How to Master Cooking for Fussy Eaters – Head Chef André’s Top Tips and TricksNovember 6, 2020
In our third episode of How to Master Mealtimes with Emily Atack, Emily meets a family batting with every parents worst nightmare – a fussy eater.
Our in-house Head Chef André attributes his love of food and cooking to his father, a Frenchman and a chef, and says that his fondest childhood memories are of long family meals around his parent’s kitchen table.
Having earned his stripes in some of the world’s best kitchens, from L’Atelier to Roots & Bulbs and Chez Bruce, he is now the mastermind behind our family recipes, converting fussy eaters into adventurous foodies one delicious meal at a time!
As a father of two, Louis and Florence, André is certainly no stranger to fussy eaters. Here, he shares his top tips and tricks for coping with fussy eaters so that you can stress less in the kitchen, and enjoy more time with the family.
Getting kids to eat more vegetables can be tough. What’s your advice?
I hide them in pasta sauces and blend the sauce so it’s smooth. Kids love pasta and tomato sauce with veggies is a really easy way to get them eating more of their five a day without them realising!
When my kids ask for snacks, or complain that they’re hungry, I chop up carrots and cucumbers into sticks and serve with hummus. Chopped cherry tomatoes are also a great thing to pop into snack pots and lunchboxes. If you’re kids are particularly fussy, introduce them to different vegetables gradually. One portion of veg (broccoli or green beans for example) per dish looks less overwhelming, so they’re more likely to be more adventurous.
What is the best way to encourage kids to try new foods?
Give them a taste of it first before trying to give them a whole plate. Patience is key here!
How can you get kids helping in the kitchen?
Make a simple dish together. Ask your child to peel the carrots, potatoes or garlic. They can pick herbs, using a small knife they can do simple chopping of veggies too. Pop an apron on them and get them involved. Asking them to do things makes the child feel important and included however small the task. Stirring and mixing cold ingredients is good, and with baking, weighing ingredients too.
What should you do if kids refuse to eat something?
Encourage them to try new foods but don’t force new flavours on them. Maybe try 1 new food a month. Add a new food / flavour to a sauce and see how they react. A simple spice or a new veggie. I always sneak new flavours into popular dishes – cumin in a tomato sauce or on a piece of fish or chicken, wilting spinach into a bolognese – the more subtle, the better!
What are the best coping mechanisms against fussy eaters?
Don’t show your stress to the child. Persevere and eventually your child will eat a more varied diet. One step at a time – it’s a milestone if they finally eat a whole banana or a whole tomato. Take it slowly and don’t force them to eat. They’ll get there in their own time.
Is there anything else you think parents should bear in mind?
I think positivity and perseverance works well. Keep trying with different foods. My daughter didn’t eat anything when she was little and slowly we got her to eat veggies and fruit one by one. Don’t try to overwhelm them with complex dishes and flavours. Often children like things separated out so they can see what they’re eating And simple flavours and textures work best. You can be adventurous with ideas but keep it simple.