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Healthy Food Ideas For Finicky Eaters

Updated on September 24, 2015

My husband has been a picky eater since he was little. And though I've heard that tastes change every seven years, that has not been true for him. In the 12 years I've known him, his tastes remain stubbornly narrow. Then I gave birth to his mini-me, and I knew things had to change. So I researched, talked to doctors and experimented and this is what I've come up with so far.

Keep Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Trays in the Fridge for Snacks

Every week, I try to keep some kinds of fresh fruit and vegetables chopped up and ready to eat for snacks. I find if I cut and arrange them in an attractive way, they actually are more likely to get eaten (go figure). Now there are just some fruit and vegetables I know my husband and child won't touch even if they are available, but you can slowly add one new one in at a time so they can at least try it. These foods are absolutely loaded with vitamins and minerals our body needs and if they are getting little bits of them as snacks, you don't have to fight about them so much at meal time. Some people find that if they have something to dip them in, they are more likely to eat veggies and fruit, so try a fruit or veggie dip along with the trays. I also like to throw some cheese cubes on the veggie tray because I like the alternating tastes together.

Melt Velveeta Cheese Over Vegetables

During your main meals, one way to get children (and husbands) to eat vegetables is to smother them in melted Velveeta cheese. The cheese dulls some of the stronger tasting vegetables like broccoli. This was how my mother got me to eat vegetables as a child and it works! If your family likes cheese this is an excellent way to get more veggies in their bodies. If they don't like cheese, maybe some other kind of sauce would go over better. And this method is super easy. All you have to do is melt the cheese in the microwave and stir in some canned veggies. If you prefer to go a less processed route, you can steam some veggies then make your own cheesesauce using the recipe below.

Homemade Cheesesauce

  • 1 stick Margarine
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 7 slices American Flat Cheese
  1. Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat.
  2. Add flour and whisk until mixed well. Heat to boiling, then stir in milk. Continue to whisk until the sauce thickens.
  3. When desired consistency is reached, add cheese, one slice at a time until all of it is melted and blended into sauce. More milk may be added for thinning if needed.
Cook time: 20 min
Ready in: 20 min
Yields: Approximately five cups of sauce.
Cast your vote for Homemade Cheesesauce

Add Pureed Vegetables To Pasta Sauce

If your family are big pizza or spaghetti eaters, this is a great way to add some nutrition in without altering the taste. Just steam some veggies and then puree them in a blender or food processor and mix them into the sauce. You do have to be careful which vegetables to use and how much to add so you don't mess with the taste. Kate Morin wrote this great article about how to sneak veggies into all kinds of different foods. You can find that article below.

Provide Options

This has been a lifesaver with my five-year-old. I guess as long as he feels like he's in control, he will comply. I always make two vegetables for dinner and then tell him he has to pick one to eat. That way, at least he gets to still reject one and feel in control. But he still gets vegetables into his body! This really doesn't work as well with my husband. For him, I just always provide a vegetable I know he will tolerate.

Try Different Textures

Steamed vegetables taste totally different to me than boiled or raw. Sometimes, people don't like certain foods because of the way they are prepared. For example, I have always hated asparagus. But all I had ever had of it was partly boiled and still a little crunchy. My sister-in-law tossed some with olive oil and sprinkled it with Parmesan cheese, then baked it in the oven and I loved it! Interestingly, now that I have had that so often, I think any asparagus tastes good no matter how its cooked! My son does not like corn on the cob, but if you give him pieces of sweet corn off the cob, he likes it. A little experimentation can tell you what your families preferences are.

If All Else Fails, Juice It

I say if all else fails because many of the commercial fruit and vegetable juices you can buy have a lot of sugar added to them for taste. My pediatrician would have me water these down when I gave them to my son. If you can afford and have time to juice your own fruit and veggies this can actually be a good option for the incredibly picky. Nowadays there are all kinds of good juice recipes. This is also a good way to have nutrition on the go.

And Don't Forget A Good Multivitamin

Although there is much debate about the need or real benefit in taking a multivitamin, all three of our doctor's have recommended it, especially our son's doctor. Though supplements have not proved to ward off cancer as well as getting your vitamins from food, they do provide necessary things to keep our body healthy, in particular for those people who don't eat very balanced meals. It is important, however, to look for a vitamin that has been tested for quality control by the National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) or the United States Pharmacopeia (USP). Have a hard time swallowing a pill? Don't worry, there are gummy and chewable adult multivitamins available.

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    • Dinner Recipes profile image

      Dinner Recipes 

      3 years ago

      Wow! Nice ideas! Especially Homemade Cheesesauce sounds nice. And yes, that is right, the debate about vitamin supplements is long as... vitamin supplements. In my opinion people should use only carefully selected pills.

    • Niecey Doc profile image

      Niecey Docherty 

      3 years ago from Firth, Nebraska

      My brother won't eat anything that never had a pulse and I am a vegetarian. Christmas and thanksgiving meals are a challenge! We do things like pizzas (choose your toppings), fried veg like pakora, cheese based foods, rice based foods.

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