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Forums: April 2012 Kickstart Forum: recipes for picky toddlers
Created on: 05/10/12 01:19 PM Views: 1670 Replies: 6
recipes for picky toddlers
Posted Thursday, May 10, 2012 at 1:19 PM

My kids are having trouble finding good recipes to feed their picky toddlers. Both have been raised vegan and the 3 year old started out liking all kinds of things but now is picky and the 1 year old is extremely picky. This will be a fun topic--looking forward to your answers. Thanks.

RE: recipes for picky toddlers
Posted Thursday, May 10, 2012 at 1:59 PM

Bluegrass wrote:

My kids are having trouble finding good recipes to feed their picky toddlers. Both have been raised vegan and the 3 year old started out liking all kinds of things but now is picky and the 1 year old is extremely picky. This will be a fun topic--looking forward to your answers. Thanks.

First, it's quite natural for toddlers to reduce the range of foods they eat. Historically (like hunter/gatherer times), toddlerhood was when people would (a) be weaning from mom (b) be able to venture further from mom. Thus, limiting what one eats is a safety feature - lots of dangerous but pretty berries and such out there. So, the first thing I might do is change how they think about it - instead of 'picky', maybe think of it as a 'stage', 'phase', or simply as "discerning".

Next, remember that small children's food intake needs to be considered over a long scope, like a month, not the '3 square meals per day' type thinking of most adults. Kids' nutritional needs are VERY different than adults. They need lots of fats and simple carbs for growth and energy - that's why you might see a toddler gravitating towards crackers and juice and peanut butter and seemingly nothing else. It meets their needs within the scope of what they know/have available. This is also around the time when they seem to want LOTS of candy, especially chocolates if they are available, because one candy bar contains the fat and sugar their bodies need. The key is finding options that the kids like that mom and dad can tolerate for a time. If it becomes a power struggle, that's a problem. If mom and dad can ride with it for a couple years, things will change (and change again, and change more times than you can count!) Bake cookies with whole wheat flour, raw sugar, flaxseed, vegan chocolate, and applesauce (for example - it has the fats and carbs kids need but has better quality ingredients than the typical cookie).

Start with what they want to eat - do they like pasta? crackers? cookies? grapes? are they drinking juice? plant milk? will they eat any vegetables? grains? Build on that. Make mix'n'match meals - for example, whole grain pasta with bowls of sauce, sauted veggies, crumbled black beans (a la "meat sauce") and let everyone in the family mix as they choose - my son tended to like his pasta plain, no nothing on it, so we'd drizzle a little olive oil into the pot and mix it around to keep the pasta from getting sticky and clumpy and that was it. Meanwhile, hubby and I would add pasta sauce and whatever. Italian, tex-mex, Asian all are easy to mix'n'match with - cook up brown rice, cook up some veggies, make a sauce (or just put the soy sauce on table). If the kids eat nothing but the rice, okay. Leave it at that.

And, too, sometimes kids are "picky" because they were hungry an hour and a half ago but now they're so over-hungry that nothing looks tasty. Rather than hold toddlers to fixed, adult type meal times, set out platters of sturdy snacks - that is, easy to eat toddler size bits of cracker, fruit, and so on. Include some sweets as well (whatever their fav thing might be - for instance, mix a good nut butter with coconut flour and add mix-ins if they're safe - if the kids are not likely to choke on them, otherwise just chill the coconut-nut butter balls then serve. Coconut tends to add a little sweet and the flour is small enough not to cause choking the way flaked coconut might). Anything that can be dipped is usually popular - make a not-cheese sauce or mild hummus to dip crackers or pretzel bits into for example. Let them graze all day, keeping in mind that their energy/food needs are huge but their tummies are little

--Deb R

RE: recipes for picky toddlers
Posted Thursday, May 10, 2012 at 4:48 PM

Oh, I didn't give you any recipes...but then again it really depends on what the littles like at any given time.

A general go-to for kids is mac & cheese - you can do the not-cheese sauce (do a search for it on these message boards, it's been posted a few times) with whole grain pasta and throw in some veggies (broccoli, peas, etc) and even cooked beans (white beans 'hide' better than black beans, or coarsely chop some cooked chickpeas in the food pro and mix them in, sorta like making a tuna casserole) or lentils. It uses 2 tbls cashew butter in the sauce, but that's pretty much it as far as added fat goes (plant milks usually have a wee tiny bit depending on what type), not bad for something that makes approx 6 adult servings. The same cheez sauce is also good mixed with brown rice and steamed broccoli, or over a baked potato and some broccoli or chili, or for nachos, or in an "au gratin" style with sliced potatoes and cooked white beans.

Oh, yeah, if you cook chickpeas then let them cool completely, you can chop them in the food pro and add a bit of mustard, diced celery (and onion if that passes muster), and your fav vegan mayo-like substance and get something akin to a tuna salad result. Whole grain bread or tortillas and some nice crispy lettuce and maybe other veggies (sliced tomato and cucumber for example) makes a nice sandwich/wrap.

Something to start wrapping your heads around now, while they're little, is that as they get older, they'll be seeing other people eating lots of stuff that they don't have at home (all those cars in the drive thru line at McD's) and all those aisles of stuff at the grocery store. Odds are good they're going to want to try non-vegan foods at some point. Rules, coercion, and disapproving glances/comments won't help the situation. Providing information as to why YOU choose this lifestyle (ethical reasons, health reasons, what-have-you) in a non-emotional, non-judgmental manner is the best option - knowing full well that your kids will likely make different choices - if not in food, then in other lifestyle areas. And, too, helping them to figure out how their bodies feel when they do eat things, not to 'prove' anything but rather as their partner in figuring things out, is a good thing. My son was all of maybe 6 when he decided he didn't want to eat PopTarts any longer (even though we weren't even nearly veg*n at that time) because they made his tummy hurt. We got some organic product similar to them and that didn't hurt. So, we turned "sleuth" *together* and figured out which ingredient(s) were the problem and helped him avoid the problem foods until he was able to manage the labels himself. Now, he's nearly 14 and he knows what the problem ingredients are and can choose to avoid them or include them depending on the situation (sometimes, having a slice of cake at Grandma's birthday party, knowing it's probably got partially hydrogenated fat in the frosting, is worth taking it slow for 30 or 45 minutes afterward to avoid the discomfort - and we still partner with him to figure out how he can have Grandma's cake with the least discomfort - eat around the frosting, have a smaller slice, have a good base of protein and whole grains first, etc).

--Deb R

RE: recipes for picky toddlers
Posted Friday, May 11, 2012 at 12:40 PM

I am late coming into this, but first Deb ~ GREAT RESPONSE, as usual!

I used to decorate the my kids food, in shapes, cut up fruit to resemble trees, animals, etc... it made it fun.

I kept bowls out on the table of fruits and veggies, I used to tell them fruit was God's candy! haha

I agree with Deb they will make more changes than be counted! My son, 6'5" loves everything bad for him and my daughter 5'2" eats pretty healthy! Now my daughter has 2 children, 1 picky and super thin and the other not as much.

I think Deb's advice is the best I have seen, so no advice here, just a comment

Always offer kindness and a soft word to the beings around you; You do not know their journey. Your words can be the hug they need or the shove that breaks them.

RE: recipes for picky toddlers
Posted Friday, May 11, 2012 at 3:20 PM

Oceandog wrote:

I am late coming into this, but first Deb ~ GREAT RESPONSE, as usual![\quote\
THANKS!Very Happy
[quote="Oceandog"]
I used to decorate the my kids food, in shapes, cut up fruit to resemble trees, animals, etc... it made it fun.

Way back when, some of the cheese companies came out with cheese bits shaped like fish and stars and such. I'd get decent deli cheese (yeah, not even close to vegan at the time) sliced slightly thicker than normal (most delis let you pick the slice thickness). Then I'd take my mini-cookie cutters and make stars, hearts, etc. for my son - way cheaper and better quality than the pre-made packaged stuff.

Same idea can be used for tofu/tempeh I'd guess - or use regular sized cookie cutters for making sandwiches, cutting out tortilla bites, etc. Lay out a nice multigrain tortilla, cut out bite size (mini cutter size) pieces, then serve with sliced veggies and dips.

Flour tortillas can be grilled to make a nice individual pizza (and "do it myself" is a biggie for toddlers!!) Lay the tortilla on a baking sheet (for oven baked when the weather's not grill weather, use a veggie grill rack for outdoor grilling). Let the kids add (with help as needed) diced veggies, hummus, whatever you like on pizza, then mom/dad let's it warm just a wee bit - or you can pre-toast the tortillas then top and eat as-is (cool toppings, warm crispy tortilla).
Or, you can easily make (or buy) pizza dough and do the same type thing - individual pizzas.
--Deb R

RE: recipes for picky toddlers
Posted Friday, May 11, 2012 at 10:07 PM

Wow! Thanks Bugsmom for all that wonderful info. I'm copying and pasting it and emailing it to my kids. I'm glad I'm not raising a vegan kid--it was hard enough just raising our son while eating a wholesome natural foods diet. I was so ridiculed and friends and family took great delight in feeding him junk when we weren't around. But that was a long time ago and people are so much more enlightened now. Still it would be so much easier for them to be just vegetarian instead of vegan when the kids go to other people's homes or to parties. I think they're being very low key though when they go to other's homes. I don't think they worry about eating ice cream or cake, etc. I remember my dil asking me when the first one was just a baby what I thought she should do when she was old enough to go to birthday parties and I told her to "let her eat cake"! So they're doing it and I'm proud of them. Thanks again. You have some great thoughts and suggestions.

RE: recipes for picky toddlers
Posted Monday, May 14, 2012 at 8:24 AM

Bluegrass wrote:

Wow! Thanks Bugsmom for all that wonderful info. I'm copying and pasting it and emailing it to my kids. I'm glad I'm not raising a vegan kid--it was hard enough just raising our son while eating a wholesome natural foods diet. I was so ridiculed and friends and family took great delight in feeding him junk when we weren't around. But that was a long time ago and people are so much more enlightened now. Still it would be so much easier for them to be just vegetarian instead of vegan when the kids go to other people's homes or to parties. I think they're being very low key though when they go to other's homes. I don't think they worry about eating ice cream or cake, etc. I remember my dil asking me when the first one was just a baby what I thought she should do when she was old enough to go to birthday parties and I told her to "let her eat cake"! So they're doing it and I'm proud of them. Thanks again. You have some great thoughts and suggestions.

You're quite welcome. We started moving in this direction when our son was around 9 - first wee steps were things like moving from liquid dairy milk to plant milk, cutting out beef and pork, etc. Poultry, fish, and other dairy (cheese, yogurt, sour cream, etc) and eggs were still in the mix. And so on, little by little - then I saw Dr. Barnard on a PBS program and bought Reversing Diabetes and found the kickstart back in fall 2010. BUT through it all, everyone in the family had full choice in how they eat - we didn't require son to cut out anything. If he wanted ham and cheese sandwiches, okay, I'll get ham and cheese BUT I'll get the BEST quality I can manage to find and fit in the budget. Ditto for hot dogs which were one of his go-to snacks (cold, straight from the fridge for an on-the-go kid) - together we went to the market and read ALL the packages and found options for the ones he liked best that had the best ingredients we could find (stuff with lower sodium, skinless - he doesn't like the texture with the casing kind, minimal 'other' ingredients, etc). Over time, though, hot dogs, burgers, ham sandwiches and such just left - I'd ask if he wanted me to get ham, hot dogs, tuna and he'd say "do we have chickpeas for "not tuna" salad?" Which we always did (or had on the grocery list anyhow) and he'd be fine with that. When we're out and about, we all eat as we need/choose. Hubby and I both kinda 'slipped' a bit but have started working back into the lower fat vegan eating style because we could see and feel the difference.

--Deb R


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