AS EVERY parent knows, the dinner hour can be fraught with friction and frustration â€“ how can you get your picky eater to abandon his â€œno green foodsâ€ rule or make your chatterbox stop talking long enough to take a bite?
Relax, says mother of three, parenting expert and author of â€œThe Big Book of Parenting Solutions,â€ Dr. Michele Borba, who notes that all parents want to feed their kids well and enjoy the time together at the table. â€œSometimes, the littlest members of the family establish patterns at mealtime that are difficult to break,â€ Borba says. â€œThankfully, there are scores of parents out there who have gone or are going through the same challenges; one resource to try is Momâ€™s the Word on Dinner, an interactive forum thatâ€™s hosted by Ragu on Facebook.com/ragusauce. Itâ€™s a great community where moms can discuss and, hopefully, provide solutions to the everyday dinner time challenges from picky eaters to table manners.â€
Other tips for dealing with picky eaters, provided by Borba and registered dietician, Dr. Felicia Stoler include:
Donâ€™t make it a big deal. â€œResearch shows that picky eaters can become even pickier depending on how we respond,â€ Borba says. â€œItâ€™s best to be neutral and calm and hold off on lectures. In fact, the less said about the food, the better.â€
Branch out. â€œThe best way to get the pickiest eaters to discover new foods is to send them to a friend or family memberâ€™s house,â€ Stoler says. â€œI am amazed at what picky kids will eat at my house and what my kids have tried at other peopleâ€™s homes.â€
Turn your kid onto cooking shows. â€œOne mom swore her kid was the worldâ€™s pickiest eater,â€ Borba says. â€œOne day she caught her daughter watching a cooking show and it was the â€˜momentâ€™ sheâ€™d been waiting for. She bought her a small recipe box and showed her daughter how to find recipes on the internet. Each week her daughter found a recipe and encouraged her mom to make it. The best part: she ate it.â€
Mix favorites with new tastes. â€œChildren will refuse to try new foods without anything familiar on their plate,â€ Stoler says. â€œTry filling their plate with their favorite foods and add a small amount of the new food to inch them toward exploring new flavors.Â My son loves pasta so I just make sure to mix in different vegetables each week to have him try something different. On top of that, RaguÂ® Old World StyleÂ® Traditional pasta sauce has two servings of veggies in every half cup so I always feel confident that heâ€™s receiving a wholesome meal.â€
Finally, trying a family-friendly recipe like RaguÂ® Veggie Pizza Cupcakes thatâ€™s fun to make and eat with the kids will get everyone around the table and asking for seconds. For more tips and recipes, and to join the conversation, visit Facebook.com/ragusauce.
Veggie Pizza Cupcakes
For meat-loverâ€™s cupcakes, substitute cooked ground beef for the veggies. Simply mix it in with the sauce and continue as in recipe.
1 package (12 oz.) refrigerated biscuits (10 biscuits)
1 teaspoon olive oil
1-1/2 cups assorted diced fresh vegetables (red bell pepper, zucchini, summer squash, onion)
1-1/2 cups RaguÂ® Old World StyleÂ® Traditional Pasta Sauce
Â½ cup shredded mozzarella cheese (about 2 oz.)
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Unroll biscuits and press each into a 3-inch round. Evenly press each biscuit in bottom and up sides of each cup in 12-cup muffin pan; chill until ready to fill.
2. Heat olive oil over medium heat in 10-inch skillet and cook vegetables, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes or until tender. Stir in pasta sauce and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer 2 minutes or until slightly reduced.
3. Evenly spoon vegetable mixture into prepared muffin cups. Bake 15 minutes. Evenly sprinkle tops with cheese and bake an additional 5 minutes or until cheese is melted and biscuits are golden. Let stand 5 minutes before serving. Gently remove pizza cups from muffin pan and serve.
Preparation time: 15 Minutes
Cook time: 20 Minutes
Yield: 10 pizza cups
Nutrition Information per serving
Calories 140, Calories From Fat 45, Total Fat 5g, Trans Fat 0g, Cholesterol 5mg, Sodium 460mg, Dietary Fiber 1g, Sugars 5g, Protein 4g, Vitamin A 6 percent, Vitamin C 25 percent, Calcium 4 percent, Iron 6 percent. (ARA)