WARNING: If you don’t care to read about Picky Eaters click “Jump to Recipe” above.
We have been on a mission to try to get our second born child to eat more veggies. About a year ago, we got as far as keeping them on her plate without her getting offended. Prior to that it was a complete protest to the whole plate because how dare I put something she doesn’t like on it. Our first born, on the other hand, eats everything.
As a new and naive mom, I took all the credit for that and thought it must have been my magic ways. Ha! After having two children with very different tastes and doing the same things with food for both, you live, and you learn, and you realize “born that way” is really a thing. They are these little souls that come into this world with their own interests, and some are very interested in food while others are just picky eaters.
There is a very good podcast called Mom Brain and the episode “We Tackle Picky Eaters With Pediatric Nutritionist Jill Castle” is where I learned about this topic. On this episode, Jill explains the tactic of “the tasting plate” (cliff notes are below), and talks about presenting meals to children as family style vs. plating them (she favors family style). I really took it to heart when she said that fruits have many of the same properties as veggies, so if your child is eating fruit, it’s okay if they are not eating veggies right away. (Phew!)
After a very solid effort, our little cheese lover is on her way up this long climb to eating all the vegetables. Jill, and many other nutritionists, will tell you to keep trying and don’t give up. It could take 20-40 times of tasting the same food before one decides that they like it. So even if my daughter puts the veggie in her mouth and spits it out, it’s a success because we are counting down to her finally agreeing with that healthy food.
The Tasting Plate (Cliff Notes)
- Call it what you want, and use a bowl, a small plate, or whatever you want, but no pressure is allowed here. You really need to zen out around the tasting plate or else the magic of this little dish that holds the foods your picky eater never eats will go away.
- Introduce the tasting plate. Warning: Drama or protest will probably ensue. Calmly say something like, “You don’t have to eat what’s on it, but it’s there on your special tasting plate in case you want to give it a taste”. You may hear something like, “But I don’t have to eat it, right?” or “I don’t want this.” Just stay the course.
- Repeat Step 2 many times with many different foods until the child is comfortable moving the “tasting plate” to a corner of their actual plate.
- Continue casually introducing foods with no strings attached. Continue to zen out.
In the beginning, the new foods, namely veggies being our problem, would get a cold, hard look. After a while a touch and then…
ME: I think she is going to taste it!
HER: Smells it and puts it back down.
We are a year into this, and I have to say that it is working! I can’t even count the many bites of cucumbers that she spit out, and now they are going down the hatch. It’s a long road, but worth it because I think nutrition is right up there with all the important things in terms of wellbeing.
For now, the only way I can get broccoli in her is through this dish which she calls “cheesy broccoli mushy wooshies”.
We all know it as the age old dish, Chicken Divan.
This recipe calls for the minimum amounts of chicken and broccoli to feed a family of four, but if you have extra and you want to increase the meat and veggies, there is more than enough sauce to make that happen here.
Wondering about the secret ingredient, dry Lipton Soup mix?
I have always made this recipe with a can of condensed cream of broccoli soup, but it was quarantene cooking and I was all out, so I made the substitute, and I will never go back. Trust me on this one! With this (no longer a secret) ingredient it brings all the flavor and becomes next level Chicken Divan. I’m telling you, just try it! So, so good.
- Dry Lipton soup package
- Frozen broccoli
- Medium sized pot
- Oven and microwave safe baking dish
- 1 bag frozen broccoli florets, or 1 head of fresh florets
- 4 oz cream cheese
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- 1.5 cups milk
- 1 package of dry lipton soup
- 1-1.5 lb chicken breast, shredded
- 1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
- 4 tablespoons of panko breadcrumbs
- 1 tablespoon of butter
- Cooked rice (or cauliflower rice) for serving, optional
- Step 1 Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add the chicken breast to the boiling water until cooked through, about 15 minutes.
- Step 2 Prep the sauce in the baking dish itself (cuts down on dirty dishes). Add the cream cheese, mayo, dry lipton soup mix, milk, and a couple cracks of pepper to the bowl and microwave for 1 minute. Whisk until smooth.
- Step 3 Prep the breadcrumb topping by mixing together butter and breadcrumbs.
- Step 4 Remove chicken from boiling water and add in the broccoli to the boiling water and cook for 1-2 minutes for frozen or 5-7 minutes or until stems are tender for fresh. Pour the broccoli into the strainer and set aside in the strainer to let the broccoli water drain well.
- Step 5 In the baking dish full of sauce, add in the shredded chicken and fold in the broccoli.
- Step 6 Top with cheddar cheese and then the breadcrumb topping which is just panko and butter mixed together.
- Step 7 Bake at 400°F on the center rack for 15-20 minutes.
- Step 8 Serve warm over rice or as is!