"Picky Eating:” Making Food More Familiar

One of the best ways to encourage your children to expand their palates is to make food more familiar. So start with something they like, and bridge to something new. If they like potatoes, try sweet potato. If they like sweet potato, try butternut squash. If they like carrots, try parsnips. Serve these foods together – something new with and something familiar and talk about the differences – color, size, smell, shape. Don’t worry about taste. And if they want to try it, let them serve themselves and suggest they take a tiny taste at first and remind them that they can always have more. The goal: take away the pressure of trying something new and “having” to eat it. And if they don’t want to eat it, ask them to smell it or hold it or just talk about it. And consider that a successful step toward making something new more familiar.

One of the best ways to cook all of the vegetables mentioned above is to roast them, which brings out their natural sweetness, in olive oil, with a bit of salt, at 375 for 40-45 minutes. Consider also buying small cookie or vegetable cutters and let your children make shapes with sliced sweet potato, beets, butternut squash, carrots and parsnips. And then roast and serve them.

First Bites is a non-profit organization that runs programs in preschools and early childcare centers to get kids excited about eating fruits and vegetables. To learn more about the program and for more ideas on what and how to feed children, visit firstbites.org, Facebook.com/YourFirstBites or follow us on Twitter @FirstBites.