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Here are the things that my DD is willing to eat: Corn on the cob; baked sweet potato fries (recipe from weelicious.com); radish; every type of fruit (not picky for fruits); ground beef (I mix it with bread to make it softer--plus she gets whole grain with the bread without knowing it); chicken (the ones pre-made from the grocery stores that are under $10; she refuses to eat any other kind of chicken); gnoochi with marinara sauce; mac and cheese (Annie's brand); grilled cheese sandwich; boiled eggs; edamame; Earth's Best blueberry waffles with honey instead of syrup.
Grilled ham and cheese sandwich
homemade meatballs with ground turkey and veggies (just throw whatever veggies you have in a food processor)
Turkey burgers (Trader Joes)
Mahi Mahi Burgers (Trader Joes)
BBQ pulled chicken
Hard boiled eggs
omelet with broccoli and cheese, or whatever you want to add
strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, watermelon, mandarin oranges (I buy the ones packaged in Juice, slightly better then the ones in syrup)
homemade banana bread, zucchini bread
Trader Joe cereal bars (apple, strawberry, fig and blueberry) they don't have any HFCS and are sweetened with fruit juice and it's only $1.99 a box!
Turkey corn dogs (Trader Joes)
Carrots (I buy the baby carrots or whole carrots and cut and peel and then put in a glass bowl and microwave with a little water for 5 minutes. They are soft enough to chew but firm enough to hold in their hands.)
Rice (sometimes I'm healthy and make my own and add veggies, egg etc making sure veggies have gone through a food processor since LO won't touch it if it looks weird, I also just have been lazy and buy the packaged rice mixes and prepare, you can still add more veggies cut up turkey burger etc)
Cheese sticks (he eats at least one of these a day. He loves the cheddar cheese ones or monetary jack).
Mac & Cheese (I buy the Annie brand and throw in brocolli and cut up pieces of ham)
I'm not sure if Kieran is a picky eater or if he's just a normal toddler. Some days he'll eat great and other days he'll refuse to try something because it's the wrong size, texture, color etc. I just keep offering and try and switch things up. It doesn't help that I'm not very creative and I'm not a big cooker, so I have to really make an effort so he doesn't eat the same thing every day.
I find if he eats the same thing too often it starts to become a rejected food, so I have to keep switching things up.
My picky DD eats - scrambled eggs with cheese, grilled cheese, Trader Joe's O's (like spaghetti o's), oatmeal, yogurt, fruit/yogurt smoothies, sliced cheddar cheese, bean/cheese/rice burritos, rice (brown, white, Mexican, etc.), sometimes corn, sometimes peas, sometimes avocado pieces, cheese quesadilla, sometimes cottage cheese, sometimes raw apple, sometimes banana. She loves her snacks (crackers, pretzels, goldfish crackers, rice cakes, etc.). She rarely eats any meat, so we try to get her protein in other ways. We did discover she would eat the bean/beef filling of a frozen burrito....not the most healthy option, but since it's very minced ground meat, she didn't even detect it. She sometimes eats a chicken nugget - but that is rare. Even the foods mentioned above are not always winners, and then she will eat something that will completely surprise us - never a dull moment with a picky eater.
Breakfast is usually milk and either oatmeal, granola bar or banana
Lunch is usually lunch meat roll up/grilled ch/PB&J with baby carrots and hummus and some kind of fruit
Dinner is usually a casserole or pasta dish with veggies hidden in it and some kind of fruit
First off, my kids aren't picky, anymore. Below are things that have worked for me.
Breakfast and lunch are typically what they want. Aka, would you like oatmeal or cherrios after your banana? Milk or water? Should we have smoothies or pb&J for lunch? They get to choose, but must agree on 1 thing, I also only give 2-3 options. I sneak things in also, my smoothies are a yogurt, fruits and a veggie (either carrot or spinach depending on the fruits on hand, ei blackberries/blueberries hide the color of the spinach, strawberries and raspberries hide the carrot, which is cooked)
I believe if they are hungry they will eat. If they aren't hungry they don't have to eat. If they don't eat their breakfast, I don't force it, but there is nothing else offered until lunch. We don't really do snacks, they get a late afternoon veggie or fruit to tide them over to dinner and that is pretty much it. They get milk or water with meals, but usually only water between meals. We don't usually do juice, except if mommy and daddy are having cocktails.
Also, we all eat the same dinner together. This has done amazing things for my kids eating habits and manners. They see us eating and enjoying and start trying things. I keep offering things that they have refused. No luck on the brussle sprouts yet, but I have hope. That is the only veg my kids have totally refused.
When presenting a meal, I do a couple of different things with my kids. First course = least liked item, second course better liked, third course best liked. If they don't eat/try/do a decent job on a. they obviously aren't hungry for b or c.
Or for lunch or casual dinners, I usually put three different items on the plate, like peas/veg applesauce/fruit and pork chop/meat. The applesauce disappears, and they want more. My response is usually, of course you can have more, but you have to do a better job on your peas or pork chop (or whatever it is). Often little kids don't like multiple flavors etc, so they have deconstructed meals, tacos in three piles or chinese beef broccoli a pile of rice, a couple pieces of beef a pile broccoli.
Tonight for dinner I made a red pepper, caramelized onion, sausage and potato frittata and served it with black and blue berries. Both girls ate it all. For things that they don't really like (frittata) I give a dip, ranch, salad dressing, ketchup, hummus, etc. Tonight the dip was good old ketchup. They got about 1/2 tsp, no refills. Also, the main dish can be the dip, like last night's roasted butternut and leek soup, with toast dippers and crumbled bacon as a sprinkle. I have had good luck with sprinkles, grated cheese, or oyster crackers, or wheatgerm (which is our go to) in a little bowl next to whatever food it is being served, it allows them to modify and feel in control.
With starting off on this, I always had three choices on the plate 2 knowns and liked and one other. For nights when it is a challenging meal, we have a dessert as a reward but this is a special treat not the norm. I try not to bribe with sweets, but use it as an obvious consequence.
Also, I cook with my kids so they get to taste as we go. There are times when they would eat it in the kitchen but not once it was on their plate in the dinning room. Apparently everything is better if it is snitched.
my dd is quite a picky eater - hates anything with sauce on it
lately though I've been trying the Ellyn Satter method & putting out lots of options - like pp said - at least 1 that I know will fill her up, then a few more that she sometimes likes or I know she doesn't like
she slowly has started trying more things - especially if I sit with her and eat it too - but don't push her to try it. you can see her little bring going hmmmm mama is eating it - it MUST be yummy! we don't do family meals though - dh gets home late, after she goes to bed, but I do snack while she eats - to show her the food IS good :)