Yuck! I’m Not Eating That!
Does that response sound familiar? We bet it does! Young children are notorious for being picky eaters. One week they only want to eat peanut butter sandwiches cut in triangles. The next week, it’s just vanilla yogurt with “crunchies.” Not only do food preferences play a role in their behavior (after all, we all have those) but so does their blossoming independence. Mealtime often becomes the preferred venue for children to say, and mean, “No!”
This obviously puts you in a predicament…you know you need to serve healthy foods for meals and snacks but at the same time, you also want to make sure the children will eat what you serve. The good news is there are many amazing recipes out there that achieve both of these goals. The USDA’s Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services division has a great page on their website filled with healthy recipes for families, child care providers and schools. Here is the link: https://www.choosemyplate.gov/myplatekitchen/ There are thousands of recipes available at the click of a mouse. You can serve for lunchtime meals, snacks and even desserts. On some of the searches, you can even choose the type of cuisine (e.g., Italian, American, Asian, etc.). How much fun is that?!
As far as picky eaters go…here’s a little trick. Children are much more likely to try new foods IF they are involved in their preparation. Obviously, you are not going to let a two-year-old cook on the stove BUT there are still quite a few food preparation steps these little hands can help with. For instance, if you are going to prepare vegetable soup, they can help wash the vegetables. If you are planning to make whole grain biscuits, they can help measure and mix the ingredients to prepare the dough.
Also, keep in mind that in general, children are suspicious of new foods. On average, a child must be exposed to a new food as many as 20 times before they will even taste it! This just means that you can’t give up and you must be very, very patient when introducing new foods to children. And of course, always check with parents/caregivers before introducing any new food. Food allergies can pop up at any time.
So…all this talk of food is making me hungry. What’s for lunch? Black bean burgers or veggie pizza?