It’s time to start another school year, and as a mother of two, registered dietitian Mitzi Dulan knows the weeknight dinner struggle very well—when the clock hits 6 p.m., the race is on to make something convenient and nutritious that the whole family will love after a long day. Add in a picky-eater who won’t even look at—let alone eat—anything that resembles a fruit or vegetable, and it can feel next to impossible to make a nutrient-filled meal. Dulan has partnered with the National Honey Board to create time-tested recipes and tips that make weeknight dinners a breeze and ensures everyone leaves the table satisfied.
Make grocery shopping an educational experience for little ones
Dulan recommends getting picky-eaters actively involved in grocery shopping to give them a sense of ownership over what they eat. When at the store, she suggests allowing little ones to pick out five items to help fuel their bodies for both school and sports. These items can include a vegetable, a fruit, a source of protein and honey as a natural sweetener. The fifth pick can be completely up to them. While cooking, it helps to talk about how their picks are being used as part of the meal. Before long, they’ll be reaching for the broccoli instead of pushing it away!
Do not become a short order cook for the picky-eater
Since it’s important for little ones to get the nutrients they need, many parents are tempted to make multiple meals to ensure everyone is getting their fill. But becoming a short order cook can make the problem even worse in the long run. Dulan suggests introducing vegetables in a fun way that both kids and adults will enjoy. Her Sweet and Salty Honey Baked Vegetable Medley Fries incorporate ingredients like honey that kids love, as well as nutritious veggies like beets and sweet potatoes.
Model good eating behaviors
Good eating habits start with the adults in the home. Dulan recommends becoming an example for little ones by choosing single ingredient, natural foods like honey when grocery shopping and enjoying meals when out to eat. When children see trusted adults choosing fruits and vegetables, they are much more likely to reach for the same foods.
Be patient with the process
Most children will not love Brussels sprouts on their first or even fifth try. It can sometimes take between 10-20 times of trying a new food before kids learn to enjoy it. Dulan’s advice is to keep working at it! And it doesn’t have to be stressful. When encouraging little ones to try something new, Dulan lets them know that they only need one bite—and that this food will fuel them to do well in school and their favorite activities. Dulan has also instated a “No Yuck” rule with her own little ones. The rule is that children can politely say “no, thank you” if they taste a food that they didn’t love, but they cannot make faces or complain.
To help parents simplify weeknight dinners and snacks, Dulan has created four delicious recipes that incorporate wholesome ingredients like honey for a flavorful twist on fruits and vegetables.