I’ve attempted every trick in the parenting handbook to get my little boy to eat anything. I’ve tried (and failed) to disguise good foods in blended dips and sauces, attempted (and failed) sugary bribes and short of standing on my head and bringing in live entertainment, I’ve literally exhausted every possible route to get my very picky 8-year-old to eat something other than the few staples his palate will tolerate.
My husband and I thought after he’d finished we finally were victorious. But then an hour later, our son complained he had a belly ache, and proceeded to upchuck all over the back seat of our car.
I’m at the end of my rope. I figure at this point we need some outside intervention to get him off his steady diet of mac n cheese and apple slices.
Actually I’ll claim victory, and feel like I’ve gotten this motherhood thing down, if we can get him just to eat some leafy greens and protein that needn’t be covered in a thick breaded crust. (A mother can dream, right?)
So if you’re like me and need a little guidance when it comes to helping your little ones broaden their palates, keeping reading for some tips and tricks!
#1 Make kid-friendly recipes! I am REALLY trying to practice- –less pizza, more apples- I was sent his finger licking good recipe from Rachel Ray which is not only super tasty- but yes healthy too. And the best part- you and your kids can prepare it together
“My Pretzel-Crusted Chicken Breasts, published in Rachael Ray 365: No Repeats (A Great book by the way- sort of my husband’s cooking bible) is on of the most popular recipes I’ve ever written over in the last decade (and I’ve written literally thousands!). Here, I’m turning the recipe into a family favorite using the kid crowd-pleaser: chicken tenders! To bump up the health factor, I used whole grain pretzels and added zucchini sticks, too.” – Rachael Ray
Pretzel-Crusted Chicken Fingers and Zucchini Sticks
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
½ cup chicken broth
½ cup milk
8 ounces shredded sharp cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons spicy brown mustard
Salt and pepper
One 12-ounce bag whole grain pretzels
2 teaspoons dried thyme
4 large eggs
2 zucchini, halved crosswise and cut into sticks
1 ½ pounds chicken tenders
¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO)
Carrot ticks, celery sticks and dill pickle spears, for serving
1.Ask a GH (grown-up helper) to melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Have your GH whisk in the flour and cook for 1 minute, then whisk in the chicken broth and milk. When the milk begins to bubble, stir in the cheese and mustard. Season the sauce with salt and pepper; remove from the heat and cover to keep warm.
2.Preheat the oven to 250oF. Using a food processor with your GH, finely grind the pretzels. Transfer to a shallow bowl and add the thyme. In another shallow bowl, beat the eggs. Coat the zucchini with the pretzel crumbs, then the egg, then the pretzel crumbs again. Repeat with the chicken.
3.In a large skillet, have your GH heat ½ cup olive oil over medium heat. Cook the chicken in 2 batches, turning, until firm, about 3 minutes on each side. Drain on paper towels; keep warm on a baking sheet in the oven. Repeat with the zucchini, adding more oil if necessary.
4.Serve the fingers and zucchini sticks with the cheese sauce, along with the carrot sticks, celery sticks and dill pickle spears.
One more delicious recipe-even I – who am HORRIBLE in the kitchen was able to master is the:
Sunrise Sunday; Prep Time: 5 minutes; Servings: 3
1-1/2 cups low-fat granola or other dry cereal
1 cup low-fat plain or vanilla yogurt
1 can (15.25 oz.) Del Monte Lite Fruit Cocktail, drained
1.In tall glasses, spoon alternating layers of granola or any other dry cereal, yogurt and fruit cocktail.
2.For easy variety use any 6 pack of single serving assorted dry cereals and Fruits.
Calories 360/ Total Fat 4g/ Saturated Fat 1.5g/ Cholesterol 5mg/ Sodium 11mg/ Carbohydrates 78g/ Fiber 4g/ Protein 9g
#2 Loosen up your definition of what dinner is. Laurie David author of “The Family Dinner: Great Ways to Connect with Your Kids, One Meal at a Time” says Dinner can be peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, soup and a salad, or even healthy take out. The real key to dinner is the fact that you all sit down together at the same time, eat the same food, all screens off, and have fun. There are many ways to keep your family dinner rituals going even as a super busy mom. One great idea is to share meal making with a friend or family member. So, for example, if you’re making a dish like a speedy pasta in a pan, (one of my favorite recipes in The Family Dinner book!), make a second one for a friend. The next night when she’s making a big pot of soup, she can make enough for your family too. Then you have two home cooked meals, and you’ve only cooked one night! (plus hopefully you’ll have leftovers too!). Another one of my favorite things to do is to double up whatever I’m cooking on a Sunday. One for dinner Sunday or Monday, and then I’ll freeze one meal for another night. And obviously, the key for any hectic mom — single or not — is to plan ahead as much as possible!
#3 Make Dinner a Game!
Getting your kids to eat healthy foods is one of those “glorious” parts of motherhood that we all savor–(yeah right!) another little trick you might want to have nestled up your sleeve- to actually KEEP your kids at the dinner table- so that you might just get them to eat this wholesome food you slaved over.. is to pick up the very nifty Gather ‘Round Dinner Game. Of course the logical question is why? And, isn’t it enough that I’m already pureeing veggies to sneak into their Mac n’ cheese and doing “cartwheels” to get the food in my kid’s mouth?
Well this game might actually allow you to cut out those “proverbial” cartwheels and handstands (unless of course you’re far more flexible than I and actually CAN do cartwheels and handstands!) from your dinnertime routine–and replace it with Gather ‘Round’s 132 dinnertime activities to play while you eat!
No game board or game pieces required – just sit down to dinner, push the button and your family can get together (while they’re eating their Mac n’ cheese with pureed veggies mixed in for good measure ) for a whole new kind of family meal.
The games run the gamut from… Name as many purple foods as possible, Make up a story about a fish named Joe, Eat your veggies and say yum-yum, Hum a song for everyone to guess…and many more.
You can check out 12 sample games right here
Why do I think this is worth the investment? It definitely beats popping in a video- or fighting with your kids over getting them to finish their foods. The Gather Round Dinner Game is basically a great way to distract them from the act of eating- they’ll be so engaged in playing the game- that the normal battle to get them to eat their veggies will simply evaporate ( I’ve tried this and it works- while you’re playing just casually pop the food in their mouths- and they ‘ll likely just keeping chewing and eventually swallow–ahhh like a real kid!)
Some other perks and reasons to get this game… what kid doesn’t want the chance to play with his/her food. And of course, kids love the extra attention that you’ll pay to them when you’re playing this game–in fact it could certainly be included in the daily “Quality time quota” that, as a parent, you do your best to fill!.
Another benefit…The Gather ‘Round Dinner Game often extends dinner by 5 – 10 minutes and the game often continues long after the food is gone. And then there’s a cold hard research which has proven that families who have frequent meals together generate lots of benefits: Improved family communication; Improved nutrition and eating habits; Plus, kids develop a protective factor against tobacco, alcohol, drugs and a low grade point average.
Overall: The Gather ‘Round Dinner Game adds fun to family meals, breaks up dinnertime routine, and most importantly, brings families closer together. Get it now… at www.FamilyDinnerGames.com
Are there any tried and true family dinner time tricks that you’d like to share…I’m all ears!