Tips for Picky Eaters

So many parent struggle with picky eaters. It can be stressful having to wonder if your child is getting enough nutrients. With time, children will begin to develop a liking for new foods. Until then, try these tips and tricks!


Pick a food group and let them choose- “carrots or celery”, “strawberries or blueberries”, “chicken or fish”. Kids like making their own decisions rather then being told what to eat. They will get satisfaction and learn how to make healthy choices.

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Let them help wash and clean fruits and veggies, pick their serving and put it on their plate. They will feel pride in their work and want to dig in!

No more Bribes

While bribes may seem like a good idea and will provide short-term benefits, it ultimately attaches negative feeling towards food.

Exposure equals Acceptance

Continue serving new foods, even if you child is rejecting them. While this can be frustrating, research proves kids need to taste a food anywhere between 10 and 15 times before they can develop a liking. Placing a giant plate full of broccoli in font of them is overwhelming. Just let them taste- a couple bites here and there.

Finger foods

Leave the chips and cookies at the store! If kids are opening up the pantry and seeing boxes of cookies they are going to be enticed to eat them. Pre cut fruits and veggies for easy finger food.


A child who is hungry is more likely to eat the options presented to them, even if it’s not their favorite. Don’t try to provide new or nutritious foods if their bellies are full- they will be sure to reject them.

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Get creative

  • Traffic light peppers ~cut red, yellow and green pepper into circles. They make a fresh, crisp snack. Add a side of ranch if needed.
  • Coconut crazy! ~ Add shredded coconut to whole grain waffles or pancakes. The light sweetness will make kids forget they are eating whole-grains.
  • Ice globes ~ place a serving of grapes in the freezer before dinner. When its time for dessert, pull them out. It totally transforms the texture and makes them taste like candy.
  • Baked French Fries- cut russet or sweet potatoes into strips. Bake them in the over to create a healthy version of fries.
  • Zucchini Pizza Boats ~ slice your zucchini in half; add marinara and mozzarella cheese for a healthy pizza crust.



Add some personality to your garden space

Now that you’re planning to plant a garden, here are some ideas to keep kids excited about their plants while they’re waiting for them to grow, and add a little color until the fruits and veggies arrive. Kids love to do fun projects using paint and unconventional objects. Have fun and put your own twist on these project ideas.

Rock Caterpillar

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Rainbow Garden Markers

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Soda Bottle Watering Cans

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Rock Garden Markers

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Garden Stepping Stones

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Have fun making your garden space, no matter how big or small, uniquely yours. Check out our Gardening Fun board on Pinterest for more ideas.

Do you have any fun garden project ideas to share?

Starting a Garden

Have you ever thought about starting your own garden? Gardening is an exciting way to educate children on the process of life. It teaches them patience, responsibility, and shows them where our food comes from. Even in Arizona, growing in season veggies can be simple, easy and fun.

Chose your garden

Most of us don’t have the ideal space to grow our own vegetables, but do not let that stop you! Pick your garden depending on how much space is available and how many items you wish to grow. Choose a container with holes in the bottom to allow for water to flow through. If your container does not already come with holes, poke them yourself or place beads at the bottom. This prevents the roots from sitting in water causing them to rot.

  • Planter pot
  • Mason jar
  • Egg carton
  • Hollowed out lemon or orange

Add your potting soil

Explain to your child the importance and purpose of soil to a seed. It is a complex mix of minerals, rocks, air, water, and nutrients that feeds the seed so it can grow to be healthy. Similar to what children need to be strong and healthy!

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Planting the seed

Discuss with your child what vegetables are in season and let them choose what they want to grow. This is the best time in the gardening process to let your child to get hands on fun! Have them read and follow the directions on the back of the seed packet, guiding them along the way.

Chose seasonal vegetables

  • Radishes are one of the easiest vegetables to grow. They harvest quickly and require minimal space. This is a great option if you chose to use an egg carton or hallowed lemon for your garden. Harvest time: 40-60 days
  • Carrots are a great vegetable to grow in Arizona. They require deep soil (make sure your garden has the proper depth) for growth but sprout quickly. Teach you child how to easily identify a ripe carrot from its bright orange color. Harvest time: 60-100 days
  • Green beans are a great option for new gardeners and children. They can thrive with little maintenance and sprout rather quickly. Harvest time: 60-90days

Other in season vegetables

Veggie Harvest Plant your Seed
Beets 60-80 days September-March
Bok Choy 60-80 days August-February
Kale 60-90 days September- December
Green Onions 90-100days August- April
Peas 60-120 days September- February
Spinach 40-90 days September- February

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The best part of the gardening process has arrived! After all the work, learning and patients- the tiny little seed sprouts into a living, growing plant. Discuss ripeness, size, color, shape and when to pick your veggie.

Don’t forget! As with any living thing, a garden takes maintenance and care.

  • Whether inside or out, make sure your garden is receiving enough light
  • Check soil daily- it should feel damp, not wet or dry.

Stay tuned for future blogs on garden updates, crafts and activities!

Do you have any gardening tips to share? What would you be interested in learning more about?

Today’s Superfood: Nuts

We’re Nuts for Nuts!

A nutritious diet for your child includes food from each food group. Often times, parents forget about nuts and their benefits. Nuts are a particularly nutritious food – rich in healthy fats, high in dietary fiber, a good source of protein and a wide variety of important vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.

Nuts are a valuable, convenient and filling snack. They make a great replacement to salty chips and sugary candy. A handful of nuts make a great after school or weekend activity snack. Nuts can also be incorporated into countless recipes and meals.

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Here are some of our favorite nuts, due to their well research health benefits and amazing flavor.

Pecan trees can live and produces pecans for up to 150 years.

They are also one of the few nuts that contain plant omega 3 fatty acids, which play an important role in our heart health. Along with being a rich source of fiber, protein and antioxidants, pecans have been shown to promote weight management.

Add a handful of pecans to your meal

Mix natural yoghurt with chopped pecans and added your favorite fruit

Blend pecans with basil, parmesan, garlic and olive oil to create an interesting twist on pesto

Almonds surprisingly require bees for pollination.

A handful of almonds (about 20 nuts) are extremely nourishing containing 6g of protein, 7% of daily calcium and 10% of daily iron. They are also one of the most versatile nuts- ground, slivered, and flaked, they can be added to any snack or meal.

Add a handful of almonds to your meal

Chopped, slivered or whole almonds on oatmeal or breakfast cereal

Almond butter as an alternative to peanut butter

Walnut trees grow for 15 years before they reach full production.

Thought of as brain food, walnuts looks like a brain and contain polyunsaturated fats like our brains. They are also rich in the amino acid arginine, which keep our blood vessels elastic and healthy.

Add a handful of walnuts to your meal

Finely chopped walnuts to a turkey and cranberry sandwich

Banana walnut muffins or a zucchini and walnut loaf

Macadamia nuts are considered very rare, growing mostly in tropical areas.

Macadamia nuts are an excellent source of vitamin B1, plant iron, and omega 3 fatty acids. They also provide us with 25% of our RDA for magnesium, an important element for our bodies.

Crush macadamias added to breadcrumbs to making a crunchy coating for fish or chicken

Combined pumpkin and macadamia nuts for great flavor in soup or risotto

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Create a balanced meal for your kids- including 5 servings of vegetables, 4 servings of fruit and a handful of nuts!

The Most Important Meal of the Day

Research has confirmed breakfast is the most important meal of the day- especially for children. Our children are constantly growing, learning and playing. Giving them the best start to their day provides them with the energy, brain function and alertness they need to preform.

When we wake up in the morning, it has been many hours since we’ve had food or water. We need to replenish our bodies for the start of a new day-breakfast is our fuel. Studies show that children who eat breakfast are more focused in the classroom; they have more strength and endurance to preform physical activity and are overall more nourished.

So many things get in the way of breakfast- running late, busy morning, busy schedules, and sometime we just aren’t hungry. There are several easy ways to make breakfast a quick and easy priority.

  • On the go – keep convenient foods on hand.
    • Yogurt
    • String cheese
    • Sliced fruit
    • Oatmeal
    • Dry cereal
    • Whole grain toast

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  • Leftovers – who said it has to be breakfast foods? Eat last nights dinner!
  • Plan your meal the night before – this will give you more time to make breakfast nutritious- include a protein, whole grain and fresh fruit.

If you don’t have the time, don’t forget:

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Some of the delicious meals we offer include:

Sunrise Sausage Sandwich– Our take on this uniquely American concept starts with our home-style buttermilk biscuits. Mmmm, fluffy biscuits go terrific with sausage. But our sausage is much healthier than traditional sausage. Same great taste with leaner meat & much less sodium!

Mighty Morning Breakfast– Eggo Mini Homestyle Waffles and a Sausage Link or Pillsbury Mini Maple Pancakes and a Sausage Link.

Zucchini Bread– The smell of this freshly baked zucchini bread is hard to miss. And with good reason! One whiff will have your kid salivating for a bite. Fingers crossed you didn’t pack a lunch that day or your kids will be doing their best to trade up for “just one bite”!

Bumble Bee Breakfast Bar– Don’t have time to sit down for a bowl of cereal? Grab one of our breakfast bars and have breakfast on the go.

Seasonal fruit, fat free milk and juice are also served daily!

Get the full breakfast menu for your child’s school here.

Food Art: Apple Crab

You probably have told your kids not to play with their food. Well, believe it or not, we are encouraging parents to get kids involved in the kitchen, playing with their food- creating art! Food art is a way to let kids use their imagination and get excited about healthy meals. I think we all can agree an apple in the shape of a crab is way more fun to eat! Incorporate other fruits, vegetables, peanut butter, cereal, yogurt- just be creative!

Apple Crab:

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Whether you present the art to your kids or let them get involved in all the fun, they sure will be excited!

Do you have any fun food art ideas you’d like us to try?

Kids Eat Right Month: Re-Cap

In honor of Kids Eat Right month (which is August), CUSD Nutrition took an innovative approach to getting kids excited about healthy eating!

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During lunch, boys and girls were thrilled to find out they would be competing against their peers, to see who could eat the most fruits and vegetables. Incorporating technology, digital signage displayed a running total at the front of the lunchroom, as kids worked hard to eat all their fruits and vegetables!

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What made this approach so effective was kids were not just being told to eat healthy, but they could see the benefit of what they were doing right in front of them. With great success, CUSD was able to motivate kids to get interested and excited about school nutrition. Watch the video below to see all the excitement!


Stay tuned for upcoming CUSD Nutrition events and visit for more information on Kids Eat Right month!


Did your kids participate in Kids Eat Right month? What did they think?