Good Eater Secrets
As promised, today is the first "Good Eater Secrets" post!
Good Eater Secrets is a series of questions
designed to investigate the "secrets" behind children who are good,
healthy eaters and the moms (and dads!) that feed them! The purpose of this
search is to help both parents of "picky eaters" and speech
therapists who work with "picky eaters" in homecare and in the
classroom to know not only how to feed the "picky eaters" in
their lives differently, but also what to feed them!
My first secret mom is Emily, my dear friend of over 25 years. She is
the mother of two little boys, as well as an experienced occupational therapist
currently working with school-aged children.
She is one of the most creative women I know and never ceases to amaze
me with her innovative ideas and resourceful thinking. I hope you find her good
eater secrets inspiring and her recipe for kale chips enticing! ENJOY!
In your opinion, are your children good eaters? How old
I would say that overall both of my kids (ages 5 and 8) are good
eaters. They seem to go through phases with their eating, though, in that at
times they go crazy for a particular food and if I let them, they'd eat it for
breakfast, lunch and dinner for a week at a time or longer. I think that's
normal for kids, though, and mine have been doing it ever since they were
Come to think of it, I do the same thing. For example, recently I
can't seem to get enough of Greek yogurt with fresh peaches. But I know that in
a week or two I will probably not even want to look at Greek yogurt or peaches
for a while.
Have they always been good eaters? Even as babies?
I think that my children were almost better eaters as babies and
toddlers then they are now, in that they seemed to be more open to trying new
things in those younger years. I remember both of them being so excited to eat
what my husband and I were eating (sometimes before they were physically ready
to eat it themselves) that they would grab it from our plates.
They'd gobble up all types of fruits and vegetables, chicken and
fish, even stronger tasting fish like salmon without hesitation. Now that they
are older, they seem to be a little more inhibited about trying new foods then
they used to be.
Please list five of your child's favorite foods.
Lasagna (or pasta of any kind, really), carrots, cheese, pork, and
Please list 5 of your child's non-preferred foods.
Fish (except for shellfish), milk, squash, mushrooms, and cauliflower.
Do you cook/bake with
your children? If so, how often (e.g., once a week, once a day)?
Yes, I both bake and cook with my kids. The amount varies, but
it's usually at least once a week; more often during the summer when I'm home
What type of meals/dishes do you make with them?
We'll make things like pizza dough and then assemble the pizza
with whatever toppings and/ or sauce they want & bake them. We often make pancakes,
smoothies, cookies or brownies, or really any baked good; frittatas (or "egg
pizzas" as my kids call them), fruit salad, and kale chips.
Do your children like tasting new foods?
Both of them do, but right now, my 5-year-old is more eager and
excited to try new foods than my 8-year-old.
If they refuse to taste/eat any food, what do you do?
If they say they're not going to try the new food, I encourage
them to take just a small bite, or if it's a liquid, I will coat a spoon with
it and have them just take a lick. I reassure them that if they don't like it,
they don't have to eat the whole item of food, but they might discover they
Then I remind them of all the times before that they were hesitant
to try a specific food and found out they loved it, and they say, "Oh yeah! I
remember that." Also, speaking from my own personal experience with them helps.
For example, recently, when my oldest child was hesitant to try
broccoli rabe, I told him how for many years I was hesitant to try sushi. Then
one day a friend suggested we go out for sushi and I gave it a try and now it
is one of my favorite foods!
After they try the food, whether they like it or not, I always
praise them for trying it. If they don't like the food, I remind them that they
might not like it now, but as they get older, they might find out they like it,
so they should try it again another time.
Do you encourage them to taste and try new foods, if so how?
Please describe in detail.
I kind of answered this above, but I would also add that I try to
set a good example for my kids by eating a wide variety of foods myself. I also
think as parents, we can set the tone for our own children's attitudes toward
For example, whenever one of my boys comes up to me and says,
"Mmm-- that smells good! Can I have a
taste?" I will always say yes and let
them try. You won't hear me saying, "Well, it has spinach in it, so you
probably won't like it," or, "it has mushrooms in it and I know you don't like
Several months ago, I made kale chips for the first time. Both of
my sons tried them, but only my youngest liked them. A few weeks later, I made
them again and my oldest tried them again and loved them. Now he asks me to
make them for him!
My youngest is also a big "dipper"-- he loves to dip carrots,
celery, crackers and chicken into hummus, yogurt dips and Laughing Cow cheese--
anything dippable is a big hit with him. So when trying a new food, I might
have him just take a little "dip" of the food.
Fun presentation also helps. For example, on a recent shopping
trip, a woman was offering cheese samples on toothpicks. My boys took several
samples and said they liked the cheese, so I bought some. When we got home, I cubed the cheese and put
it on toothpicks, and they thought it was fun to eat the cheese like that. I
also use differently-shaped cookie cutters to cut out sandwiches or pieces of fruit.
Food should be fun!
Another way I encourage my boys to try new fruits and veggies is
through our trips to the grocery store or farmer's market. When we go, they
take turns getting to pick one veggie or fruit that we have never tried before.
We have tried kumquats, prickly pears, fennel, Jerusalem artichokes, all kinds
of different fruits and vegetables, some that even I had never tried
They get excited because they get to choose what we are all going
to try. Also, 2 years ago, we started to have a small vegetable and herb garden
in our yard. In the spring, the boys get to decide what kinds of veggies we are
going to plant, and then help water them, and pick them when they're ready.
get so excited when they see the vegetables beginning to grow, and I think they
are more inclined to eat them because they feel like it is something they
In the space below, please share
a simple, kid-friendly recipe/meal/dish/dessert/sandwich/beverage that you make
either for or with your children that they enjoy
- 3-4 handfuls
of kale (I buy a bag of pre-washed kale to reduce prep time)
- 1 tbs. olive
- 1 tsp. kosher
- ¼ tsp. garlic
- Preheat oven
to 375 degrees.
- If you have
whole kale leaves, wash them well in cold water. *Make sure you dry the
kale very thoroughly! Wet kale will make a soggy chip-- we are going
for crunch here! Have the kids help
you tear the kale into bite-sized pieces (about 1 ½ inches-- they'll shrink
some when they bake).
- Place the kale
in a large jelly roll pan.
- Toss the kale
with olive oil, then salt, then garlic powder (if desired).
- Place the kale
in preheated oven and bake for 7-10 minutes. Stay with them, because
depending upon your open, they may cook faster, or take a little longer,
but you don't want burnt kale chips!
After 7 minutes, check them every minute or so. When they look like they are getting
brown, shake the pan and let them cook for about another minute. If you're not sure if they're done yet,
remove a test chip and give it a try-- it should be crispy and make a nice
"crunch" in your mouth.
- Kale chips are
best enjoyed right away! They lose their crunch when stored, or if they
sit out too long on a humid day, so gobble them up when they come out of
If you would
like to be a good eater secret mom or dad, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org!