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.  


First June Food of the Month Attempt – Bacon, Cheese, and Pepper Omelet

Over this past weekend Drew made everyone omelets. The core ingredients were eggs, bacon, and cheese (classic for kids and not too bad for me). That’s when it hit me that peppers are ALWAYS an option on menus, so it was time for me to bite the bullet and add some peppers to the frying pan.

Photo by Caio on Pexels.com

Now, eggs are still a relatively new food for me, and the one tip I’ve had for others is to add a lot of food you already know you like to the food you’re trying. With this meal I was turning that tip on the side a bit by adding a second food I still wasn’t sure about, peppers, to a food I’ve been working on for a while, eggs.

I picked out a nice, red pepper and chopped about half of it into small cubes. I didn’t add all of it to the omelet – in comparison to the full pepper I really didn’t add much – but while I was eating I found myself picking around the peppers or adding a lot more cheese and bacon bites to try to mask the pepper taste. This worked for the most part, but I found myself taking little breaks between particularly peppery pieces before going for another forkful.

Photo by Snapwire on Pexels.com

I was overwhelmed at points with the taste of the peppers and needed a coffee break for a chance to gather myself to try again.

What I Took from This

The loudest voice in my head was screaming, “There are way too many peppers in here!!” And it was right. I was over eager in wanting to try the pepper, so I kept dropping more pieces in the pan. What I should have done is cut less peppers to start with and then add even less to my omelet.

It took me a while to finish eating because I was overwhelmed at points with the taste of the peppers and needed a coffee break for a chance to gather myself again. I also found myself letting the peppers fall off of my fork, so I sometimes didn’t even get one with that bite.

What You Can Take Away from This -Learn From My Mistakes

Don’t do what I did. Yes, it’s exciting to think about your child trying a new food you’re sure they’ll love, but that doesn’t mean they’ll want to taste it in every bite. Instead add the new food sparingly and spaced far apart. Then they’ll have breaks from the new food and enjoy the food they already like. This will keep the tasting more positive and comfortable for your picky eater.

Even better, have them add the new food themselves! Then they can control what they’re eating and feel more confident once it comes time to try the food. Giving them some control over what they’re eating will do wonders with their confidence.


June Food of the Month – Peppers

Photo by Ju00c9SHOOTS on Pexels.com

One food I’ve seen come up time and again in recipes, meal prep ideas, and menu options is bell peppers. I’ve had tiny, tiny bites of them in the past, but this month I’m going to be intentional about fitting it into weekly meals to keep trying it more and more. On top of that, Addy, my youngest bonus daughter, recently asked to buy peppers to try more! Hey, if a 9-year-old wants to eat it I better try it too, right?

Why I Think I’ll Like Peppers

Before I get too far into my meal plan, I want to explain why I think I’ll like peppers. As mentioned before, peppers are popping up in most of the recipes I’ve seen, so they’ve gotten to hard to ignore. So instead, I’ve tried to look at why they’d make meals more enjoyable:

  • They’re crunchy, and I love crunchy! Adding them to a quesadilla, Asian stir fry, or salad will improve the texture of my meals.
  • They have a fresh taste. I am not a fan of bitter, underwhelming, or bland fruits and vegetables. Peppers have a bright taste that fills my mouth in a way that makes my mouth feel full, even if I only had a little bite. Having this flavor mixed into ones I know I already like will help me like it over time.
  • They’re healthy AND satisfying. A major reason why I want to like peppers more is that I’m trying to eat healthier to keep up with my running. Peppers will help fill me up without the extra carbs and calories of heavier foods.

The Recipes

I’ve started this already with an omelette over the weekend, with some success. But the one thing I’ve learned by searching for recipes with peppers is that there are TONS of ways to incorporate them into meals. One of the most common is stuffed peppers, so that seems like as good a place to start as any!

Drew and I have several recipes that we are eager to try. The one I’m most excited about is Delish.com’s Best Buffalo Chicken-Stuffed Peppers. I love buffalo chicken wraps, dips, salads, and sandwiches, so I’m hoping the heat of the buffalo and the creamy cheese and chicken mixture will help me appreciate the peppers more.

If I like this recipe I will branch out to Baked Lasagna-Stuffed Peppers (no beef for me) and see if Drew and the girls like them too. Then we have a healthier substitute for the typically carb-heavy lasagna!

Buffalo Chicken-Stuffed Peppers
JONATHAN BOULTON

Over the past few years I’ve grown to love Mexican food. The combination of gooey cheese, spicy chicken, and fresh salsa hits all my bells. However, there is rarely a time that I don’t edit my order. I’ve almost always asked to have peppers and beans removed from tacos and quesadillas, but now I’m going to try Cooking Classy’s Chicken Quesadilla’s {Chicken Fajita Style} without removing the peppers!

I’m hoping the extra cheese and chicken will help mask the pepper taste, but not lose the satisfying crunch!

The last recipe I plan on trying is much more chicken-focused, which will be a nice change of pace for me. I love Asian food, so The Recipe Critic’s Skinny Slow Cooker Kung Pao Chicken is right up my alley! This recipe is full of fun ingredients, though the zucchini may not make the cut this first time around. I hope it will be a go-to, healthier version of the frozen meals I get from Target.

I may also adjust the recipe a bit so the girls like it too. One thing I like about the Recipe Critic is that she provides variations for her recipes along with tips on how to store, meal plan, and reheat the dish. I think her helpfulness has made a follower out of me before I’ve even tried her dish!

Recipe Critic’s Skinny Slow Cooker Kung Pao Chicken

Ok, now I’m hungry from writing about these recipes! It’s time for me to start trying out peppers. Subscribe to my emails to be sure you get my next post covering my omelet tasting post sent directly to your inbox!

Have a recipe you’ll think I like? Drop a note in the comments to let me know!


I Don’t Like Talking About This

My picky eating is my all-time least favorite conversation. Over my 27 years I have faced this conversation countless times with a wide variety of people

  • family,
  • friends,
  • coworkers,
  • significant others (even scarier, their family members), and
  • random table mates that couldn’t understand why I didn’t like certain foods.

I have received almost every type of reaction possible when I tell people I’m a picky eater. From understanding and patience to immediate judgment that I’m trying to get attention. Believe me, attention is the last thing I want when it comes to eating. I never know how they will react to hearing about my picky eating. The fear of more judgment—sometimes even frustration—coming at me keeps me from talking about it. I’ve even had people mad at me for it, as if I had no right to be picky about what I eat. Believe me, I don’t want this and getting mad at me for it does not fix it. Even thinking about someone confronting me about my eating makes me anxious.

If you read in my post “What is ARFID?” I include a description of what physically happens to ARFID patients that fear trying food:
The physiological constriction of the mouth tissues, throat, and digestive tract from the fear stops the ability to eat a variety of foods.
I get that feeling by talking about my picky eating with almost anyone. Every time I write about this I get this feeling and it’s so uncomfortable. But if by writing about it here I’m able to lessen this fear or constriction for others, then I’ll keep writing.

This is a conversation that needs to happen in an honest and understanding way. Right after my first post I received feedback from others about how happy they are that I’m writing about this. They are so excited that someone is talking about it and getting the word out. They are hopeful that it will lead to more understanding and less judgment or pressure. I think almost every picky eater doesn’t like talking about their habits. So by writing about it on here I hope I’m saving them from future painful conversations. Or, hopefully, it’s making picky eating less shameful and instead help others understand that it can’t be helped in a lot of cases.

For most picky eaters we don’t like being picky. No, it’s not an act to get attention or get our way. It’s not something we are proud of or want to be known for. Picky eating is a fear-filled burden. Yes, I sound dramatic, but it’s true.

I am guessing most non-picky eaters are excited to go to new restaurants and try new foods. It’s exciting to think you’ll find your new favorite restaurant or meal that you wouldn’t have thought of before. That’s not my reaction at all. My senses go on high alert and I immediately dive into google to find out everything about the restaurant. My stomach starts to turn in knots if something doesn’t pop out to me that I like. If there is something that I might like…with a few alterations…then I start getting a stress headache about having to ask for the changes. I stress because I know that will open up the “you don’t like peppers/mushrooms/gravy/peas/mashed potatoes/etc.?!” from my table mates. Sometimes a normal “Nope” answer suffices and they go on their merry way. But too many times they want to know why you don’t like something. For this I usually reply “I don’t know, I just don’t.” Once I say that I know one of two scenarios play out, 1) they drop it and let it be or 2) they try to analyze why I don’t like the food. “Is it the taste/texture/smell/look?” Once the second scenario aficionados find out I’m a picky eater, I’m suddenly their most intriguing puzzle to solve. They ask what kind of foods I like then try to determine why I like them. They try to connect the dots on what I’ve tried in the past and what I could do different to make myself like the foods I didn’t like before (see my Beef Goulash Food Fail post). They then make it their life goal to “help” me to try new foods. The thing is, this kind of interrogation and attention sends me back a few steps rather than forward. I immediately regret going out to eat. I don’t want to even sit with them anymore. I lose my appetite and the food set before me will always taste bad.

I hate those situations. I don’t like going out to eat with new people at new restaurants. I didn’t like going out to eat for the first few dates of a relationship because I didn’t want that stress during a time that should be fun and exciting.

I don’t want to be a psychological investigation for a group of people. 9 times out of 10 I’d rather not eat at all than talk to a new person about my picky eating. But here I am telling you all about it.

What You Can Take Away From This

If you find out someone you are eating out with is a picky eater, unless they offer up information, don’t ask questions. Don’t let your curiosity run wild…verbally. Later you could look into picky eating and why some people are picky eaters, but don’t use them as your research subject. You may think “but I could help them figure it out!”

Stop thinking that. Most of the time you can’t help them out. Everything you want to ask has probably been asked already many, many times. And guess what, it hasn’t been unsuccessful at “helping” the picky eater. If anything you run the risk of making the dinner harder for them than it already is. So be a good table mate, accept the fact that they don’t like a certain food and leave it at that.

Someone they feel comfortable eating with and, just maybe, opening up to about their picky eating. That’s when you can ask questions. Trust me, by not asking the questions you want to ask immediately you’re setting yourself up to be that picky eaters trust buddy.

Until then, just eat.


November Food of the Month – Turkey

One of my biggest supporters who I’ve mentioned here before, Cassie, gave me a great idea while I was still just imagining this blog about a year ago. I will have a food of the month that I will focus on to try several times throughout the month. What perfect food for November is there but turkey??

My History with Turkey

I’ve tried turkey several times throughout my life, mostly at on Thanksgiving. My family has always been convinced I would like it and I think they’re right, to an extent. Whenever I’ve tried turkey in the past I’ve been put off by the texture and how dry it is compared to chicken. This isn’t to bash the cooks who’ve made it for me, I’ve felt this way literally every time I tried turkey no matter who made it.

Then last year I went to my future in-laws’ home for Thanksgiving. Janelle, my future mother-in-law, made a smoked turkey with the idea/hope that I might like that because it was closer to chicken than a traditional turkey. And she was right!! I really liked it and got very excited to have it again. However, I haven’t had turkey since that meal.

My Plan for November

This month I plan on trying turkey at least five more times. I will try different forms/ways of eating turkey (turkey bacon, turkey sandwiches, etc.) while looking for new ways to cook it that might help me like it more. I’ll keep you all updated through this blog, Instagram, and Facebook so you can follow along and maybe learn how to like turkey a little more yourself!


Some Cooks Just Can’t Be Trusted

My sister and cousin actually helped me come up with this post when we were discussing some of the food I had posted on my Instagram that I did not like. My sister, Shelby, came up with the line “some cooks just can’t be trusted” I took that quote and ran.

I can’t tell you how many times somebody’s told me about their all time favorite recipe that they know I’ll love and can’t wait to make me. They believe that, because it’s food I like,  I’m sure to love it. I mean, everyone they make it for really likes it, so why should I be different? Then I get to the table, the meal is set before me, and I immediately regret everything. A number of things could be, in my opinion, “wrong” with the food that others would never thinks is an issue. There could be a crazy spices on there I’ve never tried and am unsure of, the chicken could be in cooked a way I’ve never had before or,  even worse, the bone could still be in the chicken. (I do not like bone-in chicken, that’s just a big thing for me. Seeing a bone in my meat then a meeting freaks me out.)

Then there are those people who, just to be honest, don’t know what they are doing in the kitchen. I know I’m not the world’s greatest chef, I’m not even my home’s go-to chef, but I know good food when I see it. There are so many times I sit down to a meal and wonder who else would eat it because they really liked it, rather than just to be polite. But, I eat it anyway. Even if it’s just one little bite and then saying “oh you know I ate such a big lunch I really can’t eat anymore but this is great, can I take some home?” I know that’s not the most honest way to go about it but it’s just being real with you guys. It happens more often than you think.

I often wonder if not-so-great cooks are aware of their their short comings. Then there are times I wonder if they just don’t that much that their food doesn’t taste that great. You know those people, the ones that just want to eat, regardless if the food isn’t the best.

I’m already a nervous wreck when eating with new people, and it’s so much worse if they are the ones cooking. What if I offend them? What if they think my picky eating is selfish or entitled? But when the food is bad it gets so. much. worse. I, 1) Start feeling guilty for not liking the food, and 2) try to avoid eating with them again. It’s sad, but it’s true.

I bet a number of you are reading this and thinking “what’s the big deal? It’s just food, it’s not like you’re dying.” But the thing is fear is one of the driving forces behind ARFID. It honestly can get to the point that it’s inescapable at any meal, especially when I have no idea what’s about to be served to me. My fiancé gives me a hard time for having a general need to know and control (no one’s thrown me a successful surprise party for instance), but it’s tenfold when it comes to my food. I think this need has largely developed because of all the times I try food that someone promised me I’d like, only to find out I hated it. That’s not to say I will write off any food anybody serves me. It’s just that I’ve come to recognize that I need to know what I’m being served and, at points, need to have a say in what’s being cooked. That’s not a comfortable conversation for me to have though, so I need to eat with the cooks I can trust.

The thing is, 9 times out of 10 people are OK with me giving input on the food we’re having for dinner. My brother-in-law Michael made a good point about this a while back. People really do want me to enjoy my meal and don’t want me to suffer through in silence. So it’s better to say what I’ll like and get over my fear of them getting frustrated or disappointed.

So, back to the topic at hand. Some cooks aren’t aware of how bad their recipes are. Or they love to make something a certain way, without thinking others might not like it or if it just isn’t good. These are the cooks I tend to not eat with.

I have to be honest about that chili I tried on slow cooker Thursday. It was bad. Even my sister said it didn’t look good and she loves chili. She won the chili cooking contest with her church last year. She immediately told me ideas of what I could do to make that she’ll be better, or how to make a completely different kind of chilly and thought I would probably have more success with. My cousin, Kylie, also chimed in with the recipe she really likes to make. It’s called jalapeño chili. I’m sorry sis, but I’m not so sure about that one. Maybe in a year or two.

When I try chili again, I will probably go with some of the tips Shelby gave me to make something I’ll like. Like using chicken instead of beef, committing chili blasphemy and not adding beans, etc. But I don’t see that happening for a while because all I can think about is how that chili tasted at work.

What Can You Take Away From This?

If you are the picky eater, then be aware of the cook. What do they usually like to eat? What are they planning on making? If you don’t like it, will they be willing to change the recipe to your liking? If not, the next question I’d ask is…why are you eating with them?

If your child is the picky eater, then be willing to support them by talking to whoever is cooking about your Little’s picky eating. It doesn’t have to be anything major, like telling them to not make the meal they were planning on. But ask that some key ingredients be left out, if possible. Lots of kids don’t like onions (it took me until high school before I even tried onion rings [easiest way to introduce onions to your child]) so if your child doesn’t like them, simply ask that it be removed from some of the dish. Maybe ask what sides will be included (rolls are a very easy side to include) or even ask if you could bring some! Rolls, carrots, and corn have been my jam at family meals for as long as I can remember. They have saved me from extreme hanger and held me over until dessert. Find your kid’s favorite sides and bring them with so they know there will be something they’ll like.