So I’m a pretty terrible parent. I give my kid ice cream, french fries, and sometimes (often) he doesn’t eat fruit or vegetables at mealtimes. That’s not to say the fruits and vegetables aren’t on his plate, it just means he doesn’t care to eat them. Salads, he detests. He would rather eat nothing than eat lettuce. Spinach may as well be poop. Wait, he’d probably touch poop before he touched spinach. He won’t look at kale. He picks out most things that are green and leafy. Oddly, he eats leaves (basil, mint, cilantro), but lettuce? Nope. A chive? Sure! Some romaine? Yeah right.
This is hard for us as parents, as food-lovers, as brussel sprout enthusiasts. He had such a wide variety of foods as a baby and toddler, and ate just about everything that I put in front of him. Everything was organic, homemade, and healthy. He ate very well. Now? He’s almost three and a has a definite mind of his own.
Certain things, though, I can still get away with. Some are personal preferences for him (a strange aversion to cheese, a distrust of burgers), and others are kid-hacks for sure.
I have to chuckle at myself because I’m pretty sure that none of these will work tomorrow…
The Juice Hack
We were fanatic about not introducing sugar to our son’s diet when he was a baby. Then he turned one and it sort of all went to pot (like limiting the TV). But one thing we never did was offer him juice. Kid was offered milk, water…and when he got a little older…”juice” aka iced Tazo Passion Tea.
I’m a little proud of this one, not that I came up with it but that I actually used it and made it happen. He loves his juice. He also calls it tea, he knows it’s tea, but to him it’s pink juice. And it’s delightful, waaaay cheaper than actual juice, and so much better for him. Plus, it’s delightfully refreshing. Isn’t that what juice is supposed to be anyway?
The Mashed Potato Hack
This isn’t a new one. Everyone knows this one. Everyone who has been on a diet ever knows this one. Steam or boil cauliflower, puree in a food processor and do a half-half with mashed potatoes, less potatoes if you can get away with it. Vegetable and starch, done and done.
The Rice Hack
Our kid loves rice. He loves it more than noodles (though he loves noodles like crazy). And organic brown rice and seaweed is one of his absolute favorite things of all time. We use furikake, a Japanese seaweed/sesame blend that was a staple of mine as a child and is now something he adores. We particularly enjoy this brand:
The nice part is that while this one has a touch of sugar and salt, the idea of seaweed is so fun after this that eating plain seaweed is pretty okay for him too. Plus when you make cute shapes and animals with rice and seaweed…well it can’t be beat. Seaweed has vitamins and other health qualities that health foodists everywhere adore – for Asian cultures it’s just yum.
The Ice Cream Hack
Frozen Yogurt. Pretty much sums it up. Take those organic yogurt tubes, stick them in the freezer and you’ve got “ice cream”.
The Sausage Hack
Morningstar Breakfast Sausages. Vegetarian sausage patties. Can your kid read yet? If not, they don’t know they’re not meat. If they can, just recycle the box before they see it. Vegetarian sausage patties are overly delightful.
The Cheesy Noodle Hack
So my kid is pretty meh about cheese. Sometimes he’ll eat it on pizza, sometimes not. Sometimes he’ll eat a quesadilla, sometimes he tears it apart to only eat the tortilla. So to say that covering broccoli in cheese sauce would be a food hack is – for my child – a misnomer. However! Should your child be a cheese lover not a fighter, Pinch of Yum has a delightful Creamy Cauliflower Sauce recipe that I and my cheese-loving husband adores.