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Toddler lunch ideas and how not to raise a picky eater

Posted Feb 07 2013 4:36am

Happy almost freaking Friday! Though I don’t know why I should be excited about Friday coming up, my family is leaving to return to their much cooler lives and my husband isn’t home anyway. I guess I’m just jumping on the TGIF bandwagon that all of us stay-at-home-mom bloggers like to rave about.

For today’s post, I decided to try something different and link up with Brittany from A Healthy Slice of Life and her Munchkin Meals link up. I realize that I have a lot of fellow moms reading and since we’re all scouring for more ideas on how to feed our toddlers as healthily as possible, this link up is perfect. I’m always looking for new ideas and I love sharing the few that I have.

I mentioned before with my first pregnancy that after reading Feeding Baby Green I became a huge stickler for trying to do everything by that book to ensure I had a healthy eater. And I told myself that there is no way in hell I would put up with a picky eater. So far, I haven’t had to insert my foot in my mouth because Caleb pretty much eats everything and anything that is put in front of him (or dropped on the floor). We’ll see how long this lasts though *crossing all my joints*

So when it comes to feeding Caleb, I try (keyword: TRY) to stick to these few main points:

1. All of his meals must be a CLEAN meal. No processed, instant foods.
2. His meals must be a balance of a protein, veggie, carb and fruit. In that order and just like how I try to plan my own meals.
3. He doesn’t get his own special “kids” meal, he eats the same thing we’re eating and that’s it.
4. He gets whole milk with every meal, and water between meals.
5. I try not to give him fruit juice (we really don’t buy any) since it’s mostly sugar and nutritionally devoid. But if I do, I water it down mixing half juice and half water.
6. We both drink a vegetable juice from our juicer when we wake up first thing in the morning.

So here are a few pictures of breakfasts and lunches I’ve remembered to take. I don’t have any pics from dinner since we usually try to keep our dinners technology/camera free when the husband is home. But I’m sure you get the idea of what he has for dinner when I post recent recipes like Pan fried Udon , Chick Fil A sandwiches , and etc. He eats the same dinner as us, just in smaller portions. And yes, even the spicy dinners!

breakfast

We were kind of low on groceries the week I remembered to take these pics, but he normally gets a better variety of fruits for breakfast in the morning. As you can see, breakfast typically consists of eggs mixed with spinach or another type of veggie, turkey sausage, and oatmeal or a homemade english muffin.

Again, lunches are also the same for Caleb and I.

lunch

In the first pic we had turkey, garlic cream cheese, spinach, and red pepper pesto pinwheels, leftover honey glazed veggie slaw from a previous nights dinner, veggie sticks and pears.

In the second pic we had sliced chicken, avocado, and cheese quesadillas with salsa and a corn and bean salad. Later we snacked on some strawberries.

Some of our other favorite ideas for lunches include:
1. Peanut butter, honey and banana sandwiches with fruits and cut up veggies
2. BBQ Portabella goat cheese quesadillas with roasted broccoli (I don’t know why but he goes ballistic for broccoli!) and hummus
3. Chicken or tuna salad sandwiches with kale chips (also goes nuts over these)
4. Brown rice and seaweed and fish (he makes my Korean family VERY proud haha)
5. Mini Veggie cheese quiches (I use leftover pulp from our juicer for these) with cut up fruit

And for those of you short on time or for those who don’t want to read my baby food bible, “Feeding Baby Green”, here are a few of my favorite tips from the book that have stuck with me throughout both pregnancies:

1. Raising a healthy eater starts in the womb. After the 20th week of pregnancy, babies begin to develop taste buds so whatever you’re eating your baby is developing a taste for via your amniotic fluid. You want to make sure you’re eating a variety of foods so your baby develops a wide palette for different flavors, and not just the sweet ones. Remember, babies are built from food ;)

I made sure I ate a TON of Thai, Korean, Japanese, Indian and other ethnic foods while pregnant because typically these kinds of foods are rich in spicy, garlicky flavors that take a lot of people awhile to get used to. I figured I’d start from the beginning to make sure my kids enjoy these foods from a VERY early age. It helps that I also grew up eating these kinds of foods and love them myself.

And no, I never dealt with gas problems while breastfeeding. Thank my lucky stars!

2. If you decide to use the Baby Led Weaning method of introducing solids to your baby at 6 months, start with vegetables and then slowly introduce the sweeter flavors last so they don’t develop a preference for sweet foods.

I started with green veggies first and made sure I went through all of the main green ones (broccoli, peas, avocados) first before moving on to sweet potato, squashes, and other milder veggies. Then I finally introduced fruit to him after a few months of only eating veggies. Since he was still breastfed at the time, I figured he got enough sweetness from my milk.

3. If at first you don’t succeed, try and try again. Don’t give in to your toddler. Be patient with your baby and let him explore other foods before trying to introduce him to the item he/she doesn’t like at the time. We had this issue with bananas, for some reason Caleb hated bananas after trying them the first time so I calmly moved on to other fruits. Every now and then I would try to give him a banana again and of course, the first few times he refused. But after awhile, he eventually gave in and decided to try it again – and now we have no problem with bananas at all!

4. To teach is to demonstrate. From the book I learned that children love to feel like they’re part of the big people crowd. They want to do what we’re doing and eat what we’re eating. They want to cook with us and get acquainted with their food.

I let Caleb “cook” with me by sliding a chair up to the counter, and hand him a plastic spoon and bowl so that he can pretend he’s helping me cook. This way he’s learning where his food his coming from, and it’s not just a plate that’s set in front of him that he’s expected to eat.

The book also states that if you’re trying to introduce a new vegetable to your child, let him play with the whole vegetable (example: unpeeled avocado) while talking about how delicious it is and how much he’ll enjoy eating it. Then when you’re ready to feed him the pureed avocado, he’ll have a better idea what to expect and won’t be so turned off to the idea of trying something new.

Some of my other favorite topics from the book include:

  • How to eat while pregnant to maximize the chances of your baby being an adventurous eater later on
  • How to introduce foods in a way your baby will find intriguing
  • How we inadvertently teach our toddlers to become picky eaters
But since it would take me a million more blog posts to summarize those points and I’m too lazy to write it all out, I suggest you pick up a copy yourself and get your nerd on ;)

To make up for my laziness, here is Caleb demonstrating one of his latest and favorite looks, the “stank eye”.
IMG_6828 IMG_6804

That kid is so full of personality. He cracks me up like no other :) But just to prove that I’m not raising Rosemary’s baby, here’s a pic of Caleb looking normal after demolishing a meal.

IMG_6824
And by normal, I mean absolutely freaking slap yo grandma adorable (I might be a tad bit biased, don’t judge me).

Have a great Thursday! I’m off to watch my husband graduate from a school he’s been at the past month, then it’s time to hang with the fam before they jet set across the world again!

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