Calling All Kid tested recipes...
My new challenge these days is cooking for a family: Grandparents (low fat - no garlic!), Husband and Wife (healthy low cal, interesting, yet no garlic) and their three small children, ages 3, 7 & 10 (very picky eaters, they freak out at the sight of tomatoes but I could go on forever).
The main concern is what will the kids like... any idea I come up with gets shot down for this reason.
So what are the best kid tested recipes that adults can enjoy as well?
Every kid is different, but in my experience, kids who are picky eaters like their food as separate as possible. What I mean is they are not likely to like casserole type dishes that have many different "mystery ingredients". At least if they are visible.
A couple of suggestions - assemble their own type food - mini (whole wheat) pizzas, fajitas, etc. where there good be items that the kids could use that they like and there could be some more interesting choices for the adults to add.
If the kids like cheese, they are likely to like most vegetables that are topped with melted cheese. The adults could omit some or all of the cheese if they want to be health concious.
Also, I saw on a show recently where they made individual meat loaves in muffin tins and they were "iced" with mashed potatoes and the kids could decorate them with veggies they like to make faces etc.
If they don't like their veggies - you can also sneak some shredded zucchini, carrots, etc. into some homebaked breads or muffins.
Totally agree on the separation of foods for picky eaters--also letting them build their own.
I have also found that picky kids who "help" with cooking dinner are much more likely to try new things. Of course that makes the whole process take at least twice as long, so plan appropriately. It doesn't seem to matter whether they've participated in a particular dish--seems to be more related to being involved--even stemming cherry tomatoes or snapping beans in half made them more likely to try (and eat) things like cedar plank salmon and California rolls. If you decide to ask the kids to help, make sure you remember your real goal is getting them to eat, not developing prep cooks--sometimes they get bored after just a few tomatoes (or whatever).
At any rate, here are some specific kid-friendly dishes:
macaroni and cheese
chicken apple sausage
oven-baked chicken legs
grilled cheese sandwiches
hot dogs (yuck)
breakfast for dinner
roasted veggies (makes them sweeter)
PS I don't know if this would work for you, but I've established with my picky neice that visits with Aunt Louella are adventures--and she willingly tries one bite of everything because it's an adventure. I do, however, make sure there's always something she's going to *like* to fill her up.
I have two year old twins so I feel your pain (although they do like garlic). I only recently started having them eat whatever I eat. Until then I was cooking for them separately and they were eating things like in the previous response exclusively. Those days are over! I do not want to raise picky eaters.
What this does mean, is that I do have to alter what I eat a bit if I want them to eat -- no really spicy dishes primarily.
That said, some favorites include:
Grilled marinated flank steak (especially with a sweetish marinade)
Grilled chicken breast and pork chops
Salmon -- they like all preparations -- especially with a sweet glaze (there's a theme here)
Beans -- baked beans are a favorite
Broccoli, peas, corn
Tomato soup -- but I'd try any pureed veggie soup now that the weather is chilly
Tonight I am feeding them a dish that uses boneless thighs, cannellini beans and stewed tomatoes from epicurious. I love this dish. It's done and ready to be reheated when I get home from work. We'll see how they respond to the sight of the tomatoes (I might fish them out ahead of time...)
I agree; kids should eat what we eat. No it doesn't prevent picky eaters, as I have learned, but saves my sanity. Amazing that my kids who ate *everything* when they were two now give me headaches when they are 10 and 13. But I try not to give in (too much!)
My kids do particularly like
Make your own pizza
LOVE foccacia with rosemary
Chicken soup/chicken pot pie
grilled flank steak
fish, esp. salmon with teriaki sauce (sounds just like above!), but also sole meuniere and crispy cornbreaded catfish
My kids eat what I eat, but I do try to add anything spicey at the end, after I have scopped theirs out. I find they do very well building things, but I don't often cook that way. My kids love things like lentil soup. If it is in pureed soup form for some reason they will eat it. Last night I make a lentil salad (with a simple vinegrette, carrots, braising mix and leeks) and my kids (4 and 2) declared it delicious - amazing. My kids also liked the butternut squash gnocci I made this week. Also, all things roasted or grilled are a hit with my kids. Homemade falafel (lower in fat than you might think)! Because of a wheat allergy, we don't do the typical kid foods, but they survive anyway.
A few things that have really helped hteir eating, esp. my picky and skeptical 4 year old...
We do a CSA. We also have gone to farm events so they know how it grows. The CSA fruit and veggies are super fresh adn taste so much better. My kids won't eat broccoli unless it is fresh from the farm, when it is super sweet. The pears this week are the sweetest things I have ever tasted. And we know, sweet and kids mix well. Also, the fun of getting the boxes each week make them more excited to try new things. Others I know have had the same experiences.
They help me cook from time to time, or look through magazines or online (at real recipes, not kid recipes) and help me pick things out. I don't cook by recipe, but I make something similar with waht I have in the house, and they will try it.
I usually put the veggies on the table first, while I finish cooking the rest of the dinner. Amazingly, since they are hungry the kids eat the veggies! For dinner anything on the grill (ie. burgers, steaks, lamb chops, chicken) Kids like to dip- so I put the sauce on the side when I serve the food, bbq sauce or gravy as a dipping sauce. Oven baked chicken with bacon rolled around it is a hit with everyone. I recently made chicken dipped in Good Seasons Dressing then breadcrumbs and rolled them around asparagus- kids and adults loved it. good luck, it's hard to please everyone.