Creativity and Planning: How to work through the “choosiness” of kids
Creativity and planning are the keys when it comes to feeding two sets of twins real food, consistently at every meal and every snack. Subtle changes in how I combine foods, sequence foods throughout the day, and present them based on their mood make a big difference. And, even with all of that sometimes that just doesn’t work.
The boys assert their preferences by leaving lunch behind at school or eating around something at dinner. But, the girls are a little more direct.
Here is Annabelle’s Friday morning reaction starting from the left and ending in the right corner. This all happened within a two-minute block of time and it was kind of cute.
She was not happy when I put her in her breakfast chair because she wanted to play with the boys before they left for school. I had a really simple breakfast of scrambled eggs, sauerkraut, and a smoothie planned for her. But, after I saw her reaction, I added watermelon. She LOVES watermelon! That did the trick. Once she spotted it, all bets were off, she ate her whole breakfast! Feeding Tip #1 add something colorful and bright that they absolutely love to the plate. Maybe at first, that’s all they eat. But at least it is there with the other foods and eventually, they will try the others.
Feeding Tip #2, sneak it in where you can and they will receive all of the nutrients and flavors. Again, here is where my Vitamix was hands down the best kitchen investment ever! It has paid for itself over and over with all of the nutrition that my family receives from the ingredients that I can pack inside this little dream blender. Every morning the kids have a smoothie. I pack it full of raw veggies, greens, seeds, and nuts–A FIBER POWERHOUSE. The key is to add just enough sweet to spark their tastebuds but not overly sweet to leave them seeking more of that same sugary taste. Typically, I would add pineapple or banana, but not both. Sometimes I add a couple of dates or dried figs.
You can sneak in savory too! Soups and pasta sauces! The blender tip is hands down your greatest solution! Our pasta sauce typically includes bell peppers, onions, garlic, carrots, greens, and tomatoes. In the winter sometimes I add winter squash, which makes it a little more hearty. The last time I made the sauce I steamed all of the veggies instead of roasting them with olive oil. I added extra anchovies and ground pork to the meatballs. That enhanced the flavor and lightened up the sauce. I could go on… can you tell? I’ll save that for another post.
Feeding Tip #3 make a tapas plate for days when there will be a morning snack or when I know everyone will be tired at lunch. I plan out the kids’ lunches and family dinners in advance using chalkboards. When I plan the menus I consider many things. For tip #3, the main thing that would require this type of lunch is if the kids’ have a morning snack or a long morning where they will be tired at lunch. Every Mom knows that snacking is a sure-fire way to guarantee a less than optimal lunch appetite. Also, if they are tired/crabby (they usually go together), patience with trying new/complex things is not there. One thing with my kids is that no matter how many reminders they receive, their fingers are still their preferred utensil, hence a tapas plate. Everything is simple and fun to eat with their fingers. Annabelle’s plate has raw sharp cheddar cheese, plantain chips, black olives, apples with cinnamon and real salt, fermented pickles and onions, and cherry tomatoes. Each selection has a purpose and serves both taste and health.
Tip #4 Take advantage of “hungry times” of the day.
Is this sneaky? Nope! I don’t think so! The girls are typically hungry and ready to eat as soon as they get up from their nap. So, I always build their little snack bowl around veggies, nuts, and seeds and then add a couple of sweet sparks of flavor. The bowl above has a couple of leaves of raw Swiss chard, steamed broccoli with real salt, raw pumpkin seeds, pecans, a couple of raisins, and an apricot stuffed with a pecan. I usually add salt to the kids’ veggies and fruit in the summer because it encourages better hydration.
Breakfast is another “hungry time” of day and can easily be boosted with flavor and nutrition! This was one of the girls’ breakfast bowls. Thawed organic strawberries, avocado, raw sharp cheddar cheese, hemp seeds, and raw sunflower seeds.
Tip #5 Have a “kid’s night” in your meal plan.
I am writing up our lunch and dinner meal plans today. I always include the boys and now the girls a bit, in the planning process. They have a kid’s night in every plan. They can choose a protein, vegetable, and fruit to have on their night. This was Cameron’s choice… Toasted coconut chips with cinnamon and salt, banana, hemp seeds, fresh blueberries, sunflower seeds, and raw milk yogurt. He chose a side of beets and tomatoes for vegetable. Great combo!
Just another quick recipe… The toasted coconut chips also can be made into a kind of cereal and served with milk of your choice. The girls and Cameron LOVE Trader Joe’s coconut milk. It has no added gums and comes in a BPA-free can.
The cereal has toasted coconut chips, pumpkin seeds, apples, cinnamon, and a side of liverwurst. It's flavorful and is WAY better for you than a bowl of traditional cereal.
Regardless of your strategies or tricks, real food is always the best choice. I always remember that the health of my kid's guts is negatively affected by processed foods. Every bite counts toward building a healthy microbiome. That way, when they are away from me and they make the choice to try something less than good for them, their bodies can better tolerate the insult. But, I am certainly not going to be the one to give it to them. After all, why would I? There are too many ways to prepare fresh, healthy, nutrient-dense foods!