Picky eating: You are not alone!

by Rachel Hochstadt (Independent Study Student)

 Although I am not a parent yet, I have seen how picky children can be from working at the Hort Woods Daycare on campus at Penn State. Every day I talk with teachers and see children that don’t want their food touching, they don’t like certain color foods and they don’t always like to be told what and how to eat (especially healthy!). However, as a parent there are some things that you can do to increase your child’s intake of fruits and vegetables. As a Nutritional Science major, I don’t always entertain the idea of hiding fruits and vegetables in certain foods. Ideally, us nutrition enthusiasts want kids to know what they are eating and like it anyway! However, from the literature and personal experience I have seen that disguising both fruits and vegetables is an effective way of increasing the intake of healthy foods in children.

 From past research, it is evident that making foods that children already enjoy and incorporating vegetables into them will increase their intake. From the journal article, Hiding vegetables to reduce energy density: an effective strategy to increase children’s vegetable intake and reduce energy intake , published by Penn State Nutrition researchers, it is clear this is something parents with picky eating children should practice. In this particular study, pureed vegetables were incorporated into foods to increase veggie intake but to also decrease the amount of calories eaten daily. Children didn’t recognize the change in food and continued to eat similarly despite the incorporation of vegetables into their food. The incorporation of pureed vegetables also DID NOT affect the consumption of the vegetable side dishes. Goes to show you can never eat too much of a good thing.

  • Link to research page:www.ajcn.org/content/early/2011/07/20/ajcn.111.015206.abstract

After reading this article, I did a bunch of research on my own and found that there are plenty of resources available to parents regarding picky eating.  I found several free sites available that incorporate both recipes, advice and other tips for parents whose children don’t exactly make mealtime easy.

  • For instance here at : http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/childrens-health/HQ01107 the mayoclinic staff will tell you the ten tips you need to know in order to deal with your picky eater.
  • This link http://www.ucsfbenioffchildrens.org/education/picky_eaters/index.html  also offers helpful advice from health care specialists based out of a pediatric hospital in California.
  • And finally my favorite, an author based out of Westchester, NY (my hometown) offers great recipes and advice for parents who want to provide their kids with both nutritious and healthy food at home. Missy Chase Lapine is the author of several cookbooks, sold at Barnes & Noble, Amazon and other large book retailers.
  • http://www.sneakychef.com/
  • The sneaky chef also offers free recipes available online. Here is one I found particularly appealing just because we know how much kids love chicken fingers!

  •  There’s something about chicken nuggets that make them one of the most popular kid foods in America! Missy uses it to her sneaky advantage. She substitutes “oven-frying” for deep-frying, and upgrades the breading so it becomes a nutritious food instead of just a layer of simple carbs to hold the frying fat. The dipping sauce can also add delicious “hidden” nutrition–especially when you add spinach and blueberries to it.
  • 1/2 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 2 large egg whites (about 6 tablespoons liquid egg whites)
  • 1/2 cup Purple or Orange Puree– (see Make-Ahead Recipe #1, p. 257 or #2, p. 258), divided
  • 1/2 cup store-bought BBQ sauce, divided
  • 2 tablespoons honey, divided
  • 1/2 cup ground flax or wheat germ
  • 1 cup crushed whole-grain cereal flakes (from about 2 cups of cereal)
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into small nugget
  •  Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
    • Place flour in a shallow dish or on a plate. In another shallow bowl, beat egg whites with 1/4 cup of the Purple or Orange Puree, 1/4 cup of the BBQ sauce, and 1 tablespoon of the honey and place next to the flour. In a third shallow dish or on a paper plate, combine the ground flax and crushed cereal. Place remaining puree, BBQ sauce, and honey in a clean bowl and set aside to use as dipping sauce.
    • Dredge each piece of chicken in the flour, shaking off excess, then dip in the egg mixture, followed by the cereal mixture. Press the breading evenly onto both sides of the chicken. Put on wax or parchment paper and store in the refrigerator for cooking tomorrow or proceed to cook immediately.
    • Pan-fry method: (Higher fat and longer time standing at stove, but crispier)
    • Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking. Add several nuggets of chicken at a time, pan-frying on one side until the crumbs look golden, about 2 to 3 minutes. Watch for burning, and turn down heat if necessary. With tongs, turn the pieces over and cook until golden, about 3 minutes. Reduce the heat to low until cooked through, about another 10 minutes. Blot cooked nuggets on paper towels to remove excess oil
    • Oven-bake method: (not as brown and crisp, but lower fat and less time standing at stove)
    • Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
    •  Place breaded nuggets on a lightly sprayed cookie sheet and bake for 10 to 12 minutes. Turn chicken nuggets over once with tongs, then return to oven for another 10 to 12 minutes until cooked through.
    •  Season with salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste. Serve with honey BBQ dipping sauce.



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