May 2011

My Picky Eater Recovery

by Sally on May 25, 2011

There’s a story that’s gone down in family history that ends with my mother pouring a glass of chocolate milk over my head. If you know my mother, you are likely lifting your jaw off the floor because she is the kindest, gentlest woman you ever will meet. But every mom has her breaking point, and I had pushed mine to hers.

I was an extremely picky eater as a child. As in, I existed on buttered noodles, fruit, and the occasional Steak-umm or Chicken Rondelet for years. And on this fabled night, I had requested a variety of foods for dinner only to refuse every single one of them once they were prepared. My final request: chocolate milk, which I also rejected. The rest, as they say, is family history.

As an adult, I’ve tried very hard to conquer my finicky ways, with a lot of success. I now love fish and asparagus. I’ve progressed to lukewarm on beans. I’m inching my way towards liking tomatoes. Eating these once-hated foods as an adult has been eye-opening (onions actually do taste good!) and empowering (I can attend any dinner party without fear). Being a mom has motivated me even more to broaden my horizons.

I currently teach an Introduction to Nutrition class and have incorporated the theme of picky eating recovery into my course. Using Jenna Pepper’s great blog, Food With Kid Appeal, we talk about the “mindset model”–of how just thinking about a food in a different way can change your perception of it. So instead of thinking “Tomatoes are so slimy and squishy and I hate them”, I now think “They’re such a beautiful color and so nutritious, and sundried tomatoes in pasta are really yummy”.

In class, I ask each student to take a Picky Eater Pledge: to choose a previously-hated food, try it in different ways over the course of a month, and then write about it.

My own choice this quarter: Brussels sprouts. I tried them steamed and suffered through just one mushy, grayish-green bite. But then I discovered this Brussels Sprouts Salad, and I seriously can’t get enough.

If you want to sign Jenna Pepper’s Picky Eater Pledge, go here.

And if you’ve successfully rediscovered a food you once hated as a child, tell me about it!


Recipe Roundup: The Handheld Edition

by Sally on May 10, 2011

I am not a foodie. I can make the basics–but still require a lot of guidance from cookbooks (plus the occasional “how do I know when this roast chicken is done again?” call to my mom).

So I’m always on the lookout for recipes to broaden my family’s horizons and my abilities in the kitchen. Most weeks, I’m trying at least one thing I’ve ripped from a magazine, found on a blog, or jotted down from a friend. Not everything’s a hit, but I’m going to start featuring recipes here that get a thumbs-ups. Or at least a thumbs-in-the-middle, Henry’s way of telling me he’s not sure but willing to give it another try.

What these three have in common: You can eat all of them sans utensils. And what kid doesn’t like ditching a fork?

Crunchy Chicken Fingers

By far the crunchiest baked chicken I’ve made. I saved time by using a gallon-sized plastic bag to crush the cereal and coat the chicken in it.

This recipe comes from a cookbook called Deliciously Healthy Family Meals, created by the National Institutes of Health as part of a campaign to help kids stay at a healthy weight. The recipe and the rest of the cookbook can be downloaded for free here.

Baked Tofu Sticks

At a recent picnic at a local metro park, my friend put my packed PB&Js to shame by pulling out containers of these tofu sticks (with sushi rice and soy sauce for dipping). Her toddler devoured them, and I was impressed. Though Sam wouldn’t try them, Henry gave them a thumbs-in-the-middle, so I’m hopeful. I like them best after they’ve chilled in the refrigerator for several hours.

You can get the recipe on my friend’s awesome photography blog here.

Black Bean Brownies

I was skeptical about an entire can of black beans pureed into an 8×8 pan of brownies, but was amazed by these. I made them one day when neighbors were over, and all the kids happily gobbled them up, no questions asked. I’m generally not a fan of the sneaky-hidden-vegetables game, but why not add a bunch of fiber and iron to something that typically doesn’t offer much nutrition?

This recipe comes from the Meal Makeover Moms, and you can get it here.

If you’ve tried something great recently or have any tried-and-true recipes, please pass them along–and they might just end up featured here!


Soccer Mom Soapbox

May 6, 2011

I wrote this post as a participant in the Eat, Play, Love blog carnival hosted by Meals Matter and Dairy Council of California to share ideas on positive and fun ways to teach children healthy eating habits. A list of other registered dietitians and moms who are participating in the carnival will be listed at the […]

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