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Elisabeth Röhm’s Blog: Revamping My Daughter’s Diet

02/03/2011 at 09:00 AM ET
Kimberly Metz

Thanks for welcoming our celebrity blogger — Elisabeth Röhm!

The actress, 37, best known for her role as Serena Southerlyn on Law & Order, has a busy 2011 ahead of her.

She can be seen on the big screen in the upcoming films Chlorine, Transit and Abduction, and plans to continue her role as spokesmom for Juno Baby.

In her latest blog, Röhm — who is mom to 2½-year-old daughter Easton August with fiancé Ron Anthony — discusses her difficulties with Easton’s diet — and shares a few family recipes with PEOPLE Moms & Babies readers.

 

Moms, I don’t know about you, but I’ve been a little guilty of ‘the white diet.’ That means all that white food that’s tasty … but maybe not the richest in nutrients.

I’ll be honest — we eat a lot of chicken fingers and fries in my family. We also eat plenty of buttered pasta, albeit with spinach and other veggies mixed in, plus a dash of parmesan. And yes, the white diet also includes the flour tortillas used to make those quesadillas we love so much (we sneak in the peas and spinach there too).

I never thought this would happen. We are true foodies in my family and delight in all things yummy! However Easton’s appetite is, shall we say, rather limited. And I’ll admit that it often dictates our family dinner experience to us — meaning, we are fragmented in what we eat.

Easton’s a picky eater — she gets her way and we get ours. We have indulged it a bit and now find we are in somewhat of a pickle. And yes, we do offer her every bit of our diverse and scrumptious dinners so that one day we can all share in a nutritious and delicious meal that can be offered to one and all. But I’ve had to face the fact that she is not an easy sell.

So, we find our dinner split between the adults and the kid. Family dinner just doesn’t feel as nurturing as it could be — not to mention it’s not as inspiring to prepare when you are cooking two or three different options on a nightly basis!

We made a mistake, it seems, long ago when Easton started eating solids. We offered her too many options of child-friendly food vs. food we were eating, which was probably superior in flavor and texture. We kept it too simple upon the merest complaint.

A dear friend of ours is a chef and as you can imagine, their children eat like little kings. It is truly shocking to a mom like me and I must admit I am slightly embarrassed by our child’s habits in comparison. We’ll be eating at our friend’s restaurant and his kids will be gobbling beets, mushrooms and lamb while my child wants her hot buttered bread roll. Can you blame her? I love them too.

But enough is enough. We can’t get through another meal just allowing her to eat the white diet and be happy because she is well-behaved and says “please” and “thank you” readily. Really, how did this happen when I’m the kind of person who loves my veggies?!

Of course, the answer is simple and I know it. Our friend — and perhaps you too — only offered his kid food that he was eating and never dumbed down mealtime. He had no desire to make several offerings after a day at work. As a true foodie, he was going to make some inspired, healthful meal that everyone was going to eat or they would get nothing at all. And thus, his children love food, eat food and celebrate food in all its plenty.

My first mistake was to allow Easton to dictate what she was going to eat in the first place. If she didn’t like the spaghetti bolognese I had labored over, I’d put it away in Tupperware and start over, happily trying to fulfill her by offering a more kid-friendly version.

Of course I was trying to be loving and honor her tastebuds that obviously were different from mine, but in the end I didn’t do her any favors. I should have listened to my pediatrician way back when he told me that my kid would not starve herself and not to worry if she missed a meal or two.

If you were to go to any restaurant and look at the kid’s menu, you would have a pretty good idea of what my darling daughter likes to eat. Now I am a sneaky chef in my preparations and use whole grains, vegetables and fruit any chance I get — but it is labor-intensive and I can assure you that what she eats is not at all savory to Mom and Dad!

I am on a mission now to correct my long-standing gesture of over-indulgence and get my child to eat — at the family table, what the family also desires. I want her to leave the empty starches behind and begin to discover the world of food which is big, beautiful and colorful!

In the pursuit of my love of cooking I have often reached out to my Aunt Nancy, who is a caterer/nutritionist. Together we are creating a transition cookbook for kids that includes time-efficient recipes which everyone will love, so that we may become a family that shares our meals, eats healthily and loves food together.

Through her recipes and mine, along with family traditions, we are creating a cookbook that will be like gold for a working mom like myself and that I can have on hand in my kitchen. In the coming year, this book will be available to all of you who enjoy the art of family meals!

Today, my task in the kitchen is to find a culinary substitute for chicken fingers and fries that is fast and easy — and fits into the busy schedule of the ever-multitasking mom. And the adults will like it too!

Here is a taste of our future cookbook Family Secrets … from our family to yours … Bon appétit!

– Elisabeth Röhm

Aunt Nancy’s Chicken Cutlets

Known by many names — Wiener Schnitzel, Milanese or scaloppini — these chicken breasts take less than 10 minutes and you can use chicken, pork or veal cutlets. The cutlets should be ¼” – ½” thick to get the really crispy outside. Each cutlet is dredged in flour, dipped in beaten egg, then pressed in bread crumbs before finally put into hot oil and pan-fried on each side for only a few minutes.

Don’t flip over until really golden. Be careful not to overdo — they cook quickly and the meat should be tender and not stringy. Once you get the technique down, the possibilities are endless.

  • Set-up three shallow bowls in a row, close to a large (10-12”) frying pan. Fill as instructed:
  • First bowl: about ¼ cup flour, seasoned with salt and pepper
  • Second bowl: 1-2 beaten eggs
  • Third bowl: 1 cup bread crumbs (We favor Progresso Italian seasoned, but now use Panko for the extra crunch. Try a mixture of both.)
  • Heat olive, safflower or other veggie oil.
  • Dredge, dip and press each cutlet. (Using tongs from this point is very helpful. Have a plate ready as they come out of the pan.)
  • Fry on both sides, turning when golden. They should only need 2 -3 minutes each side. Remove from the pan. Can be kept warm in a low oven.

 

Smashed Potatoes

An easy way to get crispy potatoes without peeling, chopping or frying. A simple two-step process. For busy moms, the boiling of the potatoes can be done earlier in the day. I like to use Yukon Gold small to medium-sized potatoes, but almost any potato will do.

  • Preheat the oven to 450*.
  • Cook potatoes until an inserted paring knife is easy to pull out.
  • Drain and cool the potatoes for 5 minutes.
  • Drizzle olive oil on a rimmed sheet pan.
  • Separate the potatoes on the sheet pan and smash away using the palm of your hand. A great job for the kids to do with you!
  • Drizzle again with olive oil, salt and pepper and place in oven for about 10 minutes, until you see lots of crispiness on the edges of the potatoes.

 

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Showing 75 comments

Cindy on

Her blogs really get better each week… This photo is so cute too! Her daughter is adorable.

Sarah S. on

They’re both wearing absolutely beautiful dresses!! I love this candid photo of them running on the beach!

amber on

I can relate to her story. My daughter started having eating problem when she switched from stage 2 to stage 3. She has been in a feeding clinic for the past six months and at age two has finally reached a weight of 23 pounds. We are having to “retrain” her on how to eat and to accept food.

Crimpe on

WHAT an amazing picture. So super gorgeous. And yeah, that gown is absolutely amazing!

Julia A on

That’s a beautiful picture. I thought it was a beach-wedding picture at first glance.

Sheena on

Oh man, I was almost starting to like this blog of hers and then out came the truth…just trying to sell her cookbook. Too bad because this was the only decent blog of hers I’ve read.

Lady 84 on

Excellent Blog. I love having such honesty. The thing with being a parent is every child is different, they have their own likes and dislikes.

One thing that works very well is the one bite rule, in that the child and the parent has to have one bite of each new thing, if they don’t like it thats ok, but at least you have achieved one full bite and if you do that every time eventually they will get used to the taste and texture, but do not feel a failure because they don’t like things, just remember as adults we don’t like everything all the time either.

Lou x on

Love her dress!

Tee on

Elisabeth, you made such a common “mistake” so there is no need to feel bad! It sounds like you are really on the right track with retraining Easton and her tastebuds. It won’t be long before dinner time is very enjoyable for all of you. Just keep at it!

erika on

don’t be so hard on yourself! some kids are naturally very picky and it has absolutely nothing to do with the diet they’ve been offered.

my first born daughter is the pickiest eater- she actually has a feeding disorder and has to go to occupational therapy because she is literally terrified of food except for a few things she will tolerate.

my second daughter- i did everything the same with her as my first- she has a varied diet and will eat anything you put in front of her. my first daughter was never that way. so, just know that it can be temperment, and that there are also things you can do for them.

books like the sneaky chef and deceptively delicious did nothing for us b/c my daughter would not eat the foods that the nutritious foods are hidden in. other books like “just take a bite” as well as working with a feeding specialist OT has been much more helpful for us…

go easy on yourself and do not blame yourself for this!!!! xoxo

Jacqui on

There is a video of me as a child refusing to put salad on my plate declaring, “I don’t like salad!” to my mother. As an adult, I literally eat salad at every meal.

My brother, on the other hand, to this day will not eat any veggies or fruit ever. He’s 40.

Karey on

Lots of parents make this mistake, and it is natural to worry when your child isn’t eating well.

When my son was 8 months old, one of my friends put a soft chicken taco through the food processor and gave it to her infant daughter the same age as my son . . . while maybe extreme to some because of the spices, her daughter ate that thing like nobody’s business.

It really opened my eyes to what children can handle, so we used our food processor and ground up our “adult” meals for our baby too. There are some things that can obviously upset an infants’ digestive tract, so use your good judgement and try things slowly.

Both of my children still balk at times with certain foods (like salmon for my daughter and broccoli for my son), but it is because they truly dislike the taste vs. because they don’t want to try it. They will try anything, and our rule is two bites – one to try it, and one to be sure.

I think the transition cookbook is a good idea. While pan-fried, breaded chicken cutlets and white potatoes (Yukon gold are still considered white) aren’t exactly the healthiest meal around, I do think making them from scratch with whole ingredients will develop a more enlightened palate. Pre-made mashed potatoes and frozen chicken nuggets generally have more food colorings, preservatives, and flavor enhancers than actual food.

So, let’s not hate on Elisabeth Rohm – she is owning up to her child’s diet and it’s less-than-great consequences.

tink1217 on

I have always had problems with my daughter and her eating habits. we started her out so well…but once she started school…forget it!! She wanted what all the other kids had. She became extremely picky about everything!! She is almost 22 now and just started trying new things and wanting to eat healthier. Lucky for us she never had a weight problem or health problems because I couldn’t get her to take a vitamin either. I was constantly worried. But..she was never really sick! And..she was always a healthy weight.

My son…loves anything you put in front of him and always has..he would much rather eat a salad than a hot dog and loves to try new foods. He doesn’t care if its whole wheat pasta and veggies or traditional..he will eat it. It’s been easy keeping him on a healthy diet.

I think some kids are just finicky!!!! Easton will eventually get into doing the healthy stuff…

Shannon on

She takes the most beautiful pictures with her daughter. I agree that her blogging is getting better and better. Loved this one!

The food thing happens all the time. Parents must be persistent when introducing foods to infants. It takes several tries before a baby will accept most foods but they eventually will.

Keep up the good work Elisabeth! I can’t wait to see the rest of your recipes.

Anna on

I was always a picky eater, although my parents never catered to me. In restaurants it was difficult to find something to eat as I was convinced I didn’t like it even though I had never had it before. It wasn’t until my mid twenties that I dared to try and discover flavours etc.

lilly on

well i read this to and said it was a good blog till i see that shes trying to sell a cookbook, when it all comes down to it, the child is a picky eater, and mom gives in to the child and does what the child wants, i know ill get harsh comments about this but its true, you either eat what i cook or starve was the motto in my family, parents and my grand parents, im a healthy person who loves pretty much all foods, and i believe if i didnt listen and do as i was told id be a picky eater today

Ellen on

There was a rule in my home when we were kids, that I follow today with my own – children eat what the adults eat, there were never adult foods and children foods – my son now eats anything and everything we do and loves it all.

Brooklyn on

My 2 boys go through stages with their food preferences. Last week, my son loved tomatoes…this week…not so much. I must admit that I too tend to cater to them by preparing different meals because I want them to eat something! I just keep introducing new foods prepared different ways until I find something that everyone likes and then I put it into my menu rotation.

I have also found that when my boys help me make their food, they want to at least “try” their culinary creation. It doesn’t always work, but we have fun trying.

Beautiful picture by the way! You and Easton’s love for each other always comes through in the pictures you post.

Lauren on

I was one of those super picky, skinny kids, totally scared of food. I ate basically chicken fingers and peanut butter sandwiches until I was in my teens, started trying “new” foods like artichokes and zucchini when I was 25, and now in my mid-thirties I think I’m almost caught up to my peers. ;). Bottom line– I had to work through it in my own time, and my mom let me do that. It had nothing to do with her parenting whatsoever.

Megan on

I enjoyed this blog and I can totally relate to Elisabeth’s food challenges with her daughter because I have had my own battles with my 2 year old daughter. In the last couple of months she has been more willing to at least try a bite of something before she says she does not like it.

I completely understand the situation where you are so concerned that your little one won’t eat their meal that you just make something that you know they will eat so that they won’t go hungry and then you set a precedent. The pediatricians are right though a child will not starve him or herself and I am much better the second time around with my son… I have learned my lesson too.

jessicad on

I swear my daughter will go days eating only a piece of string cheese and a peanut butter cracker or two. It freaks me out, but she seems fine and her Dr. says it’s fine as long as she’s healthy and growing. I was such a picky eater, but I really believed I would be different with my daughter and not make special meals for her…ha!

I needed this blog about now:)

Cate on

I believe good nutrition starts during pregnancy. I tried to eat lots of different foods, and lots of healthy foods (although obviously I had my thai food binges, which is what I wanted when I was pregnant!). My two-year old is a really good eater, but, it’s also ok if they are picky, as their taste buds are truly just forming. The point is to OFFER them the good foods, and they will eventually eat them. My sister-in-law gave up offering the good foods because her three kids were so picky, but that back-fired on her, because now they are even more picky!

A sample plate for my daughter at dinner includes – whole wheat pasta with olive oil and parmesan cheese and some fresh veggies sprinkled over, some brussel sprouts, and maybe some cottage cheese. If she eats most of the “noodles” as she calls them, one sprout, and a little cottage cheese, that’s fine with me. Then later at night, she usually wants a banana or a yogurt. Point being, at least she is SEEING the healthy choices and is aware that that is how her mom and dad eat.

helen on

you are blatantly ignoring your doctor AGAIN……….a cookbook of transitional foods to recover from your mistake? didn’t you hear him? its ok if she doesn’t eat, she won’t starve, theres no transition period!!! just give her the same thing you are eating, if she eats it fine, if she doesn’t fine.

i had this problem with my kids cause when my mother-in-law had them she would cater to their every whim, even going to mcdonalds if they protested what she had just prepared. it didn’t work that way at home and my kids would have that transitional period you speak of where they did without cause i wouldn’t run out to get what they wanted. i fixed it by telling grandma she couldn’t have the kids for visits like that if she wasn’t going to feed them right along with everyone else. no special cookbook, how is that better?

Vivian on

Thank you so much for this post. It’s nice to know that even celebrities have picky eaters too. I can definitely relate since I have encounter the same challenges with my 2-year-old son. If it were only easy for me not to stress so much about it!

alice jane on

My sister had the same problem with my 2-year-old nephew. When he was a baby they gave him a variety of food and he would eat lots of fruits and vegetables (pureed), and then he hit 2 and all of a sudden it was all about bread, meat, and pasta. If he saw “colourful” foods, like any fruit or vegetable he’d refuse to eat it. I think they got kind of lucky though, maybe a month or so ago he suddenly decided he’d eat the good foods after all and now he eats all the veggies and fruits he can find.

Kids can be picky, but like other posters have said, I think the big thing is offering them the good stuff.. Even if they don’t eat it right away, they at least know it’s there.

Gaia and Laban's mom on

My daughter definitely eats what we eat! She doesnt have any choice. She has a very very big appetite. I never really got into the hiding food thing. I just feel that my daughter should see the broccoli as it is and want to eat it! If we know the food might be an issue (think Spinach!) then we just give her a small amount. With my boy,we’ve just started pureeing the foods we eat. Its hard to judge how much he eats because a big chunk ends up on his face, on the floor, the table, in the dogs stomach but it seems to be working okay. I have made the mistake of too much spice.

stephanie on

I was immediately drawn to this article because I, too, have a child who doesn’t have an extensive diet. I was so comforted to read these comments because we’ve been to feeding clinics, occupational therapy and every other source of expertise available for a child with a fear of food – at age three he will only eat crunchy carbs. My two older children eat everything – edamame, beets, mushrooms, you name it. I have not been lax in my attempts to get him to eat nutritious foods; he simply has a history of allergies and illness which have given him cause to fear food. It’s a daily struggle for us, but knowing there are others out there with the same issues will help me when I get discouraged.

chelsea on

Lovely blog. I admire your honesty and ownership in the development of Easton’s eating habits. I think sneaking in healthy foods is a great idea. Children’s taste buds evolve as they get older and I think it is totally normal for children to dislike certain foods when they are as young as Easton.

One thing that I remember from my own childhood is that forcing a child to eat something they do not like only makes them resist the food more. My parents both came from house holds where they were forced to finish what was on their plates whether the liked it or not so they were determined not to do the same to my brother and I. Instead they did the one bite rule which seemed to work much better. My brother and I have never been picky eaters.

Love your blogs.

Gillian on

The problem is that we listen too much to advertisers who try to sell “baby food”. If we just fed our kids tiny cut up versions of what we eat, it would not be foreign to them. Really, what are those food sticks that Gerber tries to sell as toddler food????

I lived next door to a Mennonite woman when my oldest was a baby and watched her feed her baby tiny soft bits of broccoli, carrots, and other foods. I honestly did not know that this was possible and thought that you HAD to feed them baby food. All my children love food and are absolutely willing to try anything. They have their likes and dislikes of course but it is more valid based on taste. We also have mystery food night where we try a new veggie or fruit that none of us have had. Good for all of us. My kids are 15, 11, and 9 now.

Nicole on

I admit I don’t really know who she is and I have not read her blog but when I stumbled upon this article and saw that she had some recipes I didn’t expect to see fried chicken and potatoes. I’m hoping that maybe some of her other reciepes have some color!

christine on

really? chicken and potatoes? how is that transitional? kids love chichen and potatoes. how about you come up with some new take on it please. at least add some celery root use sweet potatoes. how about we add some bright veggies with color and nutritional value. just my thoughts. my daughter is 3 and we have one rule at dinner…she must try everything i make. if in fact, she does not like the taste, fine. i am happy to give her a pass on it but most nights she says, “hmmm, i think i like it.” she is 3 and shrimp, scallops, clams and crabs are some of her favorite dinners. come on people. stop trying to sell us another crap cookbook and come up with your own recipes. if you are not adventurous, google healthy kid recipes.

Victoria on

I was reading reading, reading and then comes the hard sell with the cookbook. Whatever! Getting back to the root of the problem. She allowed her child to dictate what she wanted to eat. In my opinion, she’s on the fast track to childhood obesity. All of the changes she needed to make she identified in her blog. Only offer what the rest of the family is eating and if she doesn’t it, fine. Don’t give into the cries and the whining for food. It was offered, she refused, dinner is over, and breakfast will be in the morning. I had to go through it with mine, and she learned very quickly. Her pediatrician is right, she will not starve herself. Once she is hungry enough, she will eat. I went through it with mine at age 1-2, now at age 3 she’ll eat pretty much anything and she loves her fruits and veggies. Keep at it, don’t worry, it gets better.

GiGi on

Love this blog. I am in the very same situation myself. Unfortunately, I am a person who hates, hates, hates to cook. I need very simple recipes, quick recipies as well. I am a very picky eater, and I sadly passed this on to my son. I for one look forward to checking out Elisabeth’s cookbook. I just might even try the two recipies she shared with us today.

JulieA on

“Through her recipes and mine, along with family traditions, we are creating a cookbook that will be like gold for a working mom like myself and that I can have on hand in my kitchen.”

Elisabeth, my dear, EVERY mom is a “working mom”…whether she’s employed outside the home or not!! :)

Glad to hear you are trying to correct a past mistake, and the sooner the better. We made the same mistake with our daughter, age 11, but we waited too long to correct the bad eating habits we spoiled her into, and now the menu of foods she WILL eat is very limited…and there’s nary a veggie on her list.

We’re not giving up, though. We “sneak” nutritious foods into her meals whenever we can, such as adding pureed carrots in the spaghetti sauce. And our newest rule is, “You don’t have to eat it, but you DO have to TRY it.” This rule has lengthened her list of foods she will eat, since tasting is the first step to liking!

The Revolving Diet on

My sister had the same problem with her girls only wanting chicken fingers for dinner. With two working parents it was hard to not cave in to what they wanted. She gave in for a short time and then got fed up with making meals for her & hubby and then the girls. She slowly got them off chicken fingers by making a deal with them they had to try something different everynight of what she made. Now they no longer even ask for chicken fingers – they want real food (with veggies) – it only took her 3 months to convert them!!

John Jakala on

Rohm’s daughter sounds like mine. We have this battle all the time. On the one hand, I never want to force food on a child, on the other hand, you wish they would JUST TRY IT!! I was an incredibly picky eater as a child myself (NO condiments, sauces, meats, veggies, nothing) but now I can enjoy just about all food of all kinds. I think it will happen for our kids, given time and patience and constantly exposing them to different foods. We have a “you don’t have to like it, but you have to at least try it” rule in my house now. And for this New Years resolution we began making a new recipe each week for the WHOLE family to try out (and hopefully enjoy) to add to dinner list. But for now, we feel the same shame and embarrassment when our friends’ kids down the sushi while our kids takes the mac-n-cheese.

bizzy on

The two recipes she chose to share are WHITE chicken and WHITE potatoes. Why didn’t she suggest a chicken dish that is mixed with veggies? Why not a sweet potato smash? White potatoes have very few nutrients. This was very uninspiring.

Cynlee on

What has changed so dramatically in the last 40-60 years? When my parents were children there was no mention of specific diets; kids ate what they wanted with little restrictions. Families sat down together at dinner and there was one meal served; you either ate it or went hungry. Child obesity was never a problem, and eating disorders, though they did exist, were small in comparison to what they are today. What went wrong? Parents through the generations need to take accountability; “if it ain’t broken, don’t fix it”!

nick on

at my house you either ate what my mom made or you made yourself a peanut butter sandwich. with 4 kids and a husband plus a full-time job she didn’t have the time (or energy) to prepare separate meals for everyone. so she made things that we could all eat (even if we didn’t like them). she was really good about making our favorites (lasanga for my brother, spaghetti for my sisters, roast chicken dinner for me) and she also made sure there was lots of veggies. as a result i eat pretty much anything.

AKM on

Blah, blah, blah. The “epihany” is a transitional recipe for chicken fingers and french fries! Please take what these celebs say with the proverbial “grain of salt.”

Erin on

My only advice for the recipes would be to make them a bit healthier – if they are “transitional” they should be the things your kid likes to eat but also healthier versions of it. Right now I see non-recipes…these are the standards that everyone has always used instead of any sort of innovation. Don’t suggest Progresso bread crumbs, maybe suggest something like whole wheat panko? Or include your own list of spices to mix with the bread crumbs to create a blend. Maybe just egg whites instead of whole eggs. Or, perhaps more of a “shake and bake” method instead of dredging through three bowls. Just put the bread crumbs and spices into a bag or a large bowl, mix them up, and toss your chicken with it… no eggs or flour needed. I use a large zip-top bag, because I can seal it and the mess is contained within, leaving less of a chance that there will be exposure to raw chicken leavings. Maybe sweet potatoes, or half-sweet, half-regular (to transition them to sweet…)

KH on

I’m with your chef friend. There have never been choices at dinner time in our house. I did mostly homemade baby food and was adding things like cumin and cilantro to it from probably six months. By 7 or 8 months, she was eating mashed versions of our food.

She’s 2 now and has been on non-mashed table food for over a year. She may only pick at dinner some nights but she isn’t going to starve if she skips a meal. We don’t force her to eat. The choice is entirely hers.

I now have a kid who won’t even try ice cream, hates cake, and refuses to eat chicken fingers.

brannon on

I have never ordered off the “child’s” menu for my son and it is funny but the only things I can’t get him to eat are fried chicken tenders, whipped cream, and green beans. My MIL constantly fusses about green beans but the kid inhales broccoli, artichoke, peas, squash, etc….. If that is one he truly doesn’t like, then so be it! Now offer him grilled chicken or grilled salmon or grilled tilapia and the kid goes to town! Just don’t let whipped cream be anywhere near his plate :)

amanda on

Am I the only one that thinks this meal is NOT healthy? Fried chicken and potatos cooked in oil as well.. I just hear the Arteries clogging

Holly on

Just an FYI…if you are trying to eat healthier, you may want to look at the long list of ingredients in those Progresso breadcrumbs. Not so good!!

Tiffany on

After our share of stumbles and acting as short order cooks, the biggest key for us has been — to involve our daughter in every step of the food prep process. She chops fruits & veggies (with supervision), crushes stuff — pomegranate seeds for a sauce, the other day — mixes/folds items for baking, etc. and she’s only 4. She absolutely loves helping in the kitchen. I think it makes her more interested in eating what shows up on the plate. She can still spot an onion a mile away…but she no longer turns her nose up at the entire dish. Plus, the family bonding time is great.

We also started a little garden last summer, just 10 items. She planted the seeds, then planted the starts, helped harvest, then cook & serve everything. Seeing the whole process has also helped.

Another thing we do — which I totally ripped off from someone else — is the “two-bite” rule. You have to take at least 2 bites of everything on your plate before diving into your favorite item. At least, that way, we know she’ll get at least 2 bites of veggies & protein before scarfing down on the potato/rice/quinoa. 90% of the time, she likes the 2 bites & finishes the item.

It’s a work in progress!

donna on

You ladies all need to lighten up. It’s just a blog and she is just sharing what she has gone through. I don’t think she needs to be attacked over every little thing.

My daughter is just over 3 and we have the same problem. I can’t even get her to try new things. She is always telling me she doesn’t like what we are eating, even though she has never tried it. I think the idea of transitioning is a great one. Though my daughter will eat chicken nuggets, but won’t eat chicken in any other form, sigh.

Courtney on

I found this article quite disturbing. You are her PARENT, not friend. In order to please her you offer her food that is difficult for her body to process, and low in nutrition. Who is in charge here?? So many people on this planet have no access to food and clean water, and would give anything to give their children a healthy meal. Nutrition is extremely important in the growing process, and providing healthy, nutritional food is your job as a parent. Poor parenting is using excuses for not having a backbone to stand up for what you know you need to provide for your child.

erin on

i am a but confused… she doesn’t want her daughter on a “white diet” anymore, and promotes a new cookbook she is working on to help busy moms and herself out of such a predicament. yet the 2 recipes she includes are both “white” foods, and the chicken is breaded and fried no less. i don’t think i’ll be buying or even looking at her cookbook…

Unicorns on

I don’t understand why so many parents have this problem. I have three kids and none of them were picky eaters and I think the only difference is that I never gave them jarred baby food. I mushed up banas for fruit or gave unsweetened applesauce. I used a food blender for meals.

I figured my parents and grandparents didn’t have baby food so what would they have done and I followed right in their footsteps.

I am a busy mom and guilty of making chicken fingers and fries for supper but I make one meal a night. If my kids don’t like then they have two options. One they can get some fruit or raw veggies from the frigdge or go hungry.

They have rarely gone to bed hungry and rarely choose fruit or veggies over their supper.

Benilde on

What a lame blog…my father grew up in post war Germany — they were happy when they had something to chew on at all.

I actually was laughing heartily at the “I want to honor my child’s tastebuds” Give me a break.

This child will soon fall under the category “Spoiled rich brat!” Good luck making your child a well rounded, healthy (not obese) and educated citizen with those methods.

BTW, even lamer way to pitch your book!

Shelly on

We made the same mistake and our daughter is now 8-1/2 and still mostly the white diet with a few good exceptions. Looking forward to your cookbook!!!

Christine on

Don’t beat yourself up, just because your child is picky that doesn’t mean she isn’t getting the nutrition she needs.

My child was also picky and I let him dictate what he wanted to eat and that built trust between us. I found that when he was four years old that I could offer him a quarter to just try something new, it worked like magic! Little girls might like stickers more than quarters. I now have a child who eats very well and is willing to try new things on a daily basis.

This is a phase your daughter will grow out of, enjoy the ease of making the few items for her and you and your hubby enjoy your bolognese.

Denise on

I love these options. I had the same issue with my oldest and when my last one came along I thought ok I have this beat. Now at 10 yrs she is driving me nuts and has decided that many veggies are not for her. I have the added stress of being divorced and their dad has new little ones that are allowed to not eat if they don’t like it. So any little quick things that will help her learn the loveliness of food is so welcomed.

PT on

Who wears cocktail dresses to the beach?

aj on

You would think she would try and steer away from the fried foods and bake the chicken cutlets instead.

heather on

Lilly, I have to agree! I made a huge mistake with my first son, giving in to his every demand…”you dont want to eat the meal mommy cooked for hours?, no problem! Here is a plate of chicken nuggets for you!”

I made a decision right from the get go with my second son to not make that mistake again. He has been eating “grown-up” food since he could eat solids. I realized that most baby food was NASTY! So once a week I would get fresh food, peas, grean beans, sweet potatoes, squash, pumpkin, fruits, ect. and steam or roast and then either puree or cut into tiny pieces. I would freeze them in ice cube trays (the perfect portion for his age then). The flavor difference was amazing and as he got a little older I started adding mild spices (never salt!) and I have never had a problem with him being picky over food EVER!

When he was one and had several teeth I stopped pureeing his food and served what ever we had for dinner but cut into tiny pieces…obviously not the meats! but now at the age of 3 he will at least try anything I put in front of him. No more cooking a grown up meal AND kids meal ever again for me!

Barb on

I’m confused–she wants to get away from the chicken nuggets and french fry diet she’s been feeding her child–a diet dictated by her child, no less–and the alternative recipe she provides are fried chicken and “smashed” potatoes, cooked drizzled in oil until crispy. Maybe someone needs to give mom a clue that her recipes are the SAME thing she’s trying to get away from?

Aneta on

Not sure how this cookbook will help mothers. The sample recipe is fried chicken and potatoes?? Come on! A nice cookbook for picky kids is the Jessica Seinfeld one, deceptively delicious. It is all about learning to add nutritious foods in unexpected ways.

Kirsten on

I was raised with the simple fact “you eat what everyone else is eating”. Now that I have kids, those rules are the same in our house. It’s true, as long as there’s food in the house children will not starve. Many times at the dinner table we have tantrums about not wanting what is served. My response everytime is “Breakfast is at 7:30 so if you want to wait until then, that’s up to you.” Sometimes they eat, sometimes they wait.

Luckily I have a 6 year old “foodie” who would prefer I serve lamb, seafood, goat cheese (never cheddar), asparagus, spinach, etc. However my 3 year old wants the typical kid food. We treat items such as chicken nuggets, pizza and fast food burgers as a rare treat. We also always have at least one healthy item on their plate that we know they like.

When you allow your kids to decide what they’d like to eat and where they’d like to sleep you create a monster. You eat what is served, you sleep in your bed in your room, always try something before you decide whether you like it or not, say please and thank you. I am a parent trying to raise polite and well rounded children, who you can take to a restaurant or someones house and not be embarrassed by their behavior. That’s not to say we haven’t had our moments either. I am the one responsible for their healthy and unhealthy habits.

Kelly on

I have to admit I was a little worried about this article after reading the title. I know celebrities are prone to crazy diets, but it would break my heart to read about a child going through the same thing! So I’m glad to see I was WAY OFF BASE about this article. :D

I think a few of us are also relieved to read that even celebrity moms have trouble with mealtimes. I love food and love to cook, but I began to dread even single meal because of my daughter’s difficult nature when it came to food.

Now, in her defense she did suffer from many major food allergies. I’m talking dairy, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, soy, sesame, corn and wheat. I couldn’t make the rest of my family adhere to her strict diet, so I was cooking several different dishes for each meal. And my daughter wouldn’t eat her food half the time.

Thankfully she’s outgrown most of those allergies, so now we’re trying to break the bad habits we started during that time. My daughter became a grazer…she would snack and nibble all day long. And I let her because I was just so happy to have her eat SOMETHING. But that meant there was no routine or structure when it came to mealtimes, and that just wasn’t going to work.

Our pediatrician told us the same thing…if she refuses to eat, don’t give in and give her something less healthy instead. She won’t starve and will eat when she’s hungry. What this doctor didn’t know is that my daughter is stubborn to the point of stupidity at times! So she would just flat out refuse to eat. And I would have to listen to “Mommy, I’m HUNGRY!” all day long. It was an incredibly stressful time.

But my husband and I have tried to stay firm to minimal snacks in between meals. And we’re trying to make them healthy and not just junk. It’s been a challenge for sure, but I know it’ll be worth it in the end.

My daughter is four, and I have an eight year old son (who is a very good eater, thankfully). I appreciate you taking the time to write this article and let us know we are not alone! I’m taking back my household and not negotiating with my little terrorists any longer. :D

Laura on

I was a very picky eater as a child, and while I have broadened my preferences, I still have some quirky likes and dislikes as an adult.

My mom always had a rule that we either ate what was provided to us, or we didn’t eat at all. We had a “two-bite” rule, one to try it and one to be sure. After that, we could choose not to eat it, but nothing else would be provided for us to eat as an alternative. And once we were middle school aged, the rule received an additional caveat – if we complained about a meal, we were in charge of dinner for the entire family the next night.

lizzy on

Want to know how to keep your kids from eating chicken nuggets? Its simple, don’t feed them your children. My toddler has never eaten a chicken nugget and won’t for as long as I can help it. Chicken nuggets are the demise of your child’s good eating habits. Wake up people!

Marie on

That would be tough to transition. I decided before my son was born that I was going to make his baby food. I had seen my sisters struggle everyday with their kids only eating chicken, fries, and spaghetti. So, every Sunday I made fresh baby food with seasonings and froze it (I had a full time 8-5 job and went to school full time to finish my degree). By making his own food I seasoned it with all kinds of things.

From the time he was a baby he liked a little extra spice. I also vowed I would NEVER cook him food separate from what my husband and I would eat-and I still don’t! He has to eat what I fix! Now, that said I do give him options-I will let him choose a main dish or vegetable, but again when I cook it he eats it. Zucchini pie is a favorite along with salad (which he has been eating since he was 2!). His favorite snack is salsa with multi-grain chips!

Another tip-when we go out to dinner he has to eat whatever cuisine the restaurant is known for. We don’t go out for Mexican food and allow him to order chicken strips and fries!

Last point, I don’t hide anything in his food-I want him to know what it is and how good it is!

FoodieMom on

May I suggest a new cookbook called The Cleaner Plate Club? It was written by two busy working moms. One has two VERY picky eaters and started them off on processed foods. The other is a lifelong cook trying to keep her kid’s good food habits intact when faced with food marketing and cultural pressure.

It’s a fun, non-judgmental book with over 100 recipes and tons of advice on getting kids to love real food. Plus it has a great guide to everything parents need to know about food from picky eaters, to food marketing, to shopping strategies, even how to cook all those whole grains in the bulk aisle!

showbizmom on

I agree with all saying “you eat what they gave you or you go hungry” I was raised like that. I’ve had mothers criticize me for this, but me and my hubby refuse to make two different meals for our girls. We recognize when one of them really don’t like something and don’t force it on them. The rule is you don’t have to like it, but you have to try it! And they do.

We are a multicultural home, my hubby is Korean and I’m black so if you’ve ever had authentic Korean food you know some of it isn’t so good looking, but my girls eat it up!

Amen to the mama’s that don’t feed their kids the food that are making kids obese or just aren’t healthy.It’s more then okay to indulge, every now and then. In my house we love a red velvet anything. We just don’t have it all the time. It’s called balance. Not over indulging in anything in life.

I get stopped and complemented on a almost daily bases, from moms praising me on my kids drinking water or eating veggie sticks opposed to juices, sodas, or chips. I tell them, they eat and drink what I give them.

It is easier to give kids something quick and easy because most are working mom’s and dads. My in-laws got me started cooking meals and preparing snacks on the weekends for the coming week. So my girls chicken fingers are prepared on the wknd and then popped in the oven for 8min each side and they love it. It’s great to do if you can and it can be a family event.

Kat_momof3 on

unless a child has a true problem/issue (sensory issues, like my son who is on the autism spectrum, medical issues dealing with eating, etc.) there is just no excuse.

I didn’t force feed my children by any means, but (and sectioned plates were key for my oldest, who is on the spectrum, as he still has issues with food touching food) I started with giving them everything we were eating from as early as possible, whether they liked it or not, every time… if they ate it, fine, if they took one bite, fine, if they didn’t touch it, my reaction depended on their age, if they’d tried it, and how many times they’ve tried it.

My oldest, because of his issues with flavors and textures is pickier, but as soon as his doctor, therapist, and I knew he was truly ready, we started taking a firmer stance on it and he now has to eat what is served with no spare options (like getting to eat only raw carrots and peeled cucumbers for veggies, and only eating certain fruits)… he truly doesn’t like some of them, but he’s also developing tolerance for others. He also is able to understand that the reason we insist on this is for his health and nutrition.

my second will eat anything except he hates raw onion (but so do I), collard greens, and cole slaw. Still, if we serve collard greens, he’ll eat them anyway, and tell me that he knows he needs them to be strong and healthy. He took a few years of eating one single brussel sprout at a meal (obeying our “please take one bite”) until one day, he dug in like they were going out of style (they are now his favorites)

My daughter loves almost everything… she hates regular potatoes (not yams/sweet potatoes) unless they are french fries, but she doesn’t need lots of starchy potatoes, anyway… and so that’s not a food I try to force. She also does not like corn… another starch that I could care less about. BUT… at school, when there is corn on her plate, she eats it anyway, same with mashed potatoes… and she tells me it is because she knows if she is hungry, she has to eat what is on her plate, because school doesn’t give seconds on the other veggies.

Lauren on

I have not been a fan of Elisabeth’s blog, but I will give credit where credit is due-I like that she admitted to doing something wrong. So many people would rather pretend to be perfect or get defensive over their child’s bad behavior than admit that they screwed up and try to fix it.

Good for Elisabeth for acknowledging a mistake and wanting to change.

I can also totally relate to this post, because I am a total subscriber to the “white diet” and always have been. Never a cake or cookie person, my downfall has always been creamy white sauces and cheese cheese CHEESE. My mother is extraordinarily picky with what she eats, so for my first eighteen years, I was the same.

Chicken breast was mostly untouched by me, and there were a lot of pizza/mac and cheese dinners. I slowly started getting into some fish-crab, calamari, scrod-in high school, but it really wasn’t until I went away to college in another city and then studied abroad that I really developed a strong palate. Now, I can go to any type of restaurant and find something I like.

I think the key is to go with variations on a theme, picking healthier versions of things you know you like. I still love carbs, so I eat whole wheat only (no more white bread!), drink 100% fruit smoothies instead of juice (NAKED brand smoothies are incredible!), order baked fish instead of fried, sneak chicken into every meal possible instead of ground beef or pork, and only buy low fat/fat free cheese, dressings, and condiments.

If I get a craving for something “bad” (like full fledged soda or mac and cheese), I’ll let myself have a few sips or a small serving, like a microwavable bowl instead of a whole box. Big difference between 230 calories and 800 calories!

Small changes like this will satisfy what you want and really add up to make a big change in overall eating habits. You can eat almost anything you want if it’s prepared the right way.

That said, my lunch yesterday consisted of whole wheat penne tossed with chicken, mushrooms, onions, and peppers-with white sauce on top. Some things never change ;)

MiB on

While I subscribe to the “the children eat what we eat” doctrin with the addition of but only two bites of things you really don’t like(after all, that’s how I was raised), I have to say that “transitional cook books” to have their uses.

I once nannied for a 4 year old boy who would only eat pre packaged food or McDonalds, because that was what he was used to since he started eating solids (when he had eaten baby food from jars). Tastebuds develope gradually as they are subjected to new things, never thought about that some things you like the first time you try them other things need some time getting used to? For that reason a complete denial of the things he was used to eating seemed cruel to him, just imagine that you would suddenly be forced to eat only Indian food 3 meals a day if you had never eaten it before.

So what we did was to transition him gradually by serving him home made versions of what he was used to eat once a day. We started with home made mac’n’cheese, pasta with tomato sauce etc just to get him used to the taste and consistency of home made meals. We discussed the ingredients. We took him shopping. We let him help us prepare the meals. It took six months, but now, at 15, he eats almost anything.

Point is, the longer you let them eat something particular (like white food, jarred food etc) the more gradual you have to make the transition. It is fairly easy to change the habits of a 2 year old compared to that of a school aged child or an adult.

Kelly on

I really enjoyed reading this blog and can completely relate to this issue. I also have a 2 1/2 year old daughter and she eats exactly the same foods: buttered pasta, chicken fingers, fries…loves fruits but hardly any veggies. We also catered to her diet likes more than we should have and now I serve two meals, one for my husband and I and one for my daughter. It’s good to know that someone else is also struggling with this and trying to fix it. Thanks for the recipes, I will try them!

Corinne on

I must say I was very disappointed with the unhealthy recipes. She talks about her child being a picky eater and trying to up the nutritional value of what she gives her and then she presents a recipe for fried chicken cutlets and smashed potatoes?? I pride myself on preparing food for my daughter that’s colorful, healthy, and full of fruits and veggies. It takes extra effort on my part, but all the food I prepare for her needs is also what my husband and I eat. She doesn’t get separate meals and she eats what is put in front of her. No pickiness! As a matter of fact, she prefers the veggies most kids reject (i.e. broccoli, spinach, peas, squash, zucchini). Kids are perfect mimics and will eat whatever you eat, even if it’s just to be like Mom and Dad. I know for certain I will not be purchasing the cookbook she’s plugging.

robinepowell on

While I’m not crazy about veggies, so much now, I ate them without any problems growing. It’s the opposite with my brother, lol! :p

One trick my parents did with my brother, is put his veggies out first, before the meat, since he wouldn’t eat anything but meat. It worked. ;)

Anonymous on

For everyone criticizing, it sounds like you have never had a picky eater! And if you attribute their good habits SOLELY to YOU and your rules – ha! A lot of it has to do with natural tastes. I am by no means saying that your rules and standards aren’t a HUGE percentage of the reason they eat well, but I also don’t know a lot parents with a picky eater that sit around saying “Well, I’ve tried nothing at all but McD’s and I just don’t know why little Sally won’t eat filet mignon when offered.”

When you have had a child go more than several days without food, you can criticize the parents that give in to the less healthy alternatives.

And the reason it’s considered a transition cook book is b/c it’s transitioning a child’s favorite fast food staples to something they can help make at home. To a kid that loves a french fry, a sweet potato is not the first answer!

I give her credit to admitting where she is at fault and trying to make changes. And let her shill her cookbook, I just wish I had thought of it first!

RG on

My daughter, who is almost 21 did the same thing. At 3 the majority of them do….She is now married cooking better meals that I ever thought of and she makes more interesting foods than I do…don’t worry they will grow out of it. Just in my experience, and a huge mistake which we didn’t realize at the time was…limit the sugary juices : 0 The childrens juice boxes are a terrible mess!!!!

Marie on

My 9 yr old daughter has been picky since the day she was born…..but on the healthy side!! She hates pasta, potatoes (unless fried), macaroni and chesse. She would rather eat a plate full of salad, raw peppers, carrots and fruit than most things. She will eat chicken, steak, burgers, etc. but put a sauce of any kind on it she won’t touch it. As for the pasta and potato thing, I believe it is purely the texture of it. She spit out her Stage 3 baby food pasta, and never touched it again! She hated bread for the longest time, but now loves it. I think that for most kids, eventually they will learn to love a variety of foods. I too fell into the trap of making different foods (my older daughter will eat most anything now, even sushi!) for her, but not as much anymore. And she is also very stubborn, and would rather not eat AT ALL than eat a plate of pasta. She’s missed many a meal, but sticks to her guns!

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