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Feeding Finicky Eaters

Updated on January 3, 2015
Golden delicious apple   (Photo by Cheryl Rogers)
Golden delicious apple (Photo by Cheryl Rogers)

How to Feed Picky Eaters

Many parents are challenged when it comes to feeding vegetables to children past the infant stage. If you've been struggling to incorporate something beyond french fries and pizza sauce into your menus, you've come to the right place! This Hubpage will include some healthy tips for you to try.

But be patient, children like routines. it may take awhile to get used to a different routine.

Carrot sticks are a classic finger food  (Photo by Cheryl Rogers)
Carrot sticks are a classic finger food (Photo by Cheryl Rogers)

Celery Sticks Anyone?

Children do well with finger foods, so why not try celery sticks with cream cheese, peanut butter, or that spray-on cheese? This is a snack your child may enjoy preparing for herself or himself.

My son enjoyed this for a short while. It may not last for ever, but it's good to run with it as long as you can. If they don't like the filling, you can certainly skip it. But I believe it makes it more fun. It's not a bad way to get some protein into that snack, either.

While you are at it, you might experiment with carrot sticks, broccoli florets, and cauliflower to see how far you can get. They can use peanut butter or cream cheese as a dip. Why not serve it when they're playing house? Or video games? Or camping in the yard?

Chicken Soup ... With a Twist

My mother used to make this chicken soup for my daughter April when she was little. She called it sopa, the Spanish word for soup. My mom didn't tell April, but it was packed with lots of hidden nutrients. My mom's secret was a home-made vegetable soup base. You can do the same. Hopefully your children will like the soup as much as my daughter did.

Start with fresh vegetables, if possible, for maximum benefit. Then boil them to get a healthy broth. Go ahead. Don't be afraid to put in some spinach. My mom did. Carrots are good too. I think you can be a bit flexible here, but I would use corn, too, and maybe peas. Skip the broccoli; the taste is too overpowering. Leave it for broccoli cheese soup another day, if you can get away with it. Once you get a good vegetable broth, you can make your chicken soup the way you normally do. And, if you normally don't, here's how I make it.

I'm not one of those precise cooks, so bear with me here. You use the amount of chicken you want based on how many servings you want. Then you can adjust the quantities of everything else. Make sure you have enough broth, too. You don't want the soup to taste bland or watery.

Brown your chicken in a skillet with some onions and garlic. You can omit the onions and garlic if your children don't like them. I think they add great flavor to any dish, but that's my bias. Season the meat with herbs according to your family's tastes. I just love rosemary on poultry. You may want to try that. Or consider using oregano, the old standby. It's a great herb, too.

When the onions are cooked and chicken browned, it's time to add your broth and some cut potatoes and carrots. You also can add some tomato sauce, diced celery and/or peas, plus a bay leaf. If you want it to be chicken and rice soup, you can add the rice now. I like brown rice because it's a whole grain, but if you don't think your crowd will eat it, go for white rice instead.

Now you are ready to let it simmer for awhile. I like to put it on the crockpot at this point and forget about it until mealtime. If you have a hungry crowd, leave it on the stove until it's done, maybe 40 minutes or so. Make sure the ingredients have cooked long enough so the flavors blend together well. The herbs need a bit of time to blend well with the broth. And of course your chicken needs to be cooked through. You can always cut into one of the bigger pieces to check if you are not sure.

Rice goes well in the crockpot, but if you want noodles you'll need to add them to soup about 10 minutes before it's ready. You may want to taste the soup and salt it before serving. You also can enhance the soup with a bit of lemon juice or sour orange squeezed on top. In case you're wondering, that's Cuban style.

Now I admit that may sound like a lot of work for a quick lunch. So I'll let you in on one of my mom's other secrets. She made the broth in large batches and froze smaller portions for future use. This way she could make a quick batch of soup whenever my daughter was getting hungry.

Chip and More Chips

Now I realize chips are not the healthiest food around because of the fat content. But chips are fun to eat and, chances are, your kid likes them. So instead of all those potato chips, why not take advantage of their love of chips to introduce some more vegetables into their diet?

For example, try the sweet potato chip. My son will eat a sweet potato chip. My daughter loves the marshmallows on the sweet potato casserole, but I have not had the same success with my son. I'm glad he'll eat the chip.

Check out the plantain chip, known as mariquitas in Spanish. These are made from green plantains, a relative of the banana I believe. The Spanish serve the plantains green or ripe and fried. The ripe version is called maduros, which means ripe or mature.

You may not have a need to push corn chips if your children eat popcorn, corn on the cob or grits. But if neither of those appeal to them, and they won't eat a serving of creamed corn or buttered corn kernels, you may want to try corn chips and salsa.

Ditto for the apple chips. My kids went for Golden Delicious apples sliced in "boats" or baked with cinnamon, brown sugar and a touch of butter. But the apple chip was quite welcome too.

Now there are even more exotic options out there which you can try. Happy eatin'!

Cherries are great with chocolate fondue   (Photo by Cheryl Rogers)
Cherries are great with chocolate fondue (Photo by Cheryl Rogers)

Encouraging Fresh Fruits and Vegetables

Fruits and vegetables are an important part of our diet, but they may not always be tops on list of foods of foods to eat. You can encourage your children to eat them by building a love for fondue and other tasty dips. Try introducing fondue into your regular menu cycle and begin enticing your family to consume fresh fruits and vegetables.

A tasty cheese fondue can be an easy meal for mom, too, when you buy a ready-made packet from your grocery store. You heat up the cheesy sauce and serve it with celery and carrots, snow peas, broccoli and califlower, apples, and bread, if you wish. You might use this as an opportunity to introduce whole-grain bread.

Chocolate lovers will rejoice at the chance to encourage healthy fruits with a chocolate fondue, which you may also find ready-made at your grocery. Heat and serve with fresh strawberries, cherries, orange slices, apples and, if you wish, angel food cake and marshmallows.

Fruits also are tasty with yogurt or raspberry dips. Strawberries are great with brown or powdered sugar. Experimenting is part of the fun!

A Book about Healthy Eating

Mind What You Eat - how small changes in your diet can make a big difference to your health. by Yana Shumilova & Ilya Fedorov. $9.99 from Smashwords.com


Health issues can be induced or prevented with food we eat. Most of us are, in effect, poisoning ourselves with what our body does not need. The book is written for ordinary people who are concerned about nutrition, but are not nutritionists or health nuts. It gives practical guidelines, ways to implement those in daily life and useful tips on making it smooth and comfortable for the whole family

Pressure Cookers from Amazon

Pressure cookers help you prepare a meal in a fraction of the time. So why not maximize the benefit of beans by cooking them in a pressure cooker, instead of opting for canned.

You can make bean dips to go with corn chips. Or make a healthy home-made soup! Try different combinations and get them to taste "just a sip."

They might like black beans and rice, Spanish bean soup, refried beans or bean with bacon soup. Or maybe backed beans.

Even if they are not big fans, you can try slipping a few beans into a soup they'll eat.

You can also make your own home-made hummus with garbanzo beans cooked in your pressure cooker and blenderized with garlic, tahini, lemon juice, olive oil and whatever you want to add. You can try red peppers. Or even eggplant.

Making Fresh Juice

If you have time, making homemade fruit and vegetables juices is a good way to pack in the nutrients. You may need to experiment to find what works best for your crowd, but it's well worth the effort.

Fresh-squeezed juice has lots of enzymes and nutrients. And when the juice is drunk right after it's squeezed, you'll maximize its benefits.

A green drink is a very healthy alternative, but it's quite possible you'll have to start with something more familiar, like apple juice or grape juice. Start with one they like anyway and they'll probably be pretty receptive. The only problem is they may want fresh-squeezed apple or grape every time!

If your goal is to slip more vegetables into their diet, you'll have to graduate from the regular apple or grape. You may want to start with a carrot or two in the apple juice, or a beet in the grape juice. Both are very flavorful options. Another popular favorite, the tomato juice cocktail, can be made from scratch as well with incredients such as tomato, celery, carrots and/or beets.

If you are stuck on all fruit juices for awhile, you may want to try cantaloupe for its health properties. Boost them with a dash of cinnamon.

My Samson single auger juicer also makes salsa, which is delicious. Use fresh, vine-ripened tomatoes for a fresh taste, and add your choice of garlic, onion, and cilantro or other fresh herbs. Drain off the excess juice and enjoy it!

Hummus is another option.

The single auger doesn't build up a lot of heat like centrifugal machines, so your food is raw.

Juicing 101

Don't Give Up

It may be tiresome to scrape the same vegetables into the garbage can time and time again. But persistence, time and a little creativity can pay off in the long run. In reality, time is on your side. As children grow, they'll be meeting these vegetables again and again on their plates, at friends' homes, restaurants, schools, and even other relatives' homes. So they might as well get used to them!!

You may find those dreaded vegetables are eventually tolerable, although some children are more resistant than others. Be ready for a change in attitude when you learn they've successfully tried it, whether it's at home or somewhere else!

Cheryl Rogers
Cheryl Rogers

About the Author

Hi! I'm Cheryl Rogers and I'm a freelance writer, self publishing assistant, and book coach. As a mom, I know firsthand the struggle involved in encouraging children to eat. I've been on the other end of the game, as well. When I was a child, I was an extremely picky eater too!

In those days, my mom allowed us ONE food we didn't have to eat. Mine was peas. That means I was expected to eat everything else, at least in small quantities.

When I was an adult, I learned to eat a wider variety of foods when I suffered from food allergies. That's a painful way to learn! These days, thanks be to God, I am no longer plagued with food allergies and can enjoy the benefits of a more well-rounded diet.

I enjoy writing on a wide variety of topics, including heath topics for the Central Florida Health News Magazine. I also have several e-titles including Making Choices: Life is Like Acorns, a short Bible study for 5- to 10-year-olds. It teaches things are not always what they seem to be, and it includes photographs of squirrels.

My Bible Camp Mystery series was written especially for boys 10 to 14. The series, suitable for mystery/adventure lovers of all ages, teaches the biblical path to salvation and demonstrates the power of prayer and obedience. It focuses on a former New York gang leader, Chet Harrigan, and his retreats in the Central Florida backwoods with 10- to 16-year-old boys. The books in the series include Lost in the Woods:A Bible Camp Mystery, Alone in the Woods, Bible Camp Mystery #2; and Disaster on the River, Bible Camp Mystery #3.

My short story collection, Just Like Jonah Wail Tales, features eight short stories with modern Jonahs who learn the hard way there's a price to pay when you disobey.

You can learn more about me and my writing and photography at my website, New Christian Books Online Magazine, at http://www.newchristianbookonlinemagazine.com.

My latest venture is the Mentor Me Career Network, an online community dedicated to helping people find careers they can be passionate about. I offer consultations for prospective writers, book/writing coaching, and self publishing assistance. The network offers general career advice as well as focused advice for students and career transitioners. I am currently seeking mentors to work as independent contractors offering their career expertise. Learn more.

© 2014 Cheryl Rogers

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