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Invite your Child into the Kitchen, and Cook!

Invite your Child into the Kitchen, and Cook!

May 23, 2022

by Theresa Giannattasio, DO, Atlantic Medial Group Pediatrics at Florham Park

Illustration of a black woman carring her child in a cloth wrap.

I am asked daily, “how do I get my child to eat?” While there is no magic recipe or answer, there are some tactics that may make the answer to this question more attainable.

First, take a step back and restart. Your child is probably eating more than you think. Are they eating some protein, carbohydrates, vegetables, and dairy? Find out their favorite foods and have them assist you in the kitchen making them. Even a small amount of safe, supervised participation can give them the feeling of being part of the process and accomplishment. They will be more likely to eat what they make because they participated.

Hopefully, with repetition, they’ll want to help with other foods, too. Then bridge from favorite foods to new foods. If pancakes are a favorite, try waffles and French toast. Zucchini muffins are a great way to sneak in a vegetable and you can even add a few chocolate chips. Hand-held foods and unique shapes may also help. Muffin pans and cookie cutters add a unique size/shape to foods. Mini meatloaf and mac and cheese cups are new again in muffin shape. Add broccoli for adventurous eaters, but for those who hate green foods; chop cauliflower and mix in your cheese sauce. Tomato sauces can also be a great way to hide vegetables for pasta-loving children.

Mealtimes do not have to be a battle. With careful planning and encouragement, you can slowly bring around the pickiest eaters over time.

YouTube Thumbnail

Watch Atlantic Medical Group pediatrician, Theresa Giannattasio, DO, cook up a nutritious and delicious snack at Chambers Center for Well-Being with one of her favorite patients.

A plate piled high with peanut butter oat bites.

Dr. G's Peanut Butter Oat Bites

  • 2 cups old fashioned oats
  • 1 cup peanut butter (may substitute sun butter or nut butter of your choosing)
  • 1 cup dried,cranberries
  • 1/3 cup chocolate chips
  • 1.5 tablespoons honey
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 cup sweetened coconut toasted or untoasted
  1. Combine oats, peanut butter, honey, chocolate chips, cranberries and salt in a large bowl
  2. Chill in refrigerator for 5 - 10 minutes
  3. Remove with help of a teaspoon and shape into balls or desired shape. Keep a cup of water near to help keep hands wet while shaping
  4. May roll in toasted or untoasted coconut for added texture.
  5. Store in the refrigerator for up to  one week in airtight container
  6. Notes: You may swap any ingredient for you preference: dried cherries, white chocolate chips, agave…the possibilities are endless.