Hope for picky eaters

August 27, 2018 | by Edward-Elmhurst Health

For some reason, picky eating tends to flourish in childhood. Whether it's psychological or preference, most kids are happiest with bland or familiar food.

Rare is the grade-schooler who has no opinion about what’s for dinner.

But picky eating is no reason to resign yourself to a rotation of processed pasta, hot dogs and PB&J. Kids are also drawn to novelty. Dress healthy food up as something unusual, funny or fancy and they're more likely to give it a try.

There are other ways to help your child enjoy a broader range of foods, such as:

  • Serve them the same item over and over. One study found that kids whose parents gave them a taste of a veggie every day for 14 days ended up liking the vegetable more at the end. Try the "1-2 bite rule" to get a real taste of a food. This exposure can be stretched over weeks or even months.
  • But give your child some options. Let your child choose between two healthy foods.
  • Let them help. When a child helps make the meal, he’s more inclined to try eating it. Give your child some age-appropriate tasks to help with prep and cooking.
  • Relax at the table. Don’t let the pickiness get to you. Your child won’t starve if she doesn’t eat much of the food on her plate. When the atmosphere is more relaxed, kids may be less stubborn.
  • Don’t give in and make a separate meal. Gently let your child know that what’s on his plate is what’s for dinner. When he realizes there is no other option, he may be more motivated to try the food in front of him.

Reviewed by Rebecca Waller, RD, LDN.

The American Heart Association offers a number of great, healthy recipes on their website, including this one, for crunchy chicken. Add these recipes to your rotation this week.

Crunchy Chicken with Oven-Roasted Broccoli

  • Whole chicken
    NOTE: you can save time by using boneless, skinless chicken breast halves but using the whole chicken and quartering and skinning yourself can save some money. But be sure you don't mind eating off of bones if you use the whole chicken.
  • 2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 cup multigrain cereal flakes (crushed)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper

For the Oven-Roasted Broccoli:

  • 1 lb fresh broccoli crowns (rinsed, trimmed)
  • 1 1/2 tsp minced garlic
  • 2 tsp low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 Tbsp chopped, unsalted, uncoiled nuts (almonds, pecans or walnuts suggested – whatever is on sale will work)


For the Crunchy Chicken:

  1. Heat oven to 400 degrees F. Rinse chicken and pat dry. Remove giblets and neck and discard. Quarter chicken and remove and discard skin.
  2. In a medium bowl, toss the chicken and mustard to coat. [If you’re using chicken breasts, just rinse and pat dry.]
  3. In a large bowl, mix the crushed cereal, and 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Coat the chicken with the cereal mixture and bake on a baking sheet until golden and cooked through, 45 to 50 minutes.

For the Oven-Roasted Broccoli:

  1. Heat oven to 400 degrees F (or can use same oven as chicken). Rinse broccoli, trim stalks into 1/8 inch-thick chunks and cut florets into bit sized pieces. Place in a mixing bowl and toss with soy sauce, oil, pepper, and garlic.
  2. Sprinkle the chopped nuts evenly in to a 9x13 inch casserole dish. Place in the oven 3-4 minutes until lightly toasted. Remove from oven and toss in to broccoli mixture.
  3. Transfer broccoli mixture to casserole dish and roast 10-12 minutes until broccoli is tender. Serve warm.

Copyright © 2018 American Heart Association, Healthy For Good™

Friendly Face Pizzas

  • 3 whole grain English Muffins, split in half
  • 3/4 cup pasta sauce
  • 3/4 cup shredded Italian cheese blend 
  • Assorted vegetables


  1. Preheat oven to 400. Place muffins halves on baking sheet.
  2. Spread pasta sauce on muffins. Sprinkle with cheese. Using vegetables, create silly faces on top of cheese.
  3. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until cheese is melted,

Makes 6 servings

Baked Zucchini Coins

  • 1/2 cup whole-wheat panko bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 medium zucchini, cut into 1/4 inch circles
  • oilive oil or canola oil spray
  • maranara sauce for dipping (optional)


  1. Preheat oven to 450.
  2. Combine bread crumbs, salt, garlic powder and parmesan in a small bowl. Whisk the egg in a second bowl and place the flour in a third.
  3. Make an assembly line with the bowls. Dip the zucchini circles into the flour, then the egg, and finally the bread crumbsmixture, coating them evenly.
  4. Place on a baking rack over a baking sheet and spray with oil. Put in the oven for 20 minutes, or until bread crumbs are  golden. Serve with marinara sauce if desired.

Makes 4 servings

Recipe from "140 Fast, Fresh, and Easy Recipes" by Catherine McCord.

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