Have you ever seen a toddler that only wants to eat one or two things? I try really hard to make sure he is eating a balanced diet and one that is diverse in tastes. It's my responsibility as a parent to make sure that my kids get adequate nutrition and that they develop a healthy relationship with food. It's a job I take seriously. And one of the many frustrations is trying to negotiate with a person who can't fully comprehend what you're asking of them or why.
I've found a few ways to cheat the system, so to speak. For example: my son loves popsicles. So, I'll tell him that we will get half of a popsicle if he finishes all his chicken. He's old enough now that this works - but when he was younger, I would trick him into eating by making a game out of it. If he seemed disinterested in the food, a surefire way to get him gobbling it up was to try to eat it myself. He'd shriek like he was in pain - I was stealing food from him! And when he screamed, I'd shove the fork in his mouth. He'd giggle and chew it up. It turned into a game of sorts. Part of me suspects he was more interested in the play than the food - but hey! Whatever works.
Do you remember my friend Maria? She's got a great skill at hiding vegetables in food that her son, Kash, really enjoys. During one of Shep's recent "hunger strikes", I texted her in desperation. She sent me a few of her go-to recipes, and I'm going to share them with you! In true friend-to-friend fashion, there aren't real measurements here.
Butternut Squash Mac & Cheese
Cut a butternut squash in half lengthwise. Scoop out seeds and place the squash insides-up on a sheet pan. Add a few pats of butter and bake at 400F for about an hour. You're aiming for soft enough to mash or blend.
While that's cooking, boil water for macaroni noodles. Blend the squash with a cup or so of milk and a little salt. Once it's smooth, transfer to a pot and add cheese to taste. Mix that in with noodles - and for an extra cheesy-treat, put it into a baking dish, sprinkle with cheese, and bake it until toasted and melty. You may need more milk or cheese depending on the size of the squash.
Hidden Veggie Chicken Nuggets
Grab a pound of chicken - Maria likes to use half breast and half thigh, so the nuggets don't get too dry. Grind the chicken in a blender or food processors. Add it to a mixing bowl with one large egg, 1/4 cup of breadcrumbs, minced garlic and some dried herbs (oregano and basil are yummy). Shred two carrots and a zucchini in the food processor or with a cheese grater. Add to the meat and mix everything together.
Form the mix into medium-ish balls and put them onto a freezer/wax paper lined baking sheet. Press into nugget shape. Freeze them for about an hour.
When they're firm, dredge them in a beaten egg, then more bread crumbs. Then pan fry - or bake, if you want to be super healthy.
How have you tricked your kids into eating healthy food? Do you have a toddler that loves their veggies? Tell me all your tricks @pi3sugarpi3.