My boys aren't horrible eaters but they also would rather have 20 giant pretzels instead of a healthy dinner. It's often a fight to get them to choose healthy options but William has lately started asking me "is this healthy, Mom?" and asks me for a "healthy snack" (which is almost always fruit and never vegetables, but hey - it's a start!).
You've probably all gathered by now that my mom is a mother/grandma unicorn (or maybe a thin Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle). She can get my kids to eat almost anything and as I've observed her over the years, I've picked up on a few things she does and I think that most of us could benefit from some awesome wisdom from my mother of 11 children and 50+ grandchildren.
1. Presentation. I was always taught (long before culinary school) that it is important to present food in an appealing and appetizing way. She taught me about pretty, white dishes and always setting the table with linens and real forks, knives and glasses. Why have pretty dishes and not use them? I also think that children pick up on the fact that you're using "special" things because meal times are special. Everyone treats it as such when you set the tone for something important.
2. New. When my kids didn't want to eat oatmeal, she created "oatmeal nuggets". When they don't want to drink the parsley and orange juice green drink, she puts it in a tiny little champagne flute (no idea where she finds these things) and they can't wait to drink it! It's all about presenting it to them in a new, fun way. Like, the picture above when she put a tiny scoopful of oatmeal in an egg cup and garnished it with a strawberry for William so he would eat it (and he did).
3. Interactive. Another way she gets my kids excited about eating something like cucumbers or broccoli, is she puts them on a plate and puts little toothpicks in it and they think it's the most fun thing ever to pick up the toothpick and stab to their little hearts content (do I need to mention parental supervision?).
Also, I firmly believe in (not that I'm great at it) involving your children in the preparing of food. William's eyes light up when he gets to stand by me in the kitchen and stir the bowl or pour the sauce. And when he gets to do that, he feels like he was a part of the excitement of preparing our meal. I also love that I am helping him learn to love the art of cooking and learn to appreciate all the work that goes into it. He may not be as interested in it as I am as he grows up, but I hope he'll at least understand the effort and significance of cooking.