We’ve been spending a lot of time with my sister and her family lately, and it’s been so lovely! We’ve shared many dinners together over the last few weeks, mostly in her kitchen. This sometimes means we prepare simpler meals because there are three kids to please. Our nieces and nephew are not picky eaters by any means, but still, they’re kids and they’re not always impressed with wild flavors and pretty presentation. They basically want to fill their stomachs, and carry on playing!
I’m learning a lot from my sister, who is a great mom, with
three almost four kids who all have different food preferences. And she’s tackled a lot of ideas to get her kids to eat. Here are a few that actually work!
Have Fun with Flavors
There are plenty of flavors kids don’t like, but finding ways for them to discover new flavor likes can be fun. New flavor Friday is a fun way to add unfamiliar tastes and smells to your kids’ menu or silly taste tests to learn what sour, rich, and tangy taste like. Kids can also design and color menus with descriptions to help identify flavors. Anything you do together as a family will make it a memorable experience and they’ll have such strong, positive associations with the food you’re sharing together.
Sous Chefs Like to Sample
Another avenue for discovery that gets kids to eat is letting them help in the kitchen. When I announce that it’s time to cook and I need an assistant, my niece and nephew both jump up with a start and shout a competitive “Me! Me!”. They love to stir, mix, and shake & bake along with the rest of us. Seeing and understanding how food is designed and made peeks their curiosity to find out what it tastes like. Kids are more apt to try something if they’ve had a hand in making it.
My beautiful friend, Hibet, is an occupational therapist and when I mentioned that my niece, Ireland, seemed to be picky about certain food textures, she offered up some helpful advice. It’s really important, she shared, for babies and toddlers to play with their food. This is how they learn. Mushing it between their fingers, smelling it, and then, *gasp*, tasting it is an important experience that kids shouldn’t skip. Although it can be more of a mess, it’s essential for kids to play with their food.
Take Cover with Condiments
When all else fails, kids are usually fans of dipping sauces. Add some ketchup or Ranch dressing to that scary, new vegetable and they just might make peace with each other. What kid doesn’t love some yummy dipping sauce! Add new sauces or dressings to your pantry and fridge to help the “medicine” go down.
Almost all of the above have worked beautifully with my nieces and nephew! This recipe for homemade parmesan potato chips was also a huge hit. Although Cuyler wasn’t the biggest fan, the girls and I gobbled them up 20 minutes after cooling.
You can make these chips two ways: baked or fried. I tried both and was pleased with the yummy results. The baked chips were a little more chewy than the crunchy fried ones, but they both had great flavor and crisp.
Homemade Parmesan Potato Chips
- 4-5 small or medium Yukon gold potatoes
- Olive Oil
- Parmesan Cheese
- Onion powder
- Garlic Powder
1. Slice potatoes very thin (use a mandoline or chef’s knife).
2. In a bowl, drizzle olive oil over potato slices and toss.
3. Evenly sprinkle Parmesan, onion & garlic powders, salt, pepper over potatoes and toss until well-coated.
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
2. Coat baking sheet with cooking oil and spread potatoes. Make sure there’s no overlapping.
3. Depending on the thickness of the potatoes, bake for a minimum of 5 min. then flip and bake for 5 more.
4. Cool on rack or plate with paper towel.
1. Pour one inch of canola oil in deep frying pan or skillet and heat to medium-high.
2. To test oil for readiness, lower a small potato piece in (it should bob and bubble).
3. Carefully lower in potato slices and fry for about 2 minutes.
4. Drain on paper towels.
Serve with French onion dip, ketchup, or your kids’ favorite dipping sauce. They won’t last very long!
My 17 month old niece, Ireland, was a great helper in the kitchen. She excitedly stirred and seasoned the potatoes, and was happy to taste them once they had cooled.
Between the three of us, the chips disappeared in less than 20 minutes. My little helper’s face below says it all! “No more?! I want more!”
“What can we make next?!”