I know I’m not the only one trying to feed picky eaters, but man, it can make meal time really draining. And now that school’s about to start, I worry even more about having healthy food, but being in a time crunch to fix it. We’ve figured out a few things that help a little, and I’m sharing those suggestions today! Keep in mind that I’m not a dietitian or a child psychologist, just a mom trying to cultivate healthy eating habits in her kids.
1: Try to have at least one thing on the table that they like. Whether it’s slices of bread or a bowl of grapes.
2: To get more of what they do like (another biscuit, more strawberries, etc) they have to eat everything we put on their plate, which is honestly just a couple of bites of whatever else we’re having…generally a main dish and veggie.
3: Involve kids in planning meals. Let them help pick a main dish, veggie, side and dessert, then they help prepare it too. I have found it necessary to set up a few ground rules like “You can’t pick pizza, pancakes or waffles.” Not that we don’t ever have those things for dinner, but it can’t be what *they* pick for their meals. They also have to rotate the things that they choose. Help them understand that this is to encourage them to try new things that possibly sound interesting to them. Look through cookbooks with them, browse recipes online. And when they get discouraged, tell them that they won’t always like the foods they end up picking, but if they like the dessert enough, it will be worth it 🙂
4: We’ve instituted a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy about dinner. I don’t tell them what’s coming up for dinner (though of course if they’re the helper, they will know) When they say “What are we having for dinner?” I say, “You’ll find out when it’s on your plate.” It really kills my meal-making-motivation when the complaints start pouring in before it’s even on the table, and this helps to curb that!
5: Build off of things you know they already like. My oldest daughter has eaten a peanut butter and honey sandwich almost every school day of her life. When she decided she didn’t like apples anymore (yes, apples) we let her dip them in peanut butter. Now that she actually likes apples again, she doesn’t get to eat them with peanut butter every time, but it helped get her started for sure.
Take this snack for example. She likes crackers, most kinds. She doesn’t like most kinds of cheese, but she does like the Laughing Cow cheese. She also tolerates cucumber (she says it’s her favorite vegetable, but “favorite” is used very loosely here) So I sliced up some cucumber and put in on top of a Triscuit with a bit of Garlic and Herb Light Laughing Cow cheese on it and she loved them–Hooray!
Then we went for a recipe in the Cooking Light Super-Easy Recipe Shortcuts magazine that is on the shelves now. What’s fantastic is that you can load a $3 off coupon to your Safeway card when you register for just for U. No clipping or printing, the discount is automatically taken off when you swipe your club card or enter your phone number. There are tons of other coupons you can load to your card too. *The Cooking Light coupon is good through August 30th.
We tried the Cobb Salad Tacos. All the goodness of a homemade Cobb salad in a tasty corn tortilla! This recipe is in the section all about using rotisserie chicken, and we had one already cut up in the fridge! It’s one of my favorite ways to use cooked chicken in recipes because it’s so easy.
2 hard boiled eggs, chopped
2 slices pan fried bacon (reserve grease)
2 Tablespoons minced shallots
2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 1/2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 cups cooked rotisserie chicken, shredded
2 Tablespoons mayonnaise
2 Tablespoons buttermilk
1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese
8 (6 inch) corn tortillas
2 cups sliced iceberg lettuce
1/2 cup diced tomato
1/2 ripe peeled avocado, chopped
1. Cook bacon in a nonstick pan until crisp, then remove to paper towels. Crumble when cool. Add garlic and shallots to bacon drippings and cook 1 minute. Remove from heat and add vinegar, oil and mustard. Stir to combine. Add chicken, stirring to coat.
2. Combine mayo, buttermilk and blue cheese to make the dressing.
3. Working with 1 tortilla at a time, heat both sides on the stove. Arrange about 1/4 cup chicken mixture in the center of each tortilla and top with lettuce, tomato, chopped avocado, egg and bacon and drizzle with dressing.
When serving salad meals to our kids, they prefer to have all the ingredients separate. So they’ll get everything on their plate, but it doesn’t actually look like a salad. Somehow they’re more inclined to eat it that way. Go figure.
The chicken mixture of this recipe is excellent, and this salad will definitely show up on our menu again.
For more great recipes, pick up this issue of Cooking Light at Safeway.
What tips work for feeding your picky eaters?