Let’s start this post with a disclaimer. I do not have kids. I know absolutely nothing about raising kids. I don’t even know how to babysit. Just ask the last kid I babysat – I sent him home with a backwards diaper.
Ellen Satter’s Division of Responsibility
In Satter’s Division of Responsibility, parents are responsible for deciding what the child is fed, when they are fed and creating a pleasant feeding environment. The child is responsible for what foods they choose to eat and how much. Parents should prepare meals they enjoy, rather than catering to the child’s demands, but include one or two foods the child will eat, even if it’s just rice and fruit. Over time, the child will begin to show interest in new foods and eventually start eating them willingly.
Patience is important. Your child may throw an epic tantrum at mealtime and eat only bread and milk for a few days, but eventually, they will start to show interest in new foods. That is, as long as you don’t give in and make chicken nuggets and french fries. It might be a difficult time, but as long as there’s food on the table, your child won’t starve.
Kids in the Kitchen
Let your child help with food preparation. They’ll be likely to try new dishes if they’ve had a hand in making it, plus it teaches crucial life skills. Now, obviously you don’t want your three-year-old wielding a Wusthof, but there are many tasks a child can help with. Washing fruits and vegetables is a good start. Measuring ingredients is a helpful task since it ties in math skills. As your child gets older, use your time together in the kitchen as a learning opportunity. For example, if you are preparing a salad, teach your child how each vegetables grows. Or if you’re cooking tacos you could teach them about Mexico and foster cultural awareness.
Taste preferences are developed early, even before a child is born. Babies can taste different flavors in amniotic fluid and breast milk so if you want your child to enjoy healthy foods, you need to eat healthy too! When your child starts to eat purees, use that opportunity to sneak in foods that might not be considered “kid friendly.” Many parents make their own baby food which I think is fantastic, but if that’s not realistic for you, there are many commercial baby foods that incorporate more “exotic” flavors. Whether using commercial or homemade, mix in small amounts of spices to expand their taste buds further. It goes without saying, but no hot spices…that is unless you dream of your child growing up to be a chili eating champion.
Use favorite foods
Lightly Disguising Foods
A few years ago, Seinfeld’s wife wrote a cookbook about sneaking vegetables using purees. It included recipes for macaroni and cheese with cauliflower puree and brownies with carrot puree. Smart idea, right? I actually don’t think so. When your child is eating his chicken nuggets made with spinach puree, he’s not thinking “That spinach is killer!” He’s thinking, “Mmm chicken nuggets! Mom said these were healthy, so I bet the ones at McDonalds are healthy too!” If he doesn’t realize he’s eating a vegetable, he’s not going to eat it later in life when, presumably, mom isn’t cooking all the meals. Instead, lightly disguise fruits and vegetables. Chop or shred vegetables finely, so they are visible, but difficult to pick out of a dish. For example, toss shredded zucchini and peppers with whole grain spaghetti, olive oil and parmesan cheese. Or you could make a vegetable soup with finely chopped vegetables. Today’s recipe is a perfect example. Carrots and onion are shredded into kid sized mini-meatloaves. Broccoli is boiled with potatoes, then mashed together. The green color makes it fun for kids, while the parmesan and garlic adds an adult friendly flavor.
- 2 medium-large russet potatoes, cut into 2-inch chunks
- 6 cloves garlic peeled
- 1 head broccoli, thick stems peeled, cut into florets
- ½ cup 2% milk, plus more to thin to desired consistency
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
- Salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste
- Place the potatoes and garlic in a large saucepan. Add enough water to cover by 2 inches. Bring a boil and boil until the potatoes feel about halfway done when pierced with a fork, about 6 minutes. Add broccoli and continue to boil until both broccoli and potatoes are tender, about 6 more minutes. Drain and return to the hot pan.
- Add milk, olive oil, parmesan, salt and pepper. Mash with a potato masher until mostly smooth with a few lumps. Add more milk to thin if you prefer.
- ¼ large onion, finely chopped
- 1 lb lean ground beef
- ¼ cup whole wheat panko breadcrumbs
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 large carrot, shredded
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- ¼-1/2 teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 cup tomato sauce, bottled or homemade
- ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a muffin tin with olive oil or line with a foil cupcake liner.
- In a large bowl, combine onion, beef, bread crumbs, garlic, carrot, seasoning, salt and pepper. Stir in ½ cup tomato sauce.
- Divide the mixture into 10 muffin tins. Top with the remaining ½ cup tomato sauce. Bake about 20-25 minutes until the meat is cooked through.
- Sprinkle each meatloaf with parmesan cheese. Place back in the oven under the broiler to melt the cheese, about 1 minute.