The Egg Dish That Even The Pickiest Eater Will Like

I’ve deemed one of my family’s favorite meals “The Egg Dish that Even the Pickiest Eater Will Like” because at one point I was that picky eater! My mom makes this egg bake for brunch every Christmas. It is full of eggs (duh), ham, bread, and a lot of cheese. My family loves this meal, but up until a few years ago, I wouldn’t even consider trying it. Without knowing what the dish tastes or feels like, I imagined it would be like a block of hard-boiled eggs. I could not understand why my sisters love it and never thought I would want to try it. Before I tried this dish, I didn’t think I liked eggs at all.

The egg bake recipe requires six whole eggs.

My Relationship with Eggs

I have a weird history with eggs. I started eating scrambled eggs when I was a kid after my parents convinced me to try them. I didn’t hate the taste, but didn’t enjoy eating them because I thought the texture was weird. But I kept eating them because it made my parents happy and I didn’t want to disappoint them. It wasn’t until high school that I admitted that I did not like eggs. Thankfully, instead of being disappointed, my parents were surprised that I was eating them and didn’t pressure me to try them again. After I stopped eating scrambled eggs I thought that food was out of my diet forever. 

Then I left for college. 

Every weekend the line to the cafeteria’s omelet bar stretched past the checkout counters. I was too chicken to try it, but I had to admit it smelled good and the omelets didn’t look half bad! So, Freshman year I convinced myself to try the Christmas egg dish. I use the word, “convinced,” loosely. I think my thought process went something like, “I’ll try the egg dish. This year… Someday. Maybe next year? Eh, it can wait, it’s always there.” 

The Tasting

Needless to say, it took a couple of years for me to work up the nerve to try it. When I finally worked up the courage to try it, I asked my sister, Shelby, if I could have some of hers. She knows my process pretty well, so she did the right thing by:

  1. Not making a big deal out of my request
  2. Putting a tiny bite of egg dish on my plate
  3. Leaving it to me to try it when I wanted to
  4. Not watching me 

These steps may seem small, but I can’t tell you how much they help me when I try a new food! There’s zero pressure, attention, or expectations with this process. I highly recommend parents take Shelby’s lead and do this for their picky eaters!

And guess what, I liked it! No, I wasn’t ready to fill my plate with the egg dish, but I did eat a small piece that morning. Once I realized how much I liked that dish I felt like a world of eggy possibilities were opened to me.

The finished egg bake with a crispy topping for picky eaters who like crunchy food.
An egg bake picky eaters like

These steps may seem small, but I can’t tell you how much they help me when I try a new food! There’s zero pressure, attention, or expectations with this process. I highly recommend parents take Shelby’s lead and do this for their picky eaters!

And guess what, I liked it! No, I wasn’t ready to fill my plate with the egg dish, but I did eat a small piece that morning. Once I realized how much I liked that dish I felt like a world of eggy possibilities were opened to me.

Why I Chose This Recipe

You may be wondering, “if you already know you like this dish, then why did you chose it as your Food of the Month?” Yes, I started this blog in hopes of liking new foods, but the reality is I needed a break. Heck, everyone needs a break at some point! I was burned out from not liking new foods and I needed a win. I permitted myself to indulge in a recipe I like in hopes that it will inspire me to branch out more. 


The Recipe

Ingredients

Mixture #1:

  • 8 slices of day old bread (Picky Tip! If your picky eater likes crunchy food or is afraid that the egg bake will be the wrong kind of gooey like I did, use pre-bagged bread cubes for a crispy top), crusts removed and cubed
  • 1 pound of cubed ham (or browned pork sausage, bacon, etc.)

Mixture #2:

  • 6 beaten eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon of dry mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 2 cups of milk

Mixture #3:

  • 1/2-3/4 pound of grated cheddar cheese

Instructions

The night before serving

  1. Grease a 9″ x 13″ pan
  2. Layer half of Mixture #1 on the bottom, then half of Mixture #2, then half of Mixture #3
  3. Repeat layers with remaining mixture

The day of serving

  1. Bake uncovered at 325° for 50 minutes
  2. Check to see if eggs have set. If not, bake for an additional 10 minutes or until set.

What You Can Take Away from This

  • Use Shelby’s process: 
  1. Don’t make a scene
  2. Give them a tiny piece of the new food
  3. Leave it to them to try it when they want to
  4. Don’t watch them
  • Give them a break. If they are tired of trying new foods or seem to be going backward in their picky eating, then lose the pressure! Let them eat what they like and don’t ask more of them. This will lead to confidence at mealtimes and better results the next time they try a new food.
  • Let your picky eater decide what to try. When I admitted to my parents that I don’t like scrambled eggs, they were surprised but didn’t push the issue further. They left it up to me to decide if I’d try eggs again, never asked if I wanted some at breakfast, and recognized that I needed the space to make this decision on my own. This gave me ownership and freedom to decide if and when I’d try eggs again.

Overcoming the Fear of Trying New Foods

If you read my July 2020 Food of the Month posts, you know my green bean tastings did not go well at all. I did not like green beans when I thought I would, and it was incredibly disappointing. It has gotten to the point that I have not considered yet what I want to do for my August Food of the Month (I am writing this on August 4, so I’m very behind!). When I start getting down, I tell myself something that others have said to me in the past. Just because you don’t like that food doesn’t mean you won’t like the next. Just keep trying! But sometimes trying can be so tiring, especially when it feels like it gets me nowhere fast. I need to remember that even though I seemed to fail this month, that doesn’t mean this journey is pointless. Sure, I don’t like green beans, but peppers were a huge success and are now a regular part of my diet! I need to keep pushing through and trying new foods.

Falling Into My Slump

Finding the next Food of the Month was hard for me this past week. I couldn’t get past the feeling of defeat or the thought that my progress has stopped. I searched through Pinterest and watched cooking shows to see if anything jumped out at me. Eventually, I had to tell Drew I had no idea what I was going to do. He immediately suggested we walk around HyVee and see if anything jumps out to me. I was still so down I couldn’t see any potential with the food around me. Drew would point out food left and right, giving ideas and suggestions, and asking if anything sounded good to me. I said “no” to everything we saw. I was still so obsessed over the failure that was my July Food of the Month attempt that I didn’t even want to try.

Trying green beans
Gathering the courage to try green beans

This is a pretty normal feeling for me. Growing up I’d try a new food, hate it, then avoid new foods for weeks at a time. When I’m stuck in these moods, I struggle to imagine that I’d like a new food, so I don’t consider it. Poor Drew had to accept the brunt of my frustrations but thankfully took it all in stride. He knows me enough to know that if I’m down, I struggle to pull myself out of it. So he worked hard to lift me out of my slump, but I couldn’t get out of it.

Co-occurring anxiety and a lack of interest in food are two warning signs/symptoms of Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID). These two symptoms were on display as we wandered HyVee for what felt like hours as I rejected one food after the next. Like I said, this has happened to me a lot over the years, which only increases my suspicion that I have this disorder. I know others feel this way too, so I want to be totally vulnerable with this issue so that others know they are not alone and have someone to reach out to for support! I was able to get out of this slump eventually, but it took a few days to do it.

Co-occurring anxiety and a lack of interest in food are something I have struggled with a lot in my life. They also happen to be two symptoms of ARFID.

Finding My Next Food of the Month

Photo by Daria Shevtsova on Pexels.com
Photo by Mona Sabha Cabrera on Pexels.com

After quite a few days of only eating food I like, I was able to clear my mind enough to approach August’s Food of the Month differently. I realized that I could continue with some food I already kind of like, but want to continue to work on. It was Saturday, August 8, and Drew and I had just come home from a morning fishing trip. I was famished and couldn’t stop thinking about my mom’s egg dish that she makes every Christmas morning. Then it hit me, I finally tried that dish last year (2018) and was excited that I started to like eggs and ham. I then reached out to my sisters and asked for the recipe – eggs were going to be my Food of the Month.

I was so relieved when I decided this. Not just because I finally decided on my Food of the Month, but because it is a food I sort of like, but there’s still have some room to improve. I am excited to get to work on these tastings and sharing it with you!

What You Can Take From This:

  • Pay attention to your picky eater’s feelings. If they are anxious, down, or disconnected, then be sure to check in on them to make sure they’re ok. Maybe they just need a break from trying new foods, and that is ok! Everyone needs a break at some point, so let them have one when they need it.
  • Be ok with taking things slow. One thing I have been doing is jumping in feet first on totally different foods that I wasn’t 100% sure on, and I got dinged for it. Now I’m taking it slow to work on a food that I kind of like but am still a little wary of. 
  • Follow along as I work on liking eggs! I bet there are picky eaters out there that are just as interested in eating eggs as I am. Follow me on Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest to see how my tastings go and learn a thing or two about eggs along the way!


Food Fail: Short Rib Grilled Cheese Sandwich

For those who know my picky eating, you’d be shocked to learn I tried beef. What wouldn’t shock you is that I ordered the beef on accident and didn’t like it at all. 

Invictus Brewery and Tipsy Steer

Over this past weekend Drew and I went on a date to Invictus Brewing Co in Blaine, MN. We had never been there before, but the Tipsy Steer’s menu looked amazing. Let’s be honest. Any restaurant with Bacon Lollipops has to be amazing, right?

We sat on the patio with our masks (#socialdistancing) and perused the paper menus. There were plenty of meals I wanted to try, which is a pretty overwhelming experience for this picky eater! I don’t know about you, but when there are more than two options on a menu I want to eat I struggle to decide. The Bacon Lollipops were a no-brainer, we just needed to decide what our actual meals would be. 

My choices were:

  • Chicken quesadilla
  • Pretzel with beer cheese dip 
  • Boneless wings
  • Build your own mac and cheese (one of my all-time favorite options!)
  • Raspberry and brie chicken sandwich
  • Buffalo chicken sandwich
  • Several flatbread/personal pizzas
  • Short rib grilled cheese
Bacon Lollipops

Bacon Lollipops

I feel like I’m forgetting all of the dishes I wanted to try, but I’m getting too hungry writing about them and won’t be able to finish the list without drooling on my keyboard. You can see my dilemma though, right? Imagine living your whole life having one, maybe two, options available to you. You are used to it, you expect it, and it’s almost comforting to know that those are always there for you. Then suddenly you’re presented with about a dozen more options that look amazing, and you can’t bring yourself to pick just one. Decision overload! 

I struggled to decide what to get and was peppering Drew with questions about what he thought each dish would be like. One question for the Short Rib Grilled Cheese Sandwich was, “are short ribs pork?” He said, “I think so,” and I didn’t give it a second thought. I then focused on what walnut bread is and that became my new fear of the food (would walnuts be chopped up in the bread, was the bread made out of walnuts, what would the taste and texture be like, etc.). I decided, in the spirit of my blog, to be “out there” with my order and to get what I thought was a pork sandwich that didn’t have any BBQ sauce on it (something I had not tried yet). Drew was excited for me to try something new, and I was eager to order a non-chicken meal!

Tipsy Steer's Short Rib Grilled Cheese

We got our drinks and put in our food order, which came out pretty quick (props to the Tipsy Steer for speedy service!). We of course dug into the Bacon Lollipops and I had to stop myself from downing both of mine before I even picked up my sandwich.

I cut the sandwich in half and noticed the “pork” looked a little darker than I thought it would be. I figured it was cooked and seasoned differently than I had seen before and pushed that reservation aside. I picked my sandwich up and took a bite.

My whole body reacted. 

I dropped the sandwich, eyes wide and stopped myself from spitting it out. Drew watched my reaction and knew immediately that it was a fail, but didn’t react negatively in the moment. I attribute this to his parental instincts of not reacting negatively to a bad situation (like a kid falling or running into a corner, if you don’t act like it’s a big deal they’ll shake it off) kicked in and he didn’t want me feeling worse than I already did. He just laughed that some cheese fell on my chin, then tentatively asked how it was. I didn’t know what to say. It wasn’t what I expected at all, but didn’t want to write it off in case I was overreacting and didn’t give the pork a fair shot. So I said “I’m not sure about this,” and kept eating.

I would take a small bite of sandwich, each a few fries, move to the bacon, then get another bite of sandwich. I even started pulling the meat out so there would be less in each bite. Drew had a bite or two and said he liked it (though that didn’t really help me in the moment). I kept eating to see if I liked it the more I tried it, but that went nowhere. It was weird the entire time and I couldn’t move past it.

Tipsy Steer's Short Rib Grilled Cheese

I finished one half of the sandwich and decided I was done. I didn’t want to suffer anymore, so I put it down and pushed my plate away. After looking at the meat more I asked Drew if he thought it was beef. He said he didn’t think so, then ate a little more sandwich. He opened it up and his eyes went wide. “Uhh, yeah this isn’t pork. You at beef! Beef eater!!” 

I wasn’t amused at all. No wonder I didn’t like it and couldn’t push past my initial reaction! My stomach was churning and I immediately wanted to leave. I feel bad but it put a big damper on our date night, especially because Drew was really enjoying Invictus and wanted to stay for another beer. I had to get the beef taste out of my mouth so I asked that we leave and go to a local wine bar for a drink and dessert.

What I Should Have Done Differently

  • Googled “Short Ribs.” When you do the first result reads “Short ribs are a cut of beef taken from the brisket, chuck, plate, or rib areas of beef cattle.” Instead I unfairly put it all on Drew to be my food encyclopedia, and he guessed.
  • Gotten a second opinion. I should have asked a sister or my mom if they thought I’d like short ribs.

But, in the spirit of a date, I left my phone in my purse.

What You Can Take From This

  • Do your research. Don’t guess and hope they will, instead double-check the items to be sure your picky eater will like the food you’re ordering.

This experience solidified my opinion on beef. I’ve tried it in a couple different ways now and haven’t liked it at all. Even when I thought it was another food and tried to imagine myself liking the “pork” (a common psych trick people claim helps with trying a new food), I couldn’t bring myself to keep eating. I don’t think I’ll ever try beef again, and I’m ok with that. I’ve given it a shot a couple times (even if I didn’t know it) and didn’t like it at all. So the next time someone asks why I don’t eat beef I can confidently say I don’t like it. I fully expect the “but it’s so good!” or “you just haven’t had it prepared right” responses that I almost always get, but now I have more ammunition to say I have, in fact, had it a couple times. Drew liked it, so it’s not that the meat was prepared wrong. I simply don’t like it (can you tell I’m fed up with this line of questioning? 🙂 ). 

I’ll leave you with the charge to take care of your picky eater, do your research on the food being served to them, and believe them when they say they don’t like it after trying it a few times. All of this will do wonders for their courage in trying new foods.


July Food of the Month – Bacon Green Beans

You’d think bacon, being a staple in my diet, would help me like a new food. You’d think drizzling it with maple syrup on top of cooking green beans in bacon grease would help mask the new taste. But, unfortunately this time, it didn’t.  

Setting the Scene

Like most weekdays, we had plans for the evening and had to rush through dinner to get there on time. One thing we didn’t account for was how long we needed to cook down the green beans. For any green bean recipe you need plenty of time to cook down the green beans so their texture and taste are less aggressive. Needless to say, we didn’t do this.  

I can take the blame for the lack of time and preparedness. In addition to the green beans I planned out a meal of grilled chicken and roasted potatoes in case the girls didn’t like the green beans. One thing I know about myself and cooking is that I get too ambitious and try to fit a lot of things into one meal without accounting for time to prep. This leads to stress prepping and a less-than-impressive dish. On top of this I had not connected with Drew on the recipe and preparation because I assumed, incorrectly, that he knew the recipe off hand. He’s a great cook and knows quite a few recipes off the top of his head, but I was very wrong thinking he did this time! 

Bacon and Green Beans

Drew and I were rushing through dinner prep and honestly getting a little testy with each other because we felt stressed to finish up in time. This also meant I wasn’t completely relaxed walking into this food tasting. 

Ingredients

  • 12 oz of green beans, with ends cut off (we bought Good and Gather from Target) 
  • 1 lbs. Maple bacon 
  • 2-3 Tbsp. Of maple syrup 

Instructions

  1. Chop up the bacon into 1-inch pieces 
  1. Cook bacon down in two large skillets (we use our favorite cast-iron skillets) until just crispy 
  1. While the bacon cooks, bring a large pot of water to a boil 
  1. Put the green beans in the water and boil down until soft, then drain the green beans 
  1. Put all green beans and bacon in one skillet. Cook down for 30-45 minutes. 
  1. Remove from pan and serve immediately 

The Kids’ Opinions

Before I had a chance to dish up my own meal, Kyra and Addy had already sat down and dug into the green beans. They LOVED them! Drew and I were pretty surprised with how much they enjoyed them. Better yet they both went up for seconds and thirds. So, I can say confidently that two of our kids without picky eating issues like this recipe a lot! Kyra was really excited about me trying them and described why she thought I’d like them (highlighting the syrup and bacon, of course).  

The Tasting

The combination of the beautiful bacon aroma, maple syrup drizzle, and girls’ raving about the recipe made me very excited to try the green beans. However, as I advise I only took a few pieces of green beans so I didn’t feel overwhelmed at the idea of eating a pile of food I may not like. I sat down, picked up a green bean and piece of bacon (heavier on the bacon than the green beans) and took a bite. I was very underwhelmed. It felt like I was eating fresh green beans with some bacon thrown in. I couldn’t get past this initial reaction, even though I ate all the green beans on my plate.  

Bacon Green Beans with chicken and potatoes

Tip: only put a small amount of the new food on your picky eater’s plate so it seems less daunting.

I think if we had time to cook the green beans down (we only spent about ten minutes doing this, rather than the prescribed 30-45 minutes) I would have liked them more. When I’ve had cooked veggies before they didn’t feel quite so fresh as these were, which is why I think they were off-putting to me. 

What I Could Do Differently

  • Plan aheadI should have thought about the recipe of all ingredients in advance, especially considering the timeline. Then I would have started earlier to cook the green beans down appropriately. 
  • Communicate with Drew. I honestly thought Drew knew this recipe really well, but we had never discussed those details before we started cooking. If I had known that then I would have found a recipe sooner. That definitely would have helped with prep! 

What You Can Learn from This

  • A little goes a long way. Only serve your picky eater a small portion of the new food. This helps it feel less overwhelming or daunting for your eater who may see a big pile of new food as a scary obstacle.
  • Even though I didn’t like this recipe, the girls certainly did! They ate more green beans than chicken or potatoes.
  • Be sure you’re prepared. Lack of preparedness is constantly an issue for me, and I don’t want it to be one for you too! Make sure you have the time and ingredients necessary to complete the meal correctly.
  • Keep trying. I plan on making this recipe again in the future. I think I need to keep working on this food because I’ve liked other green bean recipes, but this time around the recipe just wasn’t prepared correctly.

Watch the Tasting:


July Food of the Month – Green Beans

Even though it’s already a third of the way through July (where is the time going?!) it’s time to announce my July Food of the Month!

Like many picky eaters, green veggies have never truly appealed to me. Sure I learned to like lettuce and spinach when salads were the only thing I was willing to try, but that’s as far as I was willing to go. As for green beans, peas, brussel sprouts, asparagus, broccoli, you name it, I stayed far away from those! But it was hard not to notice the pattern of these kinds of greens showing up to my favorite foods at restaurants. Like peppers, I figured this was a sign that I should maybe/possibly/kinda/wanna focus on green beans because they’re almost always part of a meal. But I definitely need picky eater-friendly recipes to do so.

Photo Credit: Freddie Collins

Drew was the one to bring up the idea of me trying green beans as one of my foods of the month. I once tried Szechuan green beans at a restaurant per a table mate’s urging and kind of liked them. Side note: this was the second time I ever met this person and first time I ever ate with her. She had no idea of my picky eating so I let her “encouragement” for me to try them slide.

Drew has a recipe he thinks I’ll love, but I have to be honest I was nervous when he first brought it up. But then he revealed how he well he knows me.

I believe our  conversation went something like this:

Drew: I have a green bean dish I used to make all the time that I think you’ll like!

Me: Eeeh…

Drew: They’re cooked completely in bacon!

Me: 🤤 OK, fine.

Photo Credit: Michelle @New Layer Photography

I’m a firm believer that bacon makes everything better. It might not be my Noom coach’s opinion, but I won’t back down!

So, the very first recipe I plan to make and try in July is Drew’s bacon green beans! After that I’m going to try out similar recipes to the Szechuan green beans I tried before, then probably go for some fried green beans. I really don’t have a desire to try fried green beans, but I’m sure it’s one way for parents of picky eaters to give to their child. So I’ll follow suite and send along any tips I come up with! I’m thinking a hot dipping sauce will be a good sidekick for these beans.

If you have a green bean recipe you think I’ll love, leave a comment or link below! I’d love to see what you guys are cooking for your picky eaters. Just one request, no green bean casseroles! Even if I liked green beans I would probably ask to skip that dish 😅


Buffalo Chicken-Stuffed Peppers

Final June Food of the Month – Chicken and Pepper Quesadillas

The Prep

Ever have that moment when you’re cooking, getting in your groove and feeling like a Food Network star (don’t lie, I know you have pretended to have a cooking show too), when it hits you. You forgot to buy a key ingredient. In my case, it was the tortillas for our quesadillas 🤦🏼‍♀️

How in the world do you make Cooking Classy’s Chicken Quesadillas without tortillas? I was afraid I’d have to nix the whole thing, but then it hit me – use the peppers! I had just made Buffalo Chicken-Stuffed Peppers and loved them, so why not change up how I use the peppers for this meal?

By basically ignoring the original recipe, I got to work cutting the peppers then combining the prepped chicken, cheese, and hot sauce. I started up the grille again (possibly my favorite way to cook peppers so far!) and stuffed the peppers full of the chicken mix. 

The Tasting

After the Buffalo Chicken-Stuffed Peppers were a success I was much more confident coming into this tasting. I used all the same tactics of adding the extra crispness of chips on top while topping the peppers off with fresh tomato salsa to cool things down a bit. Adding chips is a great trick for when a picky eater is unsure of a new taste or texture – load up the meal with what they like and they’re more likely to accept the new food! Even just by changing the appearance a little bit can be a game changer once it comes time to try the new food. 

Drew and the girls were with me this time when I tried this food, but because I ate the other peppers they weren’t nearly as interested about me trying this meal as they were before. So just having that attention off of me helped calm me down before taking the first bite. Even though I liked the other stuffed peppers, I had no idea if I would like the peppers with the seasonings and salsa from the recipe. So, when I piled the food on my fork I was sure to get a lot of cheese and chip pieces so I could possibly disguise any tastes I didn’t like. 

Thankfully I liked it!! The pepper’s taste mixed so well with the shredded cheese and hot chicken seasoning that I had to have another…then finish off the left overs for lunch the next day 😉 

What You Can Take From This

  • Don’t make every tasting a big deal – for Drew and the girls this meal was nothing new. They’ve seen me eat similar foods so they didn’t keep asking if I like the food or think it looks good. This helped me feel more at ease and natural with a new recipe in front of me. 
  • Keep trying new recipes with the new food – usually if I find a new food or recipe I like I only eat it that way over and over again. Your picky eater needs to know that there are so many different ways to eat a new food, or else they’ll fall into a recipe rut. I’ve been asked so many times why I eat the same thing at restaurants, and the answer has two layers to it: 
    • It’s either because I’m so happy that I like it I don’t feel the need to try something else, or
    • I’m afraid I will miss out on the recipe I do like by ordering something I might not like, thereby ruining dinner
  • Be prepared – this one is probably more for me at this point, but be sure you have exactly everything you need for a recipe. Picky eaters like me want to know what is in their food when they’re nervous about a new recipe. When you change something up on the fly it can send them down a fearful rabbit hole of worst case scenarios. So before you start cooking, double check you have all the correct ingredients and the right amount of them. That will save you from a potential melt down from your picky eater. 

Buffalo Chicken-Stuffed Peppers

Second June Food of the Month Attempt – Buffalo Chicken-Stuffed Peppers

For my second food of the month tasting I tried Delish’s Buffalo Chicken-Stuffed Peppers and they’re. So. Good. I have to be honest, I was worried about eating an entire chunk (yes, I mentally call it a chunk) of pepper, but I’m so glad I took the risk! 

When picking out my meals to try this month, this one stood out to me as a possible success for a few reasons:

  • I love buffalo chicken (wraps, dips, sandwiches, you name it!)
  • Spice, for me, is a great way to disguise a flavor that I’m still not sure about, while still allowing the food’s essence to come through (in this case, the pepper’s crispness and fresh zing)
  • These peppers are covered in cheese—a direct path to this picky eater’s heart
  • Peppers are crispy, and if there’s anything a picky eater likes most it’s a crunchy texture!

The Prep

I was in charge of preparing the meal, which I liked because then I can control what goes in and how much! I decided to add a bit more seasoning and hot sauce than the recipe calls for because I knew that would help my chances of liking the food. Plus, having control over my food is a good way to boost my confidence in trying the food. If I know exactly what is in my dish then I feel more comfortable with the idea of trying a new recipe.

Drew and I worked quickly to get this meal together before he had to take off with two of the girls for soccer, so I wouldn’t describe the prep as “high quality,” but we made do! We didn’t have rotisserie chicken, so we had to completely thaw and cook some chicken breasts before we could get started with the rest of the ingredients. We used our awesome Ninja Foodi to thaw and quickly cook frozen chicken before tossing it in the pan.

Because we live in Minnesota and our grilling days are limited, we decided to throw the peppers on the grill instead of cooking them in the oven. Not only did this satisfy all our grilling desires (no matter how short that lasts!) it gave the peppers a nice char, increasing their crispness and adding a little Smokey flavor I love. I’d recommend doing this if you love those two things, but if your picky eater doesn’t like the char taste or is afraid of the black stuff on their food, then for goodness sake put them in the oven!

Because I’m not a huge chives/green onion fan, I actually nixed adding them to the main dish. Instead we simply used them as a garnish when dishing up. Eventually I could see myself adding it in once I’m more used to its taste, but for now chives are perfectly fine on the side!

The Tasting 

I decided to use my trick of disguising the food with even more cheese, hot sauce, and tortilla chips once I dished up my meal. This is a great trick for when a picky eater is unsure of a new taste or texture – load up the meal with what they like and they’re more likely to accept the new food! Even just by changing the appearance a little bit can be a game changer once it comes time to try the new food.

Thankfully I was by myself when I tried the food so I didn’t feel like I had an audience. I took my time finding a good, crispy bite of pepper that had lots of chicken and cheese on top. I skipped the chives for the moment because I wanted to be sure there were plenty of tastes that I like on top of the new food. I took a moment to do my usual inspection (i.e., looking at the bite from all angles so I know what to expect – my friends and family know that look well!), then took the bite. 

It was SO GOOD. I couldn’t believe how much I liked it! The first thing I tasted was the buffalo chicken, which was my goal with loading the pepper up with sauce and seasonings. The pepper added a nice crunch and it’s flavor only came in at the end. It didn’t cover the other flavors, which is what I was afraid would happen, so I’m very happy about that!

My bonus daughter, Addy, tried it and liked it too! It’s always a fun win to have a nine-year-old like a healthy meal. 

What You Can Take From This

I highly recommend doing several of the things I did while prepping this meal:

  • I picked a meal that I knew I liked most of the components so at least I could fall back on the foods I liked if I didn’t like the peppers.
  • Let the picky eater add seasonings and salt.
  • Add less of the “unsure foods” – for me, this meant not adding chives to the recipe but instead using them as a light garnish.
  • Prepare food in a way your picky eater likes best (baked, roasted, grilled, fried, etc.). This will help them be more comfortable with trying a new food. In this example, we cooked the peppers in a grill instead of the oven because I like the char on the peppers and Smokey flavor. 
  • Let them eat in peace – I was very comfortable eating by myself, though I know that isn’t always possible if your picky eater is young. Try to remove pressure and expectations on your picky eater by giving them space when they’re trying something new. Whether it be avoiding watching them trying the food, talking to them about the food too much, or even telling others that they’re trying something new because that draws too much attention to them. 

What I Wish I Did Differently

The only thing I wish we did differently was get rotisserie chicken instead of cooking fresh chicken ourselves. That would have saved us a lot of time in the prep work. Otherwise I was very happy with this tasting!

Try the recipe!


But I Thought You Liked That?! Didn’t You Eat That Before?

When I’m asked that question I often want to respond with, “There’s a difference between eating a food because I have to versus eating a food because I like it.” But I’m too passive aggressive for that. Instead, I use one of my well-worn responses that I’ve honed over the years to get away with not actually answering this question: “I ate a big lunch.” “I don’t want to fill up before dessert!” “I’m thinking about becoming a vegetarian.”

Ok. I’ve never actually used that last one but I’ve definitely thought about it!

So, when we get to the qualifiers of “What do I eat” and “What do I actually like to eat,” you need to be ready to hear more details than you bargained for.

You see, there are plenty of things I’ll eat if I need to. Whether it’s to avoid offending a host or just avoiding talking about my picky eating, there are plenty of times I choke down a few bites of food before claiming I’m full. But enjoying that food is another story entirely. When you know you’re eating with a picky eater, recognize that just because they ate a certain food one way at one point in life doesn’t mean they’ll eat it in any form again.​ Even better, don’t ask why they aren’t eating it if you thought they liked it! That puts a heavy feeling of being judged and shamed for not eating something prepared for them, even if that’s not what you intended at all. Chances are they’ve had people judge or shame them for not eating in the past and it’s all too easy for those feelings to come back when someone asks an innocent question. 

These kinds of questions can bring back feelings of shame and embarrassment for your picky eater.

After more than 27 years as a picky eater, I’ve learned to fake it ‘til I make it. Someone thoughtfully prepares a chicken dish for me not realizing I don’t like bone-in wings? I’ll eat the skin around it and maybe get a little meat in there. As long as I don’t see bones or tendons I’m good! They prep cheesy potatoes I know I won’t like? In the past, when I was actually allergic to dairy, I’d plea lactose intolerance and get away without eating something I knew wouldn’t get down my throat easily. I even rejected homemade brownies once because they were made with sour cream and I had no idea what they’d taste like. Easy out: I was lactose intolerant so I didn’t touch a single brownie. Unfortunately for me, my body now produces lactase – the enzyme needed to breakdown lactose – so I’ve lost that convenient excuse. Darn you properly functioning digestive system! 

The Long Answers

But back to the question of “What Do I Like to Eat?” When I think about my answer to that question all I can think of are qualifiers. If you ask that question you can expect answers such as: 

  • I like chicken wings…but only if they’re boneless, fried, and dripping in sauce 
  • I like tomatoes…but only if they’re finely chopped and mixed in with another food, preferably something cheesy 
  • I like ham…but only if it’s a small serving, hot is a bonus, honey baked is a double bonus 
  • I like turkey…but only if it’s smoked turkey and has other salty foods with it – sure I’ll have it in a sandwich, but it should be only one or two small slices. PLEASE do not give me a big wad of meat in mayo-soaked bread! 

Do you see a pattern? “I like_____…but” is a constant phrase for me, and probably is for other picky eaters too. You see, just because I like a food a certain way doesn’t mean I like it every possible way. It’s not likely that just because you saw me eating the only food provided at a company dinner means that I actually like the food. I’ve been getting better about eating less-than-desirable food that I have no option but to eat. It’s gotten me through various work functions where only a few apps were provided, many missions trips where a few bites of salad got me through a long volunteering day, and countless dinners at friend’s houses where their parents pulled together what I can only imagine was a great meal! But I couldn’t enjoy it like I wish I could. 

What You Can Take from This

So. Before you ask a picky eater what they eat, consider rephrasing to “What’s your favorite quick dinner?” Or “What’s your favorite afternoon snack?” or even “if you could eat anything you could for lunch, what would it be?” Then you will get real, accurate answers that will actually give you the information you’ve been looking for! Even better, your picky eater will see you as someone they can trust with opening up about their eating habits. Building this trust is essential for making mealtimes more comfortable. 


My Favorite Cookbooks and Websites for Recipes

Because I’m not the best chef, I have a hard time even imagining new recipes, much less changing recipes, that I might like. I run to Pinterest, other bloggers and websites, and cookbooks for new recipe ideas.

My favorite cookbook so far is the Magnolia Table: A Collection of Recipes for Gathering by Joanna Gaines. Her book is full of comfort food that is pretty simple to cook. My favorite, brand new recipe from this book was a quiche. Yes, a quiche! Like many picky eaters eggs have never been my favorite food. However, I have never hated eggs, mostly I’ve made myself eat a little if served, but otherwise would avoid them as much as possible. But this quiche is so good I had it for breakfast for a solid month until my waistband cried uncle.

This is just one example of how combining foods I love (bacon, cheese, flaky pie crust, and all the right seasonings) with something I’m not so sure of (eggs) helped me overcome my fear of trying the food. If you ever make this quiche, be sure to use some maple syrup to balance out the saltiness. Also, you can freeze your extra pieces and quickly reheat them in the microwave for a quick breakfast!

Even better, she recently came out with a second volume!! I’ve made plenty of recipes so far, and haven’t found one I didn’t like. My favorite so far is her cinnamon swirl bread – it makes an AMAZING French Toast!

A close second is the Picky Palate Cookbook by Jenny Flake. Fun fact, she made her start as a blogger too! I discovered her site in college and have followed her ever since. The idea of a cookbook written specifically for picky eaters was so exciting I bought it within five minutes of learning about it. In fact, I’ve played around with the idea of pulling a “Julie & Julia” move and cooking through the book from cover to cover to see how much of it I truly like.

And of course, we can’t forget Pinterest. I have more than 800 pins across 21 sections in my Pinterest Om Nom Noms board. Have I tried them all? Nope. Will I try them all? Probably not, but I definitely find some great inspiration from these pins! From one pan recipes to no bake cookies, I have found so many drool-worthy recipes that I can’t wait to dig into.

What do you do to help your kids (or yourself!) try new foods? Comment with your tips and tricks below!


Oh My Guac!

Sometimes my process goes right out the window because, well, I don’t know that I’m trying new food. Though it doesn’t happen often, it isn’t unusual for me to be surprised by an unexpected ingredient, especially when eating at a restaurant. This happened (thankfully with success) during my first date with my now-husband, Drew.

On the night of our first date I was nervous but excited – I couldn’t believe I was going out to dinner with a co-worker! The typical questions went through my head – is this a date date or just a fun night out? How will it go? What if I embarrass myself or it goes poorly and work becomes awkward? I wasn’t really thinking about what I would be eating, especially when I walked into the restaurant and watched him stand up in his work shirt and jeans (confession – this was my first time seeing him with his shirt un-tucked and for some reason I thought it was SUPER attractive).  

We chatted while we looked over our menus so I don’t remember taking in much information other than seeing “fish tacos – fried cod and coleslaw.” The food came and we kept chatting while we ate, I was still so excited and chatty that I doubt I tasted much in my taco. Then I actually looked at it and there was a green, creamy blob I didn’t expect to see. I sat for a second then said “oh my gosh, there’s guacamole in here. And I think I like it!” Drew already knew a bit about my picky eating so he just burst out laughing and joking how amazing it was that I tried something and liked it.  

So, yeah, I had no idea what I was eating but liked it a lot! In fact, I almost always get the fish tacos when I go to The Claddagh Pub.  

Fish tacos

I think a few factors were at play that helped me try this food and like it so much: 

  • I was in an exciting, distracting atmosphere 
  • I was with someone I enjoy talking to  
  • The guac was mixed in with other ingredients I really like that almost masked the guacamole flavor at first 
  • There was no build up or (food-related) anxiety  

I Like Guac, but not on its Own 

I really like guac in tacos, burritos, nachos, etc. but I don’t like just chips and guac on their own. The texture is a little too grainy yet fluffy with chunks…which doesn’t feel right with the taste. If there are spicy guacamole recipes maybe I’d like it more, but when it’s too bland I only focus on the texture and not the taste. I’m working on liking guac and chips, but it might take a bit before it’s an app I choose at a restaurant or party.  

This Worked for Me, But Don’t Think You Should Stick New Food into Every Recipe 

I know this may feel like I’m saying try to trick your picky eater by sneaking new ingredients into their food without warning. This can lead to distrust, fear, and anger at meal times. My goal with this blog is to help do the opposite of that. So for this post I’ll recommend a different approach to this tactic. 

Pick an Exciting Setting 

At a party, theme/water park, the beach, anywhere your kid is too excited to be? Then they’ll be less likely to be focused on the food set before them and more eager to get back to the action.  

Kids eating at a baseball game
Photo by Wade Austin Ellis on Unsplash

Tap into Their Chatter Box 

Keep talking to them about the fun things you’re doing while eating to keep their mind off of their meal. Even better – ask them what the first ride, game, slide, etc. they want to do once they’re done eating. Give them something to be excited about so the fear of eating doesn’t feel so big anymore.  

Add Food They Love 

Masking the taste of the new food with food they already like can work wonders in helping your eater like a new food. I’ve done this with guac, pork, potatoes, onions, and more. By using a food I already like as a vehicle for the new food, then I swear I’ve tricked my own mind into believing I liked a new food I may have not liked if I tried it on its own.  

Keep it Light 

This can be taken in two different ways: light attitudes and light servings.  

Keep your conversations happy and exciting. Don’t be serious, don’t pull the stern “we aren’t leaving this table until you’ve finished your food.” Instead talk about what they want to talk about and what they’re excited for. Joke around, even if they don’t like it joke about it! Not liking a food can be a scary or disappointing moment. So instead of letting them stay down try to bring them up with humor! 

When giving them the new food, just use a bit of it. Don’t use a full amount as you would in your own dish because that is a scary amount for them. Instead, even just a few crumbs of a new food is sufficient. Yes. That small is plenty. Think about it, you’re used to the flavor and probably like it, so you think more is best, right? Nope. Not for a picky eater. Smaller is better because they can easily get the flavor out of their mouths quicker, the size doesn’t look intimidating, and they could try to pretend it isn’t even on their spoon.  

Don’t Do This Every Time 

Take it from me. Being expected to try a new food at every meal is exhausting. Don’t do this process every single time your at the exciting, distracting place. Just do it every once in awhile, especially on days they’re clearly too excited to think much of food. But if you keep doing this at every party or park, then they’ll associate that place with trying new foods and they won’t like it anymore! Think about it, if you are always pinched when you go to Target, then you won’t want to go to Target anymore or always be paranoid of being pinched. So don’t pinch your kid, give them a break and let them eat their chicken fingers in peace. 

Keep Reminding Them if This Works 

Find this tactic worked for your eater? Then remind them of it! Help them remember it doesn’t have to be as scary as they’re making it. Remind them they had fun when they tried a new food and let them know it can still be fun even if they don’t like the food. Heck, Drew LOVES to remind me of the guac incident and its helped me realize that trying a crazy new food I didn’t think I’d ever try doesn’t have to be a major event.