Q: I need some expert advice .. My little man (20 months old) refuses to eat veggies or any type of meat. He currently only eats noodles (with melrose cheese spread), yoghurt, baby pap and cookies. Do you have any recipes for the above in which I can disguise good food so that he does not taste it? Thanks in advance
A: Feeding little humans is such a tricky business! My eldest is also very very picky and this is where the need to be sneaky developed! My lil’ lady refuses to eat any whole fruits or veggies..I mean any! So, if I don’t stash it in sneaky meals, she just wont eat it and that is NOT something I am going to allow!
Back to your little one (and many others in similar situations). The tricky thing is at his young age he needs to be exploring different tastes and textures (as far as possible) to ensure he gets a wide range of nutrients in. This is something you already know, otherwise you wouldn’t be concerned and asking for help. So well done on picking up a problem early.
What happens early on is that they tend to develop a preference for certain foods, and this becomes a habit, they then kick up a fuss about other foods that are given which then makes you think they have a problem with textures or types of foods which in turn supports their habit. Vicious circle.. Sometimes its just a case of them having kicked up a fuss about certain foods and then parents land up avoiding certain foods or textures and this narrows their variety. Permanently! Playing right into their little hands. I hope this is making sense. If, however, you notice your child gags with certain foods and textures or struggles to chew properly, and it doesn’t improve over time you might want to consider having an occupational therapist try out a few sessions with him as it may be a textural issue. There are quiet a few things that can go wrong with the mechanics of eating. It is hopefully just as basic as a habit that formed that now needs to be broken.
Straight out the gates, you know I am not one to mince words (food pun! haha). Those noodles have to go! They are coated in the most disgusting chemicals and laced with ingredients that resemble melamine (what kitchen counters are made of). So, we need to get that out of your house asap! Here is where the mean part comes in, and sometimes being a parent means we have to be hard on them in order to give them the best we can!
A wise pediatrician gave me the most important advice I could’ve heard in my early parenting years, eventually they will get hungry enough to eat anything! It may sound cruel but sometimes kids are just exercising their right to push our buttons and being that 90% of the time we are often over stressed and frazzled it is often easier just to give in to them!
When trying to change a habit that has formed, initially they will put up a fight, they will refuse meals, they will skip meals but as long as they are drinking fluids, not constipated, peeing often and energetic, all is still well! Calmly carry on, continue to place the foods down in front of him for as long as it takes for him to try it out. Once he tries, he will accept that this is the new norm! Don’t cave in.
So here is the recommended plan of action..we have to be cruel and sneaky (mildly) to be kind.
- Remove all the bad foods from the house.
- – 2 min noodles are the first to go! Swap these with wholewheat noodles or wholewheat spaghetti. Try find a nice thin spaghetti and cut it into smaller lengths for him. try different shaped noodles, screws, bowties, alphabet shapes. but do make sure they are wholewheat or even better, wheat free if your budget allows! These are important for the fibre levels and for blood sugar stabilising. White pasta has been tripped of most of its natural goodness. This is not great for the body at all! Especially a developing body and gut!
- Store bought cookies must go! Bake your own cookies. Don’t buy! They always have the cheapest ingredients in! Ingredients that harm, not heal! White flour, white sugar, margarine. Sies! If you look at the prices and you feel that it is out of budget, just remind yourself what medication costs when they get sick often! Bad foods = bad gut = bad immunity! Good ingredients help develop a healthy gut which is the root of good immunity! Spend a little more on good ingredients every month to avoid medical costs long term.
- No cheese spread! Proper melted cheese is a far safer option. (white cheddar or mozzarella beats melrose cheese spread)
- kiddy Yoghurt in small pots is laced with Crappy ingredients. Even modified starches and GMO products. So yucky! I have started buying banting yoghurt from checkers (red tub at R31.99) and putting it over into their little yoghurt tubs. The banting yoghurt is flavoured with real strawberries and sweetened with stevia, a proper plant based sweetener with no negative side effects. The cost of the banting yoghurt might be more but again, that vs meds is so worth it! If you can’t find the banting yoghurt buy full cream greek yoghurt (plain) and very finely puree fruit into it to sweeten. Add a swirl of honey and mix well! Again, put it over into the tubs so nothing is unfamiliar!
- As for the baby pap (cereal for anyone not South African) there is a range at clicks called HIPP organic. That is a lovely safe range for a quick fix! Another option to increase the sneaky and the nutrient level is to buy oats, blend it until smooth and powdered. Now use this as you would baby cereal. Cook it on the stove with full cream milk (or almond milk for allergy kiddies), add raw honey to sweeten and dash of cinnamon for blood sugar stabilising. Mix well. If they spot something they will refuse it!
- Meat isn’t very easy to hide unless it is in a pasta sauce, or pizza base. These are my two favourite ways to hide meats and veggies! I will add my sneaky sauce recipe. Basically use as many veggies, chopped tomatoes, lean meat or fish, cook slowly in a pot and when it is ready then use a blender to puree it finely until there is absolutely no trace of any veggie or meat! I use this soooo often and my family has no idea they are eating kale, beetroot leaves, sweet potato, broccoli, brussel sprouts or cauliflower etc. Win win!
So that gives you a basic idea of how to fix your immediate problems. here are a few sneaky recipes to try out! Remember to make as much as you can and always use bought stuff as a last resort! Clear the cupboard of the old options and use these instead! If you are concerned he won’t ‘bite’ then keep all the old boxes and transfer your baked goodies into the old boxes! Parenting is not for sissy’s, gloves off, war paint on!
- you have the yoghurt trick I use already so try that out!
- Sneaky PASTA SAUCE basics (i change this recipe depending on what veggies I have available): – 2 cans of chopped peeled tomatoes or 4 cups of whole tomatoes pureed (my preferred method as it is healthier than canned foods) – 1 head of broccoli – 1 head of cauliflower – 2 large sweet potatoes – 2 red peppers – 4 carrots grated, 2 stalks celery, 1 red onion. Lean chicken breast (organic or from a local farmer) or lean mince (I like game meat like kudu because I know it has no hormone treatment!) Top up with water and use herbs like oregano, thyme, himalayan sea salt and a touch of honey to flavour! cook over low heat until all the veggies are tender. Remove from the heat and blend until smooth! Serve over wholewheat pasta or as a sauce base for pasta!
- COOKIES: coconut flour is a nice healthy way to go, not because of the banting rage right now but because coconut is a really healthy ingredient thanks to its natural fats and good fibre.
- 1/4 cup EUREKA wholewheat flour (or self raising gluten free flour)
- 5 tablespoons coconut flour
- 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon himalayan sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract (this is made from pure vanilla so costs more but its worth it and goes very far because you use tiny amounts, vanilla essence has no nutritional value. it isn’t even real!)
- 1/4 cup raw honey (must be local and say non-irradiated so you know the nutritional value is still in tact)
- 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
- 3 tablespoons melted coconut oil (good brain food and good for the body in general)
- mix all the wet ingredients until smooth. Add the dry ingredients. let the cookie dough sit in the fridge to for half an hour before using. this is easier to work with then!
- roll it out and use cookie cutter shapes to make it interesting!
- bake at 180degree for 10minutes!
- PUDDING: chocolate mousse, this is such a lovely way to get nutrients into the kiddies while they think they are eating pudding. It has a similar texture to yoghurt so should work well!
- 1 full avo
- 1 tbsp raw honey
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- 2 cups full cream greek yoghurt
- 100g cocoa
- 3/4 cup full cream milk (or almond/oat milk)
- Pour the milk and cocoa together in a pot on the stove. Heat until the milk is warm and the cocoa is mixed in properly! Now add the vanilla and honey. Once these have mixed well our the mix over the greek yoghurt.
- Blend together until smooth! Refrigerate for 1-2 hours. You can even grate some very good quality dark chocolate over the top! (serves 4)
- FLOURLESS BANANA MUFFINS: these have no flour, no sugar added and are a nice way to get chickpeas and bananas in without anyone (and I mean anyone) knowing they are there.
- 1 medium ripe banana
- 1/4 cup peanut butter (look for no sugar added peanut butter like black cat yellow lid or almond butter)
- 1/4 cup raw honey
- 1 can white butter beans (drain the liquid and rinse them well)
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/8 teaspoon bicarb
- 1/4 teaspoon himalayan sea salt
- 1/2 cup oats raw (blend into a powder first).
- Blend all the ingredients together in a blender and then pour over into a muffin tray. bake at 180degrees for 20minutes and then poke them to check if knife comes out clean!
- This is like a full meal!
- My secret nice-cream recipes are sneaky and nutritious. Check them out here and give them a bash! http://danielarogers.co.za/grain-free-brownies-dont-taste-like-cardboard/
- brownies are a nice way to get black beans in, which are high fibre and high protein. You can cut them into squares or bake like a small cupcake! http://danielarogers.co.za/grain-free-brownies-dont-taste-like-cardboard/
- My kids love bread..love! So I prefer making my sweet potato bread! At least less chemicals and more veggie! http://danielarogers.co.za/wholewheat-sweet-potato-bread/
- have a look on my website for more sneaky recipes! www.danielarogers.co.za/recipes (for all the above listed recipes)
Always prep these when the kids aren’t around. They must never know the level of your sneakiness!
These will cover the basics and introduce a wider variety of nutrients in already! Try them out and keep me posted! Yes, it will require more effort than buying stuff but MAKE TIME! I often get told, yes but you have the time to do it! No, actually I don’t. I run my own online business, do all my own housework, have my kids with me all day and homeschool them, help on the farm, find time for exercise and make nutritious meals. I don’t allow myself excuses, I MAKE THE TIME!
For a full SNEAKY nutritional plan the whole family can follow, contact me on www.danielarogers.co.za or Email me on firstname.lastname@example.org
I’ve worked out full sneaky plans for kiddos super young and adults super old, with really positive results, so it can be done.
As always, a plan only works as long as you do! Stay strong!