You know those really picky people who only want to eat what they like, exactly the way they like it? The ones who literally rearrange restaurant menus when dining out and wouldn’t dream of going to an establishment that didn’t allow substitutions? Well, first of all, those people don’t consider themselves picky — we’re just “particular” with what we put into our bodies. And yes, I said “we” because “those people” are me.
As “precise” as I am with my consumption, it should’ve been no surprise that one day I’d have a child with an equally discerning palate. But alas, I was shocked. I had defiantly ignored the warnings that the day could come and pooh-poohed the countless stories I'd heard from other parents about their children's picky eating habits. Until one day, there I was, desperate for my child to eat something that wasn’t a hard boiled egg or a bowl of pasta with lemon.
Disclaimer: my naïveté wasn’t rooted in delusion about genetics being transferrable. I was shocked by my son’s aversion to eating because when my husband and I initially shifted his diet to solid foods at around 7 months old, he immediately took to everything we gave him. Every fruit, every vegetable, every protein, he loved it ALL. But the love was sadly short lived. Just after his second birthday, all his favorite foods (which was basically everything I put on his plate) became his biggest enemies. The mixed vegetables, the grilled zucchini, the roasted chicken, my homemade mini burgers all became major turn-offs to him. Thankfully, most fruits haven’t fallen out of his favor to date, but the vast majority of foods he once preferred were promptly passed on at every offering.
What I had hoped would be another one of those fleeting toddler phases morphed into my son’s way of life and I was forced to accept that he is an extremely picky — yes, I said picky — eater. His clearly inherited choosiness wouldn’t have been so dreadful if he wasn’t a growing toddler that needed nourishment, with a very limited list of ideal options that definitely didn't provide said nourishment. Animal-shaped pasta (specifically seasoned with lemon, salt and pepper), hard-boiled eggs, fruits, french fries, occasional fruit smoothies, and frozen fruit popsicles did not exactly add up to a well-balanced diet, especially for an active tyke.
Luckily for me, I do a lot of cooking and experimenting with food and flavor for a living, as I moonlight as a recipe developer, so once I got over the initial shock of my son’s disdain for food, I put my creativity cap on and got to work. His love of frozen treats and his tolerance of fruit smoothies got me thinking. If only I could fuse all of the nutritious stuff he wasn't eating into something he'd actually eat. And just like that (sorta), I came up with a plan!
I started playing around with fruit and vegetable combinations that would bring nutrients like fiber, calcium, and vitamins to the table, but that I could freeze into tasty treats on a stick my son would enjoy eating. Since popsicles usually skew sweet as opposed to savory, I also factored in which fruits and veggies would provide the aforementioned nourishment but make sense as a frosty treat. After lots of tasting, tweaking and formula fixing, I finally accomplished the mission and my Root Smoothie Popsicles were born.
These yummy frozen delights combine sweet potatoes, which check the fiber box, powdered greens, which bring the vitamins — of course whole veggies either fresh or frozen would be the optimal choice but as us moms know all too well, we pick our battles and take as much good wherever/however we can get it — naturally sweet fruits like banana and pear, plus flavor boosters like cinnamon and vanilla extract which only further the happy vibes.
This recipe has been a life-saver in my house and could just be a solution to your picky eater problems. Try these icy treats at snack time or to supplement whatever other minuscule food choices your child considers palatable at mealtime. Flavor wise they're kid-tasty, and the ingredient list is grown-up approved, which is what I consider a win win.
Root Smoothie Popsicles
1/4 cup mashed sweet potatoes
1 scoop child-safe powdered greens
12 oz dairy/non-dairy milk (I used unsweetened almond milk)
1 pear (peeled and sliced)
2 dashes of cinnamon
Splash of vanilla extract
Blend well, pour mixture into fun-shaped molds, freeze until solid (at least 4 hours) and voila!
Nicole Young is a broadcaster, writer and food and beverage entrepreneur. A respected voice of authority in the lifestyle space, Nicole hosts and produces tv news segments and writes engaging articles covering food, beauty, wellness and style for outlets including: The Morning Blend, The PIX11 Morning News, HuffPost and Reader's digest.
An experienced and passionate recipe developer, Nicole believes wholeheartedly in “treating our bodies to nothing but the best” and is regularly commissioned by consumer brands to help bridge the gap between a healthy living and moderate indulgence. The NYC native resides downtown Manhattan with her husband and young son and enjoys photographing the city sites while taking long strolls with her family.