Your toddler is on a tasting adventure from the moment solid foods are introduced. To avoid them becoming too picky and negatively affecting their nutrition, embrace that spirit of adventure. Making meals look and taste appealing increases the chance of good nutrition from childhood on into adulthood. And whether you are a cooking novice or pro, all you need to create a delicious and nutritious meal for your toddler is the desire to do so.
Here are a few helpful hints from Sari Greaves, author of Cooking Well Healthy Kids: Easy Meals for Happy Toddlers, to get you started:
Offer new foods at the start of a meal. A hungry toddler is a toddler who is less picky.
Train your toddler to try foods that the rest of the family enjoys. Preparing a dish for the whole family, with the only variation being size and texture (smaller portions and softer textures for your toddler) gets them used to eating what you eat. Make sure to serve it alongside a familiar food that your child regularly consumes.
Patience is key with working with toddlers. Allow hot food to cool down and cold food to warm up a little before serving, as toddlers dislike extreme temperatures. In general, pushing them too much in any direction won't help.
Avoid spices and strong tastes. Young children tend be more sensitive to flavors than you are, and may reject heavily seasoned foods. Heavily spiced, salted, buttered, or sweetened dishes may prevent your toddler from experiencing the natural taste of foods.
Cooking Well Healthy Kids: Easy Meals for Happy Toddlers is a kitchen-tested and kid-approved recipe collection for parents. When you need quick, tasty, and healthy meals to suit even the pickiest palate, Easy Meals for Happy Toddlers is the perfect cookbook to help balance nutritional needs in a junk-food world.
Recipe #1: Cocoa Wake Up Smoothie
2 tablespoons pure cocoa powder
2 tablespoons of peanut butter
1 medium ripe banana
8 ounces low fat vanilla Greek yogurt
Dash of cinnamon
4-6 ice cubes
Place all ingredients in blender, cover, and whip until smooth.
Recipe #2: Better Cheddar Grilled Cheese
2 slices whole grain bread
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 teaspoon fruit preserves, any flavor
1 slice of organic cheddar cheese
1/4 pear, thinly sliced
Brush one side of each slice of bread lightly with olive oil. Turn the bread over and spread one slice with fruit preserves; top with cheese and pear, then add remaining bread slice, oiled side up. Lightly coat a griddle or large skillet with cooking spray or a healthy oil. Preheat over medium heat. Add sandwich and cook for 5 minutes, or until cheese is melted, turning once to brown both sides.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Sari Greaves, RDN, is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and an expert in family wellness, weight management and women’s health. She is Nutrition Director at Step Ahead Wellness Center in Far Hills, New Jersey and is a frequent guest on The Dr. Oz Show and Dr. Radio on Sirius Satellite. Her books include Obesity Prevention for Children and Cardiac Recovery Cookbook.