Kids, Picky Eaters, Tips / How-Tos, Toddlers

Change Your Picky Eater’s Mind About These 7 Foods

Finding food for picky eaters can feel like a never-ending quest, but the solution may be right in front of you! Even ingredients that seem “too grown-up” can be made into something your picky eaters will like—all it takes is some preparation and a healthy dose of patience. 

Find your family’s next go-to food for picky toddlers and kids of all ages with the seven wholesome ingredients below!

1. Zucchini

Zucchini serves up potassium, which is important for muscle health, along with the powerful antioxidant vitamin C. With a mild flavor and versatile texture, zucchini can be adapted into many different dishes based on your picky eater’s preferences.

Ideas for Serving

Kids don’t always love the look of zucchini, but with a few creative adjustments, they might just surprise you! Try one of these kid-approved dishes:

  • Roast zucchini with tomato sauce, veggies and cheese for fun, pizza-flavored zucchini boats.
  • For crispy zucchini fries, coat zucchini slices with egg, flour and breadcrumbs and bake until golden.
  • Make healthier zucchini bread with loads of fresh zucchini and all-natural applesauce in place of sugar.

Nurture Life Meal: Cheesy Chicken & Zucchini Pomodoro

Our Cheesy Chicken & Zucchini Pomodoro mixes zucchini with every kid’s favorite shell-shaped pasta. Your little ones will love the melty, cheesy goodness and familiar-tasting red sauce, and you’ll love the essential vitamins and minerals of the zucchini. Italian-seasoned chicken breast adds another layer of wholesome flavor, plus protein to keep your little one active and full!

cheesy chicken & zucchini pomodoro kids meal

2. Tofu

Made of fermented soybeans, tofu has copper and calcium that are important to bone, blood and cell health. Tofu comes in many firmnesses and has very little flavor on its own, making it the perfect ingredient to soak up whatever seasonings your picky eaters love most.

Ideas for Serving

Take advantage of all the vitamins, minerals and fiber of soybeans with these kid-friendly ideas:

  • Just like zucchini fries, you can make oven-baked tofu nuggets to serve with fun picky eater tools.
  • Cut tofu into small cubes and mix it with any vegetable for a quick homemade fried rice.
  • Use silken tofu to add a creamy element to any soup, dressing or sauce—or even to a plant-based protein smoothie bowl!

Nurture Life Meal: Chicken & Vegetable Dumplings with Edamame

Chicken & Vegetable Dumplings kids meal

These kid-friendly dumplings are filled with a protein-rich mix of tofu, chicken, cabbage and leek. Baked rather than pan-fried or deep-fried, our Chicken & Vegetable Dumplings are a nutritious twist on takeout—perfect for serving with training chopsticks or other fun utensils! We add some fun green with perfectly poppable edamame on the side.

3. Cauliflower

There’s a reason that cauliflower has found its way into seemingly every dish out there, from cauliflower rice to pizza crust. Its mild flavor makes it easy to incorporate into any meal, while its high nutrient content, including vitamins C and B6, makes it a worthwhile food to incorporate into your child’s diet. 

Ideas for Serving

Whether as a side dish, an ingredient substitute or the star of the show, cauliflower offers plenty of unique ways to serve:

  • Blend roasted or boiled cauliflower into your favorite mashed potato recipe.
  • Substitute half of any rice dish with riced cauliflower (increasing the ratio of cauliflower as your kids adjust).
  • Puree cooked cauliflower and mix into a sauce or cream-based soup that your kids already like.

Nurture Life Meal: Pot Roast with Mashed Potatoes

Pot Roast with Mashed Potatoes Kids Meal

Classic comfort food meets thoughtful, balanced nutrition in our slow-braised Pot Roast! We blend cauliflower smoothly into the mashed potatoes for an extra helping of fiber, vitamins and minerals. If your little one isn’t quite ready to love cauliflower on its own, this meal can help you introduce this wholesome veggie in a subtle, gradual way.

4. Broccoli

When you think of the best food for picky eaters, broccoli probably isn’t at the top of the list. But with so many essential nutrients, it’s definitely worth working into your little one’s diet! One serving provides an entire day’s worth of vitamins C and K.

Ideas for Serving

Broccoli has a reputation for being difficult to feed fussier eaters, but these kid-friendly ideas just might change that dinner-table “no” to “yes”! 

  • Roast a whole head of broccoli with olive oil, and let your kids have fun choosing their own “trees” to eat.
  • Mix steamed broccoli florets into macaroni and cheese.
  • Make fun-sized homemade broccoli balls and serve with your kids’ favorite sauces on the side.

Nurture Life Meal: Chicken Parmesan with Broccoli

Chicken Parmesan with Broccoli kids meal

If your little one is hesitant about broccoli, our Chicken Parmesan is a great way to build up acceptance. By pairing broccoli with familiar Italian flavors that your kid already knows and loves, this meal helps encourage acceptance of a “scary” new vegetable. For yet another helping of veggie nutrition, our red sauce also has butternut squash and carrots smoothly blended in!

5. Lentils

A member of the legume family, lentils are high in protein and make a great substitute or complement to meat-based dishes. If your little ones are picky about color, you can also choose from green, brown or red varieties, all of which serve up iron, folic acid and fiber.

Ideas for Serving

Load up on lentils in your kids’ diet with these delicious ideas:

  • Add a helping of lentils to any soup your kids already like.
  • For any ground meat dish (like Sloppy Joes), substitute half of the meat with cooked lentils.
  • Instead of munching on highly processed potato chips, make your own homemade lentil chips!

Nurture Life Meal: Lentil Meatballs with Ratatouille

lentil meatball kids meal

By replacing meat with roasted lentils (plus whole grains, mushrooms and veggies!), our Lentil Meatballs lower the fat while still offering plenty of protein to keep your kids active. With diced zucchini in the ratatouille, we actually serve two of our food ideas for picky eaters in the same meal!

6. Beans

Another powerhouse of plant-based protein, beans are a member of the legume family just like lentils. Available in many different sizes, shapes and colors, beans are rich in fiber, B vitamins, and many essential minerals including calcium, potassium and zinc. 

Ideas for Serving

With their versatile flavor and smooth texture, beans are great for adding nutrition and bulk to almost any meal:

  • Make beans the star of the show with a super-easy, set-it-and-forget-it recipe of slow cooker beans and rice.
  • Add a handful of mixed beans to your kid’s favorite soup, stew or chili. For a creamier base, puree the beans before stirring them in.
  • Blend white beans with tahini and lemon juice for a simple white bean hummus. Make it extra fun for picky eaters by serving the hummus with a fresh veggie train on the side!

Nurture Life Meal: Pesto & Cheese Ravioli

pesto & Cheese Ravioli Kids meal

Our Pesto & Cheese Ravioli has white beans blended right into the signature nut-free pesto. Made with spinach, basil and parmesan, our bean-based pesto is tossed with four-cheese ravioli to dish out plenty of vitamins, minerals and fiber in every adorable bite.

7. Fish

Compared to other meats, fish typically contains less saturated fat and more heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids (especially varieties like tuna and salmon). With additional nutrients like vitamins D and B12, your kids can get a whole lot out of just a little fish!

Ideas for Serving

If fish doesn’t sound like a kid-friendly food for picky eaters, you just haven’t found the right recipe yet. Try these fun, kid-approved fish dishes:

Nurture Life Meal: Teriyaki Salmon with Rainbow Veggie Rice

Teriyaki salmon with rainbow veggie rice kids meal

To prove that fish can be a kid favorite, we lightly mask salmon’s fish flavor with a housemade, pineapple-based teriyaki sauce. Kids love the natural sweetness while getting a nutrient-rich helping of fish. For a side that’s as colorful as it is wholesome, we toss lightly sauced brown rice with carrots, bell peppers, squash and bok choy.

These seven ingredients are full of creative opportunity, but if your little ones still continue to refuse, don’t lose heart! Keep in mind that it can take 6–15 or more times for a picky eater to accept new foods. If you have any questions about these or other food ideas for picky eaters, please reach out to Nurture Life’s child nutrition experts at support@nurturelife.com.meals for picky eaters

 

RJ-Bio

Rachael Janas

Rachael joined the Nurture Life team as the Marketing Production & QA Manager. From menu design to nutrient analysis, she covers all things food. Rachael is a Registered and Licensed Dietitian with a strong foundation in clinical nutrition and a keen interest in nutritious food with phenomenal flavor. Her passion for incorporating whole foods and creative cuisine while focusing on age-specific nutrient needs of children is essential to Nurture Life’s menu design. Rachael has been practicing dietetics since 2011, with the bulk of her experience in clinical nutrition at Loyola Medical Center, specializing in patients with cystic fibrosis as well as critical care nutrition related to lung disease and lung transplant. She also has experience in cardiac health and nutrition during pregnancy. Rachael received her B.S. from Saint Louis University in Missouri and completed a dietetic internship with Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. Rachael’s interests include creative cooking at home, using a variety of ingredients, spices and herbs for a unique meal each night. She truly believes nutrition and food should be enjoyable and that all food can be enjoyed in moderation.

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