As you know, I have one very picky eater. (Penance for mine and hubby’s childhood eating habits.) So I am always looking for ways to get her to try new things or eat nutritious things. I’ve found it’s all about making it fun. About a new presentation or a good story or having her help cook. Here are some ideas that I have tried or plan to try. I want to pass them on to others with picky eaters.

The food’s presentation

Amira told me her 5-year-old son will eat anything shaped like a face. Lauren responded to us both suggesting these face plates. They are kind of expensive but SO fun. I’m going to order one for each kid to put in their Easter baskets.

Don’t underestimate the power of a toothpick. My kids love things presented in bite-size portions with a toothpick through it. This can be bites of sandwiches, pizza, cheese, meat, fruit.

Anything shaped as a heart, Mickey Mouse or the kids’ initials has a higher chance of being eaten than if presented in its normal shape. Grace doesn’t eat noodles of any kind, except mac and cheese. I wonder if these squid dogs would change her mind. Family Fun has a whole section devoted to making food fun, including a slide show of fun shaped food like these kiwi faces.

The food’s story

At the Cub VIP event, the two big kids were among four to take part in a Cub 4 Kids event. One of the activities was reading a coloring storybook about eating fruits and vegetables. It was sponsored by Dole as part of the 5 a Day program. They learned that you can get your own rainbow if you eat five different colored fruits or veggies a day. Grace is still talking about it and about what fruits she likes (not so much veggies) and what colors they are. I’m hoping this will help me introduce new fruits and veggies to her. I bought a mango this week to try out. (PS What do you do with a mango? How do you cut it, etc.?)

Cub does these events quarterly throughout the Twin Cities. The next one is an Easter-themed event from 11 to 3 on Saturday, March 27. I don’t know if they all will encourage healthy eating as last week’s special event did. But we’re going to start checking them out. They are advertised in stores and in weekly ads so keep your eye out.

I love this idea, which came from a Family Fun article titled Meet the Mystery Vegetables:

Each week I find a vegetable that’s unfamiliar or that the kids have tried and rejected in the past. I then search out a tasty-sounding recipe to prepare in which the chosen veggie plays a starring role. After Gavin and Meriel are seated at the dining table, I tie blindfolds over their eyes and place bites of the mystery vegetable on their forks. The kids always find the blindfolds slightly scary — in a good way. It definitely adds a thrill to dinnertime. Next, they get to smell the veggie and describe the scent; then they taste it and describe the flavor. The whole time we encourage them to be as descriptive as they can, saying positive and negative things. Finally, they get to remove the blindfolds and name the new dish something wacky. If they seem to be having a hard time coming up with a name, I might suggest a theme to get their creative juices flowing. During the Olympics, for example, they named dishes after athletes.

The food’s preparation

I’m not sure my kids are old enough to help with cutting but when they are, this safety cutting board would be very handy. What do you think is a good age for teaching kids knife skills?

Lauren also mentioned that Pier 1 has fun cooking utensils but I can’t find them online. But I’m on the hunt for kid-sized utensils that have a fun design or bright colors or something that makes them not just regular utensils in a smaller version. Does anyone have suggestions?

Sarah reviewed two preschool cookbooks. We have tried Pretend Soup but it didn’t capture Grace’s attention. I still want to try Cooking It In a Cup.

The most important thing though, at least for me, is to remember that it’s more important that the kids learn to cook and to like cooking than it is for me to get it done quickly. So I need to stop saying no when they ask to “help” or to be lifted up to see into the pot.

Any tips you would like to add?