Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Picky Eater Problem: Is He Fussy, or Is Something Wrong?

There's a school of thought that some parents adhere to when it comes to meal time: Eat what's served or go without. But without finding out why a child is a picky eater, such a narrow approach is impractical and possibly negligent.

I say this only to impart this bit of advice: If your child is picky about his or her food to the point where you're concerned about his health, don't force him to eat or punish him. Take him to a nutritionist, dietician or forward-thinking pediatrician.

My son was picky as to be difficult when it came to eating and I tried all the tricks, to no avail. I didn't force him or punish him, but did try the "eat this or nothing" approach. He chose not to eat.

I nagged the doctor, insisting there was something strange about his selective approach to eating. The pediatrician merely shrugged it off. If he had been more enlightened, my son's digestive disorder may have been diagnosed much, much earlier. But his "picky eater" status was ignored, until he was an underweight teenager and his endocrinologist tested him for Celiac.

Yes, this one doctor finally conceded that my concerns were valid: My son's body had been trying to tell us something all along.

Now, though his diet is specialized, he is eating, and eating more healthily than before the diagnosis. So I reiterate: If your child is a picky eater, and the food he or she chooses is of specific tastes and textures, investigate the possibility there may be a physiological cause.

Read: Maryann Tomovich Jacobsen's blog, How to Tell If Your Picky Eater Needs Help

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Gluten Free Chicken Dippers

These chicken dippers make a great snack or serve them with a salad for a tasty meal. Use chicken tenders or slice boneless, skinless chicken breasts into strips. Tenderize them a little bit so they cook up quicker.

Approximately 1/2 pound of chicken tenders or sliced chicken breasts
1/2 cup or so of gluten free flour mix (I used Bob's Red Mill)
1 egg, slightly beaten
1/2 cup of corn meal
1/4 cup of corn flour
2 tbsp. vegetable oil or preferred cooking oil

1. Lay the chicken strips or tenders out on a clean cutting board and cut away any visible fat. Pat the chicken dry.
2. Spread the gluten free flour out on a dish and break the egg into a bowl. Beat the egg just enough to mix the yolk and white.
3. Mix the corn meal and corn flour together and spread out on a dish.
4. Heat the vegetable oil in a large frying pan over medium high heat.
5. Dip the chicken strips or tenders into the flour and shake off the excess. Dip into the egg, then into the corn meal and flour mix. Turn to coat evenly.
6. Drop the chicken into the hot oil and brown. Turn and brown the other side. Remove to a clean plate.

That's it. That's all there is to it. Serve them with a favorite dipping sauce. My son likes ketchup. My husband and I like a Polynesian dipping sauce.

I converted this recipe for my daughter the vegetarian, substituting mozzarella cheese for the chicken. Put the cheese into the freezer for about 10 minutes, then cut into sticks, about 1/4 inch thick. Follow the same process and serve them up with barbeque sauce.

The best thing about this recipe is the versatility. Add chili powder to the corn meal mix, or paprika. Make a little jalepeno sauce and serve it up. Once you have a basic recipe such as this, the possibilities are all up to you.