’s own act of deciding what she needs might help the tummy, too. We’ll see.

This is fruit tapioca, a brilliant invention of my friend Janet (add this blog to your list, friends–you won’t regret it!) I first had fruit tapioca when my own belly was in recovery after an emergency appendectomy a few years back. Janet brought me a whole spread of comforting foods and a fancy Italian food magazine to occupy me when I was stuck in bed, and this is the thing I remember most. It comes together quickly, and this week I’ve been putting a little jar of fruit tapioca into lunchboxes and getting some serious love for it. I find it satisfies some deep craving in me too–it’s wellness food and a treat at once, kind of like the best jello (if you’re a jello sort of person, which I most definitely am).



  1. says

    I hope Rosie’s tummy is on the mend! This is beautiful – and I always like when dessert = fruit … I wonder what would happen without the fruit juice? Coconut water and mango maybe. Hm. Many possibilities. But cranberry juice and frozen blueberries sure looks like a good starting place. Yum.

  2. Suzanne Hasty says

    Thank you, thank you, thank you…
    This means so much to me, Alana. Not only am I so excited about the books, which I can’t wait to read and experiment with- I am so excited that we connected. It was around Mother’s day that I decided to pick up your book as a gift to myself and as I read it I decided wow, this mom and family is so like mine. My husband is a school teacher as well and I have two boys ages 4 and 6. Then I found your blog, first one I have ever paid attention too.
    I can’t wait to tell the chefs at my resturant the good news and show off my books.
    My address:
    108 Penn Oak Road
    Flourtown, PA 19031

    PS- love your blog, especially the stories about your kids and how crazy and hectic the hours before dinner time can be. Good luck with Rosie’s tummy troubles.

  3. says

    I’ve always hated tapioca…but you make it seem…tempting? Wow!
    I’m glad you made a happy winner out of Suzanne , I never have anyluck with giveaways anyway! I’ll still look into Laurie’s books since they come so highly recommended.
    Who gave Rosie the idea that wheat could be the problem? There seems to be more and more people going gluten free!

  4. says

    I love that you are teaching your kids to trust their instincts and, literally, their gut. I love that you’re willing to change things up and try stuff to see if it helps Rosie’s tummy. I hope it does. I enjoy your blog and I think your parenting stories are refreshing and inspirational.

  5. JoAnn C. says

    My only memory of tapioca is my aunt’s tapioca balls; which we, my siblings and cousins, threw to the floor to see if they would bounce. They did.

    How very interesting your little one declared herself wheat free. I hope that works out. Such lovely intuition.

    Congrats to Suzanne!

  6. says

    This is wonderful! I can’t wait to try it. And now’s the best time to go wheat free, as there are so many more options and so much more knowledge than there ever used to be – and with you cooking, she surely won’t go wanting.

  7. says

    I am SO excited about this. And also, can I admit that I am relieved to hear someone else talk about having a child who prefers food that isn’t what we might choose for them? I tell people that my daughter has a beige diet. Thank you for supporting my mission to teach her that food is your friend, not something to stress over, and to teach myself to trust her.

  8. Beth says

    I have been making something similar with strawberries and rhubarb for a number of years now. It’s so good. A little like pie filling, especially if you’re impatient (like me) and eat it while it’s still warm. Think it’s time to make some!

  9. Laura says

    So, question – how long does this keep in the fridge? I’m thinking this would be the funnest snack for my preschooler, so I’m wondering if I could make it the night before, maybe even two nights in advance. Thanks!

    • alana says

      Hi Laura!
      Yes, this is a lunch box favorite around here- absolutely. I’ve found it stays good for about 3 days, and then it starts loosening up a bit.

  10. Jill says

    I just found this post from the sick food one; is Rosie still wheat free? I’m gluten free and find myself wishing I could eat more of your homemade things. Did going off wheat for a while help the lingering tummy pain?

    • alana says

      Hi Jill- Rosie is now able to eat wheat- just in moderation! I know that for some, a break helps. And if you have a good gf-flour, most of the recipes should be adaptable. Do you know She’s got a conversion, a flour mix, and my cheese crackers on her site, gluten free.


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