The Picky Palate – Healthy Food for Picky kids

Filed in Gather Family Essential by on July 31, 2008 0 Comments

I live in a house of picky eaters.  My eight-year-old son has sensory issues and will eat only a limited number of things (plain chicken, plain noodles, peanut butter and honey).   My husband, on the other hand, has a very specific list of things he will not eat (fresh tomatoes, onions in any form, and peppers) because he is convinced that they will kill him.  My six-year-old son is the most normal of any of us, which means only that he’s six and what he eats today and what he will eat tomorrow are not always the same things.

And then there’s me.  I’m not so much picky as boring; I like to eat the same things over and over in a kind of comforting, mindless rotation.  I love good food and I enjoy preparing food for my family, but I want someone else to do the planning for me.  And ideally, I want to serve something that everyone will eat, happily and without complaints or amendments.

Clearly, I am either wildly optimistic or completely stupid.  The jury’s still out on that one.

I am constantly searching for ways to make our meals healthier and easier, while appeasing everyone’s issues.  Honestly, it’s hard.  But there are some terrific food bloggers who are dealing with the same issues in their own families and are sharing their strategies and recipes with the rest of us.

One of my favorites is Jenny at The Picky Palate.  Jenny is a working mom and “self taught amateur cook” who blogs about what she’s feeding the picky eaters in her house.  Jenny’s recipes are a nice balance of healthy, simple meals and delicious desserts and treats.  This summer she has been cooking with lots of fresh vegetables from her local farmer’s market, and while her kids aren’t always willing to eat what she serves (“Mommy this looks like something only YOU will eat!”) her efforts are always inspiring.

One thing that I really admire about Jenny’s blog is her sense of balance.  She is offering her family a variety of foods — different tastes and textures and menus — and she incorporates a lot of healthy ingredients into her cooking.  She also offers desserts that look mouth-wateringly good in her photos, but she serves them in small portions.  I think this teaches her sons — and her readers — so much about how to eat in a balanced, healthy way.  Too often, we see desserts as bad, particularly for kids, but in order to teach kids to make good food choices, it is important to offer a wide range of foods, including some that are not necessarily chock full of healthy stuff.  Jenny is very, very good at this.

Jenny’s writing and cooking are easily accessible to readers — she is open about her successes and failures in the kitchen, and her joy for cooking is clear in her words.  For parents of picky eaters, the struggle to get just ONE BITE of something green or healthy in at every meal can take all the fun out of meal preparation; Jenny invigorates readers with her charm and cheer.  She will make you feel like you CAN do this and your kids WILL eat it.

Okay no guarantees on that last one.  But really, you’ll love Jenny.  I promise.

I think we can all try harder to invest ourselves in what we serve, particularly if we have picky kids at the table.  By providing healthy, balanced meals as often as possible, and by making meal time a celebration of family and food, we teach our kids that eating well isn’t a punishment but a joy.  Try one of Jenny’s recipes on your family — you never know, your picky kid may love it.  All you can do is try.

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