Real Food Recipes For Picky Eaters

picky eater recipes

peaches and coconut cream, picky eater favorite

Are you living with a picky or reluctant eater?  Do you worry your reluctant eater doesn’t eat enough quality nutrients to support play and school activities?  I was. I did.

As readers know, little boo is a recovering reluctant eater.  He stuffed his face as a one year old before I weaned him, his appetite was remarkable.  Slowly over the years, he transformed from a good healthy eater with a strong appetite, to a reluctant eater who nibbled and pecked.  He gave up his some favorites like broccoli, squash, meat and eggs.

By age 2 he refused more than 50% of the real food he’d already developed a taste for.  All he wanted was processed snacks, anything in a wrapper.  He didn’t have a lot of access to this type food in our real food house, so he binged at parties, school and social gatherings.

By age 4 he was refusing more than 70% of the real food he’d been eating for years.  His health was tanking quickly.  Headaches, tummy aches, congestion, viruses, croup, allergy induced asthma attacks, migraines were becoming his “normal.”  He was still eating at meals because we insisted he eat his real growing food. He fought it. Meal times were not a happy place. He was stressed trying to feed a yucky feeling body, and we were stressed making sure he was getting enough nourishment to learn and grow.

food literacy can be halted and regress due to poor health

I was shell shocked.  How could the son of a food literacy educator not be food literate, and worse, have regressed after starting out food literate as a tot?  What was going on with my little guy’s health?

We’ve sorted all that out now, he’s off all asthma medications, and since we started keeping his diet not only gluten free, but also processed food free (no more store bought gluten-free products, those were gut health bombs!), and started seeing a neurochiropractor, his appetite is bouncing back.  He’s still a reluctant eater, especially on school mornings.  I don’t blame him.  It is way too early to eat at 6:30a when the sun has barely risen and your body is desperately trying to heal from years of damage.

About 50% of his meals are now reluctant eater free.  His appetite is still a work in progress, but I am finally starting to see the light at the end of that tunnel.  The dinner table is as often a nice place to connect with family and share news from the day as it is a time for hubby and I to help him do what does not yet always come naturally for him, nourish his body and brain.

real food recipes for picky eaters

Here are some of the real food recipes he does really enjoy, even on reluctant eater days.  The linked recipes are pre-discovery of gluten and dairy food intolerance.  I’ve included recipe revisions for gluten-free, dairy-free recipes in this post.

7 minute steel-cut, stove-top oats Recipe

Dairy, Gluten allergy recipe revisions I now soak in kefired coconut milk, top with more kefired coconut milk at the table, and purchase gluten free rolled oats. (see her for sources)

Key Lime French Toast Recipe

Dairy, Gluten allergy recipe revisions:  I make this using coconut flour muffins or bread.  Omit milk in egg batter.  Fried in coconut oil.  Instead of topping with butter, he dips in coconut milk kefir.  We sub orange and lemon for the egg batter, depending on what we have on hand. (see here for sources)

Peaches and Cream

I serve coconut milk kefir with fruit and honey almost every day for breakfast or snack.  Coconut milk kefir is have been a real kid pleaser since I figured out to make it two months ago (stay tuned for method, it was hard to get it right with using milk kefir grains).  Frozen blueberries, raspberries and sliced peaches are the usual suspects.  (see here for sources.)

Soft Tacos Recipe

Dairy, Gluten allergy recipe revisions:  When I go to the local ethiopian restaurant I buy extra injera bread to take home.  I could make this myself, but it’s a new recipe for me and I just don’t have time to tinker with new recipes.  I serve tacos with the usual toppers, with salted, strained, coconut milk kefir (a close match for sour cream) and we skip the cheese.  We wrap our tacos up with injera bread (made from gluten free teff flour).  Kiddos LOVE that!  (See here for sources)

Chicken Tenders Recipe

Dairy-free Gluten-free recipe revisions:  I bread with either milled nuts/seeds after a quick dip in beaten egg or in teff flour.  Last time I did them with gluten-free teff flour, little boo said they tasted just like chick fil-a and ate a whole plate of them!  I just need to make some fermented ketchup for dipping!  (See here for sources)

Beans and Rice Recipe

Little boo dropped his love for beans at age 1.  He just now at age six has picked this food back up as a favorite.  We top beans and rice with fermented salsa and coconut milk kefir.  (See here for sources)

Fermented Carrot Pickle Recipe

We’ve been eating fermented veggies 2-3 times a day for 15 months now.  This is a favorite recipe for both boys.  Yay for lunch box friendly tummy healers!  (See here for sources)

5 picky eater questions answered

If you’re still trying to reform your picky or reluctant eater, here is interview where I answer 5 common picky eater questions.

Hugs mama, I promise once you get those picky and reluctant eaters transformed meal times become a happy restorative family time!  Chin up and carry on with your important work!

This post is participating in Ultimate Recipe Swap.

[Ed note, 904 words!  getting better, closer and closer to 800 word limit target!]

Spill it.  What is your worry about the quantity or quality of food your child actually eats?





10 thoughts on “Real Food Recipes For Picky Eaters

  1. Ouch! I just bought a batch of gluten free bread today. One kind is also dairy and egg free, so that means my child with multiple food allergies can eat it. I also baked some gf cookies from a mix. I felt guilty about both but it is out of desparation to keep five hungry mouths filled, and five lunches packed. Now I read these things are a gut bomb!

    Otherwise, we are very NT. I know we should be on gaps and have made several attempts but whew!

    • @rachel – don’t panic and let go of guilt. i relied on store bought GF products for months before i realized they were keeping his tummy upset because i was just too dang tired after gaps to make any more allergy food. use up your supply, meanwhile find recipes you can bake from cocoflour or other legal soaked grains. when the supply is gone you’ll be ready to offer better alternatives. i am networking at my farmer;s market trying to find someone to be his baker, i can’t manage the constant muffin baking! outsource it if you need to. there may be plenty of gaps families in your city that would be happy to bake for you to earn some extra cash. good luck!

      • Thanks for the encouragement! I do some baking with coconut and nut flours, slowly we are finding recipes we all like. has been a great resource for me. Baby steps…

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