How to deal with your picky eater

Aug 13, 2018
  • By Candace Dantes
  • For the AJC

Tired of dealing with kids who have demanding palates? Instead of indulging their often unhealthy demands, Atlanta-based Chef Ahki offers a few table-tested ideas to satisfy finicky eaters.

When they consistently say "yes" to junk food and "no" to fruits and veggies, these appetizing solutions will have them going back for healthier seconds:

Know what to expect with your kids

"Sometimes our kids will try to see if they can get away with eating foods that they know you don't approve of," said Chef Ahki, who's also a mother of one. "They will test us with chips and drinks. That's when you offer better choices that are still fun in presentation and taste, preferably alkaline foods."

Strawberries, both fresh and freeze-dried, create the flavor base for these frozen pops. Coconut milk provide some richness and body. (E. Jason Wambsgans/Chicago Tribune/TNS) Photo: E. Jason Wambsgans/TNS

Give kids what they want - but with a healthy twist

"If they like popsicles, ice cream bars, brownies or smoothies, let them have it, but that should only happen with fresh fruits and vegetables," Chef Ahki said. "You can easily blend a homemade peach or raspberry smoothie or freeze banana popsicles for them. They will love it." To ensure that picky eaters get veggies into their tummies, she suggests a vegetable stew. "Throw five of their favorite vegetables into a processor, season it well then let it cook down into a stew. My son tears up my stews. It's trial and error with kids, so try different vegetable combinations that they will end up enjoying the most."

Experiment with kids in the kitchen

"Make them a part of the cooking process," Chef Ahki recommended. "My son has days when he's over certain foods, so I have to get a little more creative with him. One thing we've tried and love is making fritters. Use chickpea flour and add all the veggies you'd like - collards, onion, squash, zucchini - and mold them into patties to fry using a little coconut oil." For parents always on the go, this crunchy, homemade snack can be made ahead of time and frozen until time for serving.

Aim for cleaning that plate with smarter meals

"You have to know your kids' needs," said Chef Ahki, "so we don't want our kids cleaning their plates with the wrong foods or just to hurry up and get them to bed. Take time out to research nutritious foods that offer natural flavor and give them an electric experience at the table."

For more healthy tips to fancy baby to toddler taste buds, visit thefreshtribe.com for upcoming courses.