Mealtime ideas for “light” eaters


I can’t tell you how excited my husband and I were when we got to the stage with our oldest where all foods were fair game. We are a family who likes to cook, bake, and eat, so we couldn’t wait to have her try all of the lovely treats that exist in this world! We had agreed that we wanted her to more or less, eat what we eat. Some “kid food” would be fine every now and then, but we were determined to cultivate a sophisticated palate from an early age. And for the most part, she was on board. That is, until she discovered just how cool it was to do just about anything other than sit in her high-chair.

She started walking on her first birthday, and was off to the races from day one. Along with her increased curiosity about the world around her, came a decreased desire to spend time eating. I began to spend many meals in tears (literally…) trying to get her to eat even just a few bites. The pediatrician assured us that she would eat when she was hungry and intellectually, I knew this was true. Emotionally however, I was a wreck. I though for sure she was just going to disappear. Some called her a “picky eater” – a accusation which made me very defensive. She would try just about anything, and enjoy them. She just wouldn’t eat more than a bite or two at a time. She wasn’t a picky eater, just a light one.

From this point on, I was a mama on a mission. I wanted to make sure that each bite that eventually did make it to her tiny tummy, was as nutritionally dense as possible and had enough healthy calories in it, to make me feel comfortable. There are some AWESOME natural snacks lines out there for kiddos and we certainly tried some of those. But the cost of many high-quality kids foods, can be a little steep. Not to mention the fact that I liked the idea of knowing exactly what was going into her tummy (OK, maybe I have a little streak of control-freak in me…). Regardless, I spent many an hour perusing the aisles of the grocery store searching for snack and meal items that were higher in calories, but not packed full of preservatives, sodium, empty calories, or “bad” fat. These items have since become staples in my fridge and pantry! Listed below are my top 10 items (no particular order) that the kiddos seem to love, and help get some calories into their “too busy to eat” little bodies!

(One disclaimer, do keep in mind your little one’s chewing ability when considering these foods. You know them best and some of these suggestions are for slightly more “advanced” eaters.)

  1.  Avocado – Yummm….just yum…..
  2. Full-fat Yogurt – this can be tougher to find than you think, but you can usually find it in the larger multi-serving containers
  3. Raw Nuts – almonds, pistachios, cashews
  4. Dried Fruit – apricots, dates, pineapple, cherries, blueberries (just be careful not to over do it on there….LOTS of fiber 🙂 )
  5. Yogurt Covered Raisins – oh come on….these are pretty much candy but with some nutrients
  6. Banana Chips – who would have guessed it? These babies pack a fairly high calorie count, and they are always a fan favorite
  7. Edamame – In the shell or out, these little green gems are packed with protein (soy) and are just FUN to eat!
  8. Nut Butters – move over peanut butter…almond butter, sunflower butter and others are moving in! You can even find them in single -serve squeeze packs at specialty stores and on-line
  9. Hummus – made with healthy oils and tahini (sesame paste), this is a great option! Little ones love to dip just about anything in it
  10. Smoothies – made at home from fresh ingredients, not the sugar laden ones at the local shops! With my kiddos, if it can go through a straw, it must be good!

So there you have it, some ideas that have worked for us in this house of “light eaters”. My little guy, now 18 months, is in this stage again, and while it is like deja vu all over again, I am not nearly as stressed out as I was with my daughter. I have a proven plan of attack and it is true what they say….the will eat when they are hungry. I promise mama.

But in the meantime, it’s time to stock the pantry!

What other ideas do you have to add to the list? Any proven favorites in your house? Do share!


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Jessie is the proud mama of two little loves, Reese (born 2009) and Brooks (born 2011). She is fortunate enough to share her life’s adventures with her husband (and high school sweetheart) Todd to whom she has been married since 2004. Although she and her husband have lived all over the West Coast, Arizona is home and she can’t imagine leaving the warm Arizona sunshine anytime soon! A proud University of Arizona Alumni, Jessie spent her pre-kiddo years as a corporate recruiter and trainer. When she is not taking her kiddos to the park or exploring the many cool things the Valley has for families, Jessie is running her natural baby food business, At First Bite, and blogging about the many adventures of parenthood on her blog, At First Bite – Peas. Love. Yumminess.


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