Why you should NEVER serve children plain carbs

[Avoiding a picky eater]
One good rule to remember : NEVER serve plain pasta (or crackers/toast)!
As a speech pathologist, I work with picky eaters (no we don’t just do speech!).  It is very common to meet children whose sensory systems prefer plain carbs.  But if you never serve it to them, they will never get a taste for it. 


How do you serve your toddlers spag bol? 

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Sometimes we combine it and other times, to encourage more cutlery use (stabbing pasta, scooping sauce), I separate them.  Not to mention it’s less messy when you don’t have the time and energy for little hands scooping in.
BUT to avoid the plain pasta, I toss it through tahini or even olive or coconut oil.  Or I toss it through the bolognaise and then put it in a ‘stabbing cup’.

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Fish nuggets, avo and sneaky coleslaw

An easy gluten-, dairy-, soy-, corn-, yeast-, grain-, additive-free, ‘Paleo’ dinner that ANYONE would love!  And introducing Master2 to coleslaw…. This is how it went.

FISH NUGGETS
Toss cut up, fresh fish pieces in egg then coat in:
– coconut flour
– turmeric
– salt/pepper

Adults can join in too!

Adults can join in too!


(Turmeric has so many superpowers including reducing inflammation, not to mention it gives the nuggets a great golden colour).

Fry in coconut oil at medium heat – to avoid processed vegetable oils or using olive oil which goes rancid at high heat (& not good for our health).  Keep your olive oil for when you’re not heating it, such as the mayo…

Our Thermomix is a saving grace at making homemade mayonnaise and coleslaw.  This way we avoid additives, sugar, gluten and other not-so-desirable ingredients in store-bought mayonnaise.  Of course, if you don’t have a Thermomix and can’t fathom making mayonnaise, compare ingredient labels to find one with few ingredients.

As you can see, I’ve provided plenty of fish, some avocado for good fats that will also fill Master2 up and THE SAMPLER of coleslaw.
As he’s never seen it before (that he can remember), I reduced expectations to even eat ANY and put out enough just for experimentation.
He wasn’t keen when it stuck to his avocado, although that was my plan.  However, we distracted him to focus on his fish.  By the time he was stabbing his avocado (with help from Dad), he unwittingly ate some.  No chance of a full scoop, but I’ll take some in the mouth a win!!!

We had ours with a pile of cherry tomatoes too.  That’s a challenge for both boys on another night!

I’m sure others are up for some yummy, easy toddler meals.  Go ahead and share your go-to one

🙂 Heidi

10 tips to ensure your child grows to love vegetables

Yes, vegetables do play on my mind!  Here are a few things about veges and kids that I always keep in mind…

  • children need to eat a rainbow of vegetables for essential nutrients for growth and development.  Full stop!
  • exposure to a wide variety of vegetables is key.  If your child isn’t presented with vegetables, they will not stand the chance to get accustomed to them.  See I Create My Child’s Healthy Palate for more information on helping your little one to become a healthy eater
  • a child around the age of 2 years will start trying out their new found independence and say ‘no’ to a food.  This is not the time to hold back on serving up the vegetables (or any food for that matter).
  • the sooner children develop a taste for vegetables, the sooner they will have a stronger immune system, have more nutrients for their development, stay healthier for life & be more likely to come back to them…even after potentially coming off the bandwagon in teenage years!
  • education about the WHY, the importance of vegetables is crucial.  Help your child to appreciate vegetables rather than bribing them to eat their broccoli in exchange for dessert.  Even the mention of becoming a quicker runner, better dancer or growing up like their idol can be a great reason to start trying.  Moving towards talking about benefits for the body can also be started quite young.
  • it has been found that the variety of foods a child is eating at 4 years of age represents the majority of foods they will eat for the rest of their lives.  Don’t put off presenting new vegetables. 
  • you can hide vegetables but your child still needs to have the time to let their sensory system get accustomed to the different sensory properties, such as taste, texture and smell of the individual vegetable
  • a child needs the time to explore a new vegetable by looking at it, touching it and maybe even squashing it with a utensil or fingers, all with no pressure to eat.  They may need several occasions before they are ready to eat it.
  • involving children in growing or preparing vegetables is a step towards success.  See Interactive Eating – Rice Wraps
  • using different vegetables in slow-cooked meals or bolognaise can be a great way to get your child use to looking at and attempting new vegetables

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Before your next grocery shop, have a think about which vegetables you might try with your child.  Will you add some more ‘hidden’ vegetables or will you have some to present each night for the week to see how close you can get your child to trying some.

Hide and seek with chicken soup?

Yes that’s right.  The lengths I will go to, to encourage my children to be adventurous and healthy eaters!

It all started when I made chicken stock from scratch.  So I decided to make a creamy chicken soup with it… The problem is, Master 2 is still getting his head around mixed textures, let alone a soup, but I do have Master 4 who is becoming just so adventurous, I don’t want to hold him back for the sake of Master 2 eating a dinner with us.

So I held my breath and served the soup with a piece of their gluten-free toast and coconut oil to entice them to dip into the soup.  Taking a spoon to it would surely be too scary.  Both boys said ‘TOAST!’ and pushed the soup aside.  Hmm.

I knew I had a better chance with Master 4 so encouraged him to try the soup and I would put a Wiggles song on for him.  He did.  Now onto Master 2.

Knowing that Master 2’s sensory system would need some working to get him to eat the soup, I tried to encourage him to at least touch the soup, no eating.  Instead he became upset when I put a small dollop on his toast plate.  Hmm, so I was looking at this bowl of soup not even getting touched tonight….

Out comes the avocado offer!  Master 2 was keen.  But of course my trick was to throw the avocado into the bowl of soup so he would have to at least touch AND taste a small amount of soup.  He wasn’t impressed!

So I offered a bit of corn thin with two goals in mind – a bit of filler now that I could see this soup wasn’t going to be eaten and another object to put in the soup.  Master 2 wasn’t impressed but he did dig it out and try to wipe off the end.  Whilst he ate the dry end, I scooped the avocado out and left it on the table, making sure there was still some soup on it.  Master 2 fell for it and ate the avocado.  I made sure he knew he’d eaten a bit of soup, ‘hooray!!!!!’.

I tried with the corn thin again, and this time he ate it all!  So I backed it down to small pieces of corn thin dropped into the soup.  He was fine with it!  In fact, he enjoyed digging around for it.  And before we knew it, we were playing hide and seek in the soup.  I hid small pieces of corn thin in the soup, he would dig them out and eat half the soup that came with it.

Whilst Master 2 didn’t eat all of his soup, he touched it (crucial for getting his sensory system okay with the idea of eating it), tasted it and even ate decent amounts of it (probably half).  And after my first thought that he would finish dinner without having touched it, I call it success!

I’ll be making it again soon, so we can teach his sensory system more 🙂  Oh and Master 4 ate two bowls full!

When bananas get boring…

When bananas get boring, why not add coconut?  Coconut brings the good fats which keeps your child fuller for longer.  And the dipping is a kid enticer too.

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We do organic dessicated coconut to avoid nasty preservatives.  And why not compare coconut milk brands while you’re at it.  Some have a long list of ingredients, others are simpler.  I go full fat for the growing boys

🙂 Heidi

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Passionfruit tadpoles

One of our latest ventures to get past the sensory properties of passion fruit.. They were tadpoles and eyeballs and it was fun. And then we encouraged Master 4 to lick his fingers. Tasted pretty nice. Next was to try some juice (without having to deal with the tadpoles). Then we played ‘close your eyes’ and check if you can notice the (1) tadpole. And lastly, ‘can you count how many tadpoles are in your mouth with your tongue?!’. Now he is eating passion fruit. Still cautious and needing encouragement but happy to give it a go!
Remember you can use any of these moves or your own on other foods too! What will you try with your children tomorrow?
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Crusts, ends, skin and peel…

So who finds themselves peeling apples, cutting the crusts off bread or picking out the ‘bits’ in say yoghurt?  By giving a name to say ‘yolk’ or ‘crust’ or ‘lumps’, it draws attention to that part of the food being different to the rest…and possibly something a child should avoid.  Particularly if the parent offers to remove that part of the food.
Let’s consider what might be going on:
  • the child’s sensory system is still developing. The feel of a lump or the look of a different colour on the egg may be enough to make your child think twice.
  • the child wants to stay with what’s ‘normal’. If they’ve always had fruit or cucumber peeled or the ends of beans cut off or smooth yoghurt, they might need warming up to eat this unfamiliar part.
  • the child is finding it extra work. Chewing through crusts for little developing jaws can be hard work.

What can you do to work through these stages?

  • for the little ones (pre 12mths), give achievable lumps. Instead of store-bought yoghurt with fruit, why not add cooked fruit, fruit purée, dessicated coconut or say some banana bread bits to plain yogurt. These create more even texture until they are ready for bigger lumps.
  • most children can and will work around peel and crusts from an early age.  But be prepared for them to avoid the skin or crusts.  There is no need to draw any attention to it though.  You might simply ask if they’ve had enough and remove it. Sometimes just breaking the crusts up into more manageable pieces will have your child finishing all their bread.
  • keep persisting.  As with introducing any new food, if you persist, you ‘should’ win. (Short of further sensory processing issues or difficulty chewing).
  • be prepared for regression.  Once a child works out ‘no’, they might put up some protests.  This is NOT the time to go with their requests.  Keep persisting, with no pressure.
  • model eating it all yourself.  You might show them how you bite into a whole apple with the peel or crunch the rest of the cucumber skin.
  • start slowly.  You might present sweet potato with just some of it’s skin on.  Or peel stripes down the cucumber.  You could cut just one end off each bean.

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Always remember, no matter what, there is no pressure to eat and thus no drawing attention to these parts of food.  Eventually your child will be ready to eat it all…and they won’t realise the game you’ve just played with them!  🙂  Heidi
Please let me know if you have any questions in this area.

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Turning ‘yuck’ to ‘thanks’

Success! Many of you would know I don’t stand for ‘yuck’ at the dinner table. It’s taken awhile of reminding ‘I’m not sure of that food’ and lots of exposure to foods with no pressure to eat. Finally Master 3.5 has started sitting at the table and surprising us with ‘what a great dinner Mummy’ and ‘thanks for cooking this Daddy’. It is worth being consistent on this!

Speaking of which, one of my most clicked on blog posts of 2013 was ‘No child is naughty at the dinner table‘. It is full of reminders on why you should take it easy on kids at the dinner table (but we still ensure sitting to eat, age appropriate table manners and of course, no YUCK).

And right on cue, Master nearly 2 sits at the table tonight and mutters what I am sad to say was an approximation of ‘yucky’.  Here we go, round 2…….!

(but for this age, I played the ignore game)

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Are you providing your child with enough variety..of foods…

Note to self… A child can only ever learn to eat as much variety of food that they are exposed to. Don’t assume your child will/will not eat any food! Of course they might need consistent exposure to get used to it but if you give up after the first or second try…they will not have the time to learn to eat it.
And just because you wouldn’t eat it, doesn’t mean they won’t!

Keep your eyes peeled when food shopping next week and see if you can increase your child’s exposure to a couple of new foods!

Most clicked on 2013

An early happy new year to everyone! I will take the chance again to say thanks for being supporters of I Raise My Kids.
This week I’ll be reposting the most clicked on posts from I Raise My Kids.
Actually the most clicked on is ‘about me’ so starting with that, I’ll give a quick summary about who I am, so you know where I am coming from with the posts that I put up here!
I am Heidi, a mum of 2 boys (getting closer to 2 and 4 years) and a paediatric speech pathologist. I am very interested in child development which includes everything from communication, cognitive, social-emotional and even physical development. I am also interested in play, literacy and picky eating/developing healthy eating.
We have been down a road and a half working out the cause of Master 3’s ‘ADHD’ and eczema and have since come across food intolerances, kinesiology and working towards more of a Paleo ‘lifestyle’ so hence I post about this as well. Working with children, I am starting to realise there is a lot more of the unnecessary behavioural problems as well as other health issues that creep up, relating to not only diet but also emotional issues.
I hope that if anyone ever has questions or concerns that they would like more information on, relating to any of the above topics, please send me a message. I am more than happy to try and help!!