By Elke Probkevitz

Trying out new recipes for dinner and Shabbos might be a challenge when picky eaters come into play. Your little ones are usually not so keen on trying new foods when you are in the mood to be adventurous and experiment with their meals. As challenging as children can get when it comes to mealtime, one should not worry too much about their diets. They have a way of growing up healthy whether they want to cooperate or not. Here are some things to keep in mind when approaching mealtime with the picky eater.

No pressure. It’s called reverse psychology. When you want your kids to do something and you push it too much, it makes them not want to do it. The second you stop trying so hard and let them discover food for themselves, they might just decide on their own to try something new. If they see you enjoying it, they often want to try it on their own more than if you push them to try it, so lay off a little. They might surprise you.

Get rid of the clean-plate rule. Kids are born with their own natural cues for being hungry and reaching fullness. It is important for them to listen to those cues and eat when they are hungry and stop when they are full. Don’t push your kids to clean their plates, because it will encourage unhealthy eating habits.

Prepare something kid-friendly. It’s great to try cooking new dishes, but don’t overwhelm your kids with all new foods. Prepare at least one thing you know your kids will eat so they will be more comfortable and less intimidated to try something different.

Make the meal a special event. When you make a meal more fun by getting the kids involved or setting the table differently with candles or pretty plates, it makes it a more pleasant experience. Making it a special event will make them look forward to the food and want to take part in the meal.

Be patient. Don’t worry so much about your children getting every vitamin and mineral in their diet. As long as their diets vary a little and their doctors are not worried about their development, they’ll be fine. They’ll eventually expand their food repertoire and learn to love their veggies. Even the healthiest eaters were once picky eaters at some point. v

Penne With Asparagus, Peas, And Mushrooms


1 lb. asparagus

4 Tbsp. olive oil

3 shallots, minced

¾ lb. shiitake mushrooms, stems removed, thinly sliced

salt and pepper

2¼ cups heavy cream

1½ lb. penne (regular or whole grain)

1½ cups frozen baby peas, defrosted

¾ cup grated Parmesan cheese

3 Tbsp. chopped parsley (optional)


Preheat a grill pan over medium-high heat. Drizzle asparagus with 1 tablespoon olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill asparagus until grill marks form, about 6 minutes, turning once. Cut into 1” pieces. Heat remaining 3 tablespoons of oil in large skillet. Add shallots and cook 1 minute. Add shiitake mushrooms and season with salt and pepper. Cook until tender, stirring a little, about 7—8 minutes. Add cream and bring to a boil. Simmer 4 minutes until reduced slightly.

Meanwhile, cook pasta in a large pot of salted boiling water until al dente. Drain pasta, reserving ¾ cup cooking liquid. Add pasta to skillet with asparagus, peas, and cheese. Mix well. Add reserved liquid and toss until pasta is coated with sauce. Season with salt and pepper and add parsley for garnish.

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