Healthy recipes for picky eaters?

Discussion in 'Whats Cooking? Food, Drink, & Gear' started by Interapid101, Jan 9, 2019.

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  1. Jan 9, 2019 #1

    Interapid101

    Interapid101

    Interapid101

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    Our 4-year old didn't used to be a picky eater, but in the last year she's become quite picky and getting worse. She likes the typical kids' favorites: carbs and sweets. I'm about ready to just let her go hungry when she refuses all nutritious food. I don't want to actually do that, of curse. Anyone have any recipes that work well for picky eaters?
     
  2. Jan 9, 2019 #2

    minibatataman

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    I don't have kids but I have the next closest thing, a very picky girlfriend.
    I try to make healthy versions of things she'd like, not sure if they'll work for your 4 year old but still:

    * Meatball pasta, but I when frying the onion and garlic I add a crap-ton of celery and carrots (sometimes zucchini or any other veg I have) and then after cooking the sauce I blitz it till it's smooth and then add the meatballs.
    *Chicken tenders, bakes not fried.
    *Tacos, I add fried rice with a lot of veg in that
    * Baked salmon with roasted baby potatoes
    * Chicken and veg skewers ( I make a Lebanese mariande but anything works, depending on what your kid likes)
    I just add a lot of veg to whatever im making basically, whether in pizzas or pasta sauces or burittos
     
  3. Jan 9, 2019 #3

    Evan Estern

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    My son was a picky eater from day one. His absolute favorite meal is a simple roast chicken with potatoes cooked in the fat. He would eat that every night (it is really tasty, but his parents are sooo over it). Mac and cheese is another standby (he likes organic Annies boxed better than homemade!). Tacos--I just make sure there is ground beef, guacamole and grated cheese, and he pretty much sticks to that. Other regular meals: Steak with a simple marinade or just salt and pepper. Mashed potatoes. A mild cream based chicken curry. Very plain sauteed salmon. Pasta with pesto or tomato meat sauce or meatballs (and like minibataman, I try to disguise as many veggies as I can in the sauce or the meatballs). I'm plannning to try a roast beef with potatoes along the lines of the chicken. Recently I got him into fried egg and cheese sandwiches. We make a lot of broth which we freeze and serve to him with some sort of ramen or udon noodles and a few greens, hard boiled egg, leftover chicken, pork or steak, etc. There are some instant foods like the Annie's mac and cheese which I use in a pinch: Ramen, good quality chicken tenders, goat cheese and pesto pizza. I regularly make him smoked salmon and avocado maki and that's another staple.
     
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2019
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  4. Jan 9, 2019 #4

    Interapid101

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    Roasting a duck tonight. We'll see how she likes, or does not like it.
     
  5. Jan 9, 2019 #5

    Xenif

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    I'm a dad of two sons (4.5 and 2) and I take care of two kids during the day (neices 3.5 and 2). I have lots of recipes for picky children, but I think the issue with kids is they will always try to push it.
    You guys may find it too rigid, but I only offer them a single choice: Eat what is available or go hungry. Meal Time is max 45 mins starting the moment food is set on the table, when time is up food disappears. There are no exceptions.
    I don't ask them to finish their food, I don't chase them around, food disappears if you leave you seat), we always sit down and eat together, I eat the same things thy eat as well.
    I believe doing this help set up what "meal time" is and is not. Soon they will understand they cannot (and will not) have their way and fall in line.

    If there is one recipe they all love, especially hot summer months, they have no appetite for lunch. Cold noodles, fresh corn, cucumbers, carrots, shredded egg, cooked chicken, sauce of peanut butter soy, vinegar of choice.
     
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2019
  6. Jan 9, 2019 #6

    Evan Estern

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    I forgot about roast duck. He likes it a lot, also duck confit and magret. Gets expensive, though. I also forgot to add that risotto is another safe option, for us at least. Homemade broth and some greens or carrots, chicken or shrimp, etc.
     
  7. Jan 9, 2019 #7

    Evan Estern

    Evan Estern

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    Xenif, that would be my preferred way to go, but the wife doesn't agree.
     
  8. Jan 9, 2019 #8

    Interapid101

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    I am a weak dad and am working alongside an even more inconsistent and randomly permissive mom. We will try this. We will fail.

    But I know this is the right thing to do.
     
  9. Jan 9, 2019 #9

    Evan Estern

    Evan Estern

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    I've found that with parenting as with many things in life, you have to choose your battles...
     
  10. Jan 9, 2019 #10

    Xenif

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    For your continued sanity and children's lifelong health; you WILL succeed as failure is NOT an option. YOU will lead your unit to VICTORY! SALUTE!
     
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  11. Jan 9, 2019 #11

    Interapid101

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    LOL, you are again correct. It's gonna be painful, but I gotta be firm here. Our unit must be victorious.

    It feels vaguely kamikaze, though.
     
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  12. Jan 9, 2019 #12

    Paraffin

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    That's what we did with our son. Dinner was whatever was put on the table, no pressure to eat. If he didn't want what was on the plate, he'd go to bed hungry. Sounds cruel, but my wife and I cooked good healthy food together, and plenty of it for the times he did eat everything. There was never a chance of actual harm from bypassing a dinner once in a while. There was occasional resistance and complaints, but he knew that was the system. He developed into a major omnivore, and loved the exotic stuff like sushi at restaurants (this way of raising a kid can get expensive). He's now a pro chef.

    It helps to start early, and it would be a rough sudden change if you've been more lenient. Once started, you MUST be consistent. Also, no easy access to junk food in the house.

    At the other extreme, a relative raised her daughters to be ace manipulators. One has a very limited range of what she'll eat, and will almost never eat whatever Mom has made for dinner. Instead, they have a co-dependency thing where the Mom will cook this kid a separate meal at almost every dinner, just to get her to eat something. This kid is a teenager now, just a few years from college. Life's gonna be rough when she hits the real world out there.
     
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  13. Jan 9, 2019 #13

    Nemo

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    Kids in Western societies generally don't starve (barring extreme neglect or eating disorders). If you are truly hungry you will eat pretty much anything.
     
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  14. Jan 10, 2019 #14

    Interapid101

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    Ended up making tea smoked duck breast, Sichuan cumin lamb, crushed sesame cucumber, and spicy green beans. It was devoured. Rapidly.

    I'll have to implement the 45 min rule later this week :)
     
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  15. Jan 10, 2019 #15

    Xenif

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    That sound very northern chinese-shanghainese and delicious. You have a lucky family.
     
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  16. Jan 10, 2019 #16

    AT5760

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    I have 4 and 3 year old sons. Meal time can be a challenge, particularly for the 3 year old who is stubborn and capable of opening every door/container in our home regardless of locking mechanism. On the parenting side, you need to establish boundaries, like Xenif said, while still knowing what is likely to work with your kids. My boys aren't great about sitting down for three squares, but anticipating hunger and offering healthy snacks before they are hungry can stave off food battles (as well as other battles). On the food side, I've found that my kids like their food as unmolested as possible. That means they get plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, either raw or steamed with very little seasoning. A microwaved sweet potato can be a life saver. Protein regularly comes from scrambled eggs - though they devour pork products as well, so I am guilty of the occasional hot dog. We do plenty of smoothies with yogurt, frozen fruit, and kale.

    I have a few kid/toddler cookbooks, but I haven't had much success from recipes that "hide" veggies in traditional recipes.

    P.S. We're not saints. They also get way too many carb-loaded snacks and get candy bribes once in a while.
     
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  17. Jan 12, 2019 #17

    agp

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    I'm in the same boat. Although I reckon my gf is probably more difficult than the average four year old.
     
  18. Jan 12, 2019 #18

    brianh

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    If it’s any consolation, my 7 year old was IMPOSSIBLE to feed literally since his first jar of baby food, but he’s slowly coming around a bit more. Recently ate smoked pork butt which made my head explode.

    On the they hand, my 4 year old never ate baby food. Never wanted it. He preferred real food and eats more things than many adults I know. Adores fruits and veggies.

    Brined, grilled chicken breast in toasted flour fajitas was one of the first healthy things I was able to get son#1 to eat.
     

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