Creative Food Tips for Parents of Picky Eaters

IMAG4237My daughter is not even two yet and I feel like she barely eats anything. If it weren’t for pancakes, macaroni and cheese, and cream cheese bagels, I don’t think the poor girl would eat! Don’t get me wrong, she likes fruit and will try the occasional chicken tenders and other foods, but it’s never a “sure thing,” if you know what I mean. I often feel like our fridge is jam-packed with food in the hopes that she will actually eat SOMETHING. Then, inevitably, we end up throwing twice as much stuff out as we would before now. It’s frustrating to feel so wasteful!

I struggle with this every day. The pediatrician’s office had me all flustered when she fell from the 10th percentile or so down to third percentile for weight and fourth for height. She is a tiny little thing, but so cute and very healthy – not really a major concern. I’m not tall myself, so she likely got my genes as far as height and body type. Still, the doctor’s office got me so worried before that I have desperately been trying to get her to eat as much as possible, whenever possible.

Sometimes I bribe her, sometimes I just keep trying new things, other times I cycle through the few things I know she does like. We have occasional success with fish or fish sticks, pasta, and pretty good success with pizza. I have tried to creatively make special things for her to enjoy while still getting essential nutrients, and most times, have failed miserably. For example, my parmesan broccoli fritters looked and smelled (and even tasted) delicious when warm, but once cool enough for a baby’s palate, all bets were off. She didn’t even see the green of the broccoli that I popped in her mouth and still spit it out.

So, out of desperation in my own quest to get my child to eat more, I have decided to make a list of my most successful tips. I’d be thrilled if you can share any of your own tips in the comments so I can add them to the article and try them myself with N. Here’s my top list of tricks to get a toddler to eat more:

  1. Try to avoid letting them fill up on milk, water, juice, or whatever they are drinking. Keep their beverages out of site at first, at least until they get a little food in their belly.
  2. Offer different kinds of snacks often. We rotate through cereal, crackers, goldfish, dried fruit, fresh fruit, bagels, muffins, and other snacks.
  3. Sneak food into their mouths as they are feeding themselves. At this toddler phase, kids will never be as efficient at feeding themselves as you would be. Unfortunately, it seems they may also not be as agreeable to you doing the work as they once were. Sneak in what you can and allow them to have control over at least some of their food.
  4. Encourage your child and praise him or her for eating well. Use a tone that is fun and exciting, expressing how proud you are of their efforts.
  5. Consider bargaining if appropriate. It may not be a practice you want to do all the time, but bargaining can be instrumental in getting your child to try new things or to eat in greater quantity.
  6. Try different settings to give your child variety. The high chair gets old after a while. If you can pull your child’s chair up to the kitchen table without the tray, that could be a suitable alternative. I’ve also seen great success with the portable booster chairs for toddlers and even just letting them run around and pick food pieces up from a TV tray or table.
  7. Have a [willing] family member or guest offer your child their snacks or meals. I have seen more success with my daughter eating snacks she gets from someone new and exciting than from offering what we keep in the cabinets.
  8. And finally, my favorite tip of all – Disguise food as something they love. Create cute animal shapes with the food or use cookie cutters, food molds, or pancake and egg shapes to give your kid a more entertaining, more enjoyable option when it comes to eating the same foods day after day.

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If you have other tips and ideas to get your toddler to be a better eater, please share them in our comments below! You may think your tip or suggestion seems basic, but to someone else it could be a godsend.

Top 10 Mommy Meals to Make in 10 Minutes or Less

Mommy meals in 10 minutes or lessAs a relatively new mom, I’ve come to realize that even the best intentions don’t get things done around my house all the time. Sometimes the laundry suffers, sometimes the dishes, sometimes everything around me looks like a tornado tore through my home. I’m sure I’m not alone on this. I can’t tell you how many times it gets to be 2, 3, or even 4 o’clock in the afternoon and I haven’t eaten lunch yet. I think those days occurred more frequently when my daughter was younger, but now that she’s crawling and sitting unsupported, I find it a little easier to make up a snappy lunchtime meal in 10 minutes or less.

In thinking about it, I realized other new moms, and moms of more than one child, might be able to benefit from some Quick Chef ideas. So, my friends, here you have it – my favorite 10 mommy meals to make in 10 minutes or less. Enjoy!

Leftovers – It probably goes without saying, but if you have a feeling you won’t have time to make yourself a decent lunch, just cook a little more for dinner a few times per week. You can have leftovers with just about anything you make, but my favorite leftover dishes are any kind of pasta bake like lasagna, baked ziti, macaroni and cheese, and other things like Stromboli, stir fry, or whatever your favorite meals are. My other favorite leftovers tip is when you are having meat, especially chicken, ham, or some kind of steak, get ready to use those leftovers in a nice mommy meal as outlined in my other favorites below…

Gourmet Salad – If you don’t mind the bagged variety, you can eat healthy and instantly. Save some leftover chicken, steak, ham, or even salmon or shrimp from the previous night’s dinner and top your salad off with a few strips of that yummy protein, sliced hard-boiled egg, shredded cheese, and some bacon bits (we keep a jar of real bacon bits in our fridge). I occasionally also top my salads with walnuts or pecans and dried cranberries or Craisins. Yum! Top with your favorite dressing. You can alternate between house salad, Caesar salad, and some variety of a chopped or wedge salad if you like. Plus, a few meals of salad each week should help you get back to your preferred weight, if you haven’t already.

Oatmeal – Oatmeal is one of the quickest meals you can make, especially if you pop it in the microwave. Add Craisins or other dried fruit, a little sugar or brown sugar, and I even throw in some mini chocolate chips from time to time. This fast mommy meal makes a great breakfast or brunch item, but I just had it for lunch a few days ago.

Omelet – I am not big on scrambled eggs, but I do like a nice turkey, bacon, and cheese omelet done MY way. I like to use those little egg and pancake molds that you can find in just about any cool kitchen store, or online at places like Amazon. (Added bonus—your kids will love pancakes shaped like hearts and flowers!) I simply add some leftover turkey or deli turkey / lunchmeat, some of the aforementioned bacon bits, and top with a slice of provolone cheese. You can make your omelet YOUR way as a great breakfast, brunch, or even lunch idea in just a few minutes.

Tuna Melt – Simple and yummy – top an English muffin or half of a plain bagel with your choice of tuna and a slice of your favorite cheese. (You can add shredded cheese instead if you prefer.) Pop it into the oven at about 350 for 7 or 8 minutes or so, or until desired doneness. As a special tip, you can do this if you have other foods on hand as well, like a chicken melt, turkey melt, ham and cheese melt, etc. Enjoy!

5 More Mommy Meals…

© Garuti | Stock Free Images & Dreamstime Stock Photos


30-Minute Meals for a Quick Dinner at Home

30-minute meals giveawayMaking dinner can become quite a chore, especially when you are working during the day or if you have a whole family to feed. Quick and easy meals can take away some of the daily stress you might face when it comes to cooking for your family. But, did you know a “quick and easy meal” doesn’t always have to start with hotdogs and end with macaroni and cheese?

In case you haven’t had the pleasure of trying them yet, you should check out my recent review on the McCormick Gourmet seasoning recipe mixes. I found these to be such a great way to make a variety of quick and easy meals at home now that I am trying to juggle life with an infant on top of all my normal routine.

Life Love Beauty recently hosted the McCormick Elevating Everyday Meals contest, where we asked our readers to share their favorite 30-minute meals. We received many great submissions, including the following:

•    Chicken diced and sprinkled with olive oil, parsley flakes and sea salt and pepper
•    Ham steak and then rice or quinoa for a side
•    Tacos
•    Cream of chicken over rice, cornbread, and veggies
•    Hot Southern chili
•    Roast beef hash
•    Grilled sandwiches and soup
•    Sautéed shrimp and rice
•    Steak and onion sandwiches
•    Hamburgers or hotdogs on the grill
•    Spaghetti
•    Stir fry made from leftovers
•    Roast chicken with roast sage potatoes
•    Roast asparagus and tomatoes in broth as a quick soup
•    Garlic and White Wine Chicken Scaloppine
•    Pepper steak
•    French toast and bacon or sausage links
•    OLD BAY Baked Crusted Salmon
•    Baked chicken with rice and cheese
•    Pasta

McCormick Elevating Everyday Meals GiveawayWe are proud to announce the winner of our Elevating Everyday Meals Giveaway – Tim, with his entry: “I like to make what I call cupboard clearing casseroles. I take a random meat that seems to not have any alternate uses, then I just grab stuff from the cupboard (rice, beans, pasta, vegetables, cream of mushroom, etc) and mix it all together, sprinkle some cheese on top and bake it. It rarely turns out poorly, no matter what you put in. One time I even through some Craisins in one and the salty/sweet contrast made it really good.”

If you have any other 30-minute meals (or even quicker ones) that you would like to share, please leave a comment with your tips below.

 

Gourmet Meals Made Simple with McCormick Gourmet Recipe Mixes

McCormick Gourmet Recipe Mixes Review and GiveawayI’ve always loved to cook, from homemade Stromboli and hand-rolled meatballs to lasagna, stirfry, and more. Now that I have a newborn, my cooking time is drastically diminished. If I can get 30 minutes to myself to throw something together, it’s like hitting the jackpot. Seriously, it is a wonder we haven’t had cereal for dinner yet. I can wholeheartedly thank McCormick for at least four of my recent meals, and two more to come, which took only minutes to prepare and gave us that gourmet dinner experience without the fuss.

First, let me say I am a longtime fan and patron of McCormick products. I make all my stirfry dinners with McCormick’s Italian spice grinder. I make roast beef au jus with the au jus packet, and I make pulled pork with McCormick’s pulled pork packet. I use their cream of tartar, vanilla, almond extract, food coloring, and other ingredients for my cookies and desserts. I would be deceiving you if I pretended to be surprised by the deliciousness of this new offering from this rock star spice and seasoning company, when I am already well aware of how their ingredients knock my meals and baked goods out of the park every time.

McCormick Gourmet Recipe Mixes Review and Giveaway

With that being said, I AM pleasantly surprised at how easy it is to mix up dinners in only minutes with a newborn at home, often requiring only fresh meat and the secondary ingredients that I already keep in the house. Furthermore, I am in love with one of these seasoning packets in particular, which my husband and I both enjoyed the most out of all that we tried. Even washing the dishes later that night, our home smelled just like an Italian restaurant. I mean, I know I am a good cook and all, but that was quite unexpected for a meal that probably took all of about 15 minutes to throw together. Even my mom, who tried the Sweet Basil & Oregano Bruschetta Chicken as leftovers the next day, loved it, and she now wants her own seasoning packets to use at her house.

McCormick Gourmet Recipe Mixes Review and GiveawaySo far, I have prepared four meals with the McCormick Gourmet seasoning packets – Sweet Basil & Oregano Bruschetta Chicken (our favorite, husband even had seconds), Smoked Sausage & Pepper Creole Jambalaya (I used chicken sausage instead of turkey sausage), Bourbon Spiced Pork (my mom and I LOVED this for lunch one day while she was babysitting my daughter so I could work), and Herbes de Provence Roasted Chicken & Potatoes (it was good, but we preferred the bruschetta chicken).

I love how easy it is to elevate your everyday meals with these great seasonings and meal ideas from McCormick. In most cases, it would take just as long to make macaroni and cheese and hotdogs as it would to whip up one of these bad boys, so adding these spice packets into your routine should be a no-brainer. You

McCormick Gourmet Recipe Mixes Review and Giveaway

can enjoy a more exquisite meal, and no one has to know it only took you 15 or 20 minutes to prepare (plus cooking time in some cases).

I received six packets of McCormick seasonings along with a wonderful McCormick Elevating Everyday Meals prize pack that included a fancy apron to protect my clothes while cooking, a dinner conversation game to make mealtime more fun, a Red Box certificate so we can enjoy dinner and a movie at home, and of course, wine glasses to celebrate my hard work (a-hem) in the kitchen. All items were for the purpose of this review and promotion of a giveaway that we are hosting on Life Love Beauty.

McCormick Gourmet Recipe Mixes Review and GiveawayOne winner will receive an incredible prize pack from McCormick, too. Simply post a comment on this page or on our Facebook page with your favorite meal idea that takes less than 30 minutes to prepare. If you are leaving a comment on this page, be sure to double-check your email address so we have a means of contacting you. We can’t wait to hear about your easy meals in under 30 minutes. To be eligible for the giveaway, please enter your comments by Thursday, September 27 at 11:59 p.m. EST. Good luck, everyone, and happy cooking!