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Nutrient Dense Food for Fussy Eaters

Renaee's picture
Submitted by Renaee on Thu, 03/21/2013 - 13:48

It seems nearly all mums these days will complain that their child is a 'picky' or 'fussy eater'. However, the form that fussiness takes seems to vary wildly. I often wonder why children develop certain tendencies with regards to what food they will and will not eat. My theory is that the very first foods that we give our children, the way we present that food, and the social context of eating the food makes a big difference.

When I began introducing solids to my daughter at the recommended age of 6 months (something else that seems to change a lot too), I decided to follow a process called 'baby led weaning', which, as Wikipedia explains in regard to food "places the emphasis on exploring taste, texture, color and smell as the baby sets their own pace for the meal, choosing which foods to concentrate on. Instead of the traditional method of spooning puréed food into the baby's mouth, the baby is presented with a plate of varied finger food from which to choose."

For us this took the form, in the beginning, with things like a whole piece of steamed broccoli, a pear, a whole banana, a whole steamed carrot. She picked these things up, sucked on them, gnawed at them, and sometimes ate them.  I researched thoroughly the theory behind baby led weaning and thought it made a lot of sense. We had a lot of fun starting out with solid foods with this approach, and weaning from breast milk happened just before her second birthday.

However the type of food used for baby led weaning, and the emphasis on 'the mush stops here' meaning "No purees, no ice cube trays, no food processor, no potato masher, no baby rice, no weird fruit and veg combos…" meant that the food my daughter got used to from a very young age was always solid and separate, not runny or mixed in any way. Now as a six year old, she still out right refuses to eat any 'liquidy' or mushy type food! So this means she will not try soup, casseroles, curries, most sauces (except ubiquitous tomato sauce of course) and even refuses to eat typical things that most kids love, like spag bol or noodle soup. There is one exception that comes to mind, being she will eat dahl on rice, but that's about it!

We seemed to have reached the pinnacle of her fussy stage now at age 6, although we still continue to encourage her to try new foods.

In hindsight I can't help but wonder if the fact that she never got to try pureed foods or 'baby mush', meant that she has developed this unusual propensity for 'solid food'. For me it makes for a very boring and limited cuisine and I often find myself cooking two meals, one to satisfy my own desire for 'one pot food' and another for her 'nothing touching on the plate' kind of approach. Crazy but true!

So below is a food that is delivered as a dry or separate food and so is 'acceptable' and also manages to incorporate some healthy omega three rich fats from salmon and egg yolk. It is a great standby alternative to fresh fish, is wild caught, and includes the skin and the bones in the can, making it rich in calcium as well. Teamed together with a plate of steamed vegies, it is a regular meal in our house.

The tin I have used below is pink salmon, but a Dad from my daughter's shcool recently informed me that Red Salmon is a safer bet (although often twice the cost), as it contains no mercury levels in the flesh, only in the organs. Something to consider.

Salmon Patties


1 slice of thick sourdough bread, turned into breadcrumbs (I use a hand stick blender for this, very quick)

1 or 2 eggs, depending on how moist you like them. The eggs are what binds it all together and makes it stick.

Mustard - add to taste

Capers - add to taste

Mixed dried herbs - add to taste (from our back yard we dried mint, parsley, thyme and basil)

Can of salmon

Add the breadcrumbs to the remaining ingredients and mix it all together with a spoon or your hands and then shape into patties. Add salt and pepper. Fry them up on a gentle eat in a fry pan using either olive or coconut oil for more healthy fats.

Despite my daughter's particular likes and dishlikes, overall she still manages to consume a simple but healthy diet of which I am glad and most likely one day she will outgrow her insistence on 'solid food'.