The Picky Eaters Project, Week 6

If you don't feel creative-in-the-kitchen, this is going to be your week to shine!

Week 6 - Healthier Meal Makeovers

1.  Hook and Goal — create healthier variations of their favorite foods.  You probably have a pretty extensive list now of the foods that your Picky Eaters like or prefer; take some time this week to see how many healthier varations that you can make of foods from that list.  When in doubt, be sure to watch for Olivia's Freezer Weekly Take-Home items as well as our workshop menu.  For example, if your Picky Eaters love Kraft Dinner, Olivia's Freezer has an incredible Mac & Cheese (or Jack's Mac & Cheese with peas).  Remember that the most important thing you can do is to go slowly in the switch!

2.  Introduce the Progressive Swap. In his book Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation, author Michael Pollan writes that the single biggest decision you can make for you and your bodies is whether or not you cook.  Remember that in Week 5 we discussed making foods healthier, and that making anything homemade will ensure you know how much - and can possibly limit - the sugar that goes in.  Melissa d'Arabian explains in her blog that she doesn't worry about a single thing her kid's have eatten as long as she's made it.

During the progressive swap, the key is to be progressive (just not switch a food from white bread to whole wheat).  For example, if your family eats white pasta, switch now to multigrain pasta, and in a few weeks make the switch to whole wheat.  If your children enjoy sugary-cereals, take a small scoop of their cereal and mix it in with something whole-grain.

3.  Menu planning — everyone gets a chance to plan a day.  Your Picky Eater will love having their voice heard in mealtime decision-making!  Ask every family member to pick a dinner meal that they want for that week.  While this may seem like trouble waiting-to-happen, remember that anything they ask for can be swapped with a healthier & homemade version.  And since you're likely the one who will be making the meal, remember that you can always add some veggies and a side salad if needed.  If your Picky Eater is intent on ordering Pizza Hut as their mealtime choice, use it as a reward at the end-of-the-week for a successful week of Healthier Meal Makeovers!

We are so excited to be on this journey with you!  Be sure to leave your successes (and frustrations) in the comments section of our Facebook page, and please Share below on social media with the other meal-planners in your life!

The Picky Eaters Project, Week 5

In our homes this past month we've gone from mealtime mayhem to becoming mealtime rockstars!  We've learned to set the stage for positive change by strategically reorganizing our panty and fridge, we've given our family dinner a total reboot, and we've started to transform everyone's picky palates. 

With the positive changes that are starting to occur, this week we're going to start swapping in some healthier foods.

Week 5

1.  Dessert swap — making dessert healthier.  The key here is to remember that dessert doesn't have to be interchangeable with sugar.  For instance, there are many cultures that serve various types of fruit for dessert instead of puddings, cakes, and cookies.  In our house our children take great pride in picking out the ingredients and then creating their own versions of fruit-salad to eat after dinner.  If you and your family truly has a sweet-tooth, try baking your desserts so that you can control the amount of sugars that you put in.  Jessica Senifeld (yes, Jerry Seinfeld's wife) has created cookbooks that have dessert (as well as mealtime receipes) that are healthier and have fruits and veggies hidden inside.  To learn more about the book Deceptively Delicious, or to order, please click here.

2.  Veggie choice — adding a second veggie to the table.  Did you know that half of our plate should be filled with veggies?  Since your picky eaters may find a half-plate of carrots difficult to consume, take the opportunity to serve more than one veggie at your table.  This is often the perfect time to have your family pick the extra veggie each night (while you make the choice for the first one) which will give them some control, allow them to make healthy choices, and eliminate the dinner power-struggles.

3.  Crutch foods — creatively limiting your kids' standby favorite foods.  Let's face it - we all have our favourite foods (and we consume those foods as much as we can).  This is now the perfect week to start limiting your picky eater's constant go-to foods by stocking more of the types of foods you want them to eat in your fridge and pantry.  Next week we're going to do a Progressive Swap, which will help our kids graduate from their standby's (ie. chicken nuggets) into other varations of those dishes.  But with anything, make sure you do each step slowly to avoid set-backs and pull-backs.

We are so excited to be on this journey with you!  Be sure to leave your successes (and frustrations) in the comments section of our Facebook page by clicking here, and please Share below on social media with the other meal-planners in your life!

The Picky Eaters Project, Week 4

We are officially at the half-way point in our journey (congratulations to you and your tribe of Picky Eaters!).

This week we're getting our children heavily involved with three hands-on activities:

WEEK 4: Create Food Awareness

1.  Field trip to farm or farmers market.  Ask your children where food comes from; the likely response will be isles 1 through 11 at the grocery store.  Surprised?  This week take your children to a farm or your local farmers market (the Barrie Farmer's Market runs downtown on the weekends and indoors during the colder months.  For more information, please click here).  Taking them out will allow them to talk to local farmers as well as pick up some veggies for the dinner table.

2.  Nutrition fun — teach your kids basic nutrition facts.  No matter what the age (and yes, adults are guilty of it too!), we seem to unconsciously group foods into either "good-for-me-or-bad-for-me", without taking into account the fact that all foods provide a different function within our bodies.  By teaching your picky eater to read the label on foods encourages them to think about those differences; for example, ask your children to find the difference between white and brown rice.  Remember that it's not about what's healthier - it's about giving them the basic knowledge of how fiber, protein and vitamins affect our bodies.

3.  The Sugar Game — help kids discover the amount of sugar in a food.  No doubt this activity will be a game-changer (for adults as well!).  In this activity, you're going to show what different sugar amounts actually look like, which will give everyone a visual reference as to what they're putting into their bodies.

Step 1:  Sit down and read through each nutrition label with your child. Be sure to point out to them how to look at serving sizes.  Start with the can of coke, and have your child help you identify the exact amount of sugar in the whole bottle; then using the tablespoon, scoop out the amount of sugar onto the plate.  REMEMBER: 4g is roughly one whole teaspoon.

Step 2:  With the visual in front of you, ask your children if it’d be good for them to eat that whole plate of sugar; let them know that the Heart Association recommends a maximum of 12g (3 teaspoons) of sugar per day for kids.

Step 3:  Repeat steps 1 and 2 with any of the other liquids or foods you have in your kitchen.  Hopefully this will spur discussion and awareness with your kids (and even you!) on just how much hidden-sugar is in our food and drinks. Next time you’re at the supermarket, encourage them to hunt for the sugar labels! With this kind of awareness you could easily turn a boring chore like shopping into a fun and interactive game.

We are so excited to be on this journey with you!  Be sure to leave your successes (and frustrations) in the comments section of our Facebook page by clicking here, and please Share below on social media with the other meal-planners in your life!