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Fun Food Ideas for Picky Kids

Updated on March 3, 2008

Kids can be really finicky about what they eat. They get an idea that they don’t like something, and refuse to even try it…even if you insist they will probably like it. However, this doesn’t mean you have to bend over backwards or give up your favorite foods to make kid-friendly meals—you simply need to make healthy foods fun for kids to eat.

Cooking Kids

A simple thing you can do is to get the kids involved in cooking. Young children can help as long as they are supervised. Three year olds can measure out ingredients, or bring things you need. Four and five year olds will have fun tossing salads. Six year olds can even cut vegetables.

Wacky Pasta

If you tend to make a lot of pasta, try to liven it up by using different shapes and sizes. Kids will get a kick out of funky shaped pasta. If it looks fun, chances are that your kids will eat it. You can still make the sauce you like, and enjoy the creative meal together.

If you add a bit of fun to your meal planning to turn tasty meals into something interesting, your entire family will soon be eating everything on the table. Here are two recipes that are fun, tasty, and full of nutritious foods:

Fruit Parfaits

In less than 30 minutes you can whip up these parfaits that serve six.

Ingredients:

1 large container (about 27 oz.) of plain yogurt

¼ cup sugar

2 tbs. orange zest

1 tsp. ground ginger

¼ tsp. ground cinnamon

2 oranges

2 cups chocolate cookies (or graham crackers), chopped

1 pint fresh strawberries, stemmed and sliced

Directions:

Blend the yogurt, sugar, orange zest, ginger, and cinnamon in a food processor for three minutes, until smooth.

Peel the oranges and remove the pith (the white part). Cut segments from between the membranes over a small bowl to catch the juice. Cut the segments in half, and place in juice.

Sprinkle 2 tbs. of cookie pieces into six different bowls. On top of the cookies, layer the yogurt mixture, strawberries, and orange segments with the juice. Sprinkle on the remaining cookies.

Lentils with Chickpeas and Couscous

You can prepare this in less than thirty minutes. It serves six. Most kids like couscous, and adding lentils and chickpeas will get some protein into the meal.

Ingredients:

1 cup lentils

2 ¾ cups vegetable broth

¼ cup raisins

1 cup couscous

1 -12 oz. jar chunky mild salsa

1 cup cilantro, chopped

3 tbs. tomato paste

1 ½ tsp. ground cumin

1 tbs. olive oil

1 small onion, chopped

1 large carrot, diced

1 -15½ oz. can chickpeas, rinsed and drained

1 tbs. fresh mint, chopped

¼ cup toasted pine nuts

Directions:

Bring the lentils and 6 cups of water to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, and cook uncover for 15 minutes (or until just tender).

Bring 1 ¼ cups of the broth and the raisins to a boil. Stir in the couscous, cover, and remove from ehat.

Food process the salsa, cilantro, tomato paste, and cumin until smooth.

In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and carrot, seasoning with salt and pepper. Cook for five or six minutes, until slightly browned. Add the salsa mixture, remaining broth, and the chickpeas.

Bring this to a boil, then cover and reduce the heat to low. Simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Drain the lentils, and ad them to the chickpea sauce.

Serve the couscous into six bowls, and top with the sauce. Garnish with mint and pine nuts.

Make eating together pleasant.

All parents have different rules for mealtimes, but you should never make finishing a plate of dinner a punishment or force your kids to eat something they really don’t want to eat. If you stay mature about the situation, they will learn from your actions. Definitely encourage them to try new things, but the more you push them to do something they don’t want to do, the more stubborn they will be about not doing it.

When you make mealtimes fun, relaxed, and enjoyable, your kids will be more open to trying new things.

Comments

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    • profile image

      Gram 

      7 years ago

      My 3 picky granddaughters told me it look horrible. Wouldn't touch it. Good luck

    • JanetBJ profile image

      JanetBJ 

      8 years ago

      very good and detailed.

    • JenDobson27 profile image

      JenDobson27 

      8 years ago

      Great ideas! It's so much easier as we get older and lose our taste buds because then pretty much everything tastes good :)

    • JerseyGirl profile image

      JerseyGirl 

      10 years ago from Jersey Shore

      I LOVED your hub. While I have a picky 5 year old daughter at home, I still cant get her to eat her share of veggies, beans or grains. Your Coucous idea is certainly a great one - I also happen to like chick peas.

      My idea - smash them up a bit. The chick peas tend to be a little hard. After smashing them, I have been able to get my daughter to eat them.

      Thanks for opening our eyes! Take care.

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