Have a kid that’s struggling with the food you serve? Perhaps these are known safe foods and your child is still learning to like them. Today, I’ll share some ways that you can transform ingredients to create new food exposures for your kiddos.
First, Get Them Involved
You greatly increase the odds of your child trying a new food if they help with shopping and cooking. It’s important that if they shop with you, they get to be a hands-on helper. They can do this even when strapped in. You can bring a bag and some produce over to them and have them help you bag it. Touching a new food counts as exposure.
In the kitchen, get your kids helping. They’re more likely to “sneak a bite” or lick the produce they’re working with. Kid safe knives are a great way to have your child developing new physical skills as well as getting a food exposure.
Little kids can also help wash and dry produce, as well as transfer it from one bowl to another.
Second, Talk About Food
For some kids, not knowing what to expect is what throws them off the most. Think about how grapes are generally consistent in flavour and texture whereas berries have a bigger range of variation.
When serving produce to your child, take a bite in front of them and describe it. Talk about how soft or firm it is, if it’s sweet, and so on. This can help a selective eater “brace for impact” in a way and remove the element of surprise.
Third, Get Busy Transforming Ingredients
Today, let’s take a look at how you can transform a strawberry. These techniques can be applied to almost every fruit available to you. Some of these techniques also extend to vegetables. Remember, have your kids help make these variations.
Make an Applesauce
If apples are an ingredient your child can have, blend strawberries and apples together. You can do this raw for a quick applesauce or cooked for a more traditional applesauce. If cooking, your pressure cooker can make quick work of the task.
Serve With a Dipping Sauce
This can be any kind of sauce your child already enjoys, including ketchup. Yup, I went there. Why ketchup? Because it’s consistent. Kids know what to expect with their ketchup, but not every strawberry is predictable. Ketchup (or any other predictable sauce) can help bridge the gap for your kiddo.
Make a Smoothie
The nice thing about smoothies is you can make a huge range of options. You can sweeten the deal a little bit with maple or dates if you think that will help your child. You can also add nutritional boosts, which are great if your kid is struggling to eat a range of food.
Leftover smoothie can go into popsicle molds and be frozen for a future treat. For extra fun, melt chocolate and drizzle on top of the frozen popsicle (it sets quickly this way) and your child will feel like they’ve hit the jackpot.
Make Kebabs or Use Novelty Food Picks
Sometimes, the novel element makes a WORLD of difference. Remember when we were kids and those sword tooth picks were a thing and they were bomb dot com? Our kids are no different. Add a fun element to an ingredient and many kids are happy to interact with it, and maybe even take a bite.
You can also use mini cookie cutters to create a range of fun shapes. Take your shape making a step further and tie it to what your child is learning at school, or a topic they’re interested in. For example, you can get penguin and other animal shaped mini cookie cutters. If I had a child who loved animals, I’d lean into those first.
You can use chopped fruit, freeze dried fruit, and even fruit juice in cookies. If your child enjoys baking, get them involved for an extra exposure.
Eat Them Straight
Sure, you could serve strawberries on a plate. Orrrrrrrrr, you could tell a story whilst serving them. Have Mr. and Mrs. Strawberry talk to each other, and make it a silly conversation for younger children. Sometimes, just having your child interact with raw fruits and veg is enough. Search online for food play activities if you think this is something your child might enjoy.
No matter how you choose to go about things, I’ll leave you with one parting piece of advice. Never force (or bribe) a child to try a new food, not even one bite or one lick. This can backfire on you in the long run.
Have fun creating new food memories!