Conquering the Fussy Eater, this week we have Taryn Gunn, a mother and pastry chef from Johannesburg South Africa. You can visit her blog at Tea Eats. Taryn writes about what we all love – FOOD. You have to check out her Lunchbox Printables for Kids.
I have a beautiful 5-year-old daughter who is so full of life and spunk and energy. She excels in (almost) everything she does, as does any 5 year old, as she puts her all into every challenge. I can say this is true for almost everything except when it comes to eating healthy food. When I dish up a plate of healthy food she would rather go hungry than give it a try most times. I wouldn’t say she is sensory sensitive, and her educational psychologist agrees with me. She is just good ol’ plain fussy. I am sure she ranks somewhere on the top of the list of the worlds top fussy eaters!
I have decided to try hide that what I am giving her is healthy. I have conjured up recipes that look and taste delicious and she doesn’t know that they are healthy. Muffins and ice lollies, cakes and milkshakes all with super healthy ingredients that are well hidden and perfect for little fussy eaters have come out of my kitchen. Perhaps this may seem like deception, and I guess it is. I will tell her one day when she is old enough to hear it and old enough to choose wisely for herself. Until then – if I left it up to her, she would have a diet of white bread, candy and ice-cream.
Some tips I have for getting your fussy eaters to eat their healthy plate of food:
- Plate presentation -Some kids like their plates to be presented in beautiful (and what can be complicated for mommy) pictures. My daughter doesn’t fall for this trick. However if I serve her food on a plate with divisions and the different elements don’t touch each other, I have a greater chance at feeding her successfully. There are loads of ideas on Pinterest on fancy plate presentation for children. Here are just a few that I liked:
- For fussy eaters, hide the taste of the vegetables with other yummy yet healthy ingredients, like raw honey, nuts if your child doesn’t have a nut allergy, xylitol which is a plant-based sweetener, and even mashed up bananas. I have made many muffins, even chocolate muffins as the cocoa powder in itself is not unhealthy. I blitz together raw oats and nutty wheat flour. If your budget allows, you can replace the nutty wheat with almond or coconut flour. Then use this as your flour base for the muffins. The nutty wheat has a very neutral taste, whereas almond and coconut flours taste like, well almonds and coconut, and if your child doesn’t like these flavours as they can be a bit strong, then stick with the nutty wheat flour. I then add in whatever fruit and veg I have in my kitchen at the time. I have added bananas, carrots, sweet potato, spinach (although this adds colour which might seem fishy to your fussy eater), beetroot, strawberries, blueberries. Sometimes, I even add tea – I like to add either rooibos tea which is a favourite in South Africa and so full of antioxidants, or I add matcha tea which has many health benefits that you can read about here. All these healthy flavours that your child might not like, can be easily hidden in a cake or muffin with the added raw honey (and I emphasize raw!), xylitol or mashed banana. Here are 2 muffin recipes I have made that my kids loved. Click on the images for the recipes:
Slowly introduce new things to the fussy eater’s diet. At the beginning of this year, my daughter was a vegetarian. Not because of any other reason than she just didn’t like meat. I figured out this year that she doesn’t like her food to have strong flavours, so when I make her meat, I only add salt and a small sprinkle of pepper. She now loves steak. And slowly I have added a little bit more salt and pepper. The other night I had a real win with her. She gulped down her food and commented on how yummy it was. It was steak, with crushed potatoes and peas – all very separated on her plate. She loved it. With my potatoes, I have come up with a recipe that has a subtle flavour that Husby and I love and she doesn’t seem to notice. When I boil my potatoes, I add lemongrass, star anise and bay leaves to the water. I call them crushed potatoes because I don’t peel my potatoes for that added fibre and so mashing them doesn’t result in an ultra-smooth mash. When I do mash them, I take the lemongrass, star anise and bay leaves out so there is no evidence. I then add whole butter and full cream milk and some salt to taste. She loves it! By figuring out my child’s sense of taste and slowly introducing one food item at a time, I managed to get my daughter to eat a full plate of food – which is very unusual. Watch your fussy eater, what flavours are they drawn to? And even if it is a sacrifice for you, try to change the whole family’s meal to suit her tastes so she doesn’t feel left out. And then slowly, over months, start adding ingredients and flavours to broaden her taste spectrum. Slowly start adding new food to her plate to increase the variety and nutrients she eats. It is a slow process, and it is a sacrifice for you as parents and even siblings. But it is all worthwhile in the end.
Chin up, mommy! She won’t be 5 forever! You can conquer the fussy eater, and you will miss these days! I hope that I have offered some useful tips and tricks to help you feed your fussy eaters.
Blogger @ www.teaeats.co
Taryn’s Tweet – @Taryn_Gunn
076 838 1418
PO Box 1104, Glenvista, 2058