Mazen’s Meals Lately

September 25, 2013

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I never would have guessed a few months ago that we would have a picky eater on our hands. Mazen gobbled down all sorts of things, vegetables of every kind included. For some reason I thought we had a long time before the toddler picky eating attitude arrived.

But these days, as I should have figured, he is much more particular about what goes in his mouth.

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He likes cheese and meat and bread and fruit. But he does not want anything to do with anything green. Clearly his parents love their veggies, so I don’t think it’s a learned behavior from us. He’s too young to share gossip about “gross veggies” with his playmates. The only thing I can conclude is that there is something biological about the way kids just don’t like vegetables. I’m sure there are some kids who never reject green foods, but perhaps others just have an aversion. I even wondered if it had to do with their high growth needs. Vegetables are very light in calories, so maybe with all the growing babies need to do their bodies crave more calorie dense foods and might go as far as to find the taste of vegetables displeasing. Just a thought! It’s also odd to me how pregnant women in their first trimester and babies have this aversion in common. There has to be something to it we don’t yet understand.

The good news is that M still eats veggies. He just doesn’t know it. Here are a few of the meals we’ve been feeding him lately.

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Frittatas. This was our favorite staple until just this week! M has decided he no longer likes eggs. I guess I gave them to him too much! But for weeks we could get him to eat anything in little bites of egg. We would cook some vegetables and then pour over 2 beat eggs and let that cook on low heat with a lid on so the top would cook through. Worked great when he liked it!

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Green smoothies. So far so good on these! I make them with whole milk yogurt, milk, banana and greens.

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Now that it’s pumpkin season we’ve been giving him pumpkin yogurt with a little cinnamon like this mama. Since he doesn’t like us to feed him with a spoon, I’ve been serving yogurt in the Sili squeeze.

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Pumpkin is a vegetable, yes!? Actually I think it’s technically a fruit…

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Emily wrote about making rice cooker applesauce for Cullen last year and with the return of apple season I made some.

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In went a bunch of sliced apples with cinnamon and a quarter cup of water…

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And out came roasted apple sauce after a whirl on the quick cook setting.

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Wish I could say that Mazen loved these, but he was only luke warm. I, however, gobbled them down!

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He also LOVES using a fork for meals. He’s actually pretty good at it too.

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He did love the quinoa and black bean balls I made for him from my Cook Smarts post! And his current favorite food is raw tomato.

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I thought I would be smart and bought him fresh spinach gnocchi, but he didn’t really love those either – even with pesto and cheese all over them. Silly guy!

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Lastly, for the days that I don’t have my act together, I have some of these pouches on hand. I mostly use them when we have zero other options to eat – as a supplement for restaurant food when we’re out to lunch or as a snack. I like all the brands and always look for ones heavy on the veggies that also have some protein. The Mish Mash ones are my favorite for snacks.

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Speaking of snacks, M likes applesauce, yogurt, cheese, toast, fresh fruit (berries and bananas especially) and graham crackers if I’m spoiling him. I never though feeding a baby would be so hard, but man is it challenging to keep a variety of foods on hand for him. Generally he does eat what we eat, but the difference is that his foods need to be prepared STAT when he wants them, so we can’t wait around for things to cook. Most of the time I have a plate of leftovers or pre-cooked food that I can heat up very fast for his lunch or dinner. He often eats that and then has bites of our dinner when we all sit down together. He likes bites from our dinners most of all, and sometimes he’ll even try something green from our forks!

{ 30 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Ashley September 25, 2013 at 9:40 am

Man I could have written most of this post! I never thought my daughter (who is about 1 week older than Mazen) would stop eating her beloved eggies. But alas, all she wants now is toast, pasta, and ‘nanas’ – despite being the world’s most well-eating baby just a few weeks ago!

I’ve found casseroles and chunky pasta sauces a good way to get veggies in :-)

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2 Jessica September 25, 2013 at 10:12 am

Its tough. My son is 14 months and the exact opposite of Mazen. He’ll eat any veggie I give him, but he doesn’t like meat (except for beef OCCASIONALLY) or pasta, and just a week ago he stopped liking cheese. :P I’m glad he is getting his veggies in but he also needs fat and protein, lol. It seems to change daily what he likes/will eat. So lately its fruits, veggies, whole wheat toast/pancakes/waffles, eggs and beans. It could be worse. :D

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3 Meg September 25, 2013 at 10:48 am

I know what you mean about it being difficult to have a variety of foods on hand…imagine having enough for 2! My boys are almost 10 months old and BIG eaters. I LOVE making them food though, it is so enjoyable. It is fun to experiment with different mixtures of stuff too. Their recent favorites are pumpkin gnocchi, sweet dumpling squash, kiwi and avocado banana ice cream! I always have some of those squeeze pouches on hand too – so convenient and some of the blends are pretty exciting. I just want to add the I love reading your posts and I am so glad you have kept up with the “baby kerf” in addition to katheats. I have found many of your reviews on baby products very helpful and never get tired of seeing pictures of your cutie pie!

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4 Stacy K. September 25, 2013 at 2:04 pm

Meg, the pumpkin gnocchi sounds like something my 11 MO would love. Do you have a recipe that you use?

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5 Ashley @ My Food N Fitness Diaries September 25, 2013 at 11:29 am

All great ideas! I need to check out that Sili Squeeze thing. I’m intrigued!

I think you’re right that pumpkin is a fruit… However, I’ve never really understood it. I always put pumpkin in the “squash” category, and squash is a vegetable, yes? It’s weird to me.

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6 Alexa September 25, 2013 at 11:33 am

Kath, we are going through the same thing. My joyous eater, who tried all foods, has become picky. Vegetables (besides corn), have to be hidden in with other foods he likes. He throws food on the ground if he doesn’t like it, not in an angry way, but a, “Nope, not this, OK guys?” way. He does then get frustrated when he’s in his high chair with no food on his tray. He also doesn’t like too sweet of fruits, like strawberries or peaches.

And we are in the same boat of things needing to be ready stat for him as well.

He does enjoy brown rice with a little butter and mixed veggies in with that. And of course he loves things like peanut butter toast, town house crackers or sweet potato fries.

We are continuing to present all food options to him, and if he is throwing a fit because he doesn’t like the options on his tray, we have to ignore him sometimes. Last night, we put chicken breast, and veggies on his tray, he didn’t like that. Then, we added sweet potato fries after a few minutes of his refusal, he gobbled those up, then was beating his tray and grunting in frustration with what was left on his tray. We ended up letting him sit there for a few minutes, frustrated while he finished our meal, because he needs to know now that I’m not his short order cook, and that that behavior doesn’t mean he immediately gets more food of his preference, or even illicit a response from us to get him out of his chair.

Sorry to hijack your comments, guess this has just been on my mind too, I never thought I would have a picky eater either!

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7 Alexa September 25, 2013 at 11:34 am

*we finished our meal

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8 Kelley September 25, 2013 at 12:27 pm

My little one has become SUPER picky lately too! Your thoughts about veggies being low-calorie make so much sense! It’s funny how even little bodies can be so smart. That’s a great point. Sometimes I’m at an absolute loss at meal time. Most of it ends up thrown on the floor. I hope the “if they’re hungry, they’ll eat” motto is true because sometimes I just assume she isn’t hungry and send her back off to play without eating much. Baby meals have been the most confusing part of motherhood for me so far. He’s so cute!

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9 Lauren @ The Highlands Life September 25, 2013 at 12:28 pm

I’ve found that my almost one year old is getting a little pickier too. If we are eating something at the same time as him he will gobble whatever we are eating up. But if I give it to him separately, especially chunks of vegetables, he spits them out. It really must be a biological thing. And how true about the first trimester aversion to vegetables. The thought of them made me want to hurl.

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10 Annie September 25, 2013 at 12:52 pm

This, all of this. Silas has become adept at throwing all the veggies off his tray and picking them out of casseroles, etc. Squeeze pouches and smoothies are saving us, as well as blended soups. I made a butternut squash, sweet potato, and white bean soup recently (adapted from from a Bella Eats post, actually: http://www.bellaeats.com/blog/2011/1/24/butternut-squash-sweet-potato-soup.html). After blending it up, I gave it to him in his Sili squeeze and he loved it! We’ve also had some success smearing veggies in sauces and even apple butter (I know, I know. It might defeat the purpose. Also, gross. But hey, it works!)

Keep us posted on any new ideas you have–I need them!

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11 Meggie@My Grace-Full Life September 25, 2013 at 12:52 pm

My 18mo was such a good eater when it came to baby food and since turning one is now a picky eater! The funny thing is, when we are out and about and not eating at home, she is more likely to try new things. But then at home in her high chair, she will reject anything new and unfamiliar. Its always a guessing game with these little ones! I’ve had luck hiding greens in smoothies, so I try to give her one of those every day.

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12 Jennifer @ Eat With Knowledge September 25, 2013 at 1:52 pm

I think I remember something about kids not having fully developed taste buds when it comes to not liking veggies– that’s why multiple exposures are so important. Have you found this site yet? It’s one of my favorites to recommend for picky eating and family feeding!!! By a RD of course :) http://www.raisehealthyeaters.com/

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13 Emily September 25, 2013 at 2:41 pm

I hear you on how surprisingly challenging it is to feed baby. Squish is the same way in that he wants food, and the time is NOW. I end up throwing him bites of cheese or fruit until I have real food ready to serve.

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14 Allison k September 25, 2013 at 3:03 pm

…and all the veteran parents smile knowingly. I totally thought Anderson would skip pickiness as well. Ha. It’s clearly a developmental phase that every child goes through. It’s like they hit 12 months and BAM all bets are off. He will always eat a green smoothie though, as well as whole apples, olives and usually the food pouches. I gave up trying to find rhyme or reason to his eating, so I just roll with it. I think I would be WAY more worried and over analyzing if we weren’t still nursing. I know he’s getting great nutrition that way.

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15 Kate @ Smart Eating for Kids September 25, 2013 at 3:04 pm

I like to think of it as finicky rather than picky:-) Hailey is 2.5 and she goes in and out of phases where she likes something and then doesn’t like it. The likes and dislikes are a lot for mommas to keep up with, but it keeps us on our toes! If we’re in a finicky phase, I find that the smaller I chop something the better. There’s no way she can eat around tiny little broccoli buds in soup or mac & cheese:-) Oh, and, I think I read somewhere that the veggie aversion has something to do with the bitter taste of most veggies and the evolutionary urge to avoid bitter because, way back in the day, it was a signal for potentially poisonous foods.

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16 Chrissy September 25, 2013 at 3:16 pm

I craved green vegetables and salads throughout my entire first pregnancy! Even first trimester! Which is unusual for me…I like vegetables, but never eat salad. I pick out the cheese and croutons :-). Isn’t there supposedly a link between what a mom eats and what her baby likes?

My daughter is 2 and still eats veggies, I’m still anxiously awaiting a picky stage!

Have you tried giving him kale chips? Definitely messy, but worth the fun and nutrients!

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17 jen September 26, 2013 at 2:01 pm

My girl loves kale chips at 2, so I second that rec. And heck yeah, I still find it very challenging to have thoughtful foods ready for my girl for all her meals. She likes variety too, not too many repeats, so that keeps me on my toes too. Baby boy is 3 months now, and I keep wondering how much tougher it will get once he’s eating too. Will their tastes be so different that somebody always hates what I’ve made? We shall see!

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18 Cindy September 25, 2013 at 3:47 pm

Sounds exactly like my little guy! He wasnt picky at first and around 1 started to be. His doc said its totally normal behavior. He is 21 months now and finally starting to accept more foods again!! But then we have days when he rejects things that are usually favorites. Now that he’s a bit older I try to let him choose some, though sometimes he won’t eat what he’s selected either! But I still keep offering the variety and once in awhile he surprises us – like he likes salad now – crazy since he refuses almost all other veggies!! And we still use the pouches once in awhile to supplement too!

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19 Andrea September 25, 2013 at 9:41 pm

All of my boys went through a similar stage from 1 to about 3 (now 7, 6 and 3 1/2). Even though they had been eating vegetables just fine, they all of a sudden decided that they weren’t having any of it. I kept putting vegetables on their plates though and made them eat at least a bite as they got older (when it was easier to reason with them and they understood that they couldn’t be done with a meal until it was eaten). It paid off, even though it was frustrating at the time; they all now will eat whatever I put in front of them. Even better, they now often choose things like kale chips and broccoli for snacks. It may last a while, but just keep offering him things and he’ll come around eventually. :)

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20 Natasha September 26, 2013 at 12:13 am

My toddler gets a lot of her greens from spinach smoothies. I use oj and water for the liquid instead of milk though. She will also eat broccoli if it has gobs of butter on it. She doesn’t like cooked or raw carrots but will loves carrot juice. She does like dipping her veggies though, like cucumbers or grape tomatoes dipped in ranch dressing etc. it’s interesting… She basically eats the same 10 to 15 food items over the course of a week but at least they are healthy! Oh and eggs…she will eat them hard boiled but that is it. It’s neat to see her preferences develop!

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21 Kath September 26, 2013 at 8:26 am

Kath you are doing GREAT! :)

and shoot… i am 41 and still hate veggies. bread, meat, fruit.. sounds like a perfect meal to me! ;)
He is a pumpkin, whether he eats it or not. :) XOXO

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22 Hope September 26, 2013 at 1:37 pm

It’s tough. My son was the same way. Would eat anything and then suddenly started refusing foods. There isn’t much that he outright won’t eat ever but some nights he just decides that he is NOT going to eat his veggies. We do green smoothies too and freeze the leftovers for popscicles.

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23 Lisa @bitesforbabies September 26, 2013 at 3:26 pm

What is it with babies and green food?! lol! I’m so lucky my kids will eat just about everything! My son is only 2 1/2 and he’s already had bottarga (which he loves), wild boar, and liver (of all things!). I have an applesauce recipe that is “spiked” with dates and lemon zest…my husband and I also love it! We garnish pancakes and waffles with it and use it as a filling in crepes.

http://www.bitesforbabies.com/recipes/apple-and-date-compote-with-greek-yogurt/

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24 Janna Lauver September 26, 2013 at 11:56 pm

I am so grateful for this post. I have been living in “shame” with my picky eater. Up to 12-14 months Peyton ate veggies and grains and meat! Now she eats one of 6 things willingly: applesauce, pancakes, muffins, yogurt, oatmeal/grains and peanut butter. No meat, No cheese, No eggs, No pasta and veggies when put in pancakes and muffins. I keep offering… it all goes on the floor.
I have started putting chia seeds in yogurt and oatmeal. I blend pancake mix with either carrots, spinach, blueberries or zucchini. I put peanut butter on everything. Whole milk gets served at least once a day…
But I struggle with the fact my child has texture aversion to things she use to love and things that other toddlers eat.
Will it always be this way? I don’t know. But I remain proactive and keep trying everything.
Maybe someday she’ll love mac and cheese or chicken nuggets. Only time will tell.

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25 K September 29, 2013 at 4:07 am

And thus one of the advantages of extended breastfeeding! My wee girl is almost twelve months and it’s nice knowing that on the days her solid food intake is on the low side she’s still getting plenty of nutrition in the form of breastmilk.

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26 Hannah September 29, 2013 at 1:36 pm

Darwin has a lot to answer for… I know it’s hard to imagine in the post-evolutionary world, but human behaviours don’t require a biological reason or purpose. It’s a little ironic that a theory that in many ways (at least in its original 19th form) was quite open-ended has added such a strong element of teleology to how we think about ourselves and our actions. I know we’re often particularly keen on explaining the behaviour of infants and toddlers through the language of biological purpose, since they can’t communicate their thoughts in a way that is fully comprehensible to us adults, but there doesn’t need to be an evolutionary reason for Mazen’s apparent dislike for vegetables. People change, and they do so due to a complex combination of different reasons. Just my two cents’.

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27 Kathryn @ Mamacado September 30, 2013 at 4:10 pm

I hear ya on the no veggies thing. My 1 yr old recently rejected them, but I’m also trying to sneak them in somehow! I JUST made applesauce the other day for my Little Gal. She liked it better when I added some agave nectar to it of course :) She also liked this version better than the last because I peeled the apples. Maybe Mazen would like peeled “smooth’ applesauce better? Who knows with these little ones!??

Here’s how we did applesauce: http://www.mamacado.com/2013/09/easy-homemade-applesauce.html

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28 Kathy October 1, 2013 at 11:41 am

I swear by the techniques in “The Sneaky Chef”. I put pureed veggies into everything my son eats. He has no idea that his buttered noodles are actually covered in pureed yellow squash. It is a great way to boost the nutrition in everyone’s meal!

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29 Terita November 11, 2013 at 8:24 pm

Hi Kath,
I love your blogs, and this is my first time commenting. You are doing an awesome job feeding your son! Just keep at it with the veggies. He’ll go back and forth a million times.

When my son was about Mazen’s age (he’s 2.5 now), I started my blog, Kid Can Eat!, to post pictures and recipes of his little meals. These days it’s mostly a real food family recipe blog. I hope you’ll visit it next time you’re looking for ideas… I’ve got lots! Thanks for sharing yours, too! (your baked oatmeal inspired my all-time favorite breakfast recipe, these oat bars: http://kidcaneat.blogspot.com/2013/09/ultimate-chewy-oat-bars-fruit-sweetened.html )

Cheers!

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30 KERF November 12, 2013 at 10:45 am

I always need new ideas, so I’ll check it out!

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