Getting kids to eat takes creativity, patience and, sometimes, a bit of luck. 52 Moms Talk Food is my exploration of how inspiring moms make it happen.
A working mom with ZERO TO THREE, Holly brings her work in child development home to her kitchen and table. She chats with me about trial and error, texture and real food as much as possible. She lives on the North Carolina coast with her husband and daughter (20 months).
Q: What is your food philosophy?
Holly: Real food, as much as possible. We’re lucky… my mom lives on a farm and gives us lots of fresh and canned fruits and vegetables. And, we get my daughter involved in the process of canning and making food, like yogurt. It’s important to me that she has an appreciation for where food comes from and that she eats close to the source.
Q: How do you get your daughter to try new foods?
Holly: It’s all about trial and error. If she doesn’t like raw mushrooms, we try them sautéed. And, it’s important to make food fun. We bring the lessons from a toddler classroom to our table… my daughter loves a meal that incorporates various textures, colors and sounds (like slurping soup). And, she loves anything she can dip or cut. We have age-appropriate shape cutters so she can cut her own fruit.
Q: What is your favorite shortcut for getting dinner on the table?
Holly: We rely on good, organic vegetables and fruit and we use them to make a lot of smoothies and soups (like this Chicken Tortilla Soup from Food Network). We prepare extra to freeze and eat later. We love Trader Joe’s “Superfood Pilaf” with quinoa, kale and sweet potatoes for lunch or dinner. And, for breakfast we love this recipe for Crockpot Oatmeal with Apples and Honey, so easy in the summer.
MY TAKE-AWAY: Holly is doing a great job introducing her young daughter to nutritious foods. Here are some ways that you can incorporate Holly’s tips in your kitchen.
1) Make mealtimes fun. I love that Holly lets her daughter cut fruit into shapes. Try using cookie cutters to cut sandwiches, quesadillas and whole grain pancakes. Sit down with your kids and make it a time to connect with them. Ask them to tell a story about one thing that made them smile that day.
2) Get your kids involved. Kids love to cook and prep. While you may not make your own yogurt like Holly, you can get your kids involved in shopping for new veggies, choosing one side dish, washing the fruit, setting the table and mixing foods. Getting kids involved with cooking doesn’t guarantee that they’ll try new foods, but it helps them develop a greater appreciation for how that food “appears” on the table.
3) Rely on real foods. I love that Holly emphasizes real food over processed food. While convenience foods help us get dinner on the table, these foods (like seasoned noodles and rice mixes, bread, sauces, etc.) should play the supporting roles to the big stars, like vegetables, fruit, lean protein, whole grains and heart-healthy fat. And when you make a meal, do like Holly does and make extra to freeze. Doubling a recipe takes little extra time but is a time-saver on a busy weeknight!