When I worked as a pediatric nurse in a primary care office, a common complaint that parents had was that they couldn’t get their children to eat healthy foods. Kids are notorious for being picky eaters, but adults can be finicky with their foods too. I have some tips and tricks up my sleeve if you are trying to get the picky eater in your life to eat healthier.
- Cauliflower: This is a great alternative to rice and potatoes. If your kiddo likes rice, try cauliflower rice. You can buy pre-made frozen cauliflower rice at your local grocery store or make it at home with a head of cauliflower. All you have to do is pulse it through a food processor (or blender) until it resembles rice. Then just cook the “rice” on a pan until it starts to get tender. Serve it with any of your child’s favorite toppings. You can also make “mashed potatoes” out of cauliflower. I have never tried a recipe for this, but I have heard it’s really good!
- Banana: Freeze a few bananas and make it into ice cream! You can even put a few chocolate chips in their ice cream if they have a super sweet tooth. Another great idea is smoothies. You can sneak greens into their smoothies or just keep it full of berries that are loaded with antioxidants.
- Spaghetti squash: Everyone loves spaghetti with meatballs (or soy-based meatless meatballs in our case). Change out spaghetti for spaghetti squash. This is such a delicious alternative that the whole family can love (especially if it is covered in an awesome homemade pasta sauce).
- Cookies/muffins: There are so many options for sneaking vegetables such as zucchini, carrots, or pumpkin into your baking. With cold months ahead of us, I will definitely be searching the web for some vegetable infused baked goods.
- Sauces: Try adding cheese (or nutritional yeast) to their vegetables. You can also puree vegetables and put them into sauces such as pasta sauce or pizza sauce. This will add nutrients to their food without changing the look or the flavor enough to be noticed.
Picky eaters can be tough critics, but being persistent can open up the opportunity for you to find a food that your little one (or picky adult) actually enjoys. Be creative and have fun with it.
I have four little brothers (ranging in age from ten to twenty-two years old) and the eleven year old is a super picky eater. His diet consists of plain cereal, pasta with butter, and ice cream. Sometimes my mom just has to make him a milkshake with Carnations instant breakfast and call it a success.
Hopefully they will grow out of their picky eating stage, but in the meantime, don’t give up on sneaking in healthy options.