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When White and Offwhite are the favorite food choice

Looking for some ideas from you experienced parent hounds - Do you have any tricks, disguises or magic spells to get your children to eat vegetables - especially those green things!

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  1. Cheese sauce and ranch dressing!

    1. I make mac-n-cheese sauce by cooking cauliflower in a bit of milk until tender, pureeing the lot, and adding cheese. Part cauliflower and part carrot also works.

      My daughter also loves fruit smoothies. So I cook sliced carrot in the microwave until tender, then puree with banana, milk, and berries.

      Spinach and cheese seems to be a combo that goes down pretty easy - like in spanakopita. I also puree spinach into pizza sauce.

      1. There is a new cookbook called the Sneaky Chef that I just bought through Amazon. It has alot of great ideas for disguising veggies in food for kids. The cauliflower in mac and cheese is one.

        1. My daughter (5) LOVES LOVES LOVES the frozen organic broccoli florets from Costco, we just reheat them and add a pat of butter and she will eat literally a pound of it.

          I prefer fresh broccoli. She complained. I investigated. The big difference is that in the freezing processing the broccoli is blanched. I think they mainly do this for food safety issues and to preserve color, but it has an additional effect -- it de-activates some of the enzymes that give broccoli its somewhat "bitter greens" undertone and enhances the sweetness.

          I guess it is pretty well known that kids palates tend to be overwhelmed more easily than that of older folks so that anything that we can do to keep things squarely in the "sweet" zone is appreciated.

          I now blanch and mostly she is happy. Same thing works with other cruciferous veggies, and even some legumes. I have googled and found that there are studies that find extended boiling to really whack the anti-oxidant content of veggies, but I try to keep the blanch as short as possible and the alternative is 'no veggies' or worse...

          1 Reply
          1. re: renov8r

            Vegetables are blanched before freezing to immediately kill the enzymes in them that cause them to deteriorate. Your fresh broccoli continues to deteriorate since it isn't blanched. Blanching does brighten the color and also makes most vegetables sweeter, not just cruciferous vegetables. Try it with carrot sticks. Wow - like candy!
            It's great for a plate of crudités - keeps them bright, sweet and crisp for much longer on a buffet table. You can cut them a day ahead and they stay beautiful.
            Blanching should take only a few seconds before the veggies are plunged into an ice water bath. Longer than that and you're cooking them.

          2. Not a parent, but in my experience feeding kids vegetables, giving them something to dip them in tends to do the trick. Kids like dipping things, and so if they get fun dipping sauces (even an assortment) they'll eat anything they can dip.

            1 Reply
            1. re: JasmineG

              I agree- kids love dipping! I have a neice and nephew over a lot. They are 3 and 5- and will eat almost anything, so getting them to eat vegatables is not difficult. I do, however, ginve each of them their own "dipping bowl". Whether it is ketchup, gravy, dip , salad dressing or any other condiment, they love it. I use the kind of small dipping bowls used in most Thai restaurants for peanut sauce, etc.. They love it.

            2. pureed vegetables in muffins: zucchini, broccoli work well. Plump raisins do much to disguise any bitterness.

              1. veggie soup... puree'd so there are no visible lumpy bits, served in a toasted bun bowl.

                I am an expert at hiding green stuff in meat loaf and pasta sauces.

                1. A little tangential to the topic, but I have a peculiar younger relative who claims to be on a "white diet," where he only eats white food. E.g., plain rice, vanilla ice cream, decrusted bread, plain pasta.

                  He turned up his nose at a delicious spaghetti supper at a get-together, and instead took an entire loaf of garlic bread, scraped off everything that wasn't white (garlic, cheese), ate about half of it, and threw the rest away. Meanwhile, the nonretarded among us ran out of bread.

                  Some folks just need to knock some sense into their kids. I don't care what kind of developmental issues they have.

                  I think the key to getting kids to eat good foods is to actually make them taste good. There's really no reason for anyone not to like meat, spinach, asparagus, or anything like that. But if you try to force a bunch of canned vegetables down their gullets, I wouldn't expect a favorable opinion of good food to develop.

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: AbdulSheikhMohammed

                    Have a heart, Abdul -- do you actually have kids? I've never served a canned vegetable in my life and my daughter has a strong aversion to many (most!) foods. That's just the way she is. It really seems unrealistic to ream the food down her throat, especially now that she is 13. Do you mean to say that if a child is actually autistic or has some other issue that causes eating problems, they should be somehow forced to eat?

                    1. re: Chowpatty

                      Both of you have a point. I, like Chowpatty, have done everything I can think of to raise a kid who will eat good food. She's still outrageously picky (but at 6 there's still time...)

                      That said, she doesn't get to be rude about it. I would never let her pull that garlic bread trick. If she decides she doesn't like the food, she gets to go politely hungry until we get home.

                      1. re: Chowpatty

                        Believe me, this kid is no artist. I would respect a kids' decision to be a vegetarian or something of that sort, especially if it's based on principles they've developed for themselves.

                        I'm just saying to make good, well-rounded food choices readily available while restricting access to MacDonalds, pop tarts, pizza sticks, etc.

                        I was a picky eater when I was a kid. I just needed to have good food made available to me before I could develop an appreciation for it.

                        1. re: AbdulSheikhMohammed

                          I was *TOLD* that my niece was a picky eater ... until I had her for a few days. In that period we tried sardines, calamari, spinach (raw), and a variety of other unusual food.

                          I placed a huge spinach salad on the table and told her that the salad was really just for grown-ups. I watched her slipping spinach leaves into her mouth ... and enjoying it.

                          On teh last day Mom returned and started to refer to some of the food as "gross". After that, kid would not touch the food.

                          Personally, I think that a lot of the "picky" diet problems can be attributed to letting the child determine what gets served to the family. I have never seen such pickiness among farm children or Amish children where less emphasis is given on choice (or catering to a child's whim).

                      2. re: AbdulSheikhMohammed

                        I think nature/nurture can cut both ways. Some parents don't do a very good job of introducing their kids to good food; some do. The offspring of either set may be picky or non-picky eaters. Obviously kids of parents who don't present good food are more likely to be problem eaters, but it's not universal. My brother and I grew up with the same parents and same excellent food. I always ate almost everything. He ate the brown diet (PB, chicken, bread, Cheerios). Then one day when he was 12 he ordered duck at a restaurant (okay, still brown) and from that point forth he started eating a wide variety of food, and is now a gourmet cook.

                        That said (to stay on topic), I wouldn't touch broccoli until a friend's mom served it to me with mayo as a dip. I used mayo "training wheels" for a year or two, then stopped and never looked back.

                      3. Veggie Pancakes - shred the vegetables into the batter or steam and then puree the vegetables and use to replace some of the liquid in the pancake recipe.

                        Veggie Drop Biscuits - make a dropped biscuit recipe and then stir-in shredded veggies - drop in small amounts onto baking sheet (the small size makes them appealing/finger-foodish).

                        Veggie KaBobs - skewers of various veggies, grilled/broiled, with a teriyaki glaze (sweet flavor).

                        Veggie Muffins - zucchini/pineapple, carrot/raisin, broccoli/applesauce - bake in mini muffin tins.

                        Zuchini Rounds - peel zucchini and thiny slice, spread on a microwave-safe plate in a single layer, dot with butter, sprinkle with parm cheese, cover with plastic wrap and microwave for a minute or two until zucchini is cooked and the cheese melted.

                        Veggie fritters/tempura - my mother used to make a thin bisquick dough (she was big on bisquick) and then dipped veggies into it and fried them for fritters.

                        I agree with the suggestions about having "dippers" - salad dressing, peanut butter (or an Asian peanut sauce), applesauce, yogurt, and the ever-popular ketchup (my little sister loved bananas and cucumbers dipped in ketchup - thankfully her tastes have evolved!). Also, kids like finger-foods and "kid-sized" foods.

                        1. There was actually an article in the L.A. times about this today.
                          The gist was daily offering of the vegetable -- over a 2 week period where the same vegetable was offered every day, kids were shown to increase their liking for the food.

                          Another tactic suggested was pureeing the veggies and adding to sauce like pasta sauce.

                          1. I think that patience is also very useful! I worked at a summer camp where there was one kid who only ate white food. The cook's outlook was that eventually the kid would get hungry enough so he wasn't making anything special. Many of us spent a lot of time sitting with this kid and trying to get him to try new things, or trying to get him to explain what about something he didn't like, so we could offer an alternate suggestion. It was painful at times, and there were plenty of other things I could have been doing, but when he finally tried some things (and even decided he liked pizza!) it was very exciting.
                            So perhaps you just need to keep on trying and offering veggies to your kids, don't give up! Maybe try some new and exciting things, like artichokes or purple carrots, that they may not have tried yet.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: rds246

                              How many of you at that camp took time away from other children to plead with that child, spent time begging him, reasoning with him, trying to get him to eat? Ever occur to y'all how much he was loving the attention? And then he got to watch all of you get so excited when he threw you an occasional bone? Look! Mikey likes it! Your pain was gone!

                              Kids are NOT dumb. Not eating vegetables gets your attention and sometimes that is a reward in itself for a child.
                              Set some basic groundrules. They can't throw it off the plate. They have to at least try it, not eat a big pile of it. It's not fair to sneak it in because you aren't teaching them to accept and eat the basic foods that your family eats. And that's lying anyway.

                              Our compromise was that veggies were in big enough pieces that they were Visible Food Particles that the kids were allowed to pick out. They did. Then they would miss some and accidentally eat a few. Hmm, not so bad. Then they got tired of picking out the offending morsels, so they just ate the stuff. Problem solved.
                              No kid ever died from not eating veggies. They can eat fruit or raisins or something else.

                            2. Even as a child I always enjoyed vegetables. I think that the major reason was that we ALWAYS ate frozen as opposed to canned vegtables in my house. I recall going to a friends for dinner as a preteen and being served those greenish-brown peas (that obviously were from a can). They tasted very different from the sweet bright green ones that I was used to. The same was true for spinach, succotash, french green beans and broccoli specifically. We also NEVER over cooked our veggies therefore they stayed bright and pretty and retained "bite" (over cooked asparagus is absolutely sinful). And as for toppings, salt, pepper and butter were about it. For things like collard and/or mustard greens we'd cook them with fatback or ham hocks though for seasoning.

                              1. There was a great thread about this very topic not long ago. The general consensus was "don't make a plate a battlefield". Most children won't starve to death in the face of good food and will eventually come around. When meals are fun -- EX: broccoli trees with dip-dip, hot dog men, veggie pancakes in airplane shapes -- the pressure is off and food ceases to be a power struggle. One poster had a great story about rating the "yuck" factor of foods with older children and the whole eeeeecccchhhh factor became a funny family gag that persists to this day.

                                Food is not a hill to die on says this mother of thirty-somethings. Good Luck.

                                1. I have one kid who loves broccoli and one who won't even contemplate it. Here are some things that have worked to get him to eat at least some kind of vegetable (he does love fruit):
                                  1. Mr. Carbohydrate will occassionally engage in a taste test: we cut up different colour bell peppers and try blind fold tasting to see who can tell the different colours.
                                  2. He eats some sugar snap peas, mostly for the fun of picking the peas out. Corn on the cob is interesting also for the eating challenge it presents.
                                  3. Pumpkin bread.
                                  4. Yes, those annoying "baby" carrots. We never put more than 3 on his plate and he'll sometimes eat 2 of them!
                                  5. I always cook something for him that he likes, and put one or two of these less offensive vegetables on his plate.
                                  6.Oh and when he was three someone gave him a whistle and we only let him blow it if he ate a vegetable. Are we mean or pathetic??? Don't answer that! Anyway, this strategy worked briefly to give the idea that veg was not actually poisonous.
                                  7. Sometimes I find he is more receptive at lunch than dinner.
                                  8. We went online together and printed up a personlized food guide and turned it into a chart so he could track his healthy choices with check marks. This was interesting for all of us! Check out the Health Canada website for this.

                                  Maybe we are crazy for catering to him, but his dislikes are real and we are not interested in meal time battles. Brother Broccolli has his own food issues which are quite different, so we know some level of personal taste is involved (he loves spicy food, anything Asian and really doesn't like the usual little kid carb and cheese fare. On a daily basis it is actually harder to keep him nourished that the other).

                                  4 Replies
                                  1. re: waver

                                    Wow, those are some really creative approaches. I think it's great that you invest energy into making a potentially contentious situation into a learning opportunity and quality time as well. I hope to remember some of these techniques for when my daughter becomes old enough to object to food verbally instead of chucking it back at me.

                                    1. re: waver

                                      This sounds great. When I was a kid, I had no option but to eat everything on my plate. My mom was not a great cook, but she was sensitive to my likes and dislikes and wouldn't overload me with overcooked peas. But what was there I had to eat. I liked broccoli, carrots and spinach, though.

                                      The worst thing was when it was my older sister's bday. She liked to torture me by requesting fish sticks, peas, and mac 'n cheese. This meant the boxed frozen fish, frozen peas cooked to hell, and boxed mac 'n cheese (Mom was not a gourmet cook). I liked the mac, but would literally choke down the rest of the meal by mixing it all together.

                                      1. re: waver

                                        Every kid is a little bit different. Veggies on the plate rarely work for mine but she loves snatching strips of bell pepper or slices of cucumber off the cutting board. For nearly a year, broccoli was the best thing that ever happened. Now she won't even touch it. Mushrooms and asparagus (two of my favorites) have a huge "yuck" factor but carrots are a welcome snack. One way or another, it all ends up inside her. Some of this is due to just going with the flow. Adults' tastes change, so do kids'.

                                        We have two mealtime rules (in addition to "Get your feet off the chair,"):
                                        1) Take at least 2 bites and
                                        2) "Yuck" must be replaced with "No, thank you. I didn't like that."

                                        1. re: rockycat

                                          Amen to that. Every kid is different. Anyone who thinks you can achieve the same results in all kids using the same tactics has never lived with any children, or is incredibly lucky to have an easygoing youngster.

                                          It is possible to do all the right things, introduce health and variety, keep the junk to a minimum, and not succeed. My 5 y.o. used to be a great eater until he was 3 ish. He has never eaten McD's. Treats are occasional at best, and earned only with a "good" meal. Everything needs to be tried before declining. He is included to the extent possible in meal planning. Yet picky he is. If he doesn't like what's for dinner, he is perfectly willing to go until breakfast with nothing. I.e., "if he's hungry enough he'll eat" does not work. He is never hungry enough. I suppose I could recycle the brussel sprouts and offer them at breakfast, but that seems a bit much.

                                          So I take what I can get. I keep trying. And I hope that this is a phase he will work through.

                                          This is a bit of a rant, I know. It's not aimed at anyone who has offered great suggestions. It's geared toward the people whose "tip" is "just do it my way and things will be fine."

                                      2. Kids obviously have more sensitive palates and more taste buds in general. Some great ideas thus far. I also recommend renaming things to encourage eating, i.e. if you make whole wheat crackers or something, call them biscuits or (gasp!) cookies. Call broccoli, colored cauliflower. Make apple bran muffins, or carrot/morning glory muffins with reduced sugar, and call them cupcakes, and top them with low fat cream cheese blended with a little sugar and vanilla for *frosting.* You can sneak veggies into mashed potatoes, or into chicken pot pie under that lovely crust. Add them into meatloaf or stuffed chicken breasts. Puree broccoli in pesto sauce.

                                        One other fun thing to do is to create scenarios, i.e...the forest-- a lake of dip, broccoli trees, carrot logs, celery rafts, etc. So many more ideas...

                                        1. Somewhere along the line in my parenting career, a light went on. It wasn't about the food they ate, the clothes they chose to wear, the bedtime or whether they got out of the pool. It was about POWER. Kids have very little and they want it. As soon as they learn to say NO and you react, they've got you. Your attention is theirs. And if you start the dance, they're in control.
                                          Fix a special meal, they're the boss. Let them change your entire family routine because it's easier than putting up with a first class hissy-fit, and life changes forever. A kid who can't even talk in complete sentences is king of the hill.
                                          I learned never, ever to ask a question to which the answer could be No. Do you want Milk or Juice? Hmmm. Would you like a Half Glass or a Full Glass? Notice that Coke or NO wasn't a choice. Would you like Broccoli or Green Beans? Do you want to get out of the pool Now or in Five Minutes?
                                          The kids had the power of making choices - but only the choices that I was willing to give them. Fortunately, they were little and it took them a while to figure that out and begin to negotiate for more choices. By then they could make pretty good ones.
                                          Our best was the choice system we used for curfews when they were teenagers. We asked them What time do YOU think you should be home? Darned if they didn't usually give themselves an earlier time than we would have! And they were either home or called that they were running late. Now that they're adults, they tell us that was the meanest thing we ever did. But they were really responsible kids.

                                          4 Replies
                                          1. re: MakingSense

                                            Wow! It's like an on-line Super Nanny episode. My daughter ate literally anything until she turned 3 to 3 1/2, then the pickiness began. I do think it's a control thing. Here are some of my ideas.

                                            Don't overload the plate with stuff you know they won't like, but do serve the same meal to all family members.

                                            Fruit for dessert works wonders for ours. But you don't get dessert unless you eat the meal. She'd eat dirt if dessert was waiting!

                                            I make a taco with 1/2 the ground beef, chopped potatoes and onions and finely chop some zucchini to saute in with the rest. You'd never know there was a green vegetable hiding in there.

                                            1. re: MakingSense

                                              Then there's the "But she's a perfect angel at OUR house" syndrome, ie, the kid saves up the annoying behavior just for you at home.

                                              Last night the neighbors invitied us over at the last minute for a casual dinner. As we went in the house Neighbor Dad (father of a 2 and 4-year old) asks with concern, "But what is (your 5-year-old) going to eat?" I replied that she'd sit down with us and eat what we were served. I held my breath knowing she was going to see some new foods. Darned if she didn't sit down like a well-behaved little person and eat everything on her plate. She even asked permission before having dessert and running off to play. Her friends had eaten frozen pizza and chicken things at a little table in another room.

                                              When I complimented her for her good behavior later on she told me that she wanted the neighbors to see what a good girl she could be.

                                              The behavior is in them, they just don't want Mom and Dad to know they can do it. Keep plugging away and the good behaviors and healthy patterns will sink in. Their friends' parents will see it before you do, though.

                                              1. re: rockycat

                                                HAHA too funny. Yes, the saving up of all annoying behavior for the parents. The best is when the mother-in-law or equally irritating relative assures you that you simply mustn't be seasoning something properly because they just "gobbled" it up in their kitchen.

                                                Most kids tend to eat anything with bechamel sauce. But then, so will I.

                                                1. re: rockycat

                                                  Oh that sounds so familiar. I particularly love the gagging when the in-laws are around. They think she's being tortured!

                                              2. I don't know if this will even work with every child, but I sit with the kids, serve some for the kids, and eat my meal with them. But when I eat my veggies, I make it a production - as if I've just had the best thing in the world, a fun experience, so as they are watching me have such a great time eating my veggies, or 'strange' food, they get curious and try it and are surprised when they like it. This has workded in getting them to eat, and continue liking, Tofu, Hot and Sour, Indian food (the green stuff, red stuff, and yellow stuff) broccoli, peas, pesto and others 'weird'' stuff ...it's fun too. I hope it works.

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: martasiete

                                                  I did all of the above. My kids were more willing to try different foods when they were at a friends house..out of politeness. They would come home and proudly tell me that tasted and liked something that I had offered them and they had refused.

                                                2. One word: fried. Introduce 'em to tempura zucchini, broccoli, sweet potatoes, green pepper strips, onion rings, etc. Call 'em "veggie fries" if you have to. No, it's not the healthiest, but if they'll eat it fried, then you can introduce the non-fried version. I've used this approach on seafood-haters, too--it's amazing how quickly fried oysters can convert a hater!

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: Hungry Celeste

                                                    My kids (age 6 and 3) are both pretty good eaters, although it has been a long time coming with the little one. At first, he would not eat a green vegetable even if it had been cooked by Santa Claus and served by Cookie Monster. But I just kept trying. Everytime we had green beans, I'd offer him one lonely bean. It took probably 18 months before he'd eat one, but he actually does pretty well now, he'll eat green beans, tossed salad, carrots, and other veggies. So I would say, just be patient and keep calmly trying!

                                                    Also, both of my kids are crazy for broccolini. Broccoli they could do without, but this broccolini is right up their alley.

                                                  2. Younger son is upset when his broccoli is cooked - but very happy to dunk raw florets into "wrench" dressing.
                                                    We keep cleaned celery ribs in a bag. He loves to smear peanut butter in a rib, see how many raisins he can stick to the PB, and then eat the "Ants on a Log"

                                                    2 Replies
                                                    1. re: AreBe

                                                      New study;http://www.upi.com/Consumer_Health_Da...
                                                      says that kids who eat garden fresh produce eat twice as much!

                                                      1. re: coralv

                                                        You can't conclude that from a few paragraphs of a news story. That's not even what the news story said.
                                                        It said that children who see their parents eat fruits and vegetables are more likely to eat them. People who have home gardens are more likely to eat fresh fruits and vegetables. Neither of those items is news. Of course, people who don't have home gardens might get their vegetables from other sources.
                                                        Families who eat fruits and vegetables from whatever source are more likely to have children who eat them and if you were to have the results of the entire study, that result would probably be contained in it.
                                                        You might also wonder who paid for this study. Could be a gardening supply company who would issue a press release with this result.
                                                        Not that this is a bad idea, but just pointing out that you have to be skeptical of "studies" and how the results are released in the popular press.

                                                    2. My sister asked her pediatrician about this and the response was there is a serving of vegetables in Spaghetti-Os. Not that she was recommending Spaghetti-Os, but she felt that most children get the nutrition they need even if it is not in the form the parents would prefer. Just keep trying and hopefully the suggestions here will help but your children’s bodies will get the nutrients they need somehow.

                                                      2 Replies
                                                      1. re: bonmann

                                                        Funny how kids can survie when eating what we think is next to nothing. One of my brothers, just a year younger than me, would not eat anything when he was a kid (
                                                        and is still pretty picky as an adult) My mother told me she used to get nervous, as he refused any vegatable. He ate peanut butter, pasta, milk and orange juice, beef and chicken. Doctor told her not to worry. The rest of us kids loved vegatables and fruits. We have lots of stories of how he used to either pass his vegatables undet the table to another brother, or, if he was sitting near the window, open the window and out they's go. I and from a large family, so my parents were too busy to notice all the clandestine activity. His two kids are picky, but his younger daughter lives with him - upstairs from me- and I am happy to report I have been able to make her see the light with lots of foods. Have also, since she was about 8- had her helping me in the kitchen. That also opened up new foods for her.

                                                        1. re: macca

                                                          I'm extra lucky that my two year old likes vegetables. Some of the best advice I ever got was to not make food a power struggle. She eats what she's served (which, at least for dinner, is what my husband and I are eating) and if she doesn't eat it, she doesn't eat it, we don't make a big deal out of it. I know she won't starve. I was a very picky kid and my mom followed a similar approach --I got what the rest of the family was eating and I had to try two bites of anything I was served. The idea of "okay, if you won't eat that you can have a PB and J" never occurred to her or my dad and I think we're better for it.

                                                      2. This thread has made interesting reading. I've never made a big deal out of forcing veggies myself, and my daughter, now 18, has always eaten a balanced, healthy diet. Artichokes, peas, zucchini, leeks, and corn were always big favorites; broccoli and cauliflower were tolerated well enough. I myself recall rejecting spinach until I had it with butter at my friend Tater's house. From then on, I loved it. The other side of the coin is that we non-picky eaters who love everything from soup to nuts also tend to be slightly plump!
                                                        Speaking of soup, a tasty pureed soup might also work, especially with sour cream in it. A nice combination is potatoes, carrots, leeks, and parsley.

                                                        3 Replies
                                                        1. re: Amanita

                                                          The great food writer Laurie Colwin said her rule was that her daughter had to taste everything...but she could spit it out. I have never tried it, but it sounds like a might-work tactic.

                                                          I always ate lots of veg. Broccoli were "trees." Brussels sprouts were tiny baby cabbages. A little PR never hurts. My mother also emphasized the cost of some foods - asparagus, artichokes - saying how expensive and rare they were likely to be at our house. A rarity! Yum. The only veg I hated were lima beans (still do) and raw tomatoes, which grossed me out with their eeewy gelatinousness. All else was consumed. I dunno why, really.

                                                          1. re: Snackish

                                                            that's cool. that combines two things a kid would love: the permission to spit their food out if they wish, and tampering with rare stuff! wow, how fun is that!? I guess that's part of what I meant when I said I'd make a big production about the meal with the food: PR, gestures, faces when I wanted to show how fantastic something was - invariably, they'd try it because they wanted to see what all the fuss was about (not, loud or obnoxious, mind you. Just enough to peak their interest and natural curiousity) and what they might be missing. I always had fun at meal time with the kids. Guess that's the bottom line for kids - if you're having fun, they'll have fun and that is contagious.

                                                            1. re: martasiete

                                                              There's a lovely blog I just discovered devoted to precisely this topic. Perhaps your kids will enjoy following Freddie's vegetable adventures and try some of his mum's recipes.


                                                        2. I can only go by my own upbringing - which I fully intend to implement on my kids after reading so many threads on this topic:
                                                          -no specially prepared foods at meals
                                                          -no snacks
                                                          -no junk in the house
                                                          -exposure, meaning meals out at many different kinds of ethnic restaurants, sometimes take out from these places as well
                                                          -sometimes there isn't a huge meal available, my mom once proferred pb &j, i've never liked it and decided to go hungry instead. my mom's response "well you can't be that hungry."
                                                          -exposure to good natural food sources like natural nut butters.
                                                          -again, no choices from kids that preclude adult preferences. when deciding on the meal, the adult comes first. otherwise you will be eating lots of mac n'cheese.

                                                          the result: i've always liked a variety of foods and will try anything. i'm also a good cook(like most of you.) i had aversions to onions, bell peppers, and mushrooms growing up - my parents did not stop cooking with them, and i was forced to pick them out if i wanted to. eventually that seems like too much of an effort and you get used to the taste. i now cook with onions, mushrooms, and red peppers (bell peppers still taste weird to me but that's about the only thing in the world i can think of that i don't like.)
                                                          sounds harsh, but people REALLY spoil their kids these days. it's one thing to be supportive of their intellectual and emotional development, another is to let them have whatever they want. i don't think most people get that. in NYC, so many times on the subway i would hear a profession mom ask her kid what he wanted for dinner, and it's invariably "mac n' cheese" or chicken nuggets. are they buying the food?? no. are they aware of what eating that food will do to them? no. serve food to them, and let them make the best of it. and stop giving them crackers between meals!

                                                          2 Replies
                                                          1. re: fara

                                                            I compeltely respect that you have a charted course of action for your kids, and it's great that you feel so optimistic and determined. And in principle, I agree with many of your views. But when a child to refuses to eat at all, emotional and intellectual development also come into play. Knowing how diet affects brain development, inadequate nutrition becomes a bigger issue. Allowing them to consume nothing is not being supportive, is it? And there is such a thing as healthy snacks and most nutritionists now recommend a minimum of two snacks a day to sustain healthy glucose levels. It is nice to learn other people's perspectives as we muddle through this process!

                                                            1. re: alex8alot

                                                              I will probably be much more lenient with my kids than I think. However, I think that food pickiness comes from available choice. Kids that are starving don't refuse food because it's not "white," Children should be appreciative that they have food to eat at all. Another example of this as learned behavior -kids that grow up in other countries have different food preferences.Also, if you don't know you have a choice about something, you will not have to decide whether or not to do it. If you've never had mac n'cheese at home, you won't consider asking for it. If mom doesn't give in to what you request for dinner - "i want chicken." well tonight i've bought fish." then you will learn that you need to eat what's given to you. i think essentially it's an issue of parenting. however, i also don't think it's the biggest deal in the world. lots of spoiled kids become great successes.

                                                          2. Roast some califlower florets (about one head broken up) at 425 F till golden and done. Meanwhile, brown onions and garlic in a soup pot (1 medium onion, 3 cloves garlic) in olive oil. When the cauliflower is done, throw it in the pot with the onions and garlic and toss for a few minutes. Pour in one carton chicken broth, salt and pepper, maybe a squeez of lemon juice. Simmer for anout 10-20 minutes. Use and immersion blender or blender to blend til smooth, adding more broth if needed. Good cold or hot.

                                                            Slice one large turnip into quarter inch discs. Top with honey mustard and smaked paprika mixed together. Roast on a baking dish at 475 for 20 minutes.

                                                            Cut parsnips into long strips, toss with garlic and olive oil. Grill on medium till done, or bake at 425 till brown and done.

                                                            All off white veggies!

                                                            The soup can also be made with other veggies. you could roast and process asparagus, broccoli, parsnips, peppers, potatoes, and more!

                                                            1. The easiest? Make a big pot of vegetable soup and puree it. Let them dip bread and eat up the thick, creamy soup (add a little milk if you want). After it's pureed, add meat if you want.

                                                              1 Reply
                                                              1. re: chowser

                                                                This technique has worked well for me. In addition to making pureed veggie soup, I serve it to my kids (ages 4 and 6) in large mugs, not too hot, with those wide straws that are sold in Asian supermarkets for bubble tea. I've found that veggies are so much less intimidating to the kids when they are offered as a beverage! Zucchini pancakes are surprisingly popular, too. Carrots can be camoflauged in them, also.

                                                              2. Of course, there's always the answer Rosanne gave on "Hollywood Suqares".

                                                                Tape them to their mouths.