This is an idea straight from “French Kids Eat Everything“, and I love it. In her amazing memoir about moving to France with two picky eaters then watching the European culture transform their whole family, Karen Le Billon explains that many French households have a baby food maker handy, even if they don’t have a baby. The reason? To better make simple soups like this. (Bonus, you have a chance to win a Cuisinart baby food maker right here, on Foodlets right now!) [Read more...]
ALL YOU NEED IS ONE BIG COOKIE CUTTER plus five spare seconds and lunch will be served with an equally large smile. (Save the outside of the bread to make eggs-in-the-hole later in the week. Another smile, coming right up.) I have a gingerbread, a snowflake (a ghost and a pumpkin too) and doing this one small thing transforms a regular whole wheat sandwich from ho-hum to ho-ho-ho.
WE ALREADY KNOW THE KIDS LIKE ROASTED POTATOES. But spuds, full of potassium as they are, still don’t have the nutritional punch as some of their neighbors in the produce section. Here’s the solution. I’ll use the proven potatoes as a starting point then slip in some sweet potatoes (or carrots) just to add color, and a bit more nutrition. Will there be squawking? Yes! Will they all try it? Yeah, probably.
Our four-year-old is actually the best turn-coat of the bunch. She’ll tell me how she definitely doesn’t like something that she has never tried (apples come to mind) only to finally take the one bite she knows we ask of her and…grins. [Read more...]
ALONG WITH OUR UNSTOPPABLE PUMPKIN MINI MUFFINS, Phoebe brought a bit of cheese to school for her go at snack time. To spice things up we used our amazingly affordable vegetable cutters–the ones we made carrot and cucumber flowers and stars with for a suddenly kid-friendly spinach salad–to cut the cheese. Was this necessary? Not really. Was it fun? Just ask Phoebe.
MY KIDS DON’T LIKE CARROTS. Do yours? I’ve made carrots many ways–oven roasted carrots with oil, salt and pepper, sauteed carrots with citrus butter, roasted whole carrots with maple glaze, even heart-shaped carrots–and guess what? They still don’t like them. Sure, the kiddos usually try everything since that’s one of our most basic dinner time rules. But they don’t really enjoy carrots.
What they do enjoy is French fries. With ketchup. So you see where I’m going here…
PHOEBE IS A MEAT LOVER. I’m not sure why but she even gets excited about saying the word, “meat!” Anyway, I’m using this to my advantage these days–and enjoying easy lunches. Here’s today’s idea: Roll a slice of fresh turkey from the deli around a little rectangle of cheese. Try to use organic and experiment with flavors. Cheddar cheese, provolone, Swiss. Substitute ham or salami or…
We’re in Puglia right now (the southern coast of Italy; the heel of the boot) and in this region of Italy it’s all about seafood. Fresh seafood. From our lunch table at a hilltop restaurant last week we could actually see fishermen at work in the Ionian Sea below. About as local as it gets, our lunch simply made its way from water to table, but from table to toddler’s mouth…a different story.
Actually, I can’t take any credit here. We were just lucky in the way the clams, mussels and calamari were prepared, with plenty of lemon. Phoebe loves lemon, so you can see where this is going. And the anchovies were pickled, another flavor she gobbles up. Our many thanks to the chef. Many, many, stress-free thanks.
And a victory dessert. Panna cotta with strawberries. Another tried and true favorite.
HOW TO GET YOUR TODDLER TO EAT MORE VEGGIES: pull up a chair, stool or other propping device and let her help you prepare dinner. Phoebe particularly likes “organizing” her ingredients so I give her a little bowl and a wooden spoon. Things go in the bowl, things go out of the bowl, things fall on the floor…but here’s where it works. If I happen to be chopping broccoli, cauliflower, even carrots (a known reject these days) she’ll happily pop a few bites in her mouth along the way. Something about the distraction of cooking, plus the fun of getting to try it outside of the dinner table seems to sweeten the deal. Frozen peas are something of a double edged sword though; I’m happy that she wants to eat peas but I’ve never seen someone eat so many frozen peas. Actually I’ve never seen anyone eat a frozen pea so the record was hardly difficult to beat but still…
An expanded idea from a previous post: 7 Ways to Get Toddlers To Eat More Vegetables >>
IT AIN’T PRETTY BUT TODAY’S TOPIC is constipation, or rather, how to fix it. As part of my husband Paul’s job with the United Nations here in Rome, we have access to the commissary and one of our staples is, as mentioned above, raisins. At first it was the little red paper box that intrigued Phoebe–finally something she could hold herself. Here’s what I like: they don’t spill. Ever. Sure a couple drop here and there (in the bottom of the stroller, in the seat of the stroller, in the…) but there is no liquid involved and cleanup is incredible easy, especially when one observes The Two-Second Rule and pops the wayward raisin in her mouth. Our pediatrician once asked if there was glue in the box because the little guys stayed put so well. They’re also tasty and sweet without sugar. As a kid who groaned when raisins appeared in a sack of otherwise delicious Halloween candy, I will understand if someday Phoebe decides these aren’t really a “treat”. But right now they’re also good for something else…
One box of raisins every other day helps keeps this kid regular. And if she’s been raisin-free for a while or gets backed up by eating too much starch or not drinking enough water, one box does the trick. (But don’t go too far. We once gave her two boxes on an international flight, as an activity to keep her busy. Then we were busy. Let’s just say there were repurcussions. Messy ones.) Raisins even work for adults too. Lots of grownups get blocked up when traveling for example, and one box for you is simply an easy way to keep things moving. Don’t worry, that’s all I have to say about that.
In addition to plenty of water, other natural kid-friendly diuretics include: cherries, pears, Granny Smith apples (with the skin on) and of course prunes. The last of which gets such a bad rap in the US. Europeans make delicious things out of dried plums, like rich ice cream, creamy custards and buttery, flaky tarts. To this I say, try it.
Or just stick with raisins.
How about eating some veggies?
I’M PRETTY SURE THAT getting kids to eat more veggies has been a struggle since the advent of dinner itself. So when Marie submitted her question–I’d love to get my son Lex (2 years, 2 months) to eat more green foods — broccoli, zucchini, peas, maybe even attempt a salad someday? I’d love any and all help in that department!–I thought about what works here (sometimes) and wondered if it could help there. Here goes.
- Keep your expectations low. Settle for a bite or two until he develops more of a taste for these things. As you know with kids this age, everything comes and goes and that includes different foods.
- Try the oldest trick in the parental book: bribery. We give Phoebe a bite of something she prefers, say, banana, after each bite of zucchini (or chicken, or carrots, or really anything other than pizza and pasta…)
- Let him help you prep the veggies in the kitchen. His curiosity may come in handy. I usually give Phoebe a bowl and mixing spoon of her own but regardless of her setup, she eats more veggies standing on top of her stool at the kitchen counter than she ever does at the table.
- Eat your veggies too. Kids love to emulate their parents so eat your greens too, and don’t hesitate to tell him how much you’re enjoying everything. Sometimes we make a little game out of it too by taking a bite together. Phoebe gets a kick out of doing the same thing at the same time as Mom.
- Be cool. Nothing is a bigger deterrent to something already unappealing than someone shrieking about “just one bite!” I usually tell Phoebe that she doesn’t have to eat the asparagus. That’s fine with me. But if she wants the banana (see number two), it’s going to take two bites. Up to her. And follow through. No greens, no treat.
- Grind them up and add them everywhere. This is a trick I learned back in our baby food days. I actually keep a bag of frozen mixed vegetables (organic if you can find it) on hand and I throw a cup or two into anything with big flavor of its own, like spaghetti sauce. For a more discrete addition, grind it up and add as much as you can get away with. This works for stuff like macaroni and cheese. In fact, The Sneaky Chef has tons of these tricks to add nutrition. We’re experimenting now and so far it’s working well. (Brainy Brownies are next.)
- For older kids, try a sticker system. Every time he eats a bite of veggies, he gets a sticker. Once he reaches a pre-designated number like ten, he gets a small reward. A toy, a trip to the park, etc. Just keep the magnitude of these rewards doable on an ongoing basis.
This is what we’ve discovered so far. What else works?
Got a stubborn eater? Or a non-eater? Sometimes (and I do mean sometimes) Phoebe is more willing to take a bite of something if I do the same. I’ll just say, “let’s take a bite together!” and suddenly the idea of a bite just got better. Sometimes.