Byline: Ashley Srokosz
A few short months ago, I was that Mom who couldn’t stop from telling everyone how my son eats whatever we put in front of him with gusto.
How we don’t make him special meals.
How he even eats, wait for it, kale.
Then he hit 20-months old, started using the independence lobe of his brain and decided that he only wanted to eat noodles (“noni”), pizza (“pipa”), toast (“toastie”, don’t ask me where he got the “ie” at the end from) and cereal. Basically, carbs, carbs, and carbs, with a little tomato sauce thrown in for good measure.
I stayed strong for the first week or so and refused to make him just those 4 things rotated at every meal. He must learn to eat real food. He must eat what we eat.
Not only did he refuse to eat any of these meals, but he also threw all of the food on the ground for good measure.
The words “little jerk” came to mind more than once (and no, I didn’t call him that to his face, he’s repeating everything we say right now!).
After those first panic-inducing 7 days, with worries like:
– Will he ever eat a vegetable again?
– Will this affect his growth?
– Is this just a phase?
I figured out three sure-fire ways to get something other than a bread product into my new picky eater.
3 Tips for Picky Eaters
1. Roast them (the veggies, not the picky eaters):
I figured out that my son wasn’t being picky with taste as much as with texture and chew-time. He takes after my husband in the sense that if he can’t swallow something after 3 chews, he doesn’t want to swallow it. Grown-ups and older kids learn not to eat those foods and get labeled picky eaters, but my son still puts it in his mouth, chews it a few times, and then spits it back out. It’s like he’s a vampire, sucking all the blood out of the locally-sourced, grass-fed organic steak that we regularly have for dinner.
This was definitely a problem when we started getting bags and bags of snap and sugar peas in our CSA delivery. While cruising Pinterest one day, I came across the idea to roast the peas, which I’ve never seen before. After a little coconut oil, salt, pepper, and 20 minutes in a 450 degree F oven, those babies were sweet and tender, and just the right amount of charred. I consider this a perfect solution for both picky eaters and the “only meat and potatoes” men in our lives, all in one dish. I’ll totally be trying this when beans come into season too.
2. Puree them into pesto:
I’ll let you in on a little secret – I’m a holistic nutritionist who hates green smoothies. There, I said it. I prefer to eat my food instead of drinking it and I’m hungry 20 minutes after drinking one. It just doesn’t work for my body type (not to say it won’t work for yours. Remember, 7 billion diets for 7 billion people). So what was I to do with half a garden of kale all needing to be picked from our garden at once?
Pesto. Since we didn’t have enough basil, it was a perfect opportunity to experiment. I figured my son wouldn’t eat it, and I didn’t want to waste it, so I made him his “noni”, and left half of them plain and the other half with pesto. To my utter shock and amazement, he literally sucked the pesto off of the noodles. Total score. We now eat kale pesto (recipe below!) at least once a week for dinner, and I make huge batches and freeze them in ice cube trays for quick lunches. I love that he’s getting lots of green veggies without me having to hide them in tomato sauce or lasagna. Mix it up with arugula, watercress, or mild spinach for those really picky eaters. I also use it for pizza sauce, since too many tomatoes gives my son a rash around his mouth.
3. Peel them into ribbons:
Our little picky eater won’t eat carrot sticks, and he won’t eat shredded carrots, but he will eat carrots that I peel into thin ribbons! Well, to tell the truth, he eats most of them. That is, until he shoves so many into his mouth that they take too long to chew (see #1 above). The fact that he even eats any is enough for me. When zucchini comes into season, I’ll be using the same technique, and I’ll maybe even get wild and try it with parsnips in the fall.
Here’s the super simple recipe for my secret green sauce:
Kale Pesto Recipe
Prep time: 5 minutes
Serves: 4-6 people
- 2 cloves raw garlic, peeled
- 2 cups kale, washed and stems removed
- 1/2 cup hemp seeds
- 1/4 to 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp real salt (Himalayan pink sea salt, Celtic grey sea salt, Redmond’s Real Salt)
- 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- Start cooking your pasta. Meanwhile, make the pesto
- Put the raw garlic in a food processor. Process until finely chopped.
- Add the kale and hemp seeds. Process for 10 seconds until chopped.
- Slowly drizzle in the olive oil while the processor is running until you reach your desired consistency. Use 1/4 cup of olive oil for thicker pesto, and 1/2 cup for thinner pesto.
- Add salt and pepper, process for another few seconds.
- Drain your cooked pasta.
- Add about 1 tsp per serving to the hot pasta, and mix well.
- Serve with a side salad or some fresh sliced tomato drizzled with olive oil and balsamic vinegar and sprinkled with sea salt.
– substitute pretty much any other nut or seed for the hemp seeds/hearts
– substitute pretty much anything green for the kale, such as spinach, Swiss chard, arugula, watercress, or the classic basil
– substitute garlic scapes for the regular garlic
What’s YOUR favourite way to expand the repertoire of picky eaters?
Ashley Srokosz is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist, meal planning mediator, and founder of lovewhatyoueat.ca, who helps busy mamas avoid spontaneous combustion by solving the never-ending “what’s for dinner?” debate.
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