This is a sponsored post from Chef Boyardee and BlogHer.
To our happiness, they’ve both loved food from the beginning. I made all sorts of baby foods for them, we’d go to Whole Foods, buy a variety of interesting looking veggies, cook till soft, then puree them to the right texture. Faith’s long time favorite was lentil stew—my own combination of lentils, squash, zucchini, carrots, beans, pretty much whatever veggies I had on hand. Ben has always been my fruit fiend. Other than banana, his first foods were fresh pineapples, mangos and melons on our Hawaii trip when he was six months old.
But since then, I’ve come up with a few favorite ideas to get the kids to open up to more new foods.
- Bentos, of course! Those are *always* my number one idea for feeding your kids. Cute food is always much better than not cute food. Remember those studies earlier in the year, how carrots with, say, Princesses on the packet were apparently yummier than the identical carrots with the plain packet? It’s the same theory—smiling sandwiches, cute fruits and shaped veggie? All tastier than a plain sandwich, carrots and an apple. My own not-so-scientific research with F&B has proved that one time & time again.
- Dipping sauces help a ton. Both of mine love yogurt dip for fruit, hummus for veggies and bread, ranch for almost anything. Cream cheese can make wonderful dips or spreads too, combined with avocado or a bit of tomato sauce and roasted red peppers are especially good. Carrot-ginger dip is pretty yummy too.
- Cook with your kids! The sense of accomplishment often means they’ll try what they cook. My two have been in the kitchen with me since they were toddlers. A butter knife and soft foods is a great starting point for a little sous-chef, same with measuring cups and spoons, pouring, stirring, etc. (As a bonus, lots of great counting and math skills happen in the kitchen.) At 8, Faith can follow almost any recipe and loves to bake. She recently made muffins all by herself, other than lifting the tray up into our double oven!
- Bake with fruits and veggies. Personally, I am not a fan of hiding fruits and veggies in so-called kid foods and pretending they aren’t there. To me, it teaches more of “good foods tastes icky, we’ll hide them in more tasty/less healthy items.” You aren’t going to find brownies with spinach puree or macaroni and cheese with hidden squash around here. You will, however, find fun things like chocolate-zucchini muffins with Ben grating the zucchini first or sweet potato cupcakes made by Faith. We try label everything as what it is. In the process, we’ve discovered that zucchini does not really have much of a flavor on its own, so our zucchini muffins are usually very moist and taste like whatever else is in them. Sweet potato leaves a very similar flavor to pumpkin. And we all love anything with fruit, even making our own dried fruits for granola bars and our own pure fruit roll-ups and popsicles.
- Let them help choose foods. It might be a little more expensive at times, but I’ll let both kids pick produce they want to try or a new kind of cheese or a fresh loaf of bread. They also help with meal planning. I give them guidelines and they’ll pick what they might like to have. Pizza doesn’t count as a choice either, that’s a Mom-break night! Faith’s favorite choice is her favorite pork chop dish with rice and maple glazed carrots. Ben is on a steak-kick lately, along with potatoes and peas most likely. They both love Italian food, so pasta is another go-to meal.
BlogHer is giving away a $200 Visa gift card in conjunction with this post! To enter, leave me a comment telling me your favorite parenting tip or trick. It can be food related, but it doesn’t have to be!
What’s your favorite brilliant idea that makes your life run that much smoother?
(FYI, besides bento, mine has to be putting every toy back together every single night. Yes, it’s a pain at first, but so much better than having to find that one last puzzle piece, or the very important Thomas the Train, or that Polly Pocket pet that completes the whole imaginary world!)