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Kids Nutrition Top Tips on Dealing With Picky Eaters & Recipes Too!

Posted by Nancy Anderson on


Kids' Nutrition

TOP TIPS ON DEALING WITH PICKY EATERS

It's frustrating when your little one is picky about what she eats. You prepare a tasty dish that gives her a range of healthy vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients...and then she picks at, pushes away, or throws her food on the ground.

Go ahead, you can groan. 

Need some tips to help meal time feel less like a battle between two strong wills? Try these simple ideas:

    • Use crinkle/cookie cutters and other tools to add interest and shape, especially to foods with questionable textures like bananas, avocados, and sweet potatoes
    • Serve less-liked foods with tried and true favorites to heighten their appeal 
    • Variety, variety, variety! This may sound counter-intuitive, but exposing your kiddo to different foods as early and often as possible curbs picky-eating syndrome before it begins. Does this mean you have to whip out a brand new recipe with every single meal? Definitely not—good news for your budget, time, and energy. Just try to mix things up as much as you can: new foods, same foods at different meals, and so on. 
    • Try frozen fruits and veggies. I know this sounds nuts, but I swear by it.  My almost 4 year old only eats peas and broccoli and cauliflower rice if its frozen.  Of course don't give big chunks bc well #choking but small pieces in a bowl works every-time for me.
    • You can hide cauliflower rice basically anywhere in anything without detection.  Make a rice bowl, throw it in, make a smoothie- throw it in, it works for me every-time.
    • Frozen fruits-- frozen wild blueberries are a HIT in my house and they are so darn good for you.  Give it a try! 

By the way, picky eaters are NOT anomalies! It's normal for kids to be more selective about what they eat, especially starting around 1 to 2 years old. So don't give up, don't give in, and don't be too hard on yourself. Helping your child develop a wide and varied palate is an on-going (and fulfilling) experience.  I know for me, the closer my picky eater gets to 4 years old the easier it is to explain to him WHY it's important to eat certain things.  When he does something awesome like run fast, accomplish a physical or mental goal, I remind him he is smart and strong bc of how he fills his gas tank: with healthy foods and veggies!  This is really starting to click for him and he is becoming able to rationalize why he is asked to eat "boring" veggies ect. 

HOW TO INTRODUCE POTENTIALLY-ALLERGENIC FOODS TO YOUR KIDS

Do you, your spouse, or one of your other kids have a food allergy? If so, this means your littlest one is at an increased risk for having one, too. Understandably, this can make you feel reluctant about introducing solid foods into your baby's diet. 

So—when should you, and how? Keep these tips in mind: 

  • If at all possible, begin with breastfeeding! Research show breast milk strengthens your kiddo's immune system. It's also easy to digest and the least likely to trigger an allergic reaction. 
  • Once your little one is around 4 to 6 months old, start introducing new low-allergen risk foods ONE AT A TIME and spaced out every 3 to 5 days. This gives you ample time to see how your baby responds to the new food. Think fruits (apples, pears, berries, bananas), vegetables (carrots, green veggies), sweet potato, avocados. Cereal is up to you I don't feel like getting trolled over something like that, so I'm just gonna skip that wholeeeee thang.
  • During this time, you can and indeed SHOULD gradually introduce foods more likely to be more allergenic, too—including eggs, tree nuts, fish, and shellfish. Holding out too long before you let your kid try these may increase his/her risk of developing an allergy to them. 
  • If you notice any signs of a food intolerance or potential allergic response (e.g., rash, hives, wheezing, diarrhea, or cold-like symptoms, to name a few), call your pediatrician. 

Here's one final tip for you, Mom: if you're NOT allergic to top-allergen foods, there's no need to avoid them while you're pregnant or breastfeeding! Eliminating highly allergenic foods during these important phases has NOT been shown to reduce allergies in children. 

BROWN BAG CHEAT SHEET

Struggling to come up with lunch ideas for your school-aged kiddos? Ain't nobody got time for that! Write down the following kids' lunch cheat sheet in your pantry or on your fridge so you can quickly and easily put together a well-balanced meal every day (we've included some of our own favorite examples, but feel free to add your own):

  • Add a Fat: avocado, olives, eggs, nut butters, unsweetened coconut flakes
  • Add a Fruit (1-2 only): blueberries, strawberries, kiwi, pears, apples, grapes, melon, oranges, papaya
  • Add a Veggie (even if you 'know' they won't touch it): cucumber, carrots, celery, snap peas, green beas, zucchini, homemade roasted kale 
  • Add a smart Starch: sweet potato, black beans, quinoa, lentil pasta, rice
  • Add a Protein: fish, nitrate-free deli meat, cubed or ground chicken or turkey, shrimp, tuna salad

Tip: Include at least one food from each category for nutritional and flavorful variety.  If they don't have 3 dry snacks in their lunch, they won't eat it.  If you know they will throw a fit without cheddar bunnies, add the above plus a SMALL amount of cheddar bunnies. Don't add enough to fill them up.  If they are hungry, they will eat, but if you allow them to fill up on snacks inside of real whole foods, they will.  Plan smart!

When all else fails, t-r-i-c-k them ;)

Here are some yummy but healthy recipes that get veggies in your kids without them even knowing it! If you try any of these favorites, let me know! These are a bunch of my friends or friend favorites they recommended. 

MA, THE MEATLOAF!

These Meatloaf Muffin Cups are squishy, easy to eat, and tasty for everyone at your dinner table. You'll need:

1 lb ground organic, grass-fed beef
1 1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped bell pepper
1 lightly beaten egg
8 oz canned without juice diced tomatoes
1/2 old fashioned or quick oats, uncooked
1/2 cup ketchup
2 tablespoon mustard

To do: Preheat oven to 375 °F. Mix ground beef, salt, pepper, onion, bell pepper, egg, tomatoes, and oats together well and place in a baking dish. Fill a muffin tin with about 1/2 cup of mixture in each cup. Top each "muffin" with a mixture of the ketchup and mustard (or come up with your own sauce!). Bake for about 25-30 minutes, or until the meat is cooked to at least 165 °F and the top begins to brown. Making a loaf instead of muffin cups? Bake for about 1 hour instead.

HIDDEN VEGGIE CHICKEN NUGS

This is kinda annoying to make, but easy.  For busy mom life triple ect this recipe and freeze the extra. You can freeze for up to 3 months. 

INGREDIENTS

16 ounces Chicken Breasts (cut into chunks)
1/2 Carrot, cut into slices
1/2 Zucchini, peeled, cut into slices
1 Tbs Garlic Powder
1/2 Tbs Mustard Powder
1 Tbs Onion Powder
Salt and pepper (optional)
1 Egg 

Gluten Free Flour (arrowroot flour works great)
Pea Milk (or other non dairy milk)
Gluten Free Breadcrumbs

INSTRUCTIONS

1. In a food processor place the carrot and zucchini and blend until they are finely diced. Nutribullet works!

2. Add the chicken breast, garlic, mustard and onion powders (you can use all, some or none of these) and salt and pepper.  Blend again or process for 30-60 seconds or until blended.

3. Remove mix from blender or remove blade. Set up a crumbing station, a bowl of GF flour, then a bowl of egg and a dash of non dairy milk (pea milk works great) whisked together,  and a bowl of gluten free breadcrumbs.

4. Take tablespoon sized amounts of the chicken mix and roughly form a nugget shape.  Dust in the flour, dip in the egg mix and coat in the breadcrumbs.  Repeat until all the chicken mixture is used.

5.  Place on a lined baking tray with a spray of cooking oil and bake at 400 degrees for 10-15 minutes or until they are lightly golden and bounce back when touched.  Flip half way through if needed. 

ZUCCHINI BANANA BREAD

This one has some sugar but still a great treat for weekends or playdates to please the kids without cringing at what they are eating. 

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 tbsp melted grass fed butter, plus more for coating your pan
  • 3 tbsp coconut oil
  • 2 1/2 cups arrowroot flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 3 very ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1/2 cup grated zucchini
  • 1/4 cup full fat coconut milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

INSTRUCTIONS

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 9×5 loaf pan with butter and set aside

    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 9×5 loaf pan with butter and set aside. 
    2. Mash the bananas in a large bowl. Add the gated zucchini, coconut milk, eggs, butter, coconut oil, and vanilla and combine until well blended.
    3. Add the gf flour, sugar, salt, and baking soda. Combine until just blended.
    4. Pour the batter into your loaf pan and run a spatula down the center to pop any air bubbles. Bake for 60 minutes or until golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean with moist crumbs attached. It's a thick bread so it may require a little more time depending on your oven.

FLOURLESS VEGGIE MUFFINS 

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup quick oats or quinoa flakes, loosely packed
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 cup mashed over-ripe banana
  • 1 can white beans (250g without liquid) or 250g cooked beans
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter or allergy-friendly substitution
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup or honey 
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 container of raw spinach (or as much as you want! this is a tip from one of my mom friends from Baltimore)
  • optional handful mini chocolate chips, crushed walnuts, shredded coconut, pinch cinnamon, etc.

Instructions

1. Preheat the oven to 350 F and line 8-9 muffin cups.

2. Drain the beans and rinse extremely well, then pat dry. This is important because it gets rid of any bean taste.

3. Blend all ingredients until smooth in a blender or high-quality food processor. (If using a blender without a tamper, stop occasionally to stir ingredients with a spoon so they will blend evenly.)

4. Pour into the muffin cups – don’t overfill or they will rise and then sink in the centers. Bake 20 minutes. They will look underdone – let sit 20 minutes and they will firm up. (I like to bake for only 16 minutes and then refrigerate overnight, because I like the texture a little underdone even the next day.)

Note: These muffins are supposed to be fudgy, not fluffy and flour-y like traditional muffins. Not everyone will be a fan of the texture, but if you like my black bean brownies, then you will probably like these as well! Muffins last for 3-4 days refrigerated or 2-3 weeks frozen. (source https://chocolatecoveredkatie.com )

BROCCOLI SMOOTHIE- or "Power Ranger Drink" as I tell Kenzie. Freeze extras ;)

Ingredients

1 cup chopped – raw broccoli (frozen 1/2-3/4 cup broccoli rice works too)
1 medium – avocado
1 medium – banana
1 tablespoon – flaxseed, ground (or chia-- omega 3 gains)
1 cup – pomegranate juice (natural)
(optional) handful of ice 

Instructions

1. Blend all ingredients in blender and pray they like it. 

KALE-AIDE SMOOTHIE

Ingredients

1-2 cup liquids (almond milk or coconut milk is best)
1/2 tbsp hemp seeds (optional)
1/2 banana
1/2 apple, peeled and cored
1/2 cucumber
2 cups pineapple
2 cups spinach or kale
1 tbsp honey (optional) 

Instructions

1. Blend all ingredients in blender and pray they like it. 
SPINACH BOMB SMOOTHIE

Ingredients

  • 2 cup spinach (fresh)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup pineapple
  • 1/2 cup mango
  • 1 banana (peeled)

Instructions

1. Blend all ingredients in blender and hope they didn't see you add the spinach. 
Hope this helps give you some new tips, advice, recipes to try on your little ones to get them eating more variety and more veggies. Xo N 

 

 

 

other sources:

http://www.feedinglittles.com/online-courses.html

https://simplegreensmoothies.com

 https://www.aaaai.org/conditions-and-treatments/library/allergy-library/prevention-of-allergies-and-asthma-in-children 

 

 


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2 comments


  • Love this and these recipes. Going to try them

    Jessica on

  • I still remember the day mom told us she put zucchini in out muffins…we were shocked because they still tasted good. Also I tell my 4 year old all the time if she wants her muscles to grow she has to eat her veggies (most days it works especially if I tell her I see her muscles growing after she eats the veggies)

    Karen on

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