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Posts Tagged ‘Picky eating’

Fishing for Crackers

Spruce up snack time with this easy, healthy and fun snack!

Ingredients:

  • Carrot sticks
  • A bowl of hummus or veggie dip
  • Goldfish crackers

Dunk the carrots into the hummus or dip. Then put some goldfish crackers on a plate and use the carrot stick to “catch” the crackers.

Superhero Green Smoothie

In a hurry? This sweet green juice has lots of vitamins and makes a good pre-practice dinner or a great breakfast. Use a blender or juicer to combine the ingredients into a quick, healthy meal.

Smoothie

  • 1 handful kale
  • 1 handful spinach
  • 1 pear, cut into small pieces
  • 1 apple, cored and sliced into small pieces
  • 1 medium banana
  • 1 cup strawberries or raspberries
  • Juice from 1 lemon (or ½ an unpeeled lemon if you are using a juicer)

If your children have a strong aversion to anything green, you can use more strawberries or raspberries or add some blueberries.

Picky Eater Dinner Options

Macaroni and Cheese Muffins

If your children love macaroni and cheese, try this new twist on one of their favorite meals. Use your family’s favorite types of milk and cheese to tailor this to their liking. This makes about 12 muffins.

For the muffins

  • ½ cup unsalted butter
  • ¼ cup whole wheat or all-purpose flour
  • 1 pound elbow macaroni
  • 5 cups milk (whichever your family typically uses)
  • 1½ pound sharp cheddar cheese, either grated or pre-shredded (you can substitute your choice of cheese)
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp ground pepper

For the topping

  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  • ½ cup panko bread crumbs
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 12-cup muffin pan with butter or spray it with a butter spray, then dust it with flour, tapping out the excess flour. Cook macaroni according to package directions. Drain the pasta, saving one cup of the cooking water for later.  In a saucepan, melt the butter and stir in the flour. Stir constantly until the mixture is lightly browned. Slowly add the milk and raise the heat to bring the sauce to a boil. Reduce the heat and allow the sauce to simmer and thicken for about three minutes. Add the cheeses, salt and pepper to the sauce mixture and stir it until it is smooth.  Remove the sauce from the heat and add the macaroni. Stir it until the cheese sauce coats all the noodles. Cover the mixture to keep it warm.  For the topping, combine the melted butter, bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese.  Fill each muffin cup with the macaroni mixture, and then sprinkle each with the topping. Bake the muffins for about 15 minutes or until the tops are golden brown. Let the muffin pan cool completely, and then refrigerate the whole pan for up to 24 hours.  When you are ready to serve your macaroni muffins, just reheat them in a 350 °F oven or the microwave.  For added nutrition, you can add some ground flax seed, chopped broccoli or finely sliced carrots.


Ham or Turkey and Cheese Croissants

You can serve this simple dinner recipe with a side salad or mixed vegetables.

  • 1 can of croissant rolls
  • Deli ham or turkey slices
  • Shredded or sliced cheese

Open the container of croissant rolls and separate them. Layer each croissant with a slice of ham or turkey and your cheese of choice. Roll up the croissants and bake them as instructed on the packaging.  These also make great after-school snacks and easy lunches.


Superhero Green Power Juice

In a hurry? This sweet green juice has lots of vitamins and makes a good pre-practice dinner or a great breakfast. Use a blender or juicer to combine the ingredients into a quick, healthy meal.

  • 1 handful kale
  • 1 handful spinach
  • 1 pear, cut into small pieces
  • 1 apple, cored and sliced into small pieces
  • 1 medium banana
  • 1 cup strawberries or raspberries
  • Juice from 1 lemon (or ½ an unpeeled lemon if you are using a juicer)

If your children have a strong aversion to anything green, you can use more strawberries or raspberries or add some blueberries.

Picky Eaters

There is an important distinction between picky eaters who are children and picky eating by children.

Labeling children as ‘picky eaters’ implies that we think of picky eating as a core identity issue, not just a behavior they’re passing through. Whereas, calling the behavior ‘picky eating by children suggests that it’s a natural developmental phase and something to work through.

I’ve yet to hear of, or know, a child that has never hit a food bump. Maybe the same could be said of us parents. In fact, there may be some evolutionary sense to not trusting all the food nature has to offer. Familiar, sweeter and bland foods are less likely than the exotic to poison or make us sick or destroy our appetites.  From a more specific perspective, we’ve begun to understand genetic influences leading toward and away from particular food preferences. Certain children carry genes (which they may not share with their parents) that intensify the reaction to bitter foods, leaving these children with a preference for sweeter foods and drinks in general; not to mention a different palate than their parents.

A few years ago, many nurses and pediatricians noticed a parental ‘bump’ around the introduction of ‘staged’ food menus for prepared infant foods; parents worried that their children weren’t transitioning well from the younger to the older food stages. The source of this reluctance was difficult to verify. Was it hard for children to progress from one stage to the next because of the newer food’s taste, consistency, or was it simply its ‘newness’?  This brings us back around to the picky eating versus picky eater distinction…

Picky eating is common, especially in girls, and can occur with both familiar and unfamiliar foods. Picky eaters are less common, and tend to be reluctant eaters around new foods. Some clinicians are trying out the label ‘neophobia’ to categorize picky eater behavior in younger children as a way of improving research and communication about the phenomenon.  For instance, some researchers have found that pickiness was predicted primarily by environmental or experiential factors subject to changes; neophobia was predicted by more enduring and dispositional factors.  (Galloway, A. T., Lee, Y., Birch, L. L. (2003). Predictors and consequences of food neophobia and pickiness in young girls, Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 103(6), 692-698.).

There are some things that you can do to help your child’s food bump from becoming a pothole:

1)    Your infants and toddlers are such social beings; they are pre-wired to be interested in how you treat your food. New foods will be more acceptable to your toddler if they’ve seen you or another adult they care about eating it regularly. And that positive effect is increased if your talk (with feeling) about what you like about the food. Interestingly, if you eat more fruits and vegetables, even when your child is not watching, your child will be more likely to accept food.

2)    Match up familiar with the unfamiliar. Hummus or yogurt dips that your child already likes can be paired with the new zucchini slice or broccoli floret.

3)    Never pressure or rush to introduce new foods, and only introduce one new food at a time.

4)    Introduce new foods when your child is actually hungry – forcing a new food on a diminished appetite is going to be less successful.

5)    Give it time – most children, and their parents, grow through this phase.