Upset child

Ease Your Picky Eater’s Anxiety

Picky eating anxiety is real. In my opinion, it’s the main reason why your picky eater refused to try new food. Unless you first ease your picky eater’s anxiety, you won’t get very far in helping them overcome the fear of trying new food. Growing up as an extremely picky eater, my anxiety reared its ugly head during almost every mealtime. This typically happened when I was eating with new people or in a new place. However, it usually ended after the mealtime ended. I was able to leave my anxiety at the table and move on with my day. But one day in Philadelphia, my anxiety stuck around for hours after I tried chicken pot pie.

My Anxiety is Overwhelming

I have said before that I do not enjoy talking about my picky eating. It brings back all of the negative emotions, memories, and fears I feel when I try new food. My anxiety overwhelms not only my mind but my body too. My heart rate quickens, my stomach and throat clench, I start sweating, and I feel like I will throw up. These are classic signs of Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder, which I know now. But when I was younger, I did not realize that it was unusual to feel like that about food. I thought it was what everyone felt when they tried new food, so I never told anyone how I felt. I never dealt with my anxiety, so I gave it free rein to hold me back. But there was one night on a mission trip that I knew something had to change.

The Mealtime

I was tired, hungry, and had no lunch plan. We were given hot food on the go to get to the church we were going to serve. I had no idea what the food was going to be, and only brought a protein bar and water for a snack later on. The cooks handed out the lunches – chicken potpies. At that moment in my journey as a picky eater, I disliked grilled chicken or cooked veggies. Heck, I still don’t like peas even if they’re fresh! And I certainly don’t like surprises. So when I received my potpie and a spork, I had a minor panic attack. My sister and my boyfriend said I should eat it cause they thought it was good. One of them used the classic line, “how do you know you don’t like it unless you eat it?” So I ate it. Then immediately wanted to spit it out. The chicken was so cooked down that it fell apart in my mouth. The peas were squishy and I didn’t like their taste. And I had no idea what else was in that pie. I couldn’t take another bite, so I think my boyfriend ate the rest of it.

Group photo in Philly

To make matters worse, I was in a van full of my friends who knew about my picky eating but didn’t understand it. Also, the trip organizer was right there, watching me. I do not remember her name, but I do remember her face when I refused to eat another bite. It felt like I was a spoiled toddler throwing a temper tantrum for not getting a piece of candy at the store. But worse. I was a 17-year-old being looked at like I was throwing a temper tantrum.

It was humiliating.

My Anxiety Took Me Down – Literally

That night we were having a worship service and I couldn’t stop thinking about lunch. I couldn’t get the leader’s look out of my head. I couldn’t release the tight hold of embarrassment off my chest and shoulders. It led me to break down in tears during a song and running to the bathroom. I fell to my knees in the bathroom stall and begged God to take my picky eating away from me. I couldn’t breathe. Looking back, I think I was having an anxiety attack but didn’t know it. I was so lucky that no one else came into the bathroom during that time because I would have been even more embarrassed and ashamed of myself. 

After about fifteen minutes, I was able to get myself under control to go back to the service. The lights were still low and the music was playing, but my boyfriend was waiting for me at a table. He was standing next to me when I broke down into tears, so he knew I was struggling with something, but he didn’t know what. He asked me about it and asked if he could pray for me, but I wouldn’t tell him what was wrong. 

Why I Refused to Open Up

I was so embarrassed that I didn’t want to tell him about how overwhelmed I was. I was too afraid of his reaction, so sure that he would be embarrassed that I was so emotional. Looking back at it, I’m sure he would have tried to help ease my picky eating anxiety, but in the moment I just felt hopeless. I don’t think anyone else knew something was wrong, and that’s exactly what I wanted. I thought if people knew what happened I would be judged, called a baby, and told that if I just got over my picky eating this wouldn’t happen. It is completely unfair to everyone there, but didn’t believe that anyone would take me seriously and help. I thought I’d get the same reactions I’ve had in the past. I was especially unfair in this assumption towards my boyfriend because looking back, I know he would have listened and talked through it with me. But that’s what anxiety does to me. In the moment, it makes me afraid of everything and everyone around me. 

Unless you want your child crying on the bathroom floor, you need to ease your picky eater’s anxiety before you have any chance at getting them to try something new.

Recognizing My Anxiety

I finally opened up about my picky eating anxiety when I met Cassie at college. Also, I that I’m not the only picky eater in the world, this was groundbreaking for me. Finally I found someone that has never pressured me and understands my fear of trying new food! This gave me the confidence I needed to take ownership of my picky eating and not let others control the narrative. I felt more comfortable expressing how I feel when I try new food. Once I did, I quickly realized that is not how most people feel. 

It didn’t take long for someone to point out that what I was feeling was anxiety. From then on, I started facing the anxiety head-on and encourage you to do the same.

Cassie, my picky eating buddy

How to Ease Your Picky Eater’s Anxiety

Asking them Questions

Ask them how they feel when they are trying new food. Depending on their age, these questions will be a bit different. For younger children who do not know how to express their feelings, you can ask questions like “Do you feel anything in your belly or chest when you think about new food?” or “What does your neck feel like when you try new food?” For older kids it can be more direct, “Does your heartbeat speed up?” or “Do you start to sweat?” For less leading questions, simply asking “How does your body feel when you are going to eat new food?” These questions will make them stop and think about what they’re experiencing. It could be the first time they notice anything is different. When you want to know and understand how they feel, they will feel heard and cared for. Gaining their trust is vital to ease your picky eater’s anxiety.

Breathing Exercises to Ease Anxiety

I am a huge fan of breathing exercises and meditation. Though I don’t do them as much as I’d like, they have helped my mind to calm down and reset. I loved doing breathing exercises in choir because I felt so good afterwards! One easy exercise is to breathe in for 4 seconds, hold for 4 seconds, then breathe out for 4 seconds. Do that for about a minute and their heartrates should slow to a normal rate. I’d recommend doing this after an emotional moment at the dinner table to help your picky eater reset and return to their meal.

Breathing exercises can ease your picky eater's anxiety

Prepare them for Dinner

The fear of the unknown is so real for me, and I know your picky eater feels the same way. If I don’t know what I’m eating, I don’t eat it. My bonus daughters have tried the “close your eyes and open your mouth game” on me and learned very quickly that I do not do that. Sure, they were upset and it isn’t the greatest thing to turn your kiddos down so quickly. But honestly, every time I decided to participate, it was something I didn’t like. As kids, they don’t fully understand that just because they like something, that doesn’t mean everyone likes it. Unfortunately, not all adults grasp this either. Don’t be that person! Tell your kiddo what they’re eating and ease their anxiety.

Don’t Embarrass Them

Yes, picky eating can be frustrating. But don’t talk about it negatively or make fun of the issue. If you do this, you will immediately lose your child’s trust and then their anxiety will return. I still have people make fun of me for my picky eating. Like when we got to a new restaurant, some people always drop the joke, “Let’s hope they have chicken tenders!” I hate that joke. No, I haven’t told those people to stop. I get nervous that they’ll either feel really bad or just make another joke about it. The devil you know is better than the devil you don’t know, right? I’ll deal with that joke to avoid having a new and potentially more painful joke take its place.

Remind Them That Not Liking A New Food is Not the End of the World

If they try something and don’t like it, move on. Don’t dwell on it, instead continue eating and finish the meal. Later, once they have had time to get over the new food, ask them about it. Simple questions, like “What didn’t you like about the food?” or “Why do you like [safe food] more than [food they tried]?” This will help you narrow down a list of options for different food for them to try. Or, it could help you know how to prepare the new food the way they like. This will help ease your picky eater’s anxiety because you are listening to their thoughts and opinions, not telling them what they should be feeling!

Use my free food tracker to help keep track of what they do or do not like and why!

Laura Kessler, The Unpicky Eater

Laura Kessler is a recovering extreme picky eater, certified childhood nutritionist, and bonus mom of three wonderful daughters. She is passionate about helping parents of picky eaters help their kiddos move past the fear of trying new food, while she works through it at the same time! Feel free to reach out to Laura at Laura@theunpickyeater.com with any questions you have about this guide!


My Dad – The Second Member Of My Support System

My Support System: My Dad

Have you heard the phrase, “good cop, bad cop”? Well, in my family, that was pretty true when it came to my picky eating. As I noted in my post about my mom, she was very calm, patient, and rarely pressured me. But when it came to my dad, this wasn’t always the case. Instead, it took him a little longer to become part of my support system.

He is Part of My Support System Now

Before I go any further, I want to clarify that my dad is an AMAZING father. It’s just that his patience ran thin when it came to my picky eating. And honestly, I get it! As a bonus mom of three kids, anytime they refuse to eat the food I prepared without giving it a chance gets my blood boiling. Especially when I think it’s something they’d like. It almost feels like they are rejecting it because it wasn’t their idea for dinner. So I understand why he would get hot under the collar when I wouldn’t try new food, and I’m sure you do too. now I can confidently say he has become a solid member of my support system.

Anyone who knows him knows how hard he works, how much he cares about his family and friends, and wouldn’t peg him as a hothead. But once dinnertime rolled around and I refused to eat the food on my plate, his gloves would come off. I was nervous to write this post. I was afraid that readers would think I am holding a grudge against my dad for how rocky our start was with my picky eating. But that’s not the case at all! I want to show how a parent can turn their approach to picky eating around to become a member of their picky eater’s support system.

Setting the Scene

When I was a kid, a typical dinnertime setup looked like this:

My parents sat/stood inside the kitchen peninsula because there was no room for them, and so they could grab more drinks, plates, silverware, or other things we forgot. This setup also gave my dad a front-row seat to my eating habits. He saw how I ate the same thing almost every night and how little it was. Every once in a while, he would put a piece of new food on my plate and tell me he wanted me to try it. I would DREAD these moments. Instead of feeling like he was part of my support system, it felt like he was finding new ways to make me try new food.

Why This Didn’t Work For Me

First of all, I didn’t know when it would happen. When it did, it put me on edge, which is never a good state for a picky eater to be in at the dinner table. Secondly, I felt like the spotlight was on me because I had two parents and four sisters very aware that I had to try a new food that night. They all wanted to see what would happen. This pressure compounded the fear and anxiety I was already feeling. I would completely shut down and, more often than not, start crying. From my perspective, this frustrated my dad more. At the moment, I thought he was trying to win by getting me to do something I did not want to do. This perspective decreased my trust in him, and so it never felt like he was looking out for my best interest in those moments.

Never Ending Battles

Dinnertime felt like a battle I was sure to lose no matter what I did. I could 1) refuse to try the food and probably be sent to my room for the night. Or 2) eat the food, hate it, then have no one believe me. There were times my sisters accused me of saying I didn’t like the food just because I was being stubborn and didn’t want to admit I liked something. This lack of trust goes two ways. When you don’t trust your picky eater is telling the truth and say so, they won’t trust that you care about their growth. That was true for me.

Being set up in this way made me lose trust in my dad. Over time, it felt like he cared more about getting me to eat new food instead of helping me grow. So it didn’t matter what he gave me to try. I was sure that I wouldn’t like it because he didn’t know what food I liked. In my mind, he was trying to win another battle. So I shut down. I refused to eat. And I stopped listening to him. I never imagined he could be part of my support system.

Sound Familiar?

I’m sure many parents can relate to how my dad first approached my picky eating. You are so tired of seeing good food go to waste because your picky eater refuses to try it. You are sure they like the food, but they are stubborn by refusing to eat. So, you do what seems logical. You give them a bite of food you think they’ll like, then tell them to eat it. Then you watch them to be sure they eat it and don’t feed it to the dog.

The kid explodes.

Crying, screaming, running away from the table, you name it. The kid gets out as soon as the food touches their plate. It’s like they are determined to never try something new, and it is exhausting.

His Motives

I understand now that my dad was on my side, but he took a different approach than I needed. His motives behind trying to get me to try new foods were to help me grow. He feared I would have fewer opportunities in life by being restricted by my picky eating. He feared that: 

  • I would not be healthy, 
  • colleagues and friends would judge me, and 
  • I wouldn’t travel because there wouldn’t be anything for me to eat in a different country. 

I’m sure there’s more that he thought about, but those are the ones that resonate most with me. These motives are the same as mine as I work through my journey as a picky eater. I realize now he was always on my side, but he just needed to adjust his approach. 

My dad walking me down the aisle

The Good News – He is Now a Major Part of My Support System

The good news is, my dad turned it around by the time I hit middle school. He stopped making me sit at the table until I tried a new food. He stopped watching me eat every night. And, finally, he stopped pressuring me to eat more than my safe foods. Instead, his view of my picky eating changed. He started talking to others about picky eating and learning about others who deal with it daily. These eaters included professionals who disguise the food they don’t eat at dinner parties to avoid judgment. The day he had that conversation, he came home and told me about it as soon as possible. He was visibly excited that others “make it” in professional settings as picky eaters. 

My Process

It was around this time that my mom discovered the bridge process, which I’ve adopted. He supported it from the get-go. When we went to restaurants, he started looking for dishes similar to food I already liked. He didn’t push anything on me but kept an eye out for anything that may work. 

He also started to trust me. That was key for both of us to lose the stress of picky eating. I no longer felt like he didn’t believe me when I said I didn’t like something. I didn’t feel like he was arming himself with the reasons I should like something when I didn’t. Instead, he took me by my word and stopped asking questions. When I presented the idea that I may have ARFID, he didn’t scoff or question me. Instead we had a real conversation about it and discussed treatment.

Where We Are Now – What You Can Learn from My Dad

I totally trust my dad now. He is one of my biggest supporters for my blog and my work to become the Unpicky Eater. The following are what you can learn from him to be your picky eater’s biggest supporter:

  • Be patient
  • Take them seriously
  • Don’t assume you know what your picky eater is thinking or feeling
  • Don’t surprise your picky eater with new food
  • Don’t put the focus on them
  • Talk with other parents or picky eaters on what helps them
  • Look out for your picky eater at new restaurants
  • Talk with your picky eater to fully understand what they like, don’t like, and why

Parents Are the Most Important Support System a Picky Eater Has

My Support Team: My Mom

Parents play a large role in a picky eater’s journey. Even though they do not cause picky eating, parents are the most important support system a picky eater has when it is time to try new food. Parents know their child the best, so they can work with the picky eater like no one else can. My mom has played this role throughout my life. Even though I am 28 years old, she is still one of the biggest supporters in my journey overcome the fear of trying new food and become the Unpicky Eater. I honestly do not think I would be as comfortable exploring new food without her. If it were not for my mom, I would be stuck eating chicken nuggets and macaroni and cheese for the rest of my life.

My Mom – The Executive Chef of le Casa Kaihoi

My mom is a mean cook. I honestly cannot remember a time my mom cooked a meal, and someone had something negative to say about it (other than me, of course, but that’s the picky eater talking). She has dozens of family recipes and cookbooks that she throws together like it’s nothing. But, she is the mother of a picky eater, which means she had a limited menu. I do not want to know how many times she made me Kraft macaroni and cheese (shapes only, because everyone can agree they are the best!) and sliced pears with the skin removed. I think that was my lunch every day in the summers because I refused anything else.

Even though she didn’t show it, I’m sure she was frustrated that I would not eat anything else. I am positive she was concerned about my health because I wouldn’t eat vegetables or most fruit. However, she would not lose her cool at the dinner table. She did not make me feel pressured to try something new every day, either because she was too tired to fight it or she did not want to cause me stress.

My Trust in My Mom Meant Stress-Free Mealtimes…for the Most Part

When a picky eater is pressured to try a new food, they go into defense mode. They start fighting, arguing, avoiding, and distrusting the person pressuring them. I cannot stress how important it is for a parent to keep their picky eater’s trust. If you don’t have their trust, you will gain no ground in the picky eating battle. By being the most important support system for your picky eater, you NEED to gain this trust.

Different Kinds of Pressure

Pressure isn’t just saying, “you can’t leave the table until you try your broccoli,” or “you will eat everything on your plate.” It can also be begging, “just PLEASE try it!” And bribing, “if you eat that bite of chicken, you can have ice cream for dessert.” Begging is just pressuring them with emotion, and that feels like pressure. Bribing with treats tells your picky eater that they are right in not wanting to try the new food. It emphasizes that the new food is bad because they should be rewarded for trying it. Does that make sense? It’s the same as if you comfort them after getting hurt. You’re trying to remove the pain of getting hurt by making them feel better. Well, with bribing, you are emphasizing the fear they feel when eating new food by giving them a treat later.

For whatever reason, my mom’s no-pressure approach grew trust on my side. I trusted that she wasn’t out to “get me” with new food or trick me into eating something I didn’t like. As a child, that is huge. As you may have noticed, kids are a bit dramatic. Many picky eaters think “if I don’t like this food, I will literally die,” and I was no exception. That anxiety and fear can transfer to the person pressuring if they aren’t careful. Thankfully, I can only think of a time or two that I felt that level of pressure from my mom. I trusted her above anyone else when it came to my eating. I know that is a major reason why chicken McNuggets aren’t the only meat I eat today.

My mom is one of my biggest supporters

My Mom Knows the Importance of Safety Foods

When my mom prepared dinner, there was always a safe food for me to eat. Whether it was bread, rice, bread, carrots, bread, apples, or bread, I knew I would have something to eat. Also, the reassurance of having safe food made trying new food a little less scary for me. Sure, I probably fought it every time a new food was put on my plate. But the “risk” of trying new food felt much less daunting if I had a slice of bread to eat. The bread was my safety net, which I could rely on if the new food failed me. 

I knew my mom was looking out for me when she gave me this safety food. This increased my trust, leading to less stress and fear on my end as the picky eater. Over time, I learned that when she asked me to try something new, it was because she truly believed it was good for me. She wasn’t trying to win our arguments by tricking me into trying something I would hate. But rather, she was encouraging me to do something that would help me grow as a picky eater as well as a person. 

She Used the Division of Responsibility…Even if She Didn’t Realize it

The Parent’s Responsibility

According to Ellen Satter, the Division of Responsibility is where the parent decides what to prepare and serve their picky eater. The parent decides what, when, and where to offer meals and snacks. That’s where the parent’s responsibility ends.

The Child’s Responsibility

The child then decides if or when they will try the new food. The parent does not force the child to try something new and how much (think, “you will not leave this table until your plate is clean.”). Instead, the child decides when and how much of the new food they will eat. Every parent knows that the best way to support their child is to raise them to be independent, strong adults. Well, that is true for their eating habits, too! As the most important support system a picky eater has, parents need to learn how to give their child the responsibility to choose to try new food.

Support for the Division of Responsibility

This should be a liberating idea for parents of picky eaters! It completely removes the pressure and responsibility off of the parent and puts it squarely on the kid’s shoulders. Now you may think, “this will never work. If it’s up to my picky toddler they will NEVER try a new food again.” But get this, this practice is recommended by:

By the time I was in middle school my mom was living this practice daily. While I started this post I asked her if she knew about this practice. She said, “Nope! What’s that?” Ha!

What You Can Learn from My Mama

  • Accept the fact that parents are the most important support system a picky eater has and live it daily!
  • Don’t pressure your picky eater to try new food
  • Keep the safe food on the table
  • Use the Division of Responsibility

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.

My Support Team: Drew

Every parent of a picky eater wonders, “how can I support my picky eater?” It feels so intimidating to try to help your picky eater when you aren’t sure where to start! Being a key member of your picky eater’s support team is critical to earning their trust. Once you do, you will be able to help your picky eater work through their fears of trying new food. One member of my support team has gone above and beyond over the last couple of years to support me and my efforts to become the Unpicky Eater.

One thing you’ll learn about me is that I am by no means the best chef in the world. Or in my own home 😅 That’s one motivation to become a better cook! Sure I love to bake, but cooking is a whole other story. I lean heavily on my wonderful husband, Drew, to help me out in the kitchen! Well, I should be honest. He cooks while I “help”… AKA give input.

In fact, his cooking skills are something that attracted me to him pretty quickly. Early on in our relationship he had me over for dinner (which, to my recollection, is the first time a guy cooked an entire meal for me, so I was impressed from the start!). He made me my favorite meal, Chicken Parmesan. He admitted after we ate that he was a little nervous about it because 1) what if he ruined my favorite meal for me and 2) he knew about my eating issues before we even started dating, so he felt a bit on the spot for this one. Spoiler alert: the chicken was AWESOME and we’ve had it several times since.

The Executive Chef of Our Home

Being a single dad for three girls, he has been cooking for other people for more than a decade now. In fact, he enjoys cooking when he has the time to do it. Playing around with new recipes and ideas is fun for him, especially if it involves any kind of meat. I am positive one thing that makes him a good, adventurous cook is that he loves food and isn’t afraid to try new things. Basically the opposite of me.

He enjoys making recipes up as he goes along, something that honestly brought up so much anxiety in me the first time we cooked together! “You’re not following the recipe exactly?? But how will you know it tastes right?” Let’s just say for my own sanity I had to sit out a bit during that first cooking adventure together. I’ve learned over the last year and a half to let him do his own thing and trust he knows what he’s doing. Otherwise I’m not sure I would have been brave enough to try out his rebellious and scary cooking habits. I’m not extra, I promise.

Most importantly, when Drew cooks for us he never puts my fears aside or shrugs off my concerns about if I’ll like something or not. One of the best things about his adventurous cooking skills is that he knows how to change recipes to be sure I like them. Whether it’s a little thing like swapping an ingredient or two or completely changing the way something is cooked, he never complains about having to switch things up for me. He gladly alters a meal or completely switches gears for me without giving me too hard a time about it. And even if he gives me a hard time it’s purely joking around, not actually being frustrated or impatient about my picky eating. He is one of my biggest supporters with not only being sure I’m comfortable with what I’m eating but with this blog and my effort to grow.

Ok, I’m starting to get all gushy inside just writing this down, but this guy is truly my biggest cheerleader for me and I couldn’t be more grateful for him. I’ve had some rough patches with my picky eating in past relationships (whether it’s romantic, family, or friends) and it’s hard to get over how lucky I am that he doesn’t let it be an issue for us.

How does this Answer “How Can I Support My Picky Eater”?

Next time you find yourself wondering, “how can I support my picky eater?” I hope you remember this post. Drew has been a major support and to not just me, but his daughters as well. I hope this post helps you understand how to best support your picky eater. Or, if you’re the picky eater, I hope it helps you seek these kinds of people in your life. Someone who doesn’t pressure you or make you feel guilty for needing to change a recipe. Someone who supports you no matter what, because they really care for you and your growth. Don’t accept negative pressure or judgment from people who are closest to you. If you’re a parent of the picky eater, don’t let others make your kid feel bad for their picky eating. Tough love is not always the answer. In fact it could cause more harm than good if it isn’t checked. Be patient and understanding, it can go a long way!


Better Cook, Better Eater

Better Cook, Better Eater

Cooking stuffed sweet peppers

You know how I told you about cooks that can’t be trusted? Well, I’m one of them. I somehow find a way to mess up the simplest of recipes (such as boxed mashed potatoes) and stress out. It leads to me swearing off cooking forever, and I never get better. But that’s the thing – I want to be better! I wish I could cook up meals that people want to eat because they like it, not because I made the nice gesture of cooking for them. I also want to be a good cook because I think it will allow me to try new foods.  

When I found out about Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID), it made me realize that the food I was trying wasn’t the issue – my fear of the food was. That fact slightly boosted my courage in trying new foods; however, I am not going all Andrew Zimmern and trying anything and everything. One of my tips for encouraging children and other picky eaters to try new foods is to get them in the kitchen while you’re cooking. Teach them about the foods they’re trying and, hopefully, this understanding will help build their courage to try the food. But by saying this, I feel like I’m being slightly hypocritical because: 

  1. I am not a good cook, so I don’t like cooking. 
  2. I don’t know a lot about food. 
  3. I am not brave when it comes to trying new foods, and I don’t like trying to cook new foods.

So, I am setting out to change that. I have been collecting new recipes and researching different cooking apps (Buzzfeed’s Tasty, Food Network’s Kitchen app, and, of course, Pinterest recipes). I have also started watching every Food Network show available on Hulu and reading books about food. I need as much inspiration and advice I can get! 

Drew has been very supportive and excited for me to do this. I’m not sure if he’s more excited for me to keep growing as a cook and eater or at the prospect of cooking less. But one thing’s for sure – he needs to be careful about what he eats because when I cook, you can’t be too confident of what you’re going to get!  

Back to the Basics 

To become a better cook, my first task will involve practicing the basics of cooking. From learning how to cut as consistently as possible, to studying how different types of salt affects your cooking, I am trying to learn it all. I recently purchased the book Salt Fat Acid Heat by Samin Nosrat where she took an approach similar to mine: She went to restaurants and culinary school, consulted with professional chefs, and traveled across the globe to learn all she could about food and cooking. Because I do not have the time or connections to do what she did, I will read her book and hope I can live vicariously through her studies. Since she is now a James Beard Award-winning chef, I think I can trust her to guide me through the finer points of cooking.

Try, Fail, Try Again 

One reason I believe I don’t cook as well as I could is the fact that I rush. I rush through reading the recipe, somehow thinking I can memorize every step after one quick skim. This has led to embarrassing mistakes, like when I somehow messed up boxed mashed potatoes during a college thanksgiving meal. I can’t remember exactly what I did, but I think I added the potatoes to the boiling water too soon, so they didn’t solidify correctly. It was rough. I think two people tried the mushy results, but then were left untouched for the rest of the meal. To make matters worse, my roommate Morgan made perfect boxed mashed potatoes. So there were two bowls sitting side by side on the counter. One filled with nice, fluffy mashed potatoes and the other looking like tan flour soaked with water. 

I also tend to bite off more than I can chew, figuratively of course. I try my hand at cooking a meal before performing some of its easier steps and it all falls apart. I recently tried to make a bacon-wrapped, feta cheese and spinach-stuffed chicken for Drew and me. Here’s how that disaster went. 

First, I wanted to try a healthier recipe from Run Fast. Eat Slow. by Shalane Flanagan. I’ve made several recipes from this book and they’ve turned out well! However, I should have adjusted certain steps in this recipe, but I was too afraid. The main one was not cooking down the feta with the spinach. The cheese was going to be in the chicken while that cooked, so that would have been enough heat for that type of cheese. 

The second mistake I made was not double checking if we had toothpicks to hold the chicken together while it cooked (spoiler alert, we had zero). According to the recipe, I had to butterfly-cut the chicken so it was barely connected on one side. Then the toothpicks would hold it all together while it cooked. Because I didn’t have toothpicks, I wrapped it all in tin foil. This led to a slower cooking time which meant the cheese was overcooked and the chicken essentially cooked in its juices as well as the bacon grease. The latter I can live with (it’s one of my favorite cooking tools), but the chicken juice was just too much for me to handle. Also, the bacon didn’t crisp at all, and I am not a fan of soggy bacon. 

Once it was finally done, I didn’t even touch it. The chicken juice and lack of cheese scared me from wanting to try it at all. Because it took so long to cook, Drew was hungry enough that he devoured it, but we threw the rest out. He claims the chicken was cooked perfectly (thankfully), but that was all that went well with the meal. 

Small Successes 

As I mentioned earlier, I have been digging into websites, apps, cookbooks, you name it to find recipes I think I can make now. The first test for me was Super Bowl Sunday. I wanted to create a spread of classic game food, with some fun new foods thrown in.  

Chicken Wings 

Ah, chicken wings, the classic football food that appeases almost everyone. Almost. I struggle with bone-in chicken wings. I’ve tried them many times in my life, but I rarely find myself liking, if not craving, them. I thought that I might appreciate them more if I made them myself so I focused on the recipe and put in some work. I found Chef Chris Santos’ Smoky Rubbed Chicken Wings with Honey, Bourbon, and Molasses Sauce on the Food Network Kitchen App that sounded awesome. Just enough heat, sweetness, and stickiness to be the kind of wings I’d like.  

Photo by Omar Mahmood on Pexels.com

Ah, chicken wings, the classic football food that appeases almost everyone. Almost. I struggle with bone-in chicken wings. I’ve tried them many times in my life, but I rarely find myself liking, if not craving, them. I thought that I might appreciate them more if I made them myself so I focused on the recipe and put in some work. I found Chef Chris Santos’ Smoky Rubbed Chicken Wings with Honey, Bourbon, and Molasses Sauce on the Food Network Kitchen App that sounded awesome. Just enough heat, sweetness, and stickiness to be the kind of wings I’d like.  

These wings required a marinade, 14 spices (yep, 14!) just for the rub, a homemade BBQ sauce (my first BBQ sauce I’ve ever made), and baking as well as broiling. It took me quite a while to make these wings, and by the time I finished them, I couldn’t wait to dig into them. I took one bite and immediately regretted it. The main thing I don’t like about bone-in wings is the meat’s texture. It’s almost slippery and reminds me of what I’m eating. On top of that texture was the fact that I was holding a bone. I can’t handle that either – again, it reminds me of what I’m eating (poor chicken).  

Even though I didn’t like these wings, everyone else LOVED them. There were no leftovers and my stepdaughters kept going back to them (big win for me!). I wish I liked them, but I couldn’t get my mind away from the texture and bones. 

Bacon is My Jam 

I love bacon. It makes almost every meal better and I look for every opportunity to add it to my diet. I recently tried bacon jam crostini at Lolo in Stillwater and could have eaten them all night. I immediately searched Pinterest for a bacon jam recipe and stumbled across The Seaside Baker’s Bacon Jam Crostinis. I knew these would be a great side to go with the chicken wings.  

To make this recipe, I needed a food processor and couldn’t wait to get my hands on one! We decided to go big on this purchase, seeing it as something that we’ll use for years to come. Drew bought the beautiful Cuisinart Elemental 8-Cup Food Processor that day with Target gift cards we received from my bridal shower just a month before. However, this excitement proved to be my downfall. I was so excited to use it and document that in my Instagram story that I over-processed the jam and it was almost a sauce instead. Thankfully the flavor was there and people liked it, but it wasn’t what I had in mind when I planned out this meal. 

The Recipe That Made Me Like Eggs (kind of) 

“Why don’t we always have this?”

– Bella, my 13-year-old Bonus Daughter

As I note in my recent post, Overcoming the Fear of Trying New Foods, I’m trying like eggs, but I don’t like them on their own. Their texture, smell, and look is not appealing to me. But throw in some bacon, cheese, and spices? That I can do! As I mentioned in one of My Favorite Things posts, one of my go-to cookbooks is Joanna Gaines’ The Magnolia Table. Her bacon and cheese quiche is one reason why I love this book. With creamy gruyere cheese, a pound and a half of bacon, and crispy pie crust, what’s not to love?

When I lived on my own, I would make this quiche on the weekend and freeze the leftovers to have for breakfast throughout the week. I recently made it for Drew and the girls and Bella asked, “Why don’t we always have this?” Another win for me! Anytime I can get the girls to eat my food, I celebrate a bit on the inside.

More importantly for me, this dish made me branch out a bit with trying eggs. Since first making this quiche, I have tried more egg dishes (like scrambled eggs with bacon and cheese – essentially the same thing but no one needs to know that 😉 ) and I’ve looked at more recipes to try in the future. I now eat my mom’s egg dish every Christmas (a staple in our home) and it was served at my bridal shower. By adding two of my favorite things (bacon and cheese) to a food I’m tentative about – even afraid of at times – I was able to push my nerves aside to recognize that at least I’ll like something in the dish. This is enough to give it a try and eat a little bite.  

Also, by giving myself some liberties with this recipe, I was able to adjust it to be something I’d like more. I put less chives in, increase the bacon by a slice or two, and add more of the gruyere cheese than it calls for because it’s just that good. 

Join Me in My Cooking Journey! 

It’s now a priority for me to learn how to cook and cook well. I have a list of recipes I want to try and am constantly looking for tips and tricks to make it an easy and fun process. I will also be putting my theory to the test to see if by cooking more, I’m able to try (and hopefully like!) more foods. I hope you bring your picky eater into the kitchen as well to educate them on the food they’re eating. I believe understanding the food put in front of me and knowing what to expect once I bite into it has helped me on my journey.

Follow me on Instagram and Facebook to get live updates of my cooking and tasting journey! Also, sign up for my emails to receive my favorite quiche recipe for free! It might just change your picky eater’s mind about eggs too. 


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

I know that the core struggle for picky eaters is really overcoming the fear of trying new foods. But that can be so hard to do for kids of all ages. 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!).

Overcoming the Fear and Pushing Ahead

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.

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 as part of my support team he worked hard to lift me out of my slump, but I couldn’t get out of it.

Trying green beans
Gathering the courage to try green beans

How the Fear of Trying New Foods Led Me to Want to Help Others

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

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. Also, by finding a new food to work on I am slowly but surely working on overcoming the fear of trying new foods. 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!
Get Your Picky Eater to Try New Food in Six Simple Steps
Get Your Picky Eater to Try New Food in Six Simple Steps

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: