Welcome to Chowdown Lowdown’s Little Appetites. In this section of Chowdown Lowdown, I will feature recipes to help feed kids the food they love but will interest and please parents’ taste buds as well. Some recipes will allow kids to be their own chef in the kitchen, for example, making their own pizza or apple sandwiches. That’s how I got started loving to cook. So, what do kids like to eat? How do you get your kids to clean their plates? These are million dollar questions which still do not have answers. Hopefully you’ll find a few tips here at Chowdown Lowdown’s Little Appetites.
Most kids eat when their Little Appetites are ready and hungry. Parents worry I know but no matter your kids age or size, healthy or unhealthy, forcing your kids to eat by filling their plates full of food like adults does not work. It didn’t work when we were kids and it doesn’t now. Kids will learn to be in tune with the feeling of being full during a meal. So, heaping piles of food sends the wrong signal and they’re overwhelmed by what’s on their plate. As adults we’re bad at this because of the portions served at most restaurants. I’ve seen kid’s meals on the heavy side as well. I’m as guilty of this as the next person by not pushing the plate away or asking for a to-go container right away. Serve kids on small plates and give them more if they ask for it. Bribing kids to clean their plates with sweet treats leads to unhealthy food choices. Mikey knows if he eats just one more piece of broccoli, he’ll get a cookie. Well, who wouldn’t struggle to finish a food they didn’t like? If this method works for you, find other meaningful bribes like staying up an extra hour, maybe a new shirt for school or a new book to read. Try anything except food but change it up. Kids have temptations just like adults. They will figure it all out soon enough.
Parents have good intentions in feeding good food to their whole family and in desperation not so good choices are made. As adults we don’t always make the best food choices for ourselves. We all lead crazy, busy lives and these days your kids are just as busy. Kids should never be deprived of any foods and this includes sweets. But there is a time and a place for a healthy snack and a fun snack like a cookie. The key is control. Deprivation only leads to unhealthy habits down the road. Limit the amount of snacks your kids get throughout the day so they’ll be interested in eating their lunch or dinner.
Try introducing new foods especially vegetables at each meal using different seasonings and cooking methods. When one doesn’t work, try and try again. Something will eventually appeal to their Little Appetites. When kids are old enough they will let you know what they like more easily and what way of cooking is a favorite. If Mikey only likes broccoli then broccoli it is. Use different sauces and condiments to interest picky eaters. Cookie cutters are a great way to create shapes for pancakes and sandwiches. Fruits like apples, pears and vegetables like bell peppers work well for this. Make sure to use vegetables in sauces, chili’s, soups, meatloaf and casseroles. Little Appetites won’t know they’re in there.
Food battles with kids can be and are seriously frustrating. But continue to introduce new healthy foods, you the parent being the example of good eating. As kids get older, your good habits will become their good habits. So in creating Little Appetites, I hope to give you quick, easy, and tasty recipes your kids will love and enjoyed by you the parent as well. Celebrate the small victories with your constant focus on good nutrition. I won’t promise everything will be low-calorie as kids don’t need to worry because they know nothing of calories at a young age but you the parent knows about in terms of high fat and sugar content. I believe in moderation in everything and not deprivation unless health issues are involved. It’s about the variety of choices governed by parents, family, and friends here at Chowdown Lowdown. Look for a featured Little Appetites recipe each week. Invite your kids to join in the fun of cooking, too. Breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks will be served.