Welcome to part 3 of the Myths of Switching to Real Food series!
In this post, I am going to talk about picky eaters.
Y’all…I hear you on this one! This was a major hold back for me at first. I mean, as it was, I already had one kid who wouldn’t eat something if it didn’t come in a blue box, or in the shape of a processed chicken nugget. I feel that right there, qualifies me to talk about this subject, and I hope you will find some encouragement to try some things with your picky eater(s).
Let’s journey back…
A little over a year ago, our eating habits were so very different than they are now. Our kids survived on boxed kraft mac-n-cheese, hot dogs, dino shaped chicken nuggets, fish sticks, and pb&j’s. I thought as long as there was no HFCS in sight, or if the packaging said “whole grain” or “all natural”, I was in the clear. Oh how wrong I was. And as I began researching the foods we could eat, I got a knot in my stomach.
What on Earth would I feed my extremely picky eaters?!
Don’t let those adorable, innocent faces fool you. They’re cute, but they aren’t the best eaters.
This is where my creativity really had to be amped up. I began experimenting with homemade chicken nuggets, mac-n-cheese, and the like. Some things I had success with, others, not so much.
After several failed attempts at trying to get the Nugget to eat something…anything, I almost gave up. I decided to pick my battles, and choose “the lesser of the evils” with whatever processed foods I ended up buying for him. If you read part 2 a few weeks ago, then you know that I do, in fact, still buy a few processed things. I am just extremely picky with WHAT I buy.
So for that picky eater that only likes the boxed mac-n-cheese, never fear! There are healthier options than your typical “blue box” on the shelf. We always opt for Annies Organic Grass-Fed Mac-n-Cheese. It may be a little more expensive than the regular boxed “stuff”, but the ingredient list is super short, and I know what each ingredient actually is (also…no “added vitamins and minerals”, which we learned is a major red flag).
But man (nor child) can live by boxed Mac-n-Cheese alone.
We still want to get those healthy fruits and veggies into their bodies. Every picky eater likes a smoothie. At least, I’ve yet to meet one that doesn’t enjoy them…especially when loaded with tasty chocolate sauce!
I don’t recommend jumping in with a ton of random fruits and veggies at first. Start simple. Pick a veggie with a mild flavor (carrots or spinach), and a fruit that you know they have previously enjoyed the flavor of (our favorite are strawberries or bananas). Add in some whole plain yogurt, some whole milk until you get the consistency you desire, a dash of honey, and a whopping spoonful (or two) of chocolate sauce…just be sure it’s either homemade, or a store bought brand with no junk in it.
Blend it up until it’s pureed to the max (especially if your picky eater has texture issues), serve up and watch them enjoy it! You can sit back and know they are getting some much needed nutrients.
Eventually, you can change up the flavors, or amount of items you add in.
We’ve finally reached a point where I can add in a little peanut butter, black beans, or ground up flax seed, for added protein, fiber, and so many other health benefits!
Get creative. You know your child (or spouse, if they are the picky ones) better than anyone, so you can tailor it to their specific tastes. Don’t underestimate the power of chocolate…it can mask a myriad of flavors that may not usually be fun for your picky eater to eat.
More homemade versions are KEY.
Now if you have picky eaters, I will say you will end up spending a little more time than usual in the kitchen. But please don’t let that stop you! This doesn’t mean that you are going to be doing labor intensive food prep. I have found several easy replacement recipes that my kids are loving. Homemade granola bars (recipe coming soon!), coconut rolls, cereal bars (again…I’m working on getting that recipe to you all soon), cheese and zucchini crackers, animal crackers, whole grain fruit bars, Black Bean Chocolate Chip cookies (seriously, you cannot taste the beans at all!), the list goes on!
Ahh…but what about those picky eaters who refuse to eat leftovers?
That’s right, I’m looking at you, wives who have husbands who say that they hate leftovers. I used to be the same way. I hated leftovers. But a few things helped change my perspective on that . First, when I realized that this real food we were eating cost more than what we used to eat, I realized I had to get over myself. I didn’t want anything to go to waste.
I also needed to not eat the same. exact. thing. every day. A great way to combat this type of picky eater, is to make some things that can be used in different meals, so it won’t seem like they are actually eating leftovers.
For example, you can make a big batch of brown rice at the beginning of the week, and use it in a variety of meals! Stir fry, as a side for some yummy salmon cakes, a tasty chicken and rice dish, or even cabbage rolls! The possibilities are endless, and your non-leftover eating family member won’t even know they are eating pre-prepared rice! 😉 Not only is this a creative way to “hide” your leftovers, but it’s also a great way to stretch your food, if you are on a budget!
You can do the same thing with chicken! We have found that by buying a whole chicken (when they are on sale, of course), and cooking it in the crockpot, we have chicken to use in a variety of meals throughout the week.
Yes, having a picky eater does make the process a bit more…challenging at times.
But over time, it will get easier for you, and hopefully for your picky eater as well, once they realize how much more delicious this real food is, compared to the processed stuff.