by Rhaea Miller
Over the years I have read many an article in parenting literature advising me to trick my picky eaters into eating by doing a number of things.
1. Disguise the food as pretty shapes. For instance, a pepper cut like a star will be a hit.
2. Have my children help me prepare the food. They will want to eat something they have made themselves.
3. Introduce the same thing 10-20 times. Eventually they will like it.
My children are apparently anomalies of the child world, as they have laughed at the vegetables I arranged in attractive patterns. They have turned their noses up at the food they have prepared with the declaration of ‘now that I know what is IN that, there is NO WAY I am eating it.’ And finally, I have placed a lonely carrot on Avery’s plate every day for the last twelve years (yes, that is twelve, as in twelve) only to have it dismissed as garnish.
So when a friend of mine suggested a new salad invention she had come up with, I snorted my usual sound of doubt.
My friend said to take a 9×13 pan and coat the bottom in shredded lettuce. However much you want. Put it all over the bottom in a thick layer.
Next, take toppings the kids might like and chop them into salad pieces. Avery likes bacon and fresh mozzarella balls (he is evidently my health nut), and the girls like shredded cheddar and carrots. I like olives and peppers and my husband will eat whatever I put in front of him, just so long as he doesn’t have to make it.
Once you have your toppings, arrange them in stripes across the top of the lettuce. When you serve it, announce that everyone can take the topping they want so long as they take lettuce with it.
I have no idea why, but this was a hit with my family. Seriously, I am not exaggerating in any way when I say that a vegetable has never crossed my son’s lips willingly. Once, I hid a pea in a piece of macaroni and that story has gone down in Miller history as the time Avery stopped eating macaroni forever. I’ve written blogs on how I hide pureed veggies in everything. Because it is the only way I can get my oldest child to eat anything but bread. And when the food experts told me to serve him the same plate over and over until he ate it, they did not take into consideration that my child was more willing to go 3 days without food than attempt to eat a chicken leg.
While I have never made more than one meal for my picky eaters, I have always attempted to serve at least one item at each meal that my pickiest will eat, and now that he’s 12 – far beyond the statute of limitations on reasonable pickiness – he spends his own time preparing bowls of cereal when he isn’t interested in my efforts.
That being said, the salad was an exception to every trick I have ever tried. When I told the kids we were having stripe salad tonight, they all yelled ‘YEH!!’ It makes no sense. None. In fact, I find it slightly irritating that this was all it took to get them to eat a salad.
What dinner hit has baffled you?
Rhaea is a graduate of the University of Toledo with degrees in Broadcasting and English. She tampered with a variety of careers with fancy titles – including Network Production Coordinator for ESPN, Academic Assistant at the Yale University School of Medicine, and HypnoBirthing Childbirth Educator – before settling on her no-fancy-title-needed life calling of stay-at-home Mom. Although her children would be shocked to realize she has other things to keep her busy, she is also a Sunday school teacher, a Judge-Referee for the US Rowing Association, on the board of Community in Schools of the Tecumseh Area, and teaching assistant and former President of Little Indian Preschool in Tecumseh. After living in Connecticut for many years, she has spent the last 6 years in Tecumseh with her husband Lee, son Avery and daughters Ruby and Rita. She firmly believes that raising children can either make you laugh or cry, so take the bull by the horns and make it all good and funny.by