Which of you toddler moms out there can relate to this scenario? Reading about a new superfood and how your toddler must have it in their diet for x, y and z reasons and then lovingly preparing a delicious toddler friendly meal including plating it for said toddler in the shape of a face, animal or whatever else they are into at the moment. Picture it; little toddler is at the table, you are wearing your apron just for that extra little bit of domesticated bliss. You put the plate in front of toddler and immediately they go, “yuck!” and make a vomiting motion – sound familiar? Well, maybe Elijah is a bit more dramatic than most, but that is what I have to deal with almost daily.
This is the little guy that, when weaning him, loved my concoctions of blueberries, avocado and mint, cinnamon, butternut and cream cheese, kale, marrow bones and peas. I would lovingly spoon them into his open mouth and he would delightfully giggle and gobble them up! Then he became a toddler and decided that he knew what he wanted more than I did. I now have a cupboard stocked with Oatees, Barni Soft Cakes, Kinder Eggs (Elijah assures me these are a food group in their own right) and a fridge full of Paw Patrol Yogurt.
Even though I do often indulge him in his favourites, I still manage to feed him a balanced healthy diet. I have learnt the great art of ‘disguising food in rice for your toddler’. Elijah just adores rice and I can hide almost anything in there for him. His all time favourite foods are my rice pudding and Annabel Karmels Parmesan Risotto. I tend to change the recipes up a bit to add more protein and some extra vegetables or fruit. I am quite grateful that after not wanting to eat avocados for two and a half years, he ate a piece off my plate recently and said that he actually really liked it.
Smoothies are also another way of disguising healthy fruit or vegetables. Blitz everything up with some double cream plain yogurt and tell them it’s a strawberry milkshake – what could be more healthy for a little one for breakfast? If you are rushing to get ready for school, they can even have it in the car on the way there. I have so many frozen smoothie packs in my freezer for those days when there just doesn’t seem to be enough time to get organized.
Another way I like to introduce new foods for him is to let Elijah help me in the kitchen. He just adores baking and cooking and that is something I like to encourage. We have little tastes inbetween cooking and it gets him used to the new taste and texture. Also cooking play dates with friends are always a winner in our house!
The point I am trying to make is that toddlers are always fussy – so give them a little of what they like to eat to full them up with a few new things on the side to get them used to seeing them on their plates. Before you know it they will be snacking on gogi berries with kale, drizzled with almond nut butter!