From The Nutritionist

Get your picky eaters to pick veggies
Caroline Kaufman, M.S., R.D.

New Year, New Foods: How to encourage picky eaters (and their parents!) to try new foods in 2013

Have you made your New Year's resolution yet? There's no better time than 2013 to start eating more vegetables. They're healthy, tasty, and versatile, and they're going to be one of the hottest food trends of the year according to the ad agency Sterling-Rice Group. If you have picky eaters at home, adding more vegetables to the dinner plate can feel daunting. But, you can make this resolution stick by exploring vegetables before dinner, choosing flavorful cooking methods, and getting the whole family on board.

Both kids and adults can put up a fight when it comes to eating veggies. A kid who says “ick” can be just as frustrating as a partner who says, “I never liked green beans, and I never will.” Kids often get picky around the same time they assert their independence, and they're less than eloquent about their feelings. It's natural for them to be afraid of trying new foods - they've got remnants of a survival instinct that favors sweet, familiar foods because they were less likely to be poisonous. Give your kids extra time to warm up to new foods by letting them explore vegetables from farm to table.

Encourage your independent child to explore food off the plate as a:

  • Farmer:
    • Grow a vegetable or herb at home. Let them choose how to prepare it, or sprinkle fresh herbs on everyone's dinner plate.
    • Visit a farmers market. Walk through the stalls, exploring the variety of freshly picked vegetables. Maybe she will be excited by multi-colored carrots or love how a yellow pattypan squash fits in her little hands. And farmers are usually happy to offer a sample.
  • Kitchen Helper: Your child just got promoted to assistant chef! After washing their hands, younger children can get out the measuring cups, scrub produce, tear lettuce, snap beans, and mix with their hands. As they get older, they can mash, pour, measure, and cut food with kid-safe knives. Encourage them to smell, taste, and touch the vegetables along the way.
  • Menu Expert: Choose two healthy and deliciously prepared vegetables, suggests Liz Weiss, M.S., R.D., co-founder of Meal Makeover Moms and coauthor of No Whine with Dinner. For example, ask your kids, "Would you like carrots or green beans for dinner, or both?" You'll feel good about whatever they select (fingers crossed that it's both!), and they'll be able to assert their newfound independence.

While novelty is one reason for pickiness, taste and texture are others. Maybe the veggie is too soft, crunchy, bitter, or bland. Instead of steaming green beans, try sautéing them in olive oil and sprinkling with sea salt. The bitter crunch of cauliflower may be a turnoff, but roasted in small pieces with breadcrumbs, it's more like popcorn. Don't be afraid to add a little fat for flavor.

One fun way for your family to kick-off the year is to start a "new veggie club." Every month, try a new vegetable and learn about it together. How and where does it grow? If January is "squash month," sample a variety of types and preparations. Maybe sautéed summer squash is a flop, but baked acorn squash with maple syrup is a hit. You don't have to like cooking to serve vegetables. Stores often sell pre-cut vegetables that you can throw in the oven, pan, or pot. Frozen veggies are a convenient alternative to fresh - and just as nutritious. With a bag of frozen stir-fry vegetables and a little prep, you can whip up an Asian-inspired side dish See what's in season and create a calendar with your family – maybe over your next dinner.

Enjoy!
Caroline

Caroline Kaufman, M.S., R.D.

Caroline Kaufman received an M.S. in Nutrition Communication from Tufts University and a B.A. in English from Harvard. She completed her dietetic internship at the University of Virginia Health System, where she specialized in pediatric nutrition. Caroline is a San Francisco-based registered dietitian, freelance writer, and health blogger who specializes in childhood and family nutrition. Her award-winning blog, Sweet Foodie, features family friendly meals, time-saving tips, and food photography. Follow Caroline on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.


Helpful Links:

Upcoming Events

 

What's in my Food? >

We are proud of the food we make but know you may have questions about the ingredients we use. Here we try to answer them.

Health Professional Resources >

Explore health professional resources all in one spot!

V8® Veggie Blends >

V8® Veggie Blends are deliciously simple. We take 1 full serving of veggies and blend them together with a touch of fruit for sweetness. Try them today!

 
CLOSE

Suggest A Topic

Enter a topic here

50 characters remaining

Star your favorite topics below:

  • Organic

  • Genetically Modified Products

  • New Dietary Guidelines

  • Protein

  • Diabetes

  • Pediatric Nutrition

  • Sports Nutrition

  • High Fructose Corn Syrup

CLOSE

Suggest A Topic

Enter a topic here

50 characters remaining

Star your favorite topics below:

  • Organic

  • Genetically Modified Products

  • New Dietary Guidelines

  • Protein

  • Diabetes

  • Pediatric Nutrition

  • Sports Nutrition

  • High Fructose Corn Syrup

CLOSE

Suggest A Topic

Enter a topic here

50 characters remaining

Star your favorite topics below:

  • Organic

  • Genetically Modified Products

  • New Dietary Guidelines

  • Protein

  • Diabetes

  • Pediatric Nutrition

  • Sports Nutrition

  • High Fructose Corn Syrup

CLOSE

En Papillote Technique

1. Prepare the parchment paper
Get a large piece of parchment paper, approximately 2.5 times as large as a single portion of food. Cut the paper into a heart shape, lightly brushing one side with oil. This creates a slight barrier to water, preventing the paper from becoming soaked too quickly. Another option, though not as attractive, is to use tin foil instead of parchment paper.

2. Select the ingredients
This is a very quick-cooking approach, so it works best with tender proteins such as fish and shellfish. The accompanying ingredients, like julienned vegetables (matchstick size), must be small enough to cook at the same rate as the fish. In some cases the vegetables can be blanched, or quickly cooked in boiling water, to ensure proper doneness. Fresh herbs will go a long way in providing flavor.

3. Assemble the packet
Lay the oiled, heart-shaped paper on a baking tray, oiled side up. Season your vegetables with salt, pepper, extra virgin olive oil, and half of the herbs. Toss them around for an even coat. Place enough for one portion on half of the paper. Bunch them up to create a bed for your fish, leaving about two inches between the food and the edge of the paper. Place the seasoned fish on the vegetables and sprinkle the remaining herbs. Add a splash of the liquid on top of the fish, just enough to add moisture.

4. Seal the packet
To seal, fold the heart over to enclose the fish and vegetables (so it resembles a teardrop). Starting at the top of the heart, fold about 1/4" of the edge toward the center. Fold over again to create a seal. Continue along the length of the parchment, folding each section twice. When you get to the point of the heart, twist and fold to finish the seal.

5. Bake your dinner
Bake the packet in a 425°F oven for 10-14 minutes, depending on the size of the fish. The packet will puff and brown while in the oven and as the steam builds. When cooked, remove from the oven and carefully place the packet on a plate. With a knife or scissors cut an "X" on the top and fold back the edges for a dramatic presentation and a delicious, healthy meal.

CLOSE

Spicy Flounder and Clams with Summer Vegetables

Prep Time: Less than 20 minutes
Cooking Time: 10-14 minutes
Yield: 2 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup carrots, finely cut julienne
  • 1/3 cup sugar snap peas, cross cut thinly
  • 1/3 cup zucchini, yellow, finely cut julienne
  • 6 each cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • 1 Tbsp. shallot, minced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tsp. parsley, fresh, minced
  • Dash salt
  • Dash black pepper
  • 6 oz. fillet, flounder (2 fillets, 3oz. each)
  • 2 Tbsp. Low Sodium Spicy Hot V8® 100% Vegetable juice
  • 3/4 lb. clams, in the shell

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F.
  2. Combine the carrots, sugar snap peas, zucchini, cherry tomatoes, shallot, garlic, extra virgin olive oil, half of the parsley, salt and pepper in a bowl. Toss well to combine.
  3. Lightly oil two large heart shaped pieces of parchment paper.
  4. With the parchment paper on a sheet tray, place half of the vegetable mixture in the center of one half of each heart leaving about a 2" border.
  5. Lightly season each fillet with salt and pepper. Fold or roll the fillet to create a uniform thickness and place on top of the vegetables.
  6. Top the fish with the remaining herbs and the Low Sodium Spicy Hot V8® 100% Vegetable juice.
  7. Place half of the clams around each portion of vegetables and fish.
  8. Fold the heart over to enclose the fish and vegetables so that it resembles a teardrop.
  9. Starting at the top of the heart, fold about 1/4" of the edge towards the center. Fold over again to create a seal.
  10. Continue with this method along the length of the parchment packet folding each section twice to make an attractive edge.
  11. When you get to the point of the heart twist and fold to finish the seal.
  12. Bake the packets for 10-14 minutes (depending on the thickness of the fish).
  13. Remove from the oven and serve by cutting an "X" in the top and folding back the edges.

Nutrition Information (per serving):

Calories 180, Total Fat 9g, Saturated Fat 1g, Monounsaturated Fat 5g, Polyunsaturated Fat 1g, Cholesterol 50mg, Sodium 450mg, Carbohydrate 10g, Fiber 2g, Sugar 4g, Protein 16g.