By Emily Roberts MA, LPC
The holidays can be a perfect opportunity for our little picky eaters to tempt their taste buds and find that they really do enjoy foods that they would have never imagined. My friend’s daughter began eating every vegetable “in the garden” after a friends holiday party. The former starch lover, pasta, bread, and goldfish were her dietary staples; decided to try a tray of bell peppers, carrots, cauliflower, snap peas, and even tomatoes paired with homemade ranch dressing and red pepper hummus. This previously picky eater now asks for salad instead of bread, and steamed vegetables rather than rice when at restaurants. Having a good relationship with different foods at a young age will lead to less nutritional deficiencies, psychological stressors, and illnesses later in life.
Simply not liking a flavor or a particular food can be acceptable while they are young, but as they get older its necessary to try new things. According to nutrition expert, Nicci Micco of Eating Well, “it takes 10 to 15 tries before a kid will actually eat—and like—a new food.” She says when it comes to helping your child to love new foods, you need to be persistent but not pushy, see her blog here Find 8 ways to keep your kid’s diet in a healthy balance.
It’s so important for them to try them while they are young, as aversions overtime don’t just make for picky adults, but more importantly eating the same foods does not allow our brains to be challenged. Our neurotransmitters get used to the proteins (amino acids) that we put in our bodies. Changing up our protein and nutrition game plan with little ones will lead to a better relationship with food in the long run and more brain power now.
Here are some simple suggestions and ideas for introducing new foods:
Some items to keep in stock: inexpensive cookie cutters for all seasons (hearts, Christmas trees, stars, ect)- have them come with you to the craft store and pick out their favorites
Bring them to your level or get on their level. This means do it on their eye level, where they can reach ingredients, either a booster seat for them or take it to their side of the table.
Use cookie cutters to try new foods: cut tofu into shapes and have them help prep for baking it; sandwiches of hearts and stars, fish or chicken too can be cut into shapes. Recently, at World Market, I saw heart shaped egg fryer, adorable!
Make a fruit salad seasonal: Around the holidays, have them go shopping with you for ingredients and pick out the “colors” AKA the fruits: kiwi, green apple, red apple, strawberries, bananas, raspberries, green grapes add some of these together and you get a festive Holiday salad. Same is true for any upcoming holiday, it becomes a learning experience and a journey into new textures and flavors. These can also be placed on skewers
Have them look online with you at recipes and pictures. If you tell a child we are eating tofu or fish, they may squirm and decide right then and there they will not even try it. Why? Because it may sound unappetizing. Why not try showing them pictures of delicious versions and having them help pick based on the pictures and what sounds good to them. If they want mac and cheese, try a homemade version and find one online that has a protein or veggie added.
- 1 English muffin if Gluten Free: GF English Muffin or GF bread
- 1/3 cup Marinara sauce or Basil Pesto (background color)
- 2 slices of mozzarella cheese, sliced as broadly as possible and about 1/4-inch thick : If dairy-free soy cheese or almond cheese
- Chopped olives or Green/Red peppers (as decorations for the tree)
Preheat your oven’s broiler.
Cut the English muffin in half, if necessary, and toast it in a toaster on a medium-low setting.
Place the two toasted English muffin halves on a baking sheet. Spread the marinara sauce or pesto on each muffin.
Cut your cheese slices with a tree-shaped cookie cutter or a cookie cutter of your choice (snowman for winter). Place the cheese shape on top of the marinara sauce.
Have them sprinkle the chopped olives or peppers on top of the cheese tree, as if they are ornaments.
Place the baking sheet in the oven under the broiler. Broil for just a few minutes, watching carefully. You don’t want the cheese to become so melted you don’t recognize the tree shape.
Allow to cool slightly and serve.
Optional: serve the mini pizzas with yellow fruit leather cut into the shapes of stars.
Santa Crackers From Kids Stuff World Blog
Assemble jolly hors d’oeuvres for a holiday party with kids among the guests. Your kids can be little helpers: Use kitchen scissors to cut a pepperoni hat (if vegetarian try soy pepperoni); attach to cracker or gluten free cracker with a dab of ricotta. Spread on a ricotta beard. Add celery slices for mustache and capers for eyes and nose.
Cover bottom of hat with more ricotta for fluffy trim
Reindeer Snacks! From Kid Activities.Com
Prep Time: 0 hour, 5 minutes
- Use any of your favorite trail mix ingredients such as: Cashews, Walnuts, Peanuts, Almonds, Shelled sunflower seeds, Pumpkin seeds, Flax seeds, Chex or cereal of their choice, Pretzels, Raisins, Other dried fruit, Chocolate chips, Carob chips, M&Ms, Yogurt-covered raisins
Combine your choice of the above ingredients, using your desired quantities, in a bowl and mix until evenly combined.
Scoop about one cup of the trail mix into individual sacks, such as cellophane baggies, brown-paper pastry bags or simple burlap sacks you’ve sewn, as pictured. Tie the bags shut with a red or green ribbon.
Optional: Add a tag to each bag that says “reindeer snacks,” perhaps with each child’s name on it, too.
Note: If you’re low on time or not interested in customizing the look and taste of your trail mix, just use a pre-packaged variety.
If your child has an allergy:
There amazing blogs and websites on cooking without gluten, dairy, or other sensitivities. You can also make simple substitutions, such as GF products (crackers, pretzels, bread, and dough), use alternatives to dairy, and also try meatless varieties of soy products or substitute with legumes.
Also try this amazing Gluten free cookie recipe from Special Children
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