Today I have a guest post from Nan of Eat Breathe Blog. Nan is a licensed nutritionist, personal trainer, and a single mom. She believes that a healthy lifestyle starts at childhood, and the easiest way to get into a routine is to be excited about fitness and eating healthy!
The thing to remember when cooking for children is that they are very much creatures of habit who eschew exotic ingredients. If it has cheese in it, you’re usually okay, but if there are vegetables or strange textures, good luck getting them to eat it. Even though my son is a pretty good eater, I frequently have to substitute something in the menu in order to tempt him. This adds to my already high grocery expenses, necessitating the liberal use of coupons and hunting through the value bins.
However, if you’re anything like me, eating macaroni and cheese, chicken, and pizza gets old, and it was my dream to be able to prepare home-cooked and nutritious meals for my child. I was disappointed at his lack of enthusiasm, but I soon learned to disguise my “grown-up” dishes as something that he would find palatable, and by doing so, have expanded my son’s taste buds quite a bit.
For example, while a child will turn their nose up and grunt with disgust over shish kabobs, you can remove the meat and vegetables from the skewer and arrange them on a plate with melted cheese on top and violà, you have a meal that is more to their liking. If they question why your food is on a skewer while theirs is not, you can skewer some fruit and let them eat that instead.
Another example is spinach, rarely a crowd-pleaser with children. Rather than heaping it into an unappetizing pile on their plate and telling them to dig in while relating stories about Popeye, why not use it as a pizza topping, or whip it into a spinach soufflé? While the soufflé may still be questioned by a picky eater, they are more likely to try that than they ever would be to eat the vegetable by itself.
You may never be able to convince your child to try escargot, and it is equally unlikely that they will request stuffed Portobello mushrooms to go with their steak tartare. However, it is my opinion that you are doing your children (and yourself!) a favor when you expose them to recipes and ingredients that they wouldn’t have otherwise tried. In doing so, you are teaching them the value of healthy foods and other cultures, and saving money and the headache of dueling menus as well.