How Do I Teach my Kids to Cook Healthy?
Grilled cheese, chicken nuggets, and french fries might be the menu of choice for your picky eater. Perhaps she scoffs at anything green or turns her nose up to meat. You might even struggle to get your youngster to eat fruit. You're tired of fighting about food, and you're concerned that your kid just isn't getting enough variety and nutrition in her diet. Some gentle tactics can encourage your picky eater to become more adventurous in the kitchen.
Let Your Child Help
Encourage your child's interest in foods by asking for help in the kitchen. Perhaps he's deterred by dinner plates filled with foods he knows nothing about. Ask for some help preparing meals so that your child can learn about what he's eating and even help prepare the food to his liking. For example, next time you're washing and slicing fruit, get your kid in on the action. Have him wash the strawberries, peel the bananas, and pick grapes from the vine. Take away that fear of the unknown by encouraging your child to touch and learn about the food. With any luck, this new interest in the food will encourage him to try a few new things.
Use Creative Presentations
Get creative in how you present food. Perhaps your daughter refuses to try raisins, but you think she'd like them. A piece of toast slathered with peanut butter can turn into a smiley face with raisins used for the eyes, nose, and mouth. Carrot sticks and celery might not sound like an appealing snack to your picky eater. Fill small plastic cups with a tasty veggie dip, and stick the veggies right in it. Your kid will enjoy dipping, and she might just like this healthy snack as well. Creative food presentations can spark interest in different foods, so get that imagination going.
Sneak It In
Let's face it: Certain foods just aren't going to appeal to your picky eater, and getting your kid to eat a plate full of mushrooms and onions probably isn't going to happen. However, when you take such ingredients and incorporate them into other foods, you can instantly improve your child's food variety — even without him knowing it. For example, next time you make a batch of meatballs, add some shredded carrot and zucchini to the mixture. Your kid will get a side of veggies along with those meatballs. Sauces are another great hiding spot for vegetables. Thinly sliced or grated veggies can be masked in marinara sauce for pasta, for instance. Increase the nutritional content of basic banana muffins by grating zucchini and adding it to the batter.
Most children eventually grow out of the picky eater stage. In the meantime, though, mealtime can be a frustrating experience for parents and children alike. If you're tired of making new meals, only to have your picky eater turn them down and refuse to eat, consider these creative tactics to get your child to broaden her tastes. In time, you can help to create a more nutritious meal plan for your picky eater.