Picky Eaters

The Scramblog

The Power of Condiments

The Power of CondimentsYears ago, when I was completing my health coach training at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, one of the instructors suggested serving every meal with lots of condiments. The idea was that if you put lots of options out on the table, everyone could make the meal their own, tailoring it to fit their tastes. The concept appealed to me as I have always been a sucker for flavor boosters, but then I sort of forgot about it until a few years later when I was in the weeds trying to figure out how to support my picky eater. As I read books and articles and listened to webinars about feeding picky eaters, the message that I heard over and over again was to find ways to let the child have a sense of ownership and control over his or her food. I liked that idea so I decided to try putting condiments out at dinner as a way to help my picky eater take some control over his meal and make it his own. The change was miraculous! From the very first meal, my...

What to Do When your Kids Hate Dinner

I was recently talking to a new Scramble member who mentioned that one of the unexpected positive outcomes of joining was that she no longer felt stressed about whether or not her kids were going to like the food she served for dinner. When I probed a little more, it became clear that this wasn’t because they suddenly loved everything, but because by being offered a plan and cooking from that plan, it felt less like a rejection of her; it was less personal. This got me to thinking about how it can feel very personal when a kid, or anyone, doesn’t like or appreciate the food you prepared. It can really sting. So I wanted to share some of the ways I have found to shift this dynamic both for myself and my whole family.What to Do When your Kids Hate DinnerRudeness is not acceptable.When my youngest was about four, I instituted a new dinnertime rule: it was fine to not like the food, everyone has their own tastes, but it was not fine to be rude about it. As a family, we talked...

An Interview with My Formerly Picky Eater

The other night at dinner my 8-year-old, who was a picky eater for many years, said, out of the blue, “Do you remember when I used to be picky? I’m so glad I’m not anymore.” We then talked about how much things have changed and memories he had from dinners when he was younger. It was a wonderful moment because it showed how much his identity as an eater has changed. As we talked, it struck me as an amazing opportunity to learn more about a child’s experience as a picky eater, so I asked if I could interview him.An Interview with My Formerly Picky EaterWhat is your favorite food?Do I have to say one thing? Pizza, spaghetti and meatballs, burgers.What is your least favorite food?I don’t know because I haven’t tried many bad foods. Well, I don’t like stir-fry.Do you remember when you were a picky eater?Yes.What did it feel like to be offered a food you didn’t like?Well, I didn’t even eat it. But I also felt sad that I wouldn’t eat...

Simplify in 2019!

2018 has been a whirlwind, hasn’t it? So many fast-moving news stories, schedules that never seem to stop, and kids growing before our eyes. As we enter 2019, it can be tempting to come up with a long list of resolutions or goals that will make life better: get healthier, get organized, spend more time with family, get finances under control, the list goes on and on. I don’t know about you, but that growing list just adds to my anxiety and if I don’t accomplish the changes I hoped to see, then it also adds to my guilt. No thanks. So, as I sat down to think about how The Scramble could best support busy families in 2019, it occurred to me that the thing we could offer would be a one-stop solution that could help to simplify daily food routines and make them more pleasant, all while supporting many of the resolutions that busy parents tend to be drawn toward. Done and done! So, this year instead of giveaways or prizes, instead of challenges or competitions, we have put...

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...