Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Feeding Picky Eaters

My friend, Tammy, told me that her son is going through a finicky stage:
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"There are times he eats everything, and other times...he doesn't.  My son has a particular aversion to potatoes, unless they are of course Chips (French fries), so I tried to be creative and find a way to make him eat them.

He loves the game 'Mr Potato Head', so I baked a potato in the oven, a potato which matched the size of his toy, and cut up all sorts of veggies, which made up the various 'body parts' ANDDDDDDDD..... today my little one ate HALF a baked potato!!!!!! Whilst placing sliced olives as the eyes and shaped gamba (red bell pepper) for the mouth, etc."

Tammy also requested other sure-fire foods, "I thought I would share our lunchtime fun with you all,and in return, anyone who has a fun recipe that's a winner with their little ones, PLEASE SHARE!"

Well, I have to start by saying there are no fail-proof foods.  As soon as I'm confident that the troops will eat something, they surprise me.  Fortunately, the same goes for things they don't eat!  My daughter has gone through stages of loving and hating avocados, and now she's beginning to eat her brother's favorite food, bell pepper.

My friend, Hannah, already responded with a link to her blog on 12 Tips for Getting Kids to Eat Healthy Foods.  She says:  "I don't believe in cajoling kids to eat--as a mom of 6 it's too much trouble! If the child is healthy and has a variety of good choices available over the course of a day or week, you can trust him to get what he needs. If there's something you don't want him to eat, don't serve it."

For the most part, I agree.  But better yet, don't keep things in the house that you don't want your kids to eat.  I'm embarrassed to admit, my kids will eat almost anything with ketchup.  But we have survived weeks where I just didn't want to buy it.  If we have it, they beg for more.  If we don't, they get over it.  (I only buy the kind without high-fructose corn syrup, and I have also made my own for Passover.)  The same with cheese.  My kids have enough meat on their bones and they don't know how to eat cheese in moderation; we all do better when we just don't buy it.  When I was in college with 7 kinds of cheese in my fridge, I never would have guessed that I would eventually use the cheese drawer to keep ready-to-eat fruits and veggies: washed apples, peeled and cut carrots, sliced bell pepper...

My friend, Miriam, said she could get her daughter to eat anything blended in soup, but my kids just don't like soup.  They do, however, love shakes.  I can blend bananas and frozen fruit with things like flax seeds or vegetables.  They also love pasta, so I can blend sauces out of things like spinach and basil, or roasted red peppers and garlic.  You can also add flax seeds and stuff to Pesto.

Two interesting facts: Studies have shown that our taste buds can learn to like things after trying them many times (12-16 times I think).  So, encourage your kids to keep trying.  Don't ever completely cross out a food from your family's diet.  They might surprise you.

On the other hand, scientists have found that liking broccoli and Brussels sprouts may be genetic.  There may be a gene that causes some of us to process a certain flavor in these vegetables as bitter while other people find it pleasant.

Here are some other kid-friendly suggestions:

Banana Ice Cream - it was a big hit when I served it to some moms and little kids last night.
We all love oven "chips" but I don't know how much health benefit they get from them.  I usually serve them with Israeli salad.
My kids also like pita chips that I make by cutting up and toasting whole wheat pita when it's not fresh enough to really enjoy cold.  I can serve that with a homemade bean dip.
And as a treat you can always bake whole wheat zucchini muffins
My son likes Tabouli made with bulgur wheat or quinoa.  My daughter goes through phases of liking it.
A little time consuming: but they love orange segments
In general they do well with fruit and veggies put out in a colorful way. They like cucumber or other veggie sticks with hummus for dipping.  Today I made my daughter this sweet snack with cucumber, natural peanut butter, and raisins.  


  1. I just found your blog today and look forward to following it! Great topic! My kids (ages 11, 8 and 1.5) are crazy for roasted chickpeas. I toss them with some oil, salt, garlic powder and paprika, and roast them in a single layer on a very large baking sheet, for about 1/2 hour. They get a little crispy and the kids eat them for snack or dinner.
    Thanks for your suggestions. I love the homemade pita chips with bean dip idea. I would serve that with baby carrots, snap peas, and grape tomatoes. My kids really love dips.

  2. Roasted chick peas sounds great! Is it like "soy nuts"? Do you boil the chick peas first or use canned?

    My kids also love dips, shakes, and yogurt, but hate soup. What's the difference? Extra water and a bigger spoon?

  3. I have four of the pickiest daughters in the world. I was also a picky eater as a child, although you wouldn't know it watching me eat today. I had a terrible time at the dinner table, with my mother cajoling me to eat what she had made. Because of that I decided that if my daughters didn't want to eat what was served, fine. I didn't make them alternative meals, as my mother always said, "I am not a restaurant." My oldest is now 26, my youngest os 19. They now eat like adults. They eat well, they've outgrown their pickiness, and they even eat things I refuse to eat, because they're just gross! ;-)



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