Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Your Mission: Getting a toddler to eat!

by Mama E

Here are some things to try when your toddler has thrown a weeks worth of meals on the floor. Don’t resort to a diet solely of french fries just yet. It can take a child 40 tastes before they “like” something. In an ideal world, their eating everything you are, but even a good eater will have their quirks. Here are some ideas that might save your last two unfrazzled nerves.

· Eggs are easy for kids to eat. Try them scrambled or hard boiled (a great make-ahead snack). Or make mini crustless quiches in muffin tins. It may sound a little too Martha Stewart-y, but you’ll be able to pull them out of the fridge for a week. Fill them with a bit of chopped spinach, cheese, ham, or any other goodies.

· Meat can be an “on-the-floor” item for kids. But on second thought, it is not surprising – looks weird, weird texture too. Yet every kid loves meatballs. Make your own or buy Wolfe’s Neck Farm meatballs (available in the frozen section at Hannaford’s), a regional product produced by a small farm in Maine. You don’t need to give up on chicken. Try shredding it with a little barbeque sauce. Trader Joe’s has excellent skinless boneless thighs that are easier for kids to chew then chicken breasts.

· I’m not above adding a little sugar or cheese to get a kid to eat veggies. Try a little sautéed spinach with a bit of butter and cheese – they’ll get enough vitamins they can eat french fries the rest of the week. Or mix steamed carrots with apricot jam. A little butter mixed with dill or garlic will make most veggies more palatable. And every kid likes ranch dressing; use it as a dip for steamed green beans.

· Not ready for peanut butter? Try sunflower seed butter, a peanut butter like product that is free of nuts. Or try cream cheese and jelly. Many kids also love hummus or guacamole. Or avoid the sandwich altogether and roll up ham or turkey with plain or chive cream cheese.

· Think outside American cuisine. Quesadillas are another opportunity for hiding products. Mash some black beans and add a layer of cheese, guacamole, salsa, and sour cream. Veggie tempura and edamame are good options when you’re having sushi.

· There are plenty of adults that don’t like fish, but a good flaky fish is very eatable for kids. Try barbeque sauce on wild salmon. Make your own fish sticks or find a brand that isn’t full of fillers. Mix some cod with an egg and breadcrumbs and make tiny fish cakes for your little ones. Of course, serve with ketchup!

· Most kids could live on buttered pasta, but try and push the limits a bit. Make your own easy macaroni and cheese by mixing hot noodles with a log of goat cheese and some canned, diced tomatoes. And if you’re feeling lucky – throw in some spinach too. Some ravioli have thick edges that are hard for kids to bit through – try Barilla’s dried tortellini instead.

When you’re having your Martha Stewart moment, make some muffins. But you don’t need to work totally from scratch. Buy a whole wheat baking mix (try Trader Joe’s) so you can add the sugar to your taste. Fill with bananas and blueberries. Save a few for the week and then pop the rest in the freezer.

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