If you are a regular reader of my blog, you will know we have a HOUSE FULL of fussy eaters! At the moment, one of the things I am working on is expanding the dishes my toddler is prepared to eat. Currently there are only a handful of different foods on rotation.
If you have never had a fusspot child, you may think i somehow 'created' this problem for myself but i can assure you i eat EVERYTHING and at weaning I've always followed all the principles and current thinking as stated in this guide on the NHS - but it's always been clear that all my children have their own very strong views on what food they do and don't like. I'm not one of those mums who can stand by and watch their kid go to bed with no tea if they don't eat what is put before them, but if there is any way to ENCOURAGE them to try (and maybe like) something new, then I'm there!
Persistence with offering a tiny bit of whatever food they don't like is key I think - I was once told it takes 10 times of trying something to make a permanent decision on whether or not you like it, but a word of warning with this one. DON'T attempt this when your child is tired or moody - they need to be receptive - and PRAISE LOTS when they do take a bite even if a gnat could have made a bigger one! I always follow the new food with a 'safe' option afterwards that you know they like and this is always showing on the table so they can visibly see what is coming next and feel able to TRY the new/disliked food without the fear of knowing they HAVE to eat it.
I've also seen these plates
where there are little spaces to put a little bit of food to try in and the child works along the boxes until they reach the end. Some people have great success with these - in our house, it didn't work, but worth a try for you maybe?
And definitely keep mealtimes as fuss free and relaxed as possible. Its so easy to make eating dinner an argument - which can only make a stubborn toddler refuse point blank to eat something no matter how much they may actually want to - just to defy you and exert their independance!
Sometimes getting the kids involved - even at a very young age, with helping out with dinner can give them more excitement for it. From setting the table, cutting vegetables, stirring sauces or even writing out a menu for the rest of the family to see, there are lots of age appropriate things you could suggest.
In the meantime - and to get around dietary requirements based on health or ethical viewpoints, MEAL ADJUSTMENTS are the ONLY WAY I've come up with, which keeps me happy doing the minimum amount of work to make dinner
AND keeps everyone else happy with their fussy food requirements. I compromise. My meals are always versatile. I make dishes that can be adjusted at the last minute to suit all our different palettes - such as the pizza 4 ways recipe
This week I cooked a Vegan Thai Curry. As my son (and the toddler) refuses to eat any type of curry (even really mild ones), i compromised by cooking the curry in the oven alongside some oven roasted plain chicken and then served both with a rice dish loaded with cooked peas and sweetcorn. Simple and quick which as a working parent rushing in to prepare food before all the kids various after school clubs, is also a requirement!
Son and toddler had roasted chicken with the rice with peas and sweetcorn (and gravy - don't ask!). The rest of us had the curry with rice, except hubby who likes his meat and so i added roast chicken into his. Win/win and clean dishes for everyone!
Vegan Thai Curry
Beautifully creamy, spicy and flavourful, this vegan Thai curry will win over everyone. Packed with protein, vitamins and fibre, its a healthy meal for a meat-free day.
2 cans of reduced fat coconut milk
1 can chickpeas
1 large onion
handful of frozen peppers
3 handfuls of frozen green beans
handful of cubed butternut squash or sweet potato
about 10 chopped in half cherry tomatoes
tablespoon on a vegan thai curry paste (not had any issues with finding one in most major supermarkets so far - here is a link to a brand one sold in asda)
handful of cashew nuts
So easy to make, you can throw it together in less than 10 minutes. Fry the onion and curry paste in a tiny amount of oil for a minute or 2, then add the peppers for another minute. Add everything else, pop in the oven about gas mark 5 and cook for about half an hour - could also be cooked on the hob or in the slow cooker.