Finally Free from Fruit Fears?

Photo Credit: woodleywonderworks via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: woodleywonderworks via Compfight cc

By Christie Caggiani, RDN, LDN, CEDRD

So you may recall my disclosure in a previous blog, sharing that my son is anything

but a fruit lover. He politely refuses whenever offered any – whether it’s the

sweetest, most amazing strawberry, or the crunchiest red apple. When he has tried

the occasional bite, his eyes water, he gags, and just can’t move beyond it. He’s

made it into his teens allowing only raisins, applesauce and an occasional juice into

his otherwise varied nutritional palate. While he enjoyed fruit as an infant and

toddler, something switched when he became a more independent preschooler, and

while I accepted that there must be a lesson of humor and irony for me as his

nutritionist-mom, I inwardly believed that he would just shift out of it as he became

older and around other kids who ate fruit freely.

While I’ve held onto that hope, I’ve become a little more concerned that the mood

may never just strike him out of the blue. I doubt he’ll wake one morning saying,

“Cool – today’s the day I’m super excited to try blueberries”, unless I give him a little

more assistance. And that help must somehow go beyond “just try a little bite”. A

wise friend and extremely gift occupational therapist, Wendy Chen-Sams, MS, OTR,

NDT, actually confirmed my suspicions. She said that the likelihood for young adults

to expand their palates greatly diminishes once these teens have left their childhood

home, particularly when there are strong aversions to flavor and/or texture, as is

my son’s case. Fortunately for him (and me!), he’s become more curious and

actually would like to explore and expand. He’s motivated to grow to his height

potential, and assist his overall health. Cool – the critical first step of motivation is

achieved!

Wendy recommended that we not only move slowly, but also focus on only one

sensory area at a time. Since he seems to have some taste and texture aversions, she

suggested we begin first with introducing a new, mild flavor. Of particular interest

to me was the fact that colder fruits would be much less likely to trigger his gag

reflux, and will slightly numb the sensors so it’s less overwhelming — homemade

popsicles are going to be our new friends!

Our first step will be to combine familiar flavors – banana (which he loves in

pancakes & bread) and orange juice – with a new one, pear. Because we aren’t

exploring texture yet, we will be blending them together until smooth, then pouring

into popsicle molds. Once they’re ready to go, he will explore the taste receptors on

his tongue, particularly on the tip and sides. The receptors at the back of the tongue

are more sensitive, so we’ll gradually make it to those.

Once he’s tolerating (hopefully enjoying, too!), we will introduce some ever-so-

slightly larger pieces of pear within the pops, and graduate to even more texture.

As his acceptance of taste and texture improve, we’ll gradually introduce the same

pear flavor at refrigerator temp. The ultimate goal is for him to eat a pear or new

fruit without any processing. As important as it is for kids to repeatedly try new

and different foods as they begin to acquire a taste and tolerance, it’s also crucial

that we don’t try the new food every single day. A few times a week is just fine, says

Wendy.

So this is part of our summer adventure, and you can be sure that I will keep you

posted as it unfolds!

________________________

Of course there are a plethora of different sensory food aversions, and I am aware

that my son’s are quite mild. If you have a child struggling in a manner that is

interfering with his development or quality of life, it is crucial that you seek some

additional assistance, first checking with your pediatrician who may then refer you

to an occupational therapist, speech pathologist and/or registered dietitian who

specialize in this arena.

 

Two suggested reads:

Meals Without Tears: How to get Your Child to Eat Healthily and Happily,

by Dr.Rana Conway

Just Two More Bites! Helping Picky Eaters Say Yes to Food,

by Linda Piette

High-Protein Onion, Apple, Quinoa, and Kale Salad

We attended the Editor’s Showcase in February where we were able to sample different foods and learn the latest that’s going on in the food industry.  The National Onion Association and US Apple Association shared with us some of their recipes featuring both apples and onions.  Here is one we think you’ll enjoy!

Courtesy of National Onion Association
Courtesy of National Onion Association

Makes 6 Servings

Ingredients:

  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon honey Dijon mustard
  • 2 ½ cups vegetable broth
  • 1 ½ sups tri-color quinoa, rinsed
  • 1 teaspoon canola oil
  • 1 white onion, sliced
  • 3 cups chopped kale, ribs removed and discarded
  • 2 cups chopped cooked chicken
  • 1 red-skinned apple, chopped
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper

 

Directions:

Dressing

  1. Whisk the vinegar with the oil, lemon juice, honey and mustard until well combined.
  2. Set aside.

Salad

  1. Bring the broth and quinoa to a boil.
  2. Simmer, covered, for 12 to 15 minutes or until al the broth has been absorbed. Cool completely.
  3. In a medium skillet, heat oil over medium-height heat.
  4. Sauté onion for 3 to 5 minutes or until softened. Cool completely.
  5. In a large bowl, toss onion, kale, chicken, apple, salt, and pepper with prepared dressing.
  6. Stir in the cooled quinoa.

Color Me Red

Color Me Red

by Christie Caggiani, RDN, LDN, CEDRD 

 

As we enter February, we’re seeing Red around every corner.  Valentine’s Day and American Heart Month highlight the color, and give us a burst as the sometimes-drab days of winter continue to swirl around us.   Not only can our moods become a little blah this time of year, our food choices may become more monotonous as well.  By creating a theme, however, we can add a fun, proactive twist to eating, and bring more variety to our plates. What a great way to jazz up your kids lunchboxes, snacks or meals at home by picking a color theme– and what better color this month than RED!

Photo Credit: Kiwifraiz via Compfight cc

Our role as parent or provider is not to make sure our kids love everything they eat, but rather to present them with opportunities to explore food, develop their preferences, expand their comfort level around a variety of choices, and therefore become confident, competent eaters.  A color theme is one way that children can participate in the process, as they identify colors in the grocery store, find them in your fridge, and add them to their plate palate.  It also provides an opportunity for them to learn about the function of many foods.   For example, as you will notice below, many red fruits and veggies help promote heart health, so children can begin to connect the ways that foods work for them and support their bodies and brains.   If you are introducing a new food, make it fun and don’t be discouraged if they don’t enjoy it the first time around (or the first many times!). 

So roll out the red carpet and enjoy acquainting your family with some of these bright beauties: 

Acai: This berry from Central and South America is shown to have excellent antioxidant value, which may assist in heart health, decreased inflammation and decreased risk of some cancers.  Mix frozen acai in your blender with a splash of milk and banana, then top with granola, fresh fruit and shredded coconut for a colorful and satiating breakfast or snack. 

Cherries:  These succulent rubies give us great fiber, immune-helping vitamin C, and heart-happy potassium.  Slice up fresh or frozen cherries for a fun ice cream topping or substitute berries in your favorite recipe with equal parts (pitted) cherries. 

Cranberries:  Not only are they super for our urinary tract system, they may also help keep our digestive system protected from unhealthy bacteria and ulcers.   Pour a glass of cranberry juice, add some canned cranberries into a smoothie or mix some dried cranberries into your kids’ trail mix.

Raspberries:  Rich in vitamins C and K, and many antioxidants such as alpha and beta-carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin, and choline,  these berries can help protect our heart and prevent certain types of cancers.  Fold some fresh berries into your favorite muffin or pancake mix, or keep frozen raspberries on hand to toss into a smoothie or oatmeal

Strawberries:  They are a good source of heart-helping folate, which decreases the risk of certain birth defects, and are a powerhouse of the antioxidant vitamin C, giving a boost to our immune system.   Sprinkle some strawberries on cereal or blend up some frozen strawberries in a milk and yogurt smoothie.  Or dip into some melted chocolate for a super satisfying snack!

 

Photo Credit: jetalone via Compfight c

Watermelon:  Despite popular belief that watermelon is made up of only water and sugar, it is actually considered a nutrient dense food, one that provides a high amount of vitamins, particularly A and C, mineralssuch as magnesium, potassium and zinc, and antioxidants, including high levels of lycopene.  Because it does contain 92% water, it’s also a wonderful way to help keep your kids hydrated.  Insert a popsicle stick into watermelon chunks for a fun snack, or freeze some watermelon balls to add to your kids’ water bottles. 

Beets:  With an earthy flavor that gets supersweet when cooked, beets are very nutrient-loaded, giving us 19 percent of the daily value for folate, necessary for the growth of healthy new cells.  Their rich color comes from the phytochemical betanin, which helps bolster immunity. Roast them, pickle them or shred them raw and dress them with citrus for a refreshing salad. 

Red peppers:  For the love of your eyes and your skin, include these vitamin A-packed foods.  Add a little crunch to your child’s favorite deli sandwich or have them taste test with peanut butter or hummus. 

Tomatoes:  These red beauties are heart protective and provide a great defense against prostate and potentially breast cancers.  Include a little more marinara sauce on your pasta or add some grape tomatoes into the lunchbox.  

Chicken and Strawberry Salad

Do you love strawberries as much as we do? They are offer a great source of fiber and antioxidants, and they taste good to boot! Looking for a great way to add some more strawberries to your meals? Try them in your next salad – like this great recipe from Cooking Light:

Ingredients

Dressing:

  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Salad:

  • 4 cups torn romaine lettuce
  • 4 cups arugula
  • 2 cups quartered strawberries
  • 1/3 cup vertically sliced red onion
  • 12 ounces skinless, boneless rotisserie chicken breast, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted cashews, halved
  • 1/2 cup (2 ounces) crumbled blue cheese

 

Preparation

  1. To prepare dressing, combine first 5 ingredients in a small bowl. Gradually drizzle in oil, stirring constantly with a whisk.
  2. To prepare salad, combine romaine and next 4 ingredients (through chicken) in a bowl; toss gently. Place about 2 cups chicken mixture on each of 4 plates. Top each serving with 1 1/2 teaspoons cashews and 2 tablespoons cheese. Drizzle about 4 teaspoons dressing over each serving.

 

 

The recipe and photograph in this post are from Cooking Light’s 20 Favorite Strawberry Recipes feature.
To find more delicious strawberry recipes head on over to cooking light to view them here.