Sneaky Toddler Meals

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Toddlers can be notoriously picky. Not only are they picky, they can also change their mind about what they are picky about in a matter of hours. Parents trying to help their toddlers eat a balanced, healthy meal are at a loss as to how to encourage their toddler to eat vegetables when he only wants fruit or how to encourage anything but pasta and milk.

If your toddler is giving you trouble, you need to start thinking in a whole new way. Your job as a parent is to help your child reach his nutritional quota for the day, not to make him enjoy every mouthful. If your toddler is stonewalling you on the veggies, it’s time to take get a little sneaky.

Go With the Good Stuff

The first step to cleaning up your toddler’s diet is to eliminate all of the junk food. Some crackers are a good source of whole grains and carbohydrates, but if your child snacks all day on non nutritious foods, eliminate them from his diet. Replace the chips with apple slices or blueberries. A sprinkle of sugar on fresh fruit is a pittance compared with how much is in most juices.

Push water to drink during the day as it won’t fill up a little tummy the way juice and milk will. Encourage milk after meals at mealtimes and before bed. Avoid juice as much as possible or use a splash as flavoring for water as juice has more sugar than nutrition.

If your child already has some favorite items, be sure they are the healthiest versions. If he loves grilled cheese, make it on whole grain breads with extra cheese for the protein and calcium. If he loves pizza, make your own with whole grain crust, sliced tomatoes and low fat cheese. If he eats hamburger or meat loaf, you’re in a great position to start sneaking in a few extra nutrients.

Mix It In

As odd as it may seem, baby food is a great way to get your toddler some extra nutrients. Mix in a little bit of pureed peas and squash into a casserole or meatloaf that your child already eats. Grate a few garden vegetables to mix discreetly into a hamburger patty. Your entire family can benefit from extra vegetables, so don’t just include the hidden treasures in your toddler’s meals.

Cover or Dip It

Most toddlers will eat anything they can dip. Low fat salad dressing or ketchup make great dips. Even a cheese sauce can make cauliflower or broccoli appealing. Just be sure the cheese sauce isn’t negating any value of the vegetable it’s covering.

Blend It

Toddlers love smoothies and ice cream. Make a smoothie with any number of delicious fruits. The right combination of fruits can cover most of a child’s nutritional needs for the day, especially if your throw in some milk or yogurt to provide protein and calcium. Avoid using a raw egg, of course, as raw eggs can cause salmonella poisoning.

Include It

Even while you are sneaking in nutrition, be sure to keep offering the authentic version of the fruits and vegetables to your child. He may not touch them for months, but one day, after seeing beets on her plate for the past year, he might just pick one up and give it a try. So long as you are providing him with nutritious choices at every meal and being sure to include at least something he’s been known to eat in the past, your toddler will survive this picky stage and will probably amaze you with the amount he’ll eat in his teenage years.

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