Let’s face it moms! Getting your family (and sometimes even yourself) to choose healthy snacks is basically impossible. That is especially true if you have the pleasure of trying to please an extremely picky eater. Luckily, these healthy snacks for picky eaters can help! You will have your kids eating beneficial foods in no time!
Feeding Picky Eaters
When my first daughter was young, she would eat absolutely everything. “Oh she just loves kale and hummus and roasted chickpeas…she will even eat chopped raw onions!”. The more experienced moms would just look at me and smile, knowing that this great habit would likely change very soon.However, I didn’t believe it. I wanted to hold on to the belief that my daughter was different. She was a kid foodie!
My daughter turned two and everything went downhill. Rather than eat the healthy foods I set out, she would throw them on the floor. She would cry and demand peanut butter and jelly or a banana or goldfish crackers. As a mom who just wanted the crying to stop, I would immediately give her whatever she wanted- I just wanted her to eat! That is where I went wrong. Looking back at it now, I see where I made my error- I gave her exactly the foods she wanted just to make her happy.
Think about it, if someone gave you vegetables but you knew that if you just threw them on the floor, a cookie would magically appear, wouldn’t you also reuse the veggies? That is exactly how kids think and unfortunately, parents are all to quick to just give in and make them happy, hoping that some day they will eat those veggies! I fell for the oldest trick in the book for sure.
Before too long, I had created a monster. The foods my daughter would eat were very limited and she refused to try anything new. I was faced with the daily dilemma of feeding a picky eater. However, I still wanted, needed, to get her to eat healthy foods. I needed to change our ways! But how! We were already in too deep and she knew exactly how to push my buttons.
Hiding Veggies in Foods
After talking to other mom’s about my problem and doing endless amounts of googling, I found that the best and easiest way to get some extra nutrition into my toddler was to hide vegetables in her food. Now that doesn’t mean just stick some broccoli between two slices of bread- we all know kids would see that right away. You need to be tricky and you need to never let your kids know what they are eating. Act like nothing is different and keep your fingers crossed that at least one bite goes in their mouth.
I thought about what she would eat on a consistent basis and here was what I had:
- Peanut Butter and Jelly
- Macaroni and Cheese
- Pasta with sauce
- Chicken Nuggets
- French Toast
- Scrambled Eggs
I started to blend spinach into marinara sauce, add some pureed cauliflower to her mac and cheese sauce, sprinkle some ground flaxseeds on her peanut butter and jelly- it all worked great! She was still eating the foods that she “demanded” but she was getting nutrients that were lacking in her diet otherwise.
Get a Toddler to Try New Foods
So my methods were working, but that didn’t mean that my daughter was actually “trying new foods”. She would still turn her nose up at anything that looked different, even going so far as to say she only liked round ravioli, not square ravioli (please tell me I’m not the only one with such a picky eater!). Sure, she was eating healthy foods but she didn’t know it. While some people would just carry on in this manner, I really wanted her to know that what she was eating was healthy and learn about nutrition, not just keep it a secret.
I decided my next goal was going to be to make sure she tried at least one new thing a week and knew about it….but how? Continuing to disguise foods seemed like a good idea but to do it in a different type of way- make the food look exciting. After all, because the truth is: presentation is everything!
If you put an apple in front of someone they are going to think whoopee its an apple. But when you disguise the apple with a few other delicious + nutritious things (read: granola, nut butter and dark chocolate) it suddenly looks a whole lot better! I mean what kid is going to say no to chocolate? And a little chocolate won’t hurt, right?
Healthy Snacks for Kids
Starting healthier eating habits at snack time seemed like a great idea. This is the time when my daughter is getting pretty hungry (between lunch and dinner can be a long stretch). If she wants to eat that badly, she can have a new, healthy snack- otherwise she can just wait until dinner time! This way, she isn’t missing meals because she is rejecting food and I know that she won’t go to bed hungry. It’s simply, if you want a snack between meals, you get something healthy and new. If you don’t want that choice, then you can wait.
The first day of my new snack schedule, I offered her one of the no-bake energy bites which are healthy, delicious and easy to make. She saw the fun ball shaped treat, she was pretty hungry so she went with it. And guess what, she loved it! It was way easier than I had anticipated!
I kept on offering my daughter healthy snacks at times when she was begging for a treat. She quickly learned that the only option was a healthy, new one. However, chocolate covered apples, bowls of berries and oats and fun cookie dough-esque energy bites were hardly ‘hard to eat’. She devoured them all!
Sure, she still turned down my plain carrot sticks but she was at least entertaining the idea of eating carrots. She’ll get there someday- I hope!
Healthy Picky Snacks
While I still consider my daughter to be a picky eater (I have to catch her in just the right mood in order to convince her to try something new), she is definitely getting better. Offering delicious snacks, presented in a fun way with the ‘nutrition’ buried under foods she loves (aka chocolate), we have certainly made progress with our picky girl. Her arsenal of healthy foods that she will eat is growing and I don’t really worry too much about her overall nutrition. I know she has a well balanced diet even if all she sees is chocolate. And yes, I still do sneaky things like put spinach in her pasta sauce!
If you are facing a picky eater right now, hopefully these healthy snacks will help. Keep trying and don’t give in! Of course, I would recommend trying the snacks that have chocolate in them first as those are always a crowd pleaser! You will have a good eater soon- all good things take time!
Here are our favorite healthy snacks for picky eaters: