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It's Our Faults Our Kids Are Picky Eaters

Why are we serving our kids this stuff? Why is this assumed to be the norm? And more importantly, why do we just mindlessly go along with it? Of course, that's what they're going to want to eat if that's all they've ever been offered.
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Yup, it's all our faults that our kids are so damn picky. We've all heard the, ever so pleasant, high pitched shriek, "NO!" when dinner hits the table. The tantrums, the tears... We've heard every excuse and entertained every ultimatum our kids come up with when they're faced with something they don't want to eat. And we think: "Calm down, it's food, not poison. Why can't you just eat this? What's so horribly disgusting about this beautiful Michelin star quality meal I just prepared for you?"

Newsflash: It's not them, it's YOU. It's US. We are to blame for why they eat like crap.

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Take a step back and look at eating patterns and tradition in America. First comes breastmilk and formula. Then comes bland rice cereal. Then comes single pureed veggies and fruits with no seasoning. Then comes plain buttered pasta. And then wait for it! We have the introduction of the traditional kiddie cuisine of burgers, pizza, and chicken fingers! Blah, blah, boring and in some cases, not healthy! Look at any kid's restaurant menu, and they all have the same junk on them - mac and cheese, fries, etc. Clearly, we have bought into and have accepted this eating pattern. The restaurant industry has bought into it too!

Why are we serving our kids this stuff? Why is this assumed to be the norm? And more importantly, why do we just mindlessly go along with it? Of course, that's what they're going to want to eat if that's all they've ever been offered.

It's our fault that our kids' food repertoire is narrow and limited. And since it's our fault, it's time to take control and change it. If you look across the world, kids eat a variety of flavors and aren't pigeon holed to the traditional "kids' menu." In fact, children in other parts of the world eat the same food their parents do. Shocking, isn't it? The New York Times did an enlightening article about what children eat for breakfast around the world and people were stunned. But why? Kids eat what they know! In America, they know pizza, burgers, fries, sloppy joes, and pancakes. It's time to change that. It's time to broaden your kids' horizons and introduce them to healthy global foods.

Here at Little Global Chefs, we've figured out a way to get kids to be more open and adventurous in their eating. You can't just throw down a plate of falafel if they've never had it and expect them to eat it - why would they? Instead you'll be on the receiving end of a big fat middle finger, or a tantrum which is basically the same thing. Instead, bring your kids along on the journey of cooking. Invite them into the kitchen and prepare meals WITH them, giving them real responsibility (and we're not talking about just stirring some batter). Believe us, as soon as you start getting your kids in the kitchen and they start seeing what real food is all about, they'll be excited to taste their creations and their world will open up, literally. We promise you, they WILL eat Indian, Korean, Mexican, European, and African food. They will. And the nights of alternating between mac and cheese with nuggets with be a thing of the past. Here are five tips to get started.

  1. Make Your Cooking Projects Consistent - Okay you have to commit to this. You can't just cook with them once and call it a day and assume they'll gobble up every type of food under the sun. Instead, this is going to require some work from you. Do a cooking project every week. The more often you are in the kitchen together working on varied meals, the more likely your kid will try more and more things. Before you know it, they will be asking when the next project is!

  • Don't Sweat the Mess - Look, we know how much you love a pristine kitchen. Who doesn't it? But when you invite the kids into the kitchen with you, you just gotta embrace the mess. Your kiddo will have no fun if you're stressing over some flour they accidentally dumped on the floor or the batter that's seeping into the silverware drawer. It's OK. The mess will get cleaned. Just try to have fun with your kid. (By the way, a little sip of wine for the head chef never hurt anyone!)
  • Start out Small - No one is winning any awards here for preparing sous vide duck a l'orange with their kids. Start out with something easier and more manageable for yourself. This will keep stress levels down and also help you become familiar with the feel of working in the kitchen with your little one, especially if this is your first cooking project together. Try having them make a side dish like crispy broccoli or Korean sesame pickles. A couple of easy lay-ups in the kitchen will keep them coming back for more.
  • Pull out the Kitchen Gadgets - Don't you love your kitchen gadgets? Guess what? So do your kids. Pull out the salad spinner, the food processor, or the lemon juicer and let your kids help you with the steps of the recipe that involve the gadgets. But please be mindful of safety and of your child's ability level. You should always be in charge of the plug, when the on/off button gets pressed, any blades and the speed of the gadget.
  • Have Fun - This is probably the most important tip we have for you. If mom is having fun, EVERYONE is having fun. That's generally true in life and equally true in the kitchen. So what if the madeleine cookies you and your sous chef made burned to a crisp or you accidentally added sugar to the stir fry recipe instead of salt and it ended up tasting like rice pudding. Laugh it off together! You guys tried and had a good time doing it - that's what counts. You guys will be back in the kitchen successfully creating something new and delicious before you can say "call Dominos!"
  • By the way, we haven't figured everything out ourselves. We're moms just like you who are tired of our kids' shenanigans and picky eating. We stumbled on this absurdly obvious concept of cooking with our kids to help them eradicate their picky behavior and it's working for us. We're learning along the way and we will be sharing our ideas, tips and suggestions with you. Follow along on the Little Global Chefs website and instagram for more ideas and recipes as we go ahead. But we're all in this together! So join in the conversation and comment below. Join our fight to end picky eating!