Kid-Friendly Thanksgiving Ideas

by Audrey Lee

We have all known toddlers, adolescents, teens and even adults who are picky eaters. Something about the way something looks turns them away from the idea of even trying the dishes you put your heart and soul into. Traditional Thanksgiving side dishes may be delicious for most of us, but may look intimidating to those who do not like lumps, anything with new spices or sauces that look different than plain gravy. Here are some ideas to try and get those picky eaters at the kid’s table to try something new this holiday season.

Try making side dishes bite-sized. This can be more work than making one large dish, but making things bite-sized makes it more of a taste than an overwhelming helping. You can try using a cupcake baking pan to create small portions of sweet potato casserole with bubbly marshmallows on top; stuffing with sausage, apple and sage, or broccoli cheddar poppers. Making dishes bite-sized helps others who may be on diets with portion control and will prevent guests from wasting food.

Making food into fun shapes or designs can also entice a picky eater to try a new item. Arrange a veggie or cheese and meat tray into a turkey. Get creative with layering different, brightly colored vegetables like a puffed up turkey fanning its feathers. Use peppers, radishes, olives, tomatoes, purple carrots, celery and sugar snap peas for a rainbow dish that will catch guests’ eyes. Making dinner rolls in the shape of pumpkins can be a fun way to present them for the whole family. Simply take the uncooked ball of dough, make slices around the edges toward the center and add a sliced pecan in the middle as a stem. When the dough bakes, they will come out of the oven looking like little pumpkins.

Sometimes a picky eater may turn their nose up to something because they are not sure how it was prepared or what went into it. Try making some foods more interactive. Set out stations for an mashed potato bar with all of the fixings, like cheese, green onion, bacon, gravy, sour cream and whatever else you think may go. This way each person can customize potatoes to their liking. You can also do this with skewers of roasted vegetables like Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, carrots and broccoli. Everyone can choose what goes on his or her skewer before popping it into the oven.

If all else fails, let the person go straight for dessert. It is a gluttonous holiday, after all.