Picky Eaters

The Scramblog

Creamy Cauliflower Soup with Pomegranates and Peanuts

This month’s challenge from The Recipe Redux was to share a fun spin on soup. For a while, I thought about offering up a curried soup or a whimsical soup bowl or bread bowl, but then I realized that this was a great opportunity to share one of the suggestions I make in workshops all the time: pureed vegetable soups with fun toppings are a winning option for parents of picky eaters. When my younger son was in the depths of his super picky phase, I had all but given up hope that there would ever be a time when he ate vegetables other than the occasional raw carrot. Then, one day, I made a pureed vegetable soup and served it with saltines. I showed him how you can crush the crackers into the soup and then scoop them out. And, like magic, he was hooked! I think he ate two bowls of soup that night as I sat (in shock) watching him shovel (and he was pretending to be a backhoe at the time) the soup and saltines into his mouth. From there we were off and running, topping soups with...

Whole Wheat Pumpkin Pancakes

This month’s Recipe Redux challenge was to develop a pumpkin recipe. At first glance, this was a pretty straightforward and seasonally appropriate challenge, but I knew I needed to get it right from the get-go since testing and retesting a pumpkin recipe was going to be a bit of a challenge if the biggest eater of my test batches (my husband) wasn’t excited about the food (he’s not a pumpkin fan). I also knew that I wanted a new breakfast recipe for the make-ahead breakfast feature of our meal planning service, so I started playing around with ideas: pumpkin muffins (The Scramble already has a recipe for them), pumpkin oatmeal (has been a bust in our house when I’ve tried it before), pumpkin with eggs (I couldn’t wrap my head around that one), so I landed on whole wheat pancakes. But how would I make them light and fluffy? After all, the last thing you want is a hockey puck for a pancake, so I started researching different options and finally put together a version...

Crunchy Chicken Fingers

These Crunchy Chicken Fingers are bound to please the kids and adults in your family. You can dip them in ketchup, honey mustard, or barbecue sauce. Watch Jessica make them on Facebook Live.Crunchy Chicken FingersPrep Time: 10 minutes,  Cook Time: 20 minutes, Makes 6 servings 1/2 cup nonfat sour cream (or use any variety) 1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard (use wheat/gluten-free, if needed) 1/4 tsp. salt, or to taste1/8 tsp. black pepper, or to taste2 cups dry stuffing mix, herb seasoned or cornbread 2 lbs. chicken tenderloins or boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch wide strips
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Spray a baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray. Put the sour cream in a shallow bowl and stir in the mustard, salt, and pepper. Put the dry stuffing in another large shallow bowl and crush it into smaller pieces without pulverizing it. Dip each piece of chicken in the sour cream mixture, shake off the excess, then roll and press...

Breakfast-Ready Apple Crisp

 This month’s challenge from The Recipe Redux (a recipe development community I recently joined) was to think back to when you were a kid and share a recipe you cooked early on or one that you cook now with the kids in your life. This apple crisp recipe checks off both of those boxes! As a kid, I wasn’t much for cooking (read more about that here). In fact, the only type of food I was interested in learning how to make (like many kids) was dessert. One of my favorites to make with my mom was apple crisp. This was for two reasons: 1) it was a beloved dessert and 2) I’ve always found peeling apples to be incredibly satisfying (weird, I know). Over the years, my mom and I have tinkered with the crisp’s topping and this version is truly my favorite because it has a satisfying crunch and lots of flavor, thanks to the use of nuts and nut flour in the place of all-purpose flour. The nuts and nut flour also add protein making this not only a fantastic dessert but...

Getting Your Kids to Pack Their Own Lunches: Mistakes I’ve Made and How I’ll be Doing it Differently This Year

My kids go to a school where there is no cafeteria, so we have to pack lunches every. single. day. And while my husband is in charge of school day breakfasts, I still have the task of overseeing school lunches. Last year, when they were in 2nd and 4th grades, I decided that it was time for the boys to start packing their own lunches. There were definitely days when it didn’t go as planned, days when I threw up my hands and just packed the lunches because otherwise the boys never would have left on time, but for much of the year, they successfully pulled their own lunches together every day. And it was awesome. So now that we have done it for a year in my house, I wanted to share the lessons that I have learned and thoughts on what I will do differently this year.How to get your kids to pack their own lunchesBe clear on expectations, then step backBefore the school year started, I shared The Scramble’s lunch packing printable chock full of lunch packing ideas with...

Feeding a Crowd Without Ordering Pizza

Before kids, meeting out at bars and restaurants or hosting dinner parties were the ways that my husband and I most often socialized and we loved it. When kids came along, however, something changed: somehow meeting friends at a restaurant with toddlers in tow just wasn’t as relaxing and intricately planned three or four course meals that I cooked over a day or two just weren’t realistic. So we made a shift—we started hosting family gatherings at our house. These informal get-togethers were meant to give kids the space to run around and parents the time to actually catch up. But as the kids have gotten older this has also come to mean cooking for 15, 16, or even 20 people, which then begs the question: what do you cook if you have to feed a crowd but don’t want to order pizza?Feeding a Crowd Without Ordering PizzaFor me, I like to usually make one big main dish and then accompany it with various sides or toppings so that everyone can make the meal their own, even...

4 Watermelon Recipes for the 4th!

I don’t know about you, but the first food that comes to mind when I think of the 4th of July is watermelon. I have vivid childhood memories of watermelon juice sliding down my chin and spitting the big black seeds into the grass as I watched the fireworks from the banks of the Charles River in Boston. There is nothing more summery to me than watermelon. So this year, I wanted to share some of my favorite, creative ways to serve up that consummate summer treat at your celebrations on this 4th of July. All of these would be great to bring to a potluck, eat out in the backyard, or pack up for a picnic.4 Watermelon Recipes for the 4th!Watermelon Feta and Mint Cubes. This appetizer, invented by Scramble founder Aviva’s son Solomon, is so delicious, simple, and easy to prepare. Get your kids in on the fun by asking them to assemble the towers.Watermelon Caprese Salad with Arugula. A Scramble favorite! As Scramble recipe tester Jen Grosman said, “it tastes...

Brazilian-Style Power Bowls

We eat bean and rice bowls almost once a week. This is, in part, because my husband is Brazilian and these are some of his favorite foods, but it’s also because of the flexibility it allows for everyone to make their bowl their own. (Check out my blog post about each family member “building” their own meal.) One of my sons loads up on the collards, while the other reaches for the sweet potatoes. I love mine with just a little rice, some beans, a ton of both vegetables, and then topped with a little crumbled feta (the contrast between the sweet of the sweet potatoes and the salty of the feta gets me every time). Watch Jessica make these power bowls on Facebook Live.Brazilian-Style Power BowlsPrep + Cook: 30 minutes, Makes 6 servings 1 1/2 cups white or quick-cooking brown rice 1 large or 2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped into 1/2-inch pieces (about ¾ lb.)2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil 3/4 tsp. salt 1/2 tsp. black pepper 30 oz....

After School Snack Ideas

I don't know about how it works in your house, but in mine the boys get home from school or camp and the first thing out of their mouths is, "can I have a snack?" Coming up with healthy(ish) ideas that will get them through until dinner can be a challenge, so we pulled together a list of some of our favorite after school snack ideas to help keep you sane.After School Snack Ideas1. Graham crackers with peanut butter 2. Nuts and raisin mix, trail mix (add whole grain cereal, if desired), or just nuts or raisins or dried cranberries and almonds 3. Quesadillas (melted cheese on whole wheat 
tortillas or corn tortillas) 4. Popcorn, homemade or store bought (look for brand that is low in sodium and fat) 5. Fudgy Figgy Balls6. Tortilla chips and salsa, guacamole or topped with shredded cheese and refried beans and put in the microwave or under the broiler (nachos) 7. Muffins or breads, such as banana, pumpkin, corn, or zucchini (you can make a 
batch and...

The Importance of Autonomy: Helping “Picky” Eaters to Try New Things

This past week, two things happened that really brought home the importance of giving our kids autonomy with their food, especially for picky eaters.

A teenager who was open to change

The first was a one-on-one cooking lesson that I had with a 15-year-old boy. This is a kid who has a pretty limited palate and has shown very little interest in food. When his mother gave him the option of having a cooking lesson, however, he jumped at the opportunity. When I arrived, he was eagerly waiting at the door and then started right into learning how to chop vegetables, make a sauce, and put together a healthy dinner. He was focused, cheerful, and engaged. It was such a wonderful experience!

Looking back, there were a couple of reasons that I think the session was such a success. One was that just by offering the possibility of the cooking class, he was given a chance to learn a new skill that would help him to become more independent. Another was that he got to choose the...