"But I don’t like it.’"
"With some patience and my tips, you’ll never need to cook separate meals again"
They’re the five words every parent dreads come dinnertime, as their little one grumpily pushes food around the plate. With fussy eating habits affecting an estimated eight in 10 families in the UK*, it’s a common scene at kitchen tables everywhere.
So, what do you do if your child is a picky eater? Enter Ciara Attwell, solicitor-turned-food blogger and mum to Aoife, seven, and Finn, four. When Aoife developed fussy eating habits, Ciara launched myfussyeater.com in 2014 to share her recipes, tips and experiences – and has since gained 164K Facebook followers and this year released her first book – My Fussy Eater.
"I didn’t realise how many other parents were dealing with the same thing," says Ciara. "Aoife has been picky since she was a toddler, only wanting to eat beige meals like cheesy pasta or chicken nuggets. Finn is autistic, so he’s sensitive to the look, feel and smell of foods and often goes through phases of only wanting to eat one thing. He’d have pancakes for every meal if I let him!
"To introduce some more nutritious meals, I started experimenting with recipes. I put them online and immediately had a huge response from parents in the same position. What I’ve learned is there’s no quick fix for difficult eating. But with some patience and my tips, you’ll never need to cook separate meals again."
Chocolate raspberry pancakes
These chocolatey pancakes may look like a special treat, but by using bananas to sweeten the batter and raspberries to add moisture, they become a fantastic way of getting fussy little ones to eat fruit.
Ciara says: "Most kids love pancakes, and this recipe is a great way of getting them to eat fruit in their diet."
Homemade gnocchi with tomato & basil sauce
Everyone loves pasta: not only is it super tasty, but it also makes a brilliant and fuss-free midweek dinner. Substantial and comforting gnocchi (pasta-meets-potato dumpling) is a great step up from penne or fusilli to encourage kids to be more adventurous with food. What's more, Ciara's recipe takes just 30 minutes to whip up from scratch - not far off the time it takes to boil a packet of pasta!
Ciara says: "Youngsters can help roll out the dough into a sausage shape and cut it into pieces. Involve them in the food prep and they will be more interested in eating the finished dishes."
Broccoli & cheese frittatas
Like lots of greens, it can be a challenge to get kids to finish their broccoli. But, according to Ciara, cooking your veg into tasty savoury 'treats' like these frittata bars is a brilliant way to make sure greens are incorporated into meals.
Ciara says: "If meals are fun and food is simple to eat, kids are more likely to try it. These bars are ideal for a picnic or lunchboxes and easy for little hands to hold."
Summer fruit slushies
Sunny days call for a refreshing treat... Whizz up fruits with juice and ice for a tasty drink that they'll love - the perfect alternative to an ice lolly!
Ciara says: "Sneak even more fruit into their diet with this cooling drink."
*According to a 2014 survey by Abbott.
Children should always be supervised in the kitchen, especially when using knives and other sharp tools or components. Remember to wash your hands before and after preparing food.