Family & Home

Curing Picky Eater Syndrome: Hand over some meal planning to your new junior sous chef

kid chef

Cooking with your kids is one of the best ways to get them to eat healthy real food, and a great way to boost their excitement is by involving them in meal planning. 

 

When children can take ownership of breakfast, lunch, dinner, or snacks, they tend to really think about what they’ll be eating. When you first start giving your children a voice in meal planning they may provide outlandish ideas such as cheeseburgers with cookies for buns or string cheese for every meal, but you can curb this by showing them how you do your own meal planning, and what you take into account (nutrition, budgets, what’s on hand) so they understand how meal plans work. And of course, do your best to make meal planning fun!

 

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Curing Picky Eater Syndrome: 10 ways to get kids to eat real, healthy food

picky eaters

It’s amazing what kids will eat when they' re on the farm or in a garden — digging carrots from the earth, ripping beans from the plant (and taking the leaves with them), picking sugar snap peas, and pulling tomatoes from the vine. Kids love to grow their own food, too, like potted herbs in the kitchen, radish seed sprouts, and patio pepper plants. Last summer I overheard a youngster say, “I love cherry tomatoes, especially the little yellow ones!”

 

Too good to be true? It’s totally not. Getting kids to eat healthy real food is not that difficult. There are many ways to break the "picky eater syndrome," some will work for your kiddo better than others but I’ve found there are a few key steps that really help:  

 

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DIY Craft Cocktails: Festive Non-Alcoholic Drinks

Making drinks for those who can't (or prefer not to) drink alcohol can be a bit of a challenge. It's easy to offer a guest a bottle of soda, juice, or sparkling water, but in the context of a party, particularly during the holidays, it's more fun and inviting to plan ahead and be able to offer them a beverage that's more intricate, more special, more festive.

 

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Talking With Your Mouth Full: How We Communicate With Food

Quick, think of your favorite comfort food. Is it the green bean casserole at Thanksgiving, or Chicago style pizza, or dim sum?

 

Now think about why it is a comfort for you. Is there a nostalgic memory of the happy dinners your family shared on a particular holiday, or does your comfort food bring you peace after a stressful day?

 

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Elderberries: From Medicine Cabinet to Table

Fellow foragers had warned me about elderberries. They cautioned me about the hours of tedious labor the dark purple berries demand. They told me how the stems, unripe red berries and even seeds can be slightly toxic as they contain a compound similar to cyanide, and how almost every stem must be painstakingly removed. I’m glad I didn’t listen to these warnings (or conveniently forgot them) as my grandfather and I struck out on a sunny early autumn afternoon to collect our elderberries from a ditch near the family cabin in northwestern Wisconsin. Visions of pies, jams and medicinal tinctures danced in my head, and the elderberry bush, laden with ripe berries seemed happy to oblige. When I pulled my octogenarian grandfather out of the bramble a half hour later, we had four paper bags full of berries. My grandfather wondered if this bounty would be enough for his jam and my various elderberry dreams.

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DIY Craft Cocktails: Beer Shandies for Cooler Temps

A traditional beer shandy is a refreshing, height-of-summer drink, served ice cold and made by combining lemonade and a light-bodied beer, usually in a one to one ratio. The shandy is typically enjoyed in the middle of a hot day and has a relatively low alcohol content. Its primary purpose is to refresh, not to intoxicate.

 

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Hunting for Dinner: Snapping Turtles (and a Recipe for General Tso's Turtle)

A couple of years ago I was told about a book called The Scavenger's Guide to Haute Cuisine, by Steven Rinella. In the book, Rinella tells the tale of being given an old cookbook written by Auguste Escoffier and being inspired to have a feast of all the things he hunts and gathers. Rinella talks about how, pre-Escoffier, he once ate snapping turtle and didn't enjoy the turtle meat because it tasted like a mucky swamp.

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An Autumn Ritual: Making Homemade Thai Chili Paste

In our household, the autumn ritual of preserving our garden through canning, freezing, and juicing is a family gathering in the kitchen. I love the opportunity to fend off those first few cold nights with a steaming hot kitchen, the house windows fogged up from all the blanching, poaching, and hot water baths. We play jazz music on the stereo, and even after the kids go to bed, I’m often putting up the last few jars until 2 am. It’s one of my favorite parts of the year. There is only one exception to the rule here, the evening where my wife and kids can’t get far enough away from the house while I’m working. Despite that fact, this remains one of my favorite nights of all…processing hot peppers.

 

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Freezing is Your Friend: How to Enjoy the Summer Harvest Without Canning

Over the last few summers, Minnesota has been walloped with some impressive heat waves. The stifling weather we get around here seems to always show up right when the produce peaks: tomatoes start coming in from the garden by the box instead of by the handful, green beans need to be picked every three days, and even the farmers’ market stalls start to spill over with bushel baskets of veggies and fruit.

 

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Great Grains: The Many Faces of Sorghum

This is the thirteenth post in the series Great Grains, highlighting unusual whole grains and easy ways to incorporate them into your diet.

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