Cooking Healthy Meals for Picky Eaters

If you’re plagued with picky eaters who challenge every meal you make with upturned noses and heads turned away, you’re going to have to employ some new tactics to evade the “that’s yucky” comments from the children. Although some experts would argue that taste buds are formed at a very young age, other experts will tell you that you can still alter different food “likes” and “dislikes” by consistently exposing children to a variety of foods and even mixing in some of – and even disguising- the “dislikes” with the “likes”.

Nannies, daycares and parents: Get innovative with mealtime ideas! Mix in a little bit of fun with a little bit of presentation and you get the following ideas for picky eaters:

Pizza – If you ask, most kids will quickly answer that pizza is their favorite food. Make their favorite pizza and top it with two toppings that are not necessarily their favorite ingredients – call it a “Surprise Pizza”! For example, if your child doesn’t like hamburger, top the pizza with tiny chunks of hamburger. Don’t tell them what’s on top of the pizza…that’s the surprise! Or, you can make the Surprise Pizza topped with ingredients your child already likes – the more, the merrier with pizza!

Wraps – The wonderful thing about wraps is that they can be easily customized. Grab some fat-free tortillas the next time you visit the grocery store and pick up the raw ingredients that your children will like. You can choose from: chopped chicken, diced tomatoes, shredded lettuce, chopped cucumbers, diced onions, broccoli or any other “wrap stuffer” – use your creativity! Let your children create their own taco wrap – you’ll be surprised at how fast they will eat their meal if you involve them in the creation of it.

Sticks – Put food on a stick and it becomes more like a lollipop than food! Almost anything can be made into food sticks – teriyaki chicken cubes, small strips of steak, different types of grilled veggies, raw fruits, cubes of cheese. The combinations are endless! If there is a food your child will not try, pop it on a stick, between two of the child’s favorite fruits, and see if you can sneak it by their curious eyes!

A Drink on the Side:

Smoothies – Make it look like dessert, and your kids will have a hard time turning down “healthy” food. Use frozen strawberries, fresh bananas, frozen peaches, fresh blueberries, fresh cantaloupe, or any other frozen or fresh fruit of your choice. Mix the fruit in the blender – the frozen berries will add the “slushy” aspect – with milk (for calcium and vitamin D), and 100% fruit juice, and the kids will go wild for the smoothie!

When you get creative with food, children will become more interested in eating it, even if it’s healthy. Bring some playfulness to the table and watch how the children react to food! Mix things up, make the presentation on the plate hard to resist, and give the children something to look forward to at each meal, and your picky eaters will be eating all four food groups in no time!

Looking for some help in the kitchen. Check out the Cooking Courses offered by Nannies on Call.

Written by Lisa Bruce

Lisa Bruce is a mother first and foremost to her 2 wonderful kids, wife, Placement Manager and owner of the newest Nannies on Call branch in the Okanagan.