Fresh Ideas for Your Toddler’s Plate
Need a few ideas to get you out of your rut and expand your child’s palate?
• Try barley with sautéed mushrooms, quinoa with raisins, or whole grain spinach tortellini for a new grain.
• Roasted chickpeas or homemade meatballs can be cooked ahead of time and are full of protein.
• Diced up avocado provides healthy fat and oils that we all need. It’s also are easy for toddlers to eat!
• If your child loves food items they can dip, switch out the tater tots for roasted cauliflower with cumin, sweet potatoes sprinkled with cinnamon and panko covered zucchini.
• You can even replace chicken nuggets with falafel (they even sell it in a mix)!
There are many struggles and challenges that parents face. Between bedtimes, car seats, and teeth, it can feel overwhelming. One of the more frustrating obstacles that can last from infancy to what seems like eternity—yet is rarely talked about before having kids—is picky eating.
Vegetables are often treated as the cursed section of the food pyramid. Any kind of grain other than wheat in the form of pasta is to be avoided at all costs. A sauce that isn’t butter or cheese? Consider it the laughing stock in the baby community. While it’s easy to live in fear that this way of eating at the toddler stage will lead to a life-long chicken nugget or mac n’ cheese habit, it doesn’t have to.
Palate training babies is an effective way to introduce babies to vegetables, spices, and new foods to shape their way of eating (and to ease your meal-time anxiety) for the rest of their life. Not only does this method introduce little ones to these foods, it creates a love for them.
Local practitioner, Dr. Nancy Lach, along with her husband, Dan, run The Nutritional Healing Center in Corvallis. Lach is a Chiropractic Physician, with a focus on healing through food. She is also an advanced clinically trained practitioner in Nutrition Response Testing, and a strong believer that palate training babies is vital.
“If a child is given processed, refined, bleached and/or sugary foods, their palate becomes desensitized to the wonderful tastes that natural foods offer. We want our children to appreciate the tastes of healthy, unprocessed foods in their natural form. Only this kind of diet will allow the palate to be able to discriminate between real food and the ‘products’ that through advertising have convinced people are good for us.”
Like any type of teaching with children, from sleep-training to potty-training, palate-training may seem daunting. It can be frustrating at the beginning, but also like the aforementioned stages of development, persistence will pay off. Introducing a new food to your child may take up to 10 tries before she develops a taste for it. That said, Lach emphasizes that this is the age to start.
Children usually respond to new foods much faster than adults. Starting them with the actual ingredient and flavor without covering it in cheese or veiling it with fruit purees is important for that taste to stick and develop. Instead of a heavy cheese sauce, pair vegetables with complementary spices like dill or cumin or nutmeg. Bring grains like millet and quinoa into your baby’s diet to give him a starch other than noodles or rice.
It’s not always easy; it certainly doesn’t happen overnight, but it does happen. And you’ll be all the more grateful because of it. The days of making two separate dinners every night will be a thing of the past.
All this said, sometimes it just isn’t in the cards to work ten hours, come home to a crabby toddler, and whip up a mild vegetable curry pureed with brown rice and have everything go off without a hitch. Especially when you can pop an Easy-Mac in the microwave and have it cook while you sit down for the first time that day.
Like anything, practice moderation, and take it one day at a time. Progress, not perfection. Best intentions put forth with our best effort, using the best information and tools we have, will result in a positive change.
By Leah Biesack