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The Picky Eater Solution

The Picky Eater Solution

Kids cooking made easy.


Excerpted from Kids Cooking Made Easy

Since my oldest child is only seven years old (he can still cook!), for me, writing Kids Cooking Made Easy wasn’t only about teaching kids how to cook. It also helped me build my repertoire of dishes that my kids will actually eat: my picky eater solution.

So, this morning, before Mr. Pickiest-Eater-of-Them-All went to school, I asked him what he requested for dinner.

“Pizza Soup!”

He says he loves it better than candy. But only when I also make those cheese crisps on the side so he can dunk and dunk.

In Leah’s house, Honey Barbecue Chicken Nuggets has become the most requested dinner.

And so, tonight, while the soup is simmering on my stove and Leah’s nuggets are coming out of the oven, here’s two of our favorite recipes from Kids Cooking Made Easy to please the picky eaters in your house too.

Pizza Soup (Dairy)

Pizza Soup4-6 servings

We love sauce and cheese, whether it’s on top of our pasta or our pizza. But when do we ever get an excuse to eat it on its own? If there’s picky eaters in your house who don’t like bits of onion, use an immersion blender to blend them into the soup.

  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 tablespoons oil or butter
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 cups milk
  • ¼ cup water
  • ½ cup shredded cheese

1. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and garlic. Using a wooden spoon, sauté until onion is soft, 5-7 minutes.

2. Add crushed tomatoes and cook for 8-10 minutes. Add sugar, salt, basil, garlic powder, milk, and water and stir to combine. Cook for an additional 5 minutes.

3. Add cheese. Stir until cheese is melted. Ladle soup into bowls to serve.  

To make these cheesy pita chips, split a pita bread in half and cut it into halves or quarters. Sprinkle with shredded cheese, dried basil, and garlic powder. Bake at 425ºF for 7-8 minutes, or until crispy.

Honey Barbecue Chicken Nuggets (meat)

Honey Barbecue Chicken Nuggets4-6 servings

Raise your hand if you like dunking chicken nuggets in ketchup. What if we updated ketchup and made an even better dipping sauce for you? I like to double the sauce because my family likes to dip and dip and dip. -L.

  • 1½ pounds chicken cutlets, cut into nuggets
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 6 tablespoons honey
  • 6 tablespoons ketchup
  • 1 teaspoon yellow mustard
  • ½ teaspoon chili powder (optional)
  • 1½-2 cups panko crumbs

1. Preheat oven to 375ºF. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray with nonstick cooking spray.

2. In a small bowl, combine oil, honey, ketchup, mustard, and chili powder (optional). Use a spoon to stir the mixture until smooth. Pour half the sauce into a separate bowl to use as the dipping sauce; set aside.

3. Place panko crumbs into another bowl.

4. Dip chicken nuggets into the honey mixture and coat completely. Then, press into panko crumbs until chicken is fully coated on all sides.

5. Place chicken on prepared baking sheet. Spray the top of the nuggets with nonstick cooking spray. Bake for 25 minutes. For extra-crispy nuggets, turn the chicken halfway through the cooking time, baking for 12-13 minutes per side.

6. Serve with dipping sauce.

Rice Krispies Ice Cream Sandwiches (Dairy)

Rice Krispies Ice Cream SandwichesYield: 24 squares

I always knew I loved Rice Krispies Treats, but now I love them way more with ice cream in the middle. I’ll never make plain Rice Krispies Treats again. -V.

  • ¼ cup (½ stick) margarine or butter
  • 1 (16-ounce) container marshmallow fluff
  • 8 cups Rice Krispies®
  • 1 quart ice cream, slightly defrosted
  • ¾ cup sprinkles or chocolate chips

1. Melt margarine in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add fluff and mix until margarine and fluff are completely combined. Stir in Rice Krispies, 1 cup at a time.

2. Divide the Rice Krispies treats between 2 9 x 13-inch baking pans and press into a thin layer.

3. Top one Rice Krispies layer with softened ice cream and sprinkles or chocolate chips. Freeze ice cream layer for 30 minutes to 1 hour, until ice cream is firm.

4. Place second Rice Krispies layer over firm ice cream. Using a sharp knife, cut the treats into squares (this is easier to do when the top layer is not yet frozen). Return to freezer until ready to serve.

This is easier to do if you drop some all over the bottom of the pan rather than in one spot. You can also place a piece of wax paper over the Rice Krispies treats as you press down to help you flatten them evenly.

January 18, 2014

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Visitor Comments: 5

(5) Anonymous, August 13, 2015 7:03 PM

Eating...making it creative and inventive...

I make a non-dairy pizza soup that is very popular in my house.
It is a take-off from a non-Jewish woman who owned a restaurant in Sebastopol, CA that has been long gone. She spent time on a kibbutz and that is where she honed her cooking skills. Then she came back to the States and opened a restaurant.

I am not a coated anything fan. I agree the sugar content and sodium contents need to be watched. What kid who likes sweets is not going to eat rice krispies or ice cream? Ice cream on top of oatmeal is what I remember my Mom did for us after she read about it in a Women's magazine. It is sugar and milk on top of oatmeal.

I make my own frozen desserts without dairy or sugar.

Also, my baked goods are without any sugar or fake sugar products(fruit only) and I have perfected them so that they can be gluten free too.

I enjoy creatively making healthier foods or sticking in vegetables in dishes that kids normally would not like.

Now I just need to look into writing an article and sharing them.

(4) MESA, January 26, 2014 7:26 PM

I'm a finicky eater myself, and I know that forcing children to eat what they get or eat nothing isn't going to make them any less finicky. One thing that does help is this: once your child is old enough to eat solid food, do NOT feed him/her "kiddie" food. Just serve the same adult food that the adults are eating. Serve it in child-size portions and cut into child-size pieces. My take is that "if you're enjoying chicken marsala, then your children should be eating that too, not chicken nuggets."

(3) Anonymous, January 26, 2014 11:36 AM

don't give them a choice!

My grandma lived through WW2 food rationing and this instilled in her a strong sense of eating everything on your plate - you had no choice to be picky. She instilled in her children and her grandchildren (one of which is myself) that you eat what is given to you. We are older now and the effects are this: 1. We eat pretty much anything put in front of us without being fussy about what it is or what is in it. 2) it is rare for us to dislike something, but if we do it will be one item e.g. bananas for my sister, which barely impacts on what she eats on a daily basis. Of course if left up to children they'll be picky and have a preference for junk food, but it is up to you to feed them healthily. Also, as Warren says the idea of a desert is a good persuasion tactic (preferably if healthy) although we rarely had desert on weekdays and still ate everything on our plates incl. Spinach etc.

(2) Wayne, January 24, 2014 4:37 AM

Give them a choice.

When our daughter was young, I made a point of giving her a chouice about what to eat. She could eat what we had fixed, or she could leave it and eat nothing (no dessert, no snacks) until the next scheduled meal. Most of the time she chose to eat what was before her, and when she didn't, it was still her choice, so we avoided a lot of pointless battles.

(1) Dan, January 23, 2014 3:24 PM

Healthy choices

The first recipe sounds OK, the second (sodium and sugar) and especially the third (sugar, sugar and more sugar) are decidedly unhealthy. I've seen that the way to get kids to eat is to give them normal food as soon as they can handle it. Forget the baby food and special dishes. I've seen an 18 month-old chow down on a raw bell pepper without batting an eyelash.

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