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Ideas for picky teens

I'm making meals in frozen portions for a friend and two teen daughters who recently lost their mom -- a good friend of mine.

The girls are a little on the picky side. Nothing too "weird," as dad put it. They like fairly homogeneous dishes like casseroles, but without too many individual ingredients. Dad says if there's, for example, chunks of zucchini or red pepper in a pasta dish, they normally pick it out or eat around it.

I'd like to do something nutritious and not insanely fatty and starchy. They like baked pasta casseroles, so I was planning on one meal being a baked ziti, using a very high-vegetable sauce (pureed, of course) and one of those multigrain/legume pastas like Barilla Plus that don't taste like whole wheat pasta.

Any other suggestions? Something that freezes well in individual servings is important. Help! I've never really cooked for particular eaters before.

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  1. I can attest to the fact that a food blender (not a food processor) is a fantastic tool for getting nutritional ingredients into foods without ever tipping your hand. A red sauce in a pasta casserole (and some white sauces for that matter) that include vegetables that have been liquified as to be unrecognizable in the sauce (as long as there isn't so much of it that the sauce becomes the liquified vegetable itself) kept my kids (and now their kids) healthy without their knowing about it. You'd be surprised how much broccoli a kid will eat when he/she doesn't see it.

    1. Chicken soup, pull out the chicken pieces and puree the veggies in the broth, then put the chicken back in. Even now that I'm older and don't mind seeing the vegetables in my soup, I still prefer it that way - more flavor in each bite.

      1. Hopefully, dad soon learns how to cook. Or they do.

        1. Firstly, condolences on losing your friend. Secondly, this board and others abound with the old puree = lying debate, of which I am NOT a fan. During this awful and awkward time, the girls and their dad (and you!) will need to look after themselves both physically and emotionally, so I say any way you can get fruit/veg into them justifies the means.

          My fave "Hide the veggie" dish is meatloaf. Zucchini grates down to pretty much nothing, as does carrot, celery, mushrooms.. all manner of veggies.

          Will they eat soup?? Maybe a big pot of pumpkin soup or minestrone will do the trick? Warming and nourishing at the same time.

          Good luck and again, my condolences to you all.

          1 Reply
          1. How about a strata with whole wheat tortillas, shredded (white meat) chicken, low-fat cheese, beans, salsa on the side... bake and cut into portions before freezing.

            Crockpot chili made with ground lean turkey and whatever else, beans if desired. Easy to freeze in ziploc bag portions. Send with some cornbread squares to freeze and have alongside as well.

            Teriyaki Stirfry with some brown rice (could supply TJ's frozen jasmine rice that comes in individual portions)

            Stuffed potatoes - puree in some cauliflower, low fat cheese, maybe some broccoli finely chopped... maybe

            Baked Oatmeal - great for quick breakfasts just nuke in microwave

            Roast a Chicken with some potatoes, carrots, celery, etc. (i do a riff on Ina's Perfect Chicken that's always really well-received and fall off the bone tender)

            Prepare but keep separate fixins' for taco/burrito bar with whole wheat tortillas

            Chicken Kabobs - find out what they will eat that you can string on besides chicken