As every parent knows, the dinner hour can be fraught with friction and frustration - how can you get your picky eater to abandon his "no green foods" rule or make your chatterbox stop talking long enough to take a bite?
Relax, says mother of three, parenting expert and author of "The Big Book of Parenting Solutions," Dr. Michele Borba, who notes that all parents want to feed their kids well and enjoy the time together at the table. "Sometimes, the littlest members of the family establish patterns at mealtime that are difficult to break," Borba says. "Thankfully, there are scores of parents out there who have gone or are going through the same challenges; communities where moms can discuss and, hopefully, provide solutions to the everyday dinner time challenges from picky eaters to table manners."
Other tips for dealing with picky eaters, provided by Borba and registered dietician, Dr. Felicia Stoler include:
- Don't make it a big deal. "Research shows that picky eaters can become even pickier depending on how we respond," Borba says. "It's best to be neutral and calm and hold off on lectures. In fact, the less said about the food, the better."
- Branch out. "The best way to get the pickiest eaters to discover new foods is to send them to a friend or family member's house," Stoler says. "I am amazed at what picky kids will eat at my house and what my kids have tried at other people's homes."
- Turn your kid onto cooking shows. "One mom swore her kid was the world's pickiest eater," Borba says. "One day she caught her daughter watching a cooking show and it was the 'moment' she'd been waiting for. She bought her a small recipe box and showed her daughter how to find recipes on the internet. Each week her daughter found a recipe and encouraged her mom to make it. The best part: she ate it."
- Mix favorites with new tastes. "Children will refuse to try new foods without anything familiar on their plate," Stoler says. "Try filling their plate with their favorite foods and add a small amount of the new food to inch them toward exploring new flavors. My son loves pasta so I just make sure to mix in different vegetables each week to have him try something different. On top of that, traditional pasta sauce has two servings of veggies in every half cup so I always feel confident that he's receiving a wholesome meal."
Finally, trying a family-friendly recipe like Veggie Pizza Cupcakes that's fun to make and eat with the kids will get everyone around the table and asking for seconds.
Veggie Pizza Cupcakes
For meat-lover's cupcakes, substitute cooked ground beef for the veggies. Simply mix it in with the sauce and continue as in recipe.
1 package (12 oz.) refrigerated biscuits (10 biscuits)
1 teaspoon olive oil
1-1/2 cups assorted diced fresh vegetables (red bell pepper, zucchini, summer squash, onion)
1-1/2 cups Traditional Pasta Sauce
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (about 2 oz.)
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Unroll biscuits and press each into a 3-inch round. Evenly press each biscuit in bottom and up sides of each cup in 12-cup muffin pan; chill until ready to fill.
2. Heat olive oil over medium heat in 10-inch skillet and cook vegetables, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes or until tender. Stir in pasta sauce and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer 2 minutes or until slightly reduced.
3. Evenly spoon vegetable mixture into prepared muffin cups. Bake 15 minutes. Evenly sprinkle tops with cheese and bake an additional 5 minutes or until cheese is melted and biscuits are golden. Let stand 5 minutes before serving. Gently remove pizza cups from muffin pan and serve.
Preparation time: 15 Minutes
Cook time: 20 Minutes
Yield: 10 pizza cups
Nutrition Information per serving
Calories 140, Calories From Fat 45, Total Fat 5g, Trans Fat 0g, Cholesterol 5mg, Sodium 460mg, Dietary Fiber 1g, Sugars 5g, Protein 4g, Vitamin A 6 percent, Vitamin C 25 percent, Calcium 4 percent, Iron 6 percent.