Tablespoon Q&A

By Scaron
Created March 14, 2017

I have the same problem that most moms have ... picky eaters! I try so hard to make things my toddler likes but I can't anymore. If it's not a hotdog, he isn't eating it! He won't even sit at the dinner table! Do you have some meal ideas for picky eaters? - Shannon Southworth

Dear Shannon, picky eaters can be so frustrating! Don't worry though! This won't go on forever. It's hard to suggest meal ideas since picky eaters are not created equal, but here are a few:

  • Homemade Mac n Cheese -- This recipe uses whole wheat pasta, which is a great swap. You can also add pureed squash and/or finely chopped broccoli to the recipe as well (more veggies is always good!).

  • Small Bites - Make a plate up of several smaller amounts of different foods. For instance, a common breakfast in my house is a whole grain bread (we love oatmeal bread!) toasted and spread with a little butter, a string cheese, and 6 or 7 cut-up strawberries. My kids love the variety and clear their plates.

  • Dip It! - Many kids LOVE to be able to dip things, so offering a dipping sauce such as barbecue sauce, hummus or ranch dressing with bits of bread, cheese, grilled chicken, veggies, etc can get them interested in eating.

Also, here are a few suggestions to help your toddler want to try new things:

  1. Set rules and be firm. For my kids, there are two main rules: you have to sit down and eat at the table and you must try everything on your plate.

  2. Get your child involved in cooking. It may take a little longer, but letting your kids participate in the cooking experience gets them more interested in food. Toddlers can help with making salads (spinning the lettuce in a salad spinning device, sprinkling cheese and veggies into the salad, etc), help mixing ingredients and more. I also have my two-year-old transfer chopped veggies from the cutting board to bowls so that she can touch, feel and see what I'm cooking with.

  3. Plan your meals carefully. Expanding your child's eating repertoire takes time ... when planning your meals, be sure to include something that your child will definitely eat (macaroni and cheese, hot dogs, etc) with things that you want them to try.

I have the HARDEST time caramelizing onions. I do it on really low heat, so they don't burn... and, no kidding, it takes at least an hour! Is there a certain pan I should be using? -- Stephanie Diamond

Dear Stephanie, I adore caramelized onions -- they are so good on so many things! Unfortunately, to get good caramelized onions, you do need to do a low and slow process like you mentioned. It shouldn't take over an hour though. When I make caramelized onions, I start with a hot pan (heat it over medium-high heat) with about 1 tbsp olive oil and 1 tbsp butter. When the butter is melted, add the chopped onions (use a sweet variety). Cook them for about 10 minutes, stirring once or twice. Then sprinkle salt over the onions, lower the heat to medium-low and cook for 30-40 minutes until browned, translucent and soft. I make mine in a stainless steel skillet, but a nonstick pan is fine too.

One more thing I can suggest is to do large batches of them, so that you don't have to cook them as often. You can store premade caramelized onions in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week. Or, separate them into smaller portions and freeze them for up to a few months.

What is that pink or orange sauce some restaurants have and they put bananas in it? -- Linda Whitten

Dear Linda, I think you might be talking about Bananas Foster. Bananas are cooked in a sauce of brown sugar, butter, cinnamon, banana liquor and rum and then served over ice cream. Click the link above to see the recipe ... and you can also make a Bananas Foster Tart with similar flavor.

What all can you do with rhubarb? Have a lot of it and want to use it. -- Pam Hopkins

Dear Pam, there are so many things that you can do with rhubarb! Be sure to remove and discard the leaves because they are poisonous. The red stalks are the part to cook with. Now, here are five ideas for using up your rhubarb:

Sarah W. Caron (aka scaron) is a food writer, editor and blogger who writes about family-friendly foods and raising a healthy family at Sarah's Cucina Bella.