Written by Sahana Charan and published on 31 May 2021.
Do you worry that your child is not getting enough nutrition because of his picky food habits? Here are some simple ideas to make food look appetizing so that mealtimes are fun for your little one
Does your dining table resemble a mini battlefield every time the family sits down for a meal, only because your toddler starts throwing tantrums? You may find it exasperating that your child refuses to eat specific food groups or is finicky about certain vegetables put on the plate. Yet, it is not an uncommon scene in many households — mealtimes can be a stressful affair for this very reason.
But, there is no cause for panic — a 2011-study published in the journal Acta Paediatrica revealed that children prefer colors and lots of choices on their plates. Researchers at Cornell University found that the way children and parents perceive food is very different: children are tempted by plates featuring a variety of food that is colorful and arranged in an appealing way.
So, with a little ingenuity and a lot of patience, you can get your little one to slowly consume various fruits, vegetables and other foods. And, have fun while doing it too!
Be creative and make it fun: Fashioning food into different shapes; using colorful vegetables cleverly; arranging them in designs or in their favorite crockery, could do the trick!
Do not force feed: Let your child make a choice; forcefully feeding the little one can make matters worse as she might develop a complicated relationship with her food.
Give time to try new foods: Whenever you introduce a new food to your finicky toddler, give him a little time to open up to the new food. If he refuses it the first time, re-introduce it after a few days.
Use your imagination: Make noodles out of zucchini and cucumber; make wraps with dosas and whip up a delicious smoothie with a medley of fruits. Be imaginative when giving food to a fussy child.
Involve your kids in the preparation and plating of food: When children are involved in selecting the different ingredients for a dish, they are likely to taste what they prepare and therefore take a step towards eating the dish too.
Here are some amazing ideas to present vegetables, fruits and food to children.
Many toddlers are fussy about eating fruits when mixed together and given in a bowl. But fruits are an essential part of our diet, as they are packed with loads of nutrients. Why not use cookie cutters to cut them in different shapes and make them look attractive?
1. Wash and peel the fruits.
2. Cut them in thick slices in such a way that you would be able to cut out different shapes from them.
3. You can use cookie cutters in star, moon, house, flower, heart and other different shapes.
4. Once you have got an assortment of fruits in different shapes, arrange them neatly on a serving dish or plate.
5. Your little one will finish them up in a jiffy.
Does your four-year-old turn up her nose at the mention of dosa or idli at breakfast time? Making the dosa/pancake look pretty may entice her into trying some.
1. In a large bowl, take the whole wheat flour, cinnamon powder and honey.
2. Add the curd and water as needed to make a thick batter of pouring consistency. Alternatively, you can skip the curd and instead, add a couple of eggs and a little milk to make a pancake batter.
3. Put a griddle on medium heat and pour a ladleful of batter to make a small, round pancake. Repeat to make a few more.
4. Place the pancake on a plate. Layer the orange segments on the upper part of the pancake to represent the hair. Place the banana slices to show the eyes and put a cherry each on top of the banana.
5. Use the rest of the cherries to make the mouth.
6. Your little one might be excited to see the pancake with a smiling face!
Little children are fascinated by animals, birds and flowers, and love to explore their surroundings. So, a butterfly-shaped cheese sandwich is not just healthy, but also visually appealing for your toddler.
1. Toast the whole-wheat bread slices and put the cheese slice in between the two slices.
2. Put the filling of your choice between the two slices. Ensure you put a thin layer otherwise cutting into shapes will be difficult.
3. Neatly cut the prepared sandwich in the shape of a butterfly. With a sharp knife, cut the sandwich right in the middle.
4. Place these two pieces on a plate, in such a way that there is a 1/2 inch gap in the middle. In this gap, place a small baton of cucumber to represent the butterfly's body.
5. Place an olive on top for the butterfly's head.
6. Use the carrot strips to make the antennae.
7. Your beautiful sandwich is ready to eat.
This is a simple but sure-fire way of getting your child to eat vegetables. You will need wooden skewer sticks for this recipe.
1. Coat the veggies lightly with a little butter or oil. Sprinkle salt and pepper on them.
2. Arrange the veggies neatly on the skewer sticks.
3. Grill the veggies in the oven at 200°C for about 6-8 minutes.
4. Take them out and arrange them on a colorful serving plate.
5. Alternatively, you could place the vegetables on a tawa and roast them on medium heat.
Does your picky eater only crave noodles and burgers? Well, serve her favorite food, but with a healthy twist. We show you how.
1. In a bowl, mix the tomato sauce, soya sauce, honey, vinegar, ginger, garlic, salt and pepper to make the sauce.
2. Put a large wok on medium heat and add the cooking oil.
3. Saute all the vegetables in the oil, till they are cooked but crunchy.
4. Add the cooked noodles and mix well.
5. Add the prepared sauce and saute for about two minutes. Combine all the ingredients well, so that the noodles are coated properly.
6. Place it in a serving bowl and top with roasted peanuts.
7. Cut the boiled egg into halves and place it on the noodles.
Does your child say that your banana bread is boring and gobbles up a pastry instead? Here is what you can do to make it look appealing.
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
2. In a large bowl, mix all the ingredients for the banana bread with a whisk, till you get a smooth batter.
3. Instead of a regular loaf tin, pour the batter into a heart, round or any pretty-shaped tin to make it look like a cake.
4. Bake at 180°C for 30 minutes.
5. Once cool, cover with fresh cream and arrange the banana pieces on top.
6. Add the sprinkles to transform the simple banana bread to a fancy one.
This is one of the easiest ways to get your finicky child to eat fruits and veggies. Ask them to play a game by making their own dish with ingredients provided by you.
1. Wash, peel and thoroughly clean the veggies. Cut them into long strips.
2. Soak the red cabbage in salted hot water for a minute to remove germs.
3. Cut onions into round slices.
4. Take any dressing of your choice such as mint chutney, yogurt, sauce or homemade mayonnaise and put it in a small bowl.
5. Place this in the middle of a plate and arrange the veggies around it neatly.
6. Give this to your little one and ask him to make his own dishes, such as salad, sandwich or stir-fry.
7. You could add other ingredients like nuts and seeds, peanut butter and anything of your choice.
Getting some children to eat fruits is difficult. The idea of this recipe is to layer the ingredients in an appealing glass bowl or tumbler so that it looks colorful and irresistible.
1. Layer the custard/cream and the fruits alternately inside the serving bowl so that there is a play of different colors.
2. Top with the cherries and the mixed nuts.
Getting your finicky toddlers or preschoolers to finish what is put on their plate may sometimes seem like an uphill task. But, how you present the food to them can make a huge difference. Try our ideas and say hello to peaceful mealtimes.