Monday, May 17, 2010

Cooking For Kids

My five year old nephew, Marcus is a pain in the ass to cook for. He's picky, stubborn and spoiled and will tell you straight up if he thinks what you made is yucky. You can ask him what he wants but he'll change his mind once it's in front of him and the only way you'll get him to eat a few bites is by threatening to tell his daddy he's been bad. (That equates to a butt whuppin')  So I've been doing some research to help me out with this, so the next time he comes over, I'll be prepared.

I found this article from

Cooking with Kids (chicken)

Finger foods such as chicken nuggets are always a hit. I keep a carton or two on hand for a never-fail snack food for kids or grown-ups.

Young children often prefer uncomplicated tastes.  While some may go for elaborate sauces, it's safest to cook chicken by quickly sautéing it in your frying pan, and then have any of the grown-up's sauces available for the kids to use as an optional dip. Avoid highly seasoned foods for kids unless you know they're used to them. Frequently young children like uniform textures.  Casseroles with hard and soft textures would be riskier than, say, a straightforward boned chicken breast.

Pieces cut from a cooked Cornish hen can be a real treat for a small child.  He or she eats the child-size portion, breast or leg, while the grown-ups eat regular size broiler breast or drumsticks.

My friends tell me that the latest scientific research suggests thinking of a balanced diet in terms of several days rather than just a rigid 24-hour period.  That means that if one of the kids in your care goes on a chicken-eating jag or a peanut butter jag or a not-eating jag,
don't worry;  it's ok as long as in the course of several days he or she is getting a balanced diet.  Knowing this can make meal time a lot more relaxed.

Cooking with school age kids can be a lot of fun, as long as it's presented as a treat instead of a chore.  You might, for a start, get them involved in planning the week's menu.  I know some families who allow each child to pick the main dish for one meal a week. Older children actually get to cook their choice. My daughter-in-law suggests getting kids to pick out meals with an ethnic or international theme so that mealtime is a time to explore other cultures as well as a time to eat.

The article is 100% right about simple tastes. I can count the foods Marcus will eat in a very short

  • Chicken nuggets (processed only, like McDonald's or perdue ready-to-eat)
  • Spaghetti and sauce with mild parmesan cheese (but not meatballs)
  • Mac n cheese (Only boxed or chef boyardee)
  • Pizza
  • Candy, cake, general sweets.

That's about it. Really, he shuns everything else like it's poison. I've tried to expand this little boy's pallate to no avail.  I've even tried making the things he likes only fresher, i.e. breaded chicken fingers, home-made spaghetti sauce and mac n cheese with real cheddar instead of powder or prepackaged goo. I keep thinking that he'll be more open-minded when he gets older but the time to start letting him try things is around now. I admit, because I don't have any kids of my own, I'm severely lacking in expertise in this area. Does anyone have any sagely advice for me as to how I can get him to like more healthy foods? The whole "candied carrots" and "cinnimon roasted pears" idea has failed...thanks.

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