My key concepts:
1. Presentation Presentation Presentation! No matter how tasty the dish is, you can't manage to have your picky eater taste it unless it is visually appealing, atleast not mine. So I found the ultimate tool to prettify kids meals, THE COOKIE CUTTER. Yes, they make your life easy, not totally, but to a great deal. Collect some cookie cutters in basic shapes like circle, heart, star, flower and some in fun shapes like animals, butterfly, holiday, cartoon characters etc. They will be your new best friend. You can cut sandwiches, cheese slices, fruit, tortillas, deli meat, pancakes, waffles... the list goes on.
2. Sneak in the good stuff that your kid hates into the dishes that your kid loves. This is tricky because some food items have strong flavor. You have to do some trial and error, but there are ways to do it. For example, you can put cauliflower in mashed potatoes, spinach in smoothies and carrots in spaghetti sauce.
3. Hang in there. Don't give up. Keep offering new food items/dishes to your child. It takes atleast 8-10 attempts to have the little ones take a bite of a new food. We don't stick around that long to make it work. For example, I offered my daughter Fried Calamari at Olive Garden 3 weeks ago. She straight away denied, even though she likes fried crispy stuff. So I didn't bother to offer tonight when we ordered the same, especially with the tired state of mind I was in. But when my husband did, she simply took it and ate, and asked for more. A reminder for me to keep trying.
Now I am attempting to regularly post some photos of her foods and possibly some recipes along the way so other moms can be inspired as well as suggest better ideas. I can't make every meal 100% natural and healthy, but my goal for each meal is to include whole grain, protein and fruit along with some sort of veggies sneaked in, plus a sweet treat that my kid likes.
Disclaimer: Foods pictured in boxes are what I pack for my almost 2.5 yr old for lunch and one snack while she is at school but she won't necessarily eat all of it. 50% leftovers is a good day for me. Days with barely any leftovers call for a celebration, though that's scarce. Foods pictured in plates are what I serve for breakfast/dinner at home. Please read descriptions below pictures for items that are missing in the picture, but are served as part of the meal.
Breakfast: Dollar size Sprinkles pancakes (recipe from here), banana slices in tulip and heart shapes, honey for dipping, 5 oz whole milk
Light Dinner (when a lot of snacking happens in the evening): deep fried whole wheat tortillas (Puri in indian) again, cut in fun shapes (before frying), orange slices. 5 oz milk before bed (not pictured). Evening Snacks include String Cheese and chocolate filled cookies.
One other thing I would like to use around here is the ONE BITE RULE. Have one solid bite of everything that's served, even if she doesn't like it. We haven't been successful yet, but I got to get her to lick the food for taste. That's a good start right? I hope so.
Please feel free to leave a comment or send an email with your suggestions so I can better serve my kid.