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How Purees Can Help Picky Eaters Learn to Love Their Fruit & Veggies!

Updated: May 30

Fruit and vegetable purees can be a great starting point for picky eaters, helping them develop a liking for vegetables in a subtle and gradual way. By blending purees into familiar foods, such as smoothies, sauces, and baked goods, the strong flavours and textures of fruits and vegetables can be masked, making them more palatable. This approach can allow kids to get used to the taste without feeling overwhelmed, while also ensuring they receive essential nutrients. Over time, this gradual approach can reduce resistance and create positive associations with new flavours, helping our picky eaters to expand their diet.

As a parent, I know first-hand the desperation of making sure your child eats a balanced diet filled with nutritious fruits and vegetables, which can be made even harder why you have a picky eater! However, there is are simple and effective strategies that you can implement to help. Read on to learn some practical tips I use in clinic and with my own picky eaters to help expand their diets.

Gradual Exposure to New Flavours

One of the main reasons kids resist new foods is unfamiliarity. By starting with small amounts of vegetable purees mixed into their favourite dishes, you can introduce these new flavours gradually. For instance, adding a spoonful of sweet potato puree into pancakes allows your child to enjoy the familiar sweetness of the pancake while getting accustomed to the taste of sweet potato. Over time, you can slowly increase the amount of vegetable puree as their palate adjusts.

Smoothing Out Texture Issues

Picky eaters often have aversions to certain textures, which can make whole vegetables unappealing. Purees offer a way to modify the texture of vegetables, making them smoother and easier to eat. This can be especially helpful for vegetables with tougher or more fibrous textures, such as broccoli or cauliflower. By blending these vegetables into a smooth puree, you can make them more palatable for texture-sensitive eaters.

Combining with Favourite Foods

Another effective technique is to blend vegetable purees into foods that your child already loves. This method works well because the familiar flavours can mask the taste of the vegetables. For example, you can mix carrot puree into mac and cheese, or add zucchini puree into brownie batter. These combinations not only enhance the nutritional profile of these dishes but also help your child gradually accept the taste of vegetables in a non-intimidating way.

Boosting Nutritional Content

Purees are an excellent way to increase the nutritional content of meals without making significant changes to the flavour. Vegetables like butternut squash, sweet potatoes, and carrots are rich in vitamins and minerals and can be easily added to a variety of dishes. For instance, incorporating sweet potato puree into pancake batter or pumpkin puree into muffins can provide a nutrient boost while still being delicious.

Creating Positive Associations

Consistently adding small amounts of vegetable purees to your child's meals can help them develop positive associations with these flavours. Over time, as they become more familiar with the taste of vegetables, they are likely to become less resistant and more open to trying them in different forms. This gradual acceptance can pave the way for a more varied and balanced diet.

Making Food Fun and Appealing

Purees can also be used creatively to make meals more visually appealing, which can be particularly enticing for young children. For example, you can use beet puree to make pink frosting or add spinach puree to pancake batter for green pancakes. These fun and colourful foods can make eating vegetables a more enjoyable experience for your child.

Practical Tips for Using Purees

  1. Start Small: Begin with a small amount of puree and gradually increase it as your child gets used to the flavour (I normally get my kids to select an amount they are comfortable with - a teaspoon, tablespoon, which you can build on each time you make them).

  2. Combine with Favourites: Mix purees into foods that your child already enjoys, such as sauces, soups, smoothies, and baked goods.

  3. Get Creative: Use purees to create colourful and fun foods that can appeal to your child's sense of curiosity and playfulness.

  4. Involve Your Child: If possible, involve your child in the preparation of meals with purees by giving them a choice of how much to put in. Initially this will be small but it will build over time, this can also increase their interest and willingness to try new foods.

Recipe Ideas to Get You Started

  • Smoothies: Blend spinach or kale puree with fruits like bananas, apples, berries, and a bit of yogurt for a nutrient-packed smoothie.

  • Pasta Sauces: Add carrot or butternut squash puree to tomato sauce for pasta, enhancing both the flavour and nutritional value.

  • Baked Goods: Incorporate zucchini or pumpkin puree into muffins, pancakes, or brownies for a healthy twist on these treats.

  • Soups: Mix cauliflower or broccoli puree into creamy soups to boost their nutritional content.

  • Dips: Combine avocado or pea puree with hummus or yogurt dips for a tasty and healthy snack.

By gradually incorporating fruit and vegetable purees into your child's diet, you can help your picky eater develop a taste for vegetables in a way that is both gentle and effective. This approach not only ensures that they receive essential nutrients but also sets the stage for healthier eating habits in the future. So, why not give it a try and see how these simple changes can make a big difference in your child's diet?

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