Picky Eaters? The Sneaky Chef Offers Tips to Get Your Kids to Try Healthy Foods
The trick is to add the superfoods invisibly. Lapine urges you to try these Sneaky Chef tips to get your picky eaters to eat healthy meals:
- 1. Don't plead, beg, threaten or bribe. This will only result in a power struggle. The less you show them that you care about what they are eating, the more likely they are to try the healthy foods you secretly want them to eat.
- 2. Shh! Don't tell them it's healthy! Defying some sort of logic, when children know something is good for them, they think it can't possibly taste good, even if it really does.
- 3. Hide healthy foods in kids' favorite meals. Puree cauliflower and zucchini and mix them into the cheese sauce for mac 'n' cheese, or puree yams and carrots and mix them into tomato sauce served over pasta.
- 4. Borrow smart packaging concepts from the food manufacturers. Let kids make up a funny new name for a vegetable or serve veggies on a skewer, in an ice cream cone or on toothpicks with fun dips. Make eating a new vegetable an adventure by serving a whole artichoke and allowing kids to peel the leaves and scrape the flesh against their teeth. Serve fresh green peas in the shell and let your children pick the sweet peas out of the pod, or cut open a fresh pomegranate and let them pick out each juicy seed. Hint: always serve the new vegetable alone, with no competition from a favorite, less healthy food, and serve it to kids when they are hungriest.
RECIPE: The Sneaky Chef's Mac N Cheese Muffins with Hidden Orange Puree
A handy lunch box alternative for kids who are tired of sandwiches or just won't eat them, The Sneaky Chef mac 'n' cheese formula is tried and true. This version becomes a hand-held meal that can be popped into kids' lunch boxes. No fork is needed -- eat them just like a muffin. (For some reason, children prefer to give up flatware whenever they can, to eat with their hands.) Kids don't mind them cold, so make ahead and freeze, then take them out and put into the fridge the night before.
Makes 8 muffins
- 4 large eggs
- 1 cup Orange Puree (see make-ahead recipe below)
- 2 cups low-fat shredded cheese
- 2 cups cooked macaroni
- Salt and pepper to taste
Oven-baked method: Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a muffin tin with paper liners. Lightly spray liners with oil.
In a mixing bowl, whisk the eggs and Orange Puree. Mix in the macaroni and ¾ cup of the cheese. Divide the mixture evenly among the 8 muffin cups. Top each with about 1 tablespoon of cheese and bake for 20 to 22 minutes, until cheese is lightly browned and bubbly on top. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Microwave method: Line 8 microwave-safe ramekins or custard cups with paper muffin liners. Lightly spray liners with oil.
In a mixing bowl, whisk the eggs and Orange Puree. Mix in the macaroni and ¾ cup of the cheese. Divide the mixture evenly among the 8 lined ramekins. Top each with about 1 tablespoon of cheese and microwave on high for 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
The Sneaky Chef Orange Puree
The following make-ahead recipe blends excellently in pizza, pasta and cheese sauces, bringing a big nutritional boost to meals that usually aren't thought of as health foods.
- 1 medium sweet potato or yam, peeled and rough chopped
- 3 medium to large carrots, peeled and sliced into thick chunks
- 2 to 3 tablespoons water
Makes about 2 cups of puree. Store in refrigerator up to 3 days, or freeze in ¼ cup portions in plastic containers.
Missy Chase Lapine is the author of "Sneaky Fitness: Fun, Foolproof Ways to Slip Fitness Into Your Child's Everyday Life."
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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.