You've made a fabulous dinner complete with creative, kid-friendly finger foods, and then it happens; the stare down. A tiny voice declares, "Mom, I am not eating that!" as her nose wrinkles. Picky eaters are tough to please, so now it's time to get a little extra creative in the kitchen.
The first trick is to think like a kid! Make food into something weird, silly, or just plain odd. Curiosity will get the best of them, and once they taste a yummy mouthful, they're sure to go back for more. Next, try these additional tips to get your picky eater to gobble down her fruits and veggies without a second thought.
Dry Out Fruits and Vegetables
Dig out the old food dehydrator, or plan ahead to dry fresh produce in the oven on low heat for an extended period of time. This process removes moisture from the food, turning it into something strange and delicious.
Apple slices become crispy like a potato chip and strawberries resemble chewy gummy candies, both familiar textures kids like. Or try green beans! They turn into crunchy sticks, perfect for dipping or initiating a mock sword fight at the dinner table!
Dip and Freeze Fresh Fruit
If your little one throws a fit when he sees fruit, disguise it with a yummy coating and present it during a snack break , rather than meal time.
Start by chopping fresh fruits. Hunks of apple, pineapple, bananas, whole grapes, and berries that require two bites or more to enjoy work perfectly. Now, dip each piece into thick, flavored Greek yogurt. Place the dipped fruit pieces on a cookie sheet lined with wax paper and freeze for 20 minutes. Later, pluck the frozen orbs off the tray and offer them as a cool treat that looks like some sort of ice cream glob!
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Juice Your Fresh Produce
You know juicing is a healthy way for you to get ample amounts of fruits and vegetables into your day, so why not take the same approach with your kiddo?
Choose a sweet blend when your little one asks for a glass of juice. Apples, carrots, and lemon are the perfect starter combination. Plus, the orange color will throw your kid off when it doesn't taste like orange juice! Weird!
Hide Veggies in Pizza
There's one food kids just can't say no to. Pizza. Next time you make a homemade pizza for the family, sneak extra vegetables under the cheese to get your picky eaters to enjoy a serving of vegetables.
The key is finely dicing or chopping the vegetables (so they look like colorful confetti) and layering them onto the sauce before topping with cheese, then pepperoni or a favorite pizza meat. Vegetables that work well include fresh broccoli, onions, olives, mushrooms, sweet bell peppers, or spinach.
Make Meals Look Weird
Finally, if your kiddo just doesn't want to eat anything, you need to switch up the presentation. If it's funny, weird or interesting, they'll poke at it and hopefully take a few bites.
Try baking meatloaf in muffin tins, then frost the individual servings with mashed potatoes tinted neon pink or grass green with food coloring. Drizzle gooey, messy gravy over the top, add two googly eyes made of sugar paste (like you use at Halloween to jazz up baked goods), and show your little one how to dig into the monster with his fingers. Truth: We'd rather deal with a messy kid than a cranky, hungry one!
Mix it up! During your next family dinner, or snack time on the run, think outside the box. Cut sandwiches in shapes with cookie cutters, change the color of milk with a splash of fruit concentrate or turn fork foods into finger foods. Whatever it takes to make your picky eater get the nutrition he needs is fair game. Nobody said mealtime had to be boring!