picky eater tips
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 Zucchini Pomodoro

Cheesy Zucchini Pomodoro

Our Cheesy Zucchini Pomodoro mixes roasted zucchini with every kid’s favorite shell-shaped pasta. Your little ones will love the creamy three-cheese blend and familiar red sauce, and you’ll love the essential vitamins and minerals of the zucchini.

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: Tofu Bibimbap

tofu bibimbap

In this Korean-inspired meal, we put tofu front and center to showcase just how flavorful it can be. Our roasted tofu soaks up the zesty flavors of garlic, ginger and soy sauce and comes with a veggie-egg mix served over brown rice.

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: Mac & Cheese with Cauliflower

mac & cheese nurture life

A wholesome twist on store-bought macaroni, our Mac & Cheese has cauliflower blended directly into the creamy cheddar cheese sauce. It’s super-smooth yet secretly full of veggie goodness!

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: Broccoli Quiche with Sausage & Sweet Potatoes

broccoli quiche

This meal combines the nutrients of broccoli with the kid-approved flavor of cheddar cheese. Accompanied by roasted sweet potatoes and a chicken and apple sausage patty, this breakfast-themed meal is picky eater-approved at any time!

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 Meatballs

By replacing meat with roasted lentils, 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. Kale

It’s no surprise that kale has found its way into the superfood spotlight, as it is one of the most nutrient-dense leafy vegetables. A member of the same family as broccoli and cauliflower, kale is rich with antioxidant vitamins K, A and C.

Ideas for Serving

This leafy superfood can taste a bit bitter to children who aren’t familiar with it, so try these ideas to make kale more kid-friendly:

Nurture Life Meal: Pesto & Cheese Ravioli

Our Pesto & Cheese Ravioli has kale blended right into the signature nut-free pesto. Made from a white bean base with basil, parmesan and pecorino, our pesto has none of kale’s bitterness but all of the nutrients.

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

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 accompanied by stir-fried veggies and brown rice on the side.

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.

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.