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

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!


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.


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!


Food Fail: Beef Goulash

There I was, sitting in the Lobkowicz Palace in Prague waiting for lunch to be served. I should have been enchanted with the idea of eating a meal in a historic palace half way across the world, I mean COME ON who doesn’t want to be served in a palace?! But instead I was filled with dread because they just announced the meal: beef goulash.

That’s right.

Beef.

Goulash.

I had no idea what it was, but I pictured brown, indistinguishable chunks of meat floating in brown broth, and I felt nauseous. I immediately hated palaces and all who cooked in them. To make it worse, my trusted meal buddy, Cassie, who understands my “particular” eating habits was in a completely different room with a table of friends who wouldn’t push her to try anything new if she didn’t want to. But I made the mistake of admitting I had never tried beef and didn’t want to. My table mates wouldn’t let me off the hook that easy.

For at least five minutes my table mates suggested some interesting psychotherapy of how I could trick myself into actually liking the beef when I tried it. Anything from pretending it’s another food to saying “it’s just food! The worst than can happen is you won’t like it, that’s it.” Well, as noted in my first post, not liking a food I try is one of the worst things that can happen to me.

Lobkowicz Palace is the tan building on the far left.

The food was served and didn’t look anything like the floating mass my fears cooked up in my mind. There were three pieces of (I assume) well-cut beef in a gravy with potatoes. So, finally I gave in and tried it. And guess what? No matter how much I tried to pretend it was chicken or plug my nose (super classy way to eat in a palace, I know) and swallow quickly, I didn’t like it.

Yes I was disappointed that I didn’t like the beef, but I was honestly more relieved that the conversation was over. No one was pressuring me to try the potatoes because I lied and said I liked them but wasn’t too hungry so I was fine not finishing them. In reality I was fighting back the urge to gag from the salty taste left over in my mouth and counting down the seconds until I could sneak out one of my protein bars.

I need to stop here and say I don’t blame my table mates for doing what they did. It’s what most, if not all, people do when they hear about my picky eating. It’s just that I was so over the conversation before it happened because I’ve had that same conversation hundreds of times throughout my life.

Our choir singing in a ballroom of the Lobkowicc Palace

Looking back, from the very start of this meal I was set up to fail. I let my imagination get away with me, ultimately making me more anxious and fearful of whatever plate would be set in front of me. I let others press me to try something I was very, very nervous about and had absolutely no desire to try. And I wasn’t even proud of myself for trying to food. That’s the biggest failure in my mind. It probably doesn’t seem like a big deal to most people, but trying something so outside my comfort zone should have been an exciting moment for me. It should have been something I look back at and be happy that I gave it a chance. But I don’t. I look back at the meal and wish none of it had happened. I honestly don’t even remember what we did the rest of the day because that meal stands mars the day as a negative memory.

You see attention, stress, and peer pressure is not the way to convince someone to try a food they’re terrified to eat. It sets them up to fail. The more anxious someone is to eat something the much less likely they are to like it. Parents of picky eaters, how many times have you sat in front of your crying kid at the dinner table, making them stay there until they tried the food on their plate? Of those times, how often did they actually like it?

I’m not telling you to not encourage your kids to try new things, even if they’re adamant about not wanting to try it. I’m saying the approach to convincing someone to try the food they’re terrified of eating has to change. If they’re scared, crying, cringing, or worse, then it’s time to connect with them. Say “Hey, I know this is really scary for you, but I will be so proud of you if you try just a tiny bite of this beef. That’s all you need to try, a tiny bite. If you like it, then great! If not, that’s ok. You don’t need to like it, but you should really give it a chance.” That will make a huge difference in their willingness to try something new.

Creepy picture of choir members eating because there isn’t one of me (what’s a girl to do?)

Now parents, it’s time to get real. I can’t tell you how much I see that common trope of the crying kid at a dinner table with the domineering parent telling them that they can’t go to bed if they don’t eat everything on their plate. If you find yourself in this situation then you need to stop and ask yourself if you want them to try to food because you really want them to like it, or if you want them to eat it because you told them to eat it? Are you trying to help them learn to like more foods and expand their palate, or are you trying to teach them who’s boss? I’m sure once you answer this question your opinion of them trying new foods will change for the better.

How to Create a Positive Space for Trying New Foods

Parents of picky eaters, if there’s anything you get out of this blog I hope this is it. You must create a positive atmosphere to increase the chances of your child liking a new food.

  • Don’t put the child on display while trying new foods. As you’ll see later, for me I absolutely hate it when people stare at me when trying new foods. It’s so uncomfortable and makes me want to abort immediately.
  • Don’t give them the ultimatum that if they “don’t try the food, then they’ll lose dessert, go to bed early, need to stay at the table”…you name it. That immediately increases the fear they are already experiencing and decreasing any positive vibes they may have had towards the food.
  • Don’t say “you’ll never know if you don’t try it!” I hate that saying. Not because I think it’s wrong, but because it’s so overused it has completely lost its power and meaning. I’ve personally heard it thousands of times over my 27 years on this earth and it’s changed nothing for me. Just stop.
  • If they don’t like the food, don’t say “well you only tried a little bit” or “really? I thought you’d love it!” That makes the eater feel wrong and guilty, not encouraged to try something else. I have felt wrong for years because I don’t like foods. It is an awful feeling that has literally left me crying on a bathroom floor on a missions trip praying that God would finally take the picky eater out of me (that story is for another day).
  • Do give them the option of trying a new food. Yep. The OPTION. This gives them the feeling of control and, hopefully, comfort at the table.
  • Do encourage them to play with the food without the expectation that they then must try it. I don’t mean throw it across the room. But move it around with their fork, pick it up with their hands, look at it at all angles. For me personally I don’t like surprises in my food. The more I can examine or investigate it, the more comfortable I become around it.
  • Do explain to them what kind of food this is like in relation to what they already like  (for instance, pulled pork is like pulled chicken because the texture is the same and the taste isn’t too different, especially if covered in BBQ sauce).
  • Do tell them that it’s okay to not like the food. If they try it, that’s good enough.

I truly believe this is essential to trying new foods. If you are the picky eater, don’t let pressure or stress be the driving force behind your decision to try a new food. That only sets you up to fail. Instead, only try foods around people who are patient, understand your picky eating, and aren’t looking to be “the ones” who convince you to try a new food. Those kinds of people aren’t looking out for you and your growth, they’re looking for a win for themselves.

I typically only try new foods with my fiancé, Drew, my former roommates who have seen me eat daily and know my struggle, my immediate family and some close cousins, and Cassie — you’ll hear a lot about Cassie in the future. We bonded over the fact that we are both picky eaters and quickly became each other’s safe place for any and every meal in college. When I try a new food, they all know not to stare at me as I try the food. They do watch me, but it’s different from staring. When watching, it’s the same as if we were in a normal conversation. By staring, I mean no blinking, watching my every move, and waiting for my reaction the moment it happens. That’s soooo disconcerting. I don’t like being the center of attention, especially when I try new foods. So when I feel like I’m being stared at I get nervous and the classic signs of ARFID go overboard. My throat closes up and I get hot and sweaty. This discomfort often translates to my opinion of the food, setting me up for failure.

Please be patient with your picky eater. The best way to encourage trying new foods is being encouraging. This means having a calm, kind attitude and understanding if they don’t like the food the first, second, fifth, or tenth time around. Just because you like it doesn’t mean they will, and that’s okay.