I get lots of fun parenting books to review for my blog. Once in a while, I see something where the title grabs me. Here’s one!

When I saw author Nancy Tringali Piho’s book, My Two-Year-Old Eats Octopus: Raising Children Who Love to Eat Everything, I was skeptical about the octopus part, but hopeful about the expanded horizons in the eating department. So, I asked Nancy to share some tips with MomTini Lounge readers, and she did. So thanks, Nancy, and best of luck to fellow moms in getting beyond chicken nuggets! — Amy

Guest Post on Getting Kids to Eat More Variety
by Nancy Tringali Piho, Mom Since 2004 (MS’04)

“So how do I get my children to eat Octopus…. Or better yet, just the basic green beans and meat loaf that I put on their plates?”

I hear questions like that all the time and believe me, I sympathize with you. Two-year-olds (my own included) have a way of bringing us moms to our knees with their pickiness, food strikes and other antics at the table. But if you have young kids, I have found that there are concrete steps you take to start them on the road to being Good Eaters, rather than Picky Ones! Here are some tips from chefs, mom friends and other experienced parents on how to broaden your kids’ little palates:

Don’t take NO WAY for an answer – You’ve probably heard this before, but it’s still the Number One rule when it comes to new foods – Serve, and Serve and Serve again, even if met with rebellion the past 10 times. Research shows that lack of exposure to new foods and flavors is the primary reason that so many children are picky eaters. Eventually, they will get it.

What are WE having for dinner? – If you’re having chicken, peas and potatoes for dinner, then that’s exactly what your kids should be having too. No special meals. No kiddie foods or something-special-for-Abby-because-she-just-won’t-eat-this. Dinner is dinner, a meal is a meal. For everyone at the table.

Talk It Up! – Why do you think chefs work so hard on the presentation of their dishes? Because they know that there is a lot of psychology involved in food-likes; what looks good to us often tastes good. Use this strategy with the way that you talk about food to your kids. TELL THEM how much they are going to like it! Comment on how good something looks or smells.

Look in the Mirror – Honestly, mom, when was the last time you tried a new recipe at home, or ordered something really out of the ordinary at a restaurant? Studies have shown that there is a direct correlation between foods never offered to a child, and the child’s mother’s own food dislikes. We all tend to pre-judge what we “think the kids will like” and just serve that, as the easiest course. Shake it up a little!

More Cooks in the Kitchen – Ask for an extra pair of hands (or two, or three) in the kitchen. Chefs will tell you that one of the best ways that they get their own kids interested in new foods is to let them help out a little in the kitchen. Grocery or farmers market shopping, stocking the pantry, loading the dishwasher – all of these are easy ways to familiarize your kids with food and what goes into the preparation process. Get a little stool, hand your kids a spoon and let them help you stir!

Give it a twist – OK, so they HATE broccoli or spinach or Brussels sprouts… but maybe they don’t. Try preparing the veggies in a different way, and all of a sudden, you have a new flavor to try. Instead of just boiling or microwaving, try grilling vegetables. Or put them in a stir-fry. Or just sauté on the top of the stove with a little bit of olive oil. Brussels sprouts, in particular, take on a whole new flavor when roasted in the oven.