I have a confession to make. Despite all of my best efforts at introducing foods repeatedly and in different ways. Despite my numerous deep breaths and creative responses in order to avoid the battles of the wills. I have one kiddo who can be a very picky eater. The thing that really drives me crazy about it is that he isn’t always picky, just in phases. It has definitely become one of his ways to assert his independence. And right now he is going through one of those phases.
What does it look like? Well, he doesn’t really want to eat anything (except cookies and crackers, of course) and if we were willing to sit there and read a book with one hand and spoon feed him with the other, he’d think about eating, but really he just doesn’t want to be bothered. Part of the stress of it for us is that he is very small and has had weight gain and growth issues in the past. So, of course, every time he goes into one of these phases we start to worry: is he getting too skinny? will he ever grown out of his 2T clothes? etc., etc. But as his pediatrician once said, “the kid could live on air.” And sometimes it feels like he does. So we have found that in order to avoid making food an even bigger issue and an even greater source of independence exertion on his part, we have to offer the food, ask that he stay seated for family meals so we can all be together, and then let go. It can be hard.
One of the things that I try to do when he is going through one of these picky phases, though, is power pack the foods he will eat. So I have come up with a variety of recipes that are heavy on the vegetables and fruit, but appealing to his palate. One of the favorites is the basic tomato sauce. And another is this recipe for carrot-apple muffins.
These muffins have been a life-saver at times. They are easy to make, easy to tweak, and always a hit. I make them with nuts for added protein at morning breakfast, I make them without nuts for lunch boxes. I also bet they’d be great with other veggies like zucchini, sweet potato, or squash in place of the carrots. I may try that this week…
What are your best tricks for managing picky eaters?
- 2 cups whole wheat flour
- 2 tsp baking soda
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- ¼ tsp salt
- ½ cup white sugar (you could decrease this to ¼ cup, if you prefer)
- ½ cup brown sugar
- ¼ pound carrots
- ½ cup nuts, chopped—I like pecans and walnuts (optional)
- ½ cup raisins or dried cranberries (optional)
- ¼ cup unsweetened shredded coconut (optional)
- ½ cup olive or coconut oil
- ½ cup apple sauce
- 2 tsp vanilla
- 1 larger-sized apple
- Preheat oven to 350. Oil or put liners into 18 muffin cups or 24 mini-muffin cups and 6 regular muffin cups, or whatever combination your little heart desires.
- In a large bowl, combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, and sugar. Whisk until nicely blended and any clumps are broken up. Shred carrots, it should measure about 2 cups. I like to use the shredding attachment on my food processor, it is much faster and less threatening to your knuckles. Mix carrots, nuts, raisins/cranberries, and coconut into the dry ingredients.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, oil, apple sauce, and vanilla. Peel and core the apple and shred it (again, the food processor is your friend). Mix the apple into the wet ingredients. Then pour the wet in with the dry and mix well.
- Divide the batter amongst your muffin cups. Bake in the middle of the oven for 15-20 minutes, until they are nice and puffy and a tester comes out clean.
- Cool the muffins on the rack for 5 minutes to complete cooking, then turn out onto racks to cool the rest of the way. Eat, store in an airtight container, or freeze.