Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Picky Child's Delight

It can be difficult-- even with thoughtful planning-- to come up with nutritious meals, seven nights a week, that appeal to every person in a large family. Since I don't make my children eat anything (though I always offer and encourage), I've found myself preparing two different dinners each night--sometimes three--in order to please everyone and ensure healthy eating.

This got to be too much.

Now, once a week, I make up a large bowl of "Picky Child's Delight." In essence, this dish is a balanced combination of foods with universal appeal. To make it, I combine a popular carbohydrate, accepted vegetable and favorite protein with a much-loved dairy.

Drizzle or spritz this with a small amount of light oil in order to keep it from drying out, cover it well, and keep it in the fridge for a side dish fill-in or whole meal substitute for the picky child du jour. The balance ensures healthy fill-ins for picky kids and the make-ahead plan offers last minute convenience.

Here are some of our favorite combinations...

Ham and Cheese
16 oz. whole grain* Penne pasta, cooked
1/2 lb. ham squares or diced Canadian bacon
1/2 lb. broccoli tops, steamed
8 0z. white cheddar cheese cubed
light olive oil

Pizza Mix
16 oz. whole grain* Rigatoni, cooked
8 oz. pepperoni, sliced
10 oz. black olives, sliced
8 oz. mozzarella diced
light olive oil

Peas and Shells
16 oz. medium shells, cooked
8-10 oz frozen peas, thawed
1/2 lb. chicken pieces, diced
8 oz. Jack cheese, cubed
light olive oil

Chicken and Rice
2 cups dry wild rice, cooked
1/2 lb. chicken pieces, diced
1/2 lb. cooked carrots, diced
8 oz. provolone cheese, cubed
bit of melted butter in rice

Breakfast Mix
16. oz macaroni, cooked
10 eggs hard boiled and cut up
1/2 lb sausage or kielbasa, cooked and chopped
2 green or red peppers, diced
8 oz. white cheddar, cubed

All ingredients are cooked and cooled before mixing. Some of my pickier kids will even try to pick out parts of Picky Child's Delight ! They eat it hot or cold and top it with their favorite condiments (Red Hot, Worcestershire, Ketchup, Olive Oil, Pasta sauce). I'd like to know your combinations if you make some!


Kellie said...

Regarding the Peas and Shells: I make this for my kids, too and add some finely chopped sundried or canned tomatoes. Adds a little more nutrition and they eat it right up! Thanks for all the other ideas!

Ann Horan said...

This is brilliant. I have found myself making two or three meals also, especially when my youngest could not tolerate any dairy. When I am not up to it mom and dad end up eating kid food which usually does not agree with our requirements for healthy eating or our tastes. Hot dogs (all naural turkey dogs) and peanut butter and jelly are our "Picky Child's Delight" when I really want to make something that I know they won't eat (or they surprise me by rejecting an old favorite). These ideas look a little more nuritious but I am afraid they will just pick out the vegetable. It is worth a try!

Nikki said...

YUMMY! My children adore cheese, so these will work fabulously in our home. Thank you for the great ideas. My husband is Chinese, so we have a few "delights" with an Asian flair. Fried (we use brown rice)rice with eggs and favorite veggies stirred in goes over very well in our home - even without meat my children devour it. Although, they truly love it with kielbasa tossed in. Another that the kids will eat without hesitation is beef and broccoli. I add red bell pepper and a bit of crushed red pepper to the traditional recipe and pre-mix it for them with the rice for a "meal in a bowl". Don't forget the soy sauce!

Julie said...

Thanks for sharing...I'm excited to give these recipes a try! When our picky eaters don't like the main meal, they have to settle for a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. I think the Pizza Mix would definitely be a welcomed change for them!

Gabrielle said...

These are great, and not just for families with picky eaters. There are lots of times after I get home from work that I wish I had something prepared ahead of time, or just something healthy available for evening snackers who are tired of fruit and raw veggies. Thanks!

stephanie said...

garden rotini and some combination of the following:

italian dressing, black olives, bell pepper, tomato, cheese, pepperoni


ranch dressing, green peas, cheese, mushrooms, black olives, tomato