Have a picky eater? Get creative

| 15 Feb 2012 | 08:44

    Even with the growing number of options in the grocery aisle, many parents find their menus limited by the whims of their children. Preparing and planning a well-balanced approach to your child’s diet may seem daunting, especially for parents with picky eaters to feed. Stephanie Wicke, MS, RD, LDN has developed these tips for creating nutritious meals for picky eaters. Get them involved. “Involve your kids with meal-planning,” said Wicke. “Ask them to help make selections at the store. Include them in meal preparation and serving. Kids will get a sense of pride from their 'creations’ and be more likely to eat something they have helped prepare.” Wicke suggests asking your child to help make a fun snack such as a cooked chicken nugget and fruit kabob with a Greek yogurt and honey dipping sauce. Encourage the kids to place the chicken and fruit on the skewers and mix the yogurt and honey for the sauce. Make it fun. Mealtime is about connecting with your child, and having fun together plays a major role in that process. * For a nutritious and fun meal, try the new line of frozen fully cooked and refrigerated whole grain Disney Lightning McQueen and Mater shaped chicken nuggets from Perdue, inspired by Disney·Pixar’s Cars 2. “Serve these whole grain chicken nuggets and ask the kids to tell you a story about their favorite characters from the movie during mealtime,” says Wicke. * Cut baby carrots into 1/4 pieces and place them as “bumpers” around your child’s plate. Encourage the little ones to eat one carrot stick for every three laps Disney’s Lightning McQueen and Mater make around the “track.” Sneak in nutrition. For those extra-picky kids (and spouses alike), Wicke recommends parents “be sneaky with veggies.” Pureeing vegetables and adding them to spaghetti sauce is one option; another is finely chopping veggies and adding them to favorite dishes, such as macaroni and cheese. Mix it up. If your child refuses to eat fruits, Wicke suggests dressing them up in a smoothie sweetened with honey. Fruit and yogurt smoothies have a very different texture than whole fruits, which is often the main concern for kids. Add in extra nutrients by blending in silken tofu. “It’s practically flavorless,” says Wicke. “They will never know!” Get creative. Most kids love chicken nuggets, so try planning a meal around something they will eat. One way to get vegetables on the plate is to make chicken nugget parmesan. Wicke recommends topping PERDUE(r) chicken nuggets with pureed vegetables and marinara sauce, Italian seasoning and mozzarella; then baking the dish in the oven for several minutes. Limit their choices. Oftentimes, selective eaters can also be persnickety when given too many options. “Offer your kid a choice,” says Wicke, who suggests asking children whether they want, for example, “watermelon, strawberry or both?” Set an example. Most importantly, remember that children model their parents’ behavior, so setting a good example is key to teaching your child healthy eating habits. “Be a role-model for your kids,” says Wicke. “If they see you rejecting certain foods, they are more likely to be picky as well. Let them see you eating a variety of nutritious foods.”