May 22, 2024

Getting Picky Eaters to Try New Foods by Kristen Yarker, R.D.

Child-Feeding Expert Child Feeding Expert’s Secret Tip for Using Packed Lunches to Get Picky Eaters to Try New Foods

It’s back to school. Which is the perfect time for me to share this secret tip that’s been super successful with my picky eater clients.

In the 6 years that I’ve worked with Moms and Dads of picky eaters, I’ve noticed that almost every family makes the same mistake. The only time that they offer their picky child a challenging food is at dinner. (Note that a “challenging food” is either a new food or one that their child has seen many times but refuses to eat). This backfires because even toddlers and preschoolers will notice this pattern. And so they will refuse to eat, act out, or come up with any other excuse not to come to the table and eat dinner. For many kids, picky eating stems from being afraid of the food. It’s a developmental stage that I call “food-wariness”. Instead of facing their fears, kids will do everything that they can to avoid the dreaded challenging food.

The first step to getting these kids to try new foods on their own is to have them become accustomed to seeing a new food in front of them. It’s the first baby step in overcoming their fear. By frequently presenting a new food, they become accustomed to the food’s presence. Thus they become more confident. Eventually that confidence, along with their desire to grow up, is what motivates them to try new foods.

So what’s this secret, successful tip that I promised to share?
Include challenging foods in packed lunches.

Now take note that I’m not saying to pack a lunch that only includes challenging foods. What I’m saying is to frequently (not necessarily every day) pack one challenging food along with your child’s favorites. The “bento-box” style lunch kits make it easy to include a challenging food because the challenging food won’t touch your child’s favorites. And, we all know how much young kids don’t like their foods to touch.
Even if your fussy eater doesn’t eat the challenging food, you’re building their food-confidence because you’re helping them become accustomed to seeing a challenging food in front of them. And, what’s even better is that you don’t have to watch your child not eat it (which I know drives so many parents nuts)!

Child-feeding expert Kristen Yarker, MSc, RD helps Moms and Dads support their picky eaters to try new foods on their own (without being forceful or sneaky). Get scientific evidence-based answers to real questions from real parents (recipes too!) by signing up for her 101 Healthy Snack Ideas at:

Kids and Vegetables: A New Strategy by Kristen Yarker

Get Your Kids to Eat More Vegetables: One Simple (and Often Overlooked) Strategy

Do you want to know one simple, effective strategy that many busy parents miss when trying to get their kids to eat more vegetables?

Many kids, especially picky eaters, don’t like to eat vegetables. But we know that kids need the nutrients from vegetables for their healthy growth and development. As a result, parents exhaust themselves negotiating how many bites must be eaten. Or, they stay up late pureeing vegetables to hide in other foods. While these strategies may get a few more bites of vegetables into kids, it turns meals into battles and covert ops. And, it doesn’t teach kids to choose to eat veggies. However, there is a non-sneaky way to get kids to try more and eat more vegetables.

The often-overlooked resource that many parents miss is…snacks.

You’re likely already providing at least two snacks for your child each day. But often, snacks are times when favorite foods (i.e. foods other than vegetables) are provided.

Traditionally, vegetables are served at meals (particularly dinner.) Instead, treat all meals and snacks as equals. Include vegetables at as many snacks as possible. The more times that you present a food, the more likely your child will eat it. Studies show that you need to present a food more than 10 times before a child will eat it, but it varies from food-to-food and child-to-child. By increasing the number of times a day that your child sees vegetables, he/she will become more accustomed to seeing them, and will eat more.

Kristen Yarker is known as The Dietitian Who Transforms Picky Eaters into Food Confident Kids. From introducing solids through the picky eating years, she helps Moms and Dads be confident that they’re giving their kids good nutrition today… and instilling a life-long LOVE of healthy eating. Get scientific evidence-based answers to real questions from real parents (recipes too!) by signing up for her 101 Healthy Snack Ideas at:

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Maple Muffins by Lisa McClellan

If you’re looking for a healthy snack for the whole family, check this out. This recipe is super easy to prepare a batch ahead of time and have on hand for the week! Lisa explains, “I wanted to create a muffin that my family would eat but change some of the ingredients to make it healthier. My family seems to do best when I do partial healthy, I can’t go full blown, they just simple will not eat it. I have learned to use moderation with a redux. Here is my recipe for Chocolate Chip Maple Pumpkin Muffins!”



Makes 15 muffins
1/2 to 3/4 cup of coconut oil
1/2 cup of sugar
1/2 cup of maple syrup
2 large eggs
1 cup of white flour
1/2 cup of whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp sea salt
15 oz. of organic pumpkin
1/2 cup of plain greek yogurt
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 cup of chia seeds
1/4 cup of flax meal
1/2 cup of dark chocolate chips (Optional)


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Mix Flours, salt, baking soda, chia seeds and flax meal in a large bowl and set aside.
3. With a eletric or hand mixer cream coconut oil, sugar and maple syrup. Add eggs one at time until mixture is fluffy. Add pumpkin puree, greek yogurt, and vanilla.
4. Slowly add dry ingredients and chocolate chips until just blended, don’t over mix or the muffins will be tough.
5. Scoop batter into a lined cupcake pan and bake for 35-40 minutes. Let cool and enjoy with a icy cold or hot beverage.

I put them in my kids lunches, serve as an after school snack, or for a breakfast on the run.

Recipe by Lisa McClellan. For more recipes and healthy living tips follow her via

How to Make Hearty Meals Healthier! By Laura Maydak

Hearty, cold-weather meals should warm your belly without adding extra inches to it. 

Making simple ingredient substitutions will allow you to fill up without worrying about filling out.  Follow these ingredient swaps to make your hearty meals healthier:


Meatloaf or Meatballs
Replace ground beef with: ½ lean ground meat, ½ mushrooms (pulse mushrooms in a food processor)

Pasta Dishes
Replace white pasta with: Whole wheat pasta, spaghetti squash
(Low-cal Bonus: 1 cup provides only 42 calories, 10 gm carbs and 2 gm fiber)
Zucchini ribbons (sub for spaghetti or lasagna noodles)

Mashed Potatoes
Replace potatoes with: Cauliflower, Turnips

Creamy Soups, Sauces, and Casseroles
Replace heavy cream, condensed soup, or mayonnaise with: Evaporated skim milk, pureed vegetables (cauliflower, carrots, potatoes, pumpkin, butternut squash; choose depending on dish’s flavor), fat-free, plain Greek yogurt

Replace high-fat cheese with: Low-fat or fat-free cheese
(Note: Sharp cheeses have a stronger taste, so you can use less without losing flavor!)

Creamy Dips
Replace sour cream with: fat-free, plain Greek yogurt

Recipe Bonus: Skip dipping veggies in full-fat ranch dressing.  Instead, add ranch seasoning to fat-free, plain Greek yogurt (amount added depends on taste preferences).  Mix, and enjoy!

Chili and Stew
Replace ground beef with: beans (any variety)
(Note: If using canned, buy low-sodium.  Also, rinsing and draining will remove up to 40% of the sodium.)

Added Flavor
Replace salt with: fresh or dried herbs, spices, salt-free seasoning blends
(Healthy Bonus: Herbs and spices add a punch of flavor and healthy compounds, such as antioxidants!)

Remember: Experiment and have fun!
Remember, making ingredient swaps may not work perfectly the first time, but you will learn and adjust accordingly.  Involve friends and family, especially kids, in the cooking, and then enjoy the healthy, hearty meal together.

Laura Maydak has a B.S. in Clinical Dietetics and Nutrition from the University of Pittsburgh, and is currently a graduate student in the school’s Coordinated Masters in Nutrition and Dietetics program on her way to become a registered dietitian.  Aside from school, she is an avid runner, fitness enthusiast, and wanna-be chef.  Connect with Laura on twitter (@lmaydak) for motivation and tips to live your healthiest, happiest life – all given with a healthy dose of humor.

The Powerful Benefits of Antioxidants by Rachael Roehmholdt

The Powerful Benefits of Antioxidants

Antioxidants are powerful molecules that inhibit the oxidation of other molecules in the body. This process of cell oxidation is what creates free radicals. Free radicals can lead to diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, immune system impairment, cognitive impairment, and Alzheimer’s disease when there aren’t any antioxidants to create balance in these molecules.

While having antioxidants readily available in your body is necessary for preventing these diseases, they’re also beneficial for creating an overall well-functioning body. For example, the beta carotene you find in carrots and sweet potatoes can help protect your eye health. Lycopene which is found in tomatoes helps to protect prostate health. In addition, the flavonoids in tea, cocoa and chocolate are great for your heart.

There are plenty of fresh organic fruit and vegetable sources of antioxidants, so as long as you’re eating these – you’re helping fight off free radicals and disease for your future and maintaining good overall health.

Here are a few powerful sources of antioxidants that you can begin eating now:
Beans (red, kidney, pinto, black beans)
Cherries, prunes, peaches, plums and other stone fruits
Blueberries, cranberries, blackberries, raspberries and strawberries
Red Delicious and Granny Smith apples
Artichokes, broccoli, kale, carrots, tomatoes, sweet potatoes
Chocolate and cocoa powder

From this list you can see that the most beneficial foods to get adequate amounts of antioxidants and fight free radicals are whole foods straight from nature. Fill up on a few of these each day to help keep your body functioning at it’s peak and fight off future disease.

Rachael Roehmholdt is a certified holistic health coach and founder of Be More Healthful. With a passion for good food and living a healthful and balanced life, she believes that small changes to our everyday lives can set us up for a lifetime of health and happiness.

Are you on the Party-Circuit?

Party Healthy Eating Check-List

Going to a holiday party? You enter the party and come to a huge table with lovely nutritional choices, as well as some not-so-nutritional choices. What do you do? It really is easy to choose foods that will support your healthy living goals! Forego the standard chips and heavy dip, cookies and candies in favor of these expert recommended figure-friendly healthy and flavorful foods. Check out these recommendations by Keri Gans, MS, RD, CDN.  Next time you find yourself standing at a party table crowded with a variety of food choices, you’ll be prepared and empowered with your healthy go-to expert list.

Healthy Holiday-Party Choices:

Shrimp cocktail
Hummus & raw veggies
Cheese. Stick to serving size of 4 playing dice. Enjoy with whole grain crackers
Nuts. (Again watch serving size — no more than 1ounce = a shot glass)
Smoked salmon on cucumber squares
Tuna tartar with avocado
California roll
Chicken skewers

Be mindful to still limit portions of above — because even though healthy choices — if all is consumed at once, the calories will add up.

Keri Gans, MS, RD, CDN, Nutritionist in Private Practice in NYC, Media Spokesperson and Author of The Small Change Diet (Gallery, March 2011) For more information, Follow Keri on Twitter @kerigans and join her Facebook community via