Choosing the Right Format (For Picky Eaters!)


Fun size fro-yo!

Fun size fro-yo!There are lots of ways to help picky eaters try new foods. One trick is to introduce food in a different format. Myyoungest thinks he likes yogurt but he never eats is out of the container. He insists I buy it, but if I serve it in the yogurt cup he takes one bite and will not finish it. Instead of wasting the food, I switched up the format.

There are lots of ways to help picky eaters try new foods. One trick is to introduce food in a different format. My youngest thinks he likes yogurt but he never eats it out of the container. He insists I buy it, but when I serve it in the yogurt cup he takes one bite and will not finish it. Instead of wasting the food, I switched up the format.

I offer it in smoothie form – and no, this doesn’t take a lot of work! I grab some blueberries (perfectly frozen from our CSA box) or diced peaches, a splash of orange juice, some honey and scoop the yogurt into the blender and whip a super-easy smoothie. He drinks every drop. I shared this idea on my 30 Second Mom page!

I also change the yogurt into a frozen treat for a quick bedtime snack. I found this idea on Pinterest but I added my own snazzy twist: before I froze them I added rainbow sprinkles. My kids cannot resist rainbow sprinkles. When I presented yogurt dots they disappeared as quick as ice cream and were actually easier for him to scoop up. Have you ever noticed how tough it is for little kids to scoop into ice cream with plastic spoons?

Just because your picky eaters won’t eat food in one format doesn’t mean the food is off the menu. Blend it, freeze it, chop it, roast it – the key is to not give up!! (And when they try it, don’t forget to keep track in My Food Notebook!)

What food do you eat in one format but not in any other??




Homework for Writers

Writer's Digest magazines

Great info for writers

There are many excellent books, blogs and conferences available to writers. One resource I find particularly helpful, especially in my fiction writing, is Writer’s Digest magazine. My writing partner recently gave me a hefty stack of back issues bulging with funny articles, useful tips and excellent revision guidance, not to mention the lists of agents just waiting for that next best-seller to land on their desk!

In order to gain what knowledge I could from each issue, I have embarked on a self-directed learning course. I read an issue in one sitting, take notes, and publish the notes on my blog. This helps me because I can refer back to my notes if I’m looking for something specific. This helps you because you can get a quick overview of each issue and decide if you want to research a topic deeper. If you read a post and want more info, just let me know! I can either send you the issue or send you the complete article.

Homework for Writers Links

Here are the issues I’ve already covered:

September 2010 – The Big 10 Issue

September 2011 – Best Selling Secrets

October 2011 – Get Your Agent

Gardens: Great Idea for Picky Eaters

Planting the seeds of healthy eating

Planting the seeds of healthy eating

Growing a Good Eater

Growing a Good Eater











Even if you live in an apartment with no yard at all, you can grow food in containers and help your picky eater learn to try new foods.

I loved reading about a study from Australia that showed school children who participated in gardening and cooking classes were willing to try new foods and make healthier choices.

When I conducted a Lunch and Learn for Farm to Table, I shared this information and talked about the importance of helping our children grow food, choose food at the grocery store (and by that I mean fresh produce, not their favorite sugary boxed cereal) and prepare food at home. Each of these opportunities to encounter healthy whole foods turns something unknown into something familiar and increases the willingness of the child to try it. And as your child tries new food, don’t forget to help them keep track in My Food Notebook. Kids love sharing their opinions knowing their  input matters!

Here are the details of the study:

A group of investigators from the University of Melbourne and Deakin University recruited a total of 764 children in grades 3 to 6 and 562 parents participating in the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Program. The program model is embedded in the school curriculum and includes 45 minutes per week in a garden class with a garden specialist and 90 minutes per week in the kitchen with a cooking specialist. The program is designed to give children knowledge and skills in environmentally sustainable gardening along with the skills to prepare and cook 3- or 4-course meals based on available fresh produce from the garden. Different dishes prepared each week included handmade pastry, bread and pasta, salads, curries, and desserts.

According to Lisa Gibbs, PhD, principle investigator, one of the major themes that emerged from the study was children eating and appreciating new foods. She said, “The program introduced children to new ingredients and tastes, and within a short time almost all children were prepared to at least try a new dish. Teachers at several schools also reported that they had seen a noticeable improvement in the nutritional quality of the food that children had been bringing to school for snacks and lunches since the program had been introduced.”

Petra Staiger, PhD, co-investigator from Deakin University added, “Data and class observations also suggested that the social environment of the class increased children’s willingness to try new foods. This included sitting down together to share and enjoy the meal that they had prepared, with encouragement to taste but no pressure to eat.”

From the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior

Stick it to Picky Eaters

Screen Shot 2013-03-25 at 3.28.59 PM At the Farm to Table Conference in Pittsburgh last month, I spoke with many parents looking for ways to encourage their children to try new foods. So at my workshop, “Kids’ Tasting Party” I introduced a concept that works wonders for us: serve food on a stick.

I taught kids and parents how to make pizza on a stick and discussed how the basic ingredients can all be grown or purchased from local farms and dairies. Kids can make pizza on a stick by themselves and easily vary the ingredients.

Serving food on a stick is more fun for many kids and adults. I spoke with a dad after the workshop who asked me how he can get his three-year-old daughter to try new things. I suggested a tactic we’ve used at home: present bite-sized portions on toothpicks. His eyes lit up and he laughed, “Of course! She’d love that!”

Screen Shot 2013-03-25 at 3.30.29 PM

Two tasting party attendees, a brother and sister, came up twice to make pizza on a stick. Their mom grabbed a copy of My Food Notebook for each of them because she wanted proof they and eaten tomatoes! I reminded her that My Food Notebook works best when kids record their new foods in their own handwriting.

Pizza on a stick is really a simple caprese salad, but the use of the word “pizza” is more familiar to children. When you want your kids to try something new, definitely make it fun and as familiar as possible. And don’t forget to try new things yourself!

Picky Eaters by Nature?

Is your child genetically a picky eater?

At the Farm to Table Conference in Pittsburgh on March 22 and 23, I talked with a lot of parents about their little picky eaters and how My Food Notebook worked for us. We discussed many strategies that help kids try new foods and a big one that came up often was that parents need to try new foods, too!

Do as I do!

Do as I do!

Recent research from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill conducted by Myles Faith, an associate professor of nutrition at UNC’s Gillings School of Global Public Health, reports that genes make some kids more fearful of new foods.

I’m willing to bet many parents will read a headline on this research, maybe skim a few lines and say, “Oh well, my kid is genetically picky” and think they are off the hook on getting their child to try new foods and eat healthy.

But Faith’s research also shows “Some children are more genetically susceptible than others to avoid new foods. However, that doesn’t mean that they can’t change their behaviors and become a little less picky.”

You know what one of the most meaningful ways these food neophobes can learn to try new things? When their parents also try new things.

The debate over nature versus nurture is old, and false. Whatever our genes predispose us to be or to do is important but certainly does not decide our fate, because we (and our genes) do not exist in a vacuum. We exist in families and society that offers a large variety of nurturing, some good and some bad. In this case, even if your child’s genes make them more fearful of new foods, their environment, and what they see their parents doing, can help them learn to try.

There are lots of other ways to help picky eaters and I’ll be sharing more in coming posts!

Recipe for Success: Studio 30

I’m a big fan of accountability when it comes to writing. Daily or weekly prompts in my inbox trigger my instinct to check a task off my list. So I write more and love the feeling of accomplishing a goal. If you want to increase your blogging, business writing or personal writing, I highly suggest visiting Studio30 and becoming a member.

I’m a member and have had valuable discussions about promoting my writing on social media, pushing myself to write beyond my comfort zone, and learned about querying and publishing.

Classroom Workshops featuring The Bumpy, Grumpy Road

DSCN0311I love visiting schools and sharing The Bumpy, Grumpy Road with kids. They all understand exactly the challenges that the main character Dylan faces – siblings who borrow their toys, sibling who don’t listen. And they all struggle with how to handle those challenges.

I recently spoke with a parent who shared that she wants to give her children good advice on handling the rough patches in life but isn’t sure how to tell them in words they can understand.

The Bumpy, Grumpy Road shows kids that life’s challenges are better handled with positive words and calm feelings. My classroom workshops give them a chance to tell their own story of challenges and solutions.

Does your child struggle with grumpiness or frustration? Is your child’s classroom looking for a great program to discuss the tough times kids face and how to handle them? I’m happy to visit and share The Bumpy, Grumpy Road and simple activities to encourage positive behavior! 


Customers Love Customization (& Contests)

boy eating white rice

A very happy customer.

Customers love when a product or service can be tailored to their needs. One great way to attract more customers or clients is to be flexible and provide exactly what your client needs without driving yourself crazy. Right from the start, plan how much you can customize your products and services, and keep an open mind when someone asks for a slight modification.

This lesson is especially useful when dealing with picky eaters in your family, like I do. That’s why I loved this meal suggestion for individual pot pies from Debbie Koenig, also a mom of a picky eater. It’s easy to prepare and easy to customize – two components that I try to incorporate into my professional writing services and my personal family services!

It’s a great suggestion worthy of the contest I’m hosting to win a free copy of My Food Notebook.

To be entered to win your copy, make a comment here about a food you are surprised your picky eater loves before February 28, 2013.



How to Be a Better Blogger (Part 3)

Andy Warhol & another Pittsburgher who sees the world differently

Andy Warhol knew the power of an iconic image.

Need some ideas for your blog?  Look to images for inspiration. Lots of people are more visual, they learn better by seeing things and express themselves better with images. You could be a better blogger by starting with an image. As you go through the day, try taking a variety of photographs that represent your ideas, your perspectives, a problem you would like to solve, a new way of seeing the old world.

I spoke with one client who wanted to know if his business blog could “just have before and after pictures” of his projects because he didn’t feel he was much of a writer. Since his business provided tree removal and landscaping, that was a perfect approach for his line of work.

Don’t feel you have to write lengthy explanations if your images tell a better story. It’s cliche but a powerful image can do more than an excess of words. And photos shared on social networks get high rates of engagement.