A winning recipe for picky eaters

At our reporter’s table, the shrimp risotto turns smiles into pouty bees. Fried chicken causes disgusting grimaces. Not long ago, even pizza led to accusations at a senior’s birthday party. Cooking food for toddlers is sometimes nothing more than child’s play.

This fall, some recipe books will save parents. On the menu: dishes that young diners will love or can cook (with a little help). What is the secret recipe for charming difficult children? the press He asked the authors of these books for advice.

Change textures

When chef Jens Ruoff was young, his parents would sometimes just serve him blanched Brussels sprouts. “It was the worst thing for me. This is the scariest way to eat Brussels sprouts. It’s mild, not seasoned,” says the co-owner of the wildly popular Montreal restaurant Butterblume. When you’re young, she says, “textures play a big part” in how you appreciate a dish (or not!).

Photo by Edouard Plante-Frechette, La Presse Archives

Chef Jens Ruoff

Her cookbook series for 5- to 8-year-old cooks MiniMiniMenu, The chef attaches great importance to this element. Forget steamed broccoli, which, like Brussels sprouts, kids sometimes hate. His tribe, devoted to picnics, is “tanned” and accompanied by sauce. “Whatever is crispy, fried, caramelized, it’s tastier,” points out the one who, especially inspired by the preferences of his daughter, Agathe, 8, has written three cookbooks with his wife, Elizabeth Delage, and friend Jean Joly, in which teenagers. There are only assistant chefs.

Focus on simplicity

“When I feed my son, it has to be very simple. Not too many toppings on top. Not a big part,” says Joanna Fox.


Joanna Fox and her son

It was with these elements in mind that this culinary enthusiast worked on the visuals for his first recipe book, Little critics, with photographer Dominique Lafond. There’s nothing complicated about the dishes offered in this book, which combines winning recipes from the lineage (or entourage) of 80 Canadian chefs. In addition, with consolation: even their children sometimes complain at the plate, assures him, who is also the deputy editor-in-chief.It’s Canada.

Add a little magic to dishes

“To beat picky eaters, you have to use some tricks. […] Put a little magic in their lives”, – believes Caroline Savard, the author of the books Perfect recipes for kids that are a little (a lot) complicated And very recently “Wow” Desserts – 75 recipes that are super fun to make with kids.

Photo provided by PRATICO EDITION

Caroline Savard

Simple additions can turn a mundane meal into a treat, says the mother of three, ages 9 to 15. For example, she sometimes sprinkles some candy confetti into her daughter’s yogurt, which suddenly makes her “special.” “It’s her day,” says she, who has been sharing her recipes and parenting tips on wooloo.ca for eight years.

Giving a funny name to a dish also changes the child’s perception of it. In Little criticsIn particular, we come across Chef Diane Solomon’s “Incredible Hulk Risotto.” Something any superhero would love. Changing the shape of the food can also soothe fussy eaters.

I am a fan of silicone molds. I have quite an impressive collection. If we bake a super healthy muffin recipe in a donut pan […]It has recently taken on another dimension.

Caroline Savard, cookbook author

A dose of novelty

Joanna Fox noticed that her 6-year-old son was more willing to try a new dish if it was accompanied by a food he already enjoyed. Caroline Savard, on the other hand, discovered that when a dish resembles another fan, a young person will want to try it. An example? Carrot or turnip in the form of French fries. “It usually looks like a fry, so it reminds children of a positive memory.” »

She also says that mixing two foods that don’t seem to go together is fun for toddlers. “For example, in my first book, I cooked breakfast. »

Invite the children into the kitchen

Involving your offspring in the selection and preparation of meals is the best way to get kids interested in what’s on their plate, think the three authors interviewed. “I believe that children should be involved in the kitchen to give them some passion or at least some interest. […] Thus, he sees that it can be an enjoyable activity. It can be fun to prepare and enjoy the result with the whole family,” says chef Jens Ruoff.

Don’t the kids around you want to get their hands dirty? Start with desserts, suggests Caroline Savard. “These are the easiest recipes to get a child into the kitchen,” says someone who speaks from experience. At home, if she pulls out the stand mixer, she’ll never be left alone at the counter for long.

Lower your expectations

However, let’s face it: when it’s small in the kitchen, harm is never far away. “Expect it to be a mess,” advises Caroline Savard with a laugh. But the younger you start preparing them, the easier they will be later. When she was 2 years old, her daughter loved cracking eggs.

“I find that the kitchen is great for bringing families together, spending time together when you don’t have time. It’s two in one. You are doing something useful […] And you get to spend quality time with your child,” she continues. All that remains is to plan the day of cooking before cleaning the house…

Pappardelle with pesto from Chuck Hughes


Chuck Hughes, his sons and pesto pappardelli

The author of the book, Joanna Fox, says that for a while Chuck Hughes’ sons only ate pesto paste. Little criticswhich collects recipes that 80 Canadian chefs prepare for their children or those around them.

Preparation time: 30 minutes + 30 minutes rest or overnight
Preparation time: 5 minutes
Yield: 4 to 6 servings

Ingredients for pasta

  • 300 g (2 cups) all-purpose flour
  • 1 C. fine sea salt
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 3 tbsp. olive oil

Ingredients for pesto

  • 150 g (5 cups) fresh basil leaves
  • 30 g (1 cup) celery leaves
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 70g (1 cup) grated Grana Padano, plus more for serving
  • 500 ml (2 cups) olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp. Sea salt
  • Pepper, to taste
  • Lemon zest, to taste

Preparation of pasta

  • 1. Mix flour and salt in a medium sized bowl. Transfer to a clean work surface and flour the center well. In a bowl in the center, pour the eggs, egg yolks and oil and mix with a fork until the dough starts to form. Knead for 5 minutes. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and leave it in the refrigerator for 30 minutes or overnight.
  • 2. Roll out the dough at room temperature for 20 minutes. Place on a lightly floured work surface. Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough to about the thickness of a sheet of paper. Continue several times. Roll out the dough sheets, pinch the ends of the rolls so they are even, then cut the rolls into even pieces to make 2.5 cm (1 inch) wide noodles.
  • 3. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the noodles in boiling water until soft. al denteor 3 to 4 minutes. Drain, reserving 125 ml (1/2 cup) boiling water.

Preparation of pesto

  • 4. Place all the ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and blend until you get a very smooth texture.
  • 5. Transfer the pesto to a large saucepan over medium heat. Add pasta and beat well, add boiled water, 1 tbsp. at a time to thin the sauce. Serve with freshly grated Grana Padano.

Note: You can use dry noodles for this recipe.

Little critics

Little critics

KO editions

272 pages

Pork and Feta Surprise Meatballs

Photo by Elizabeth DELAGE, provided by CARDINAL EDITIONS

Pork and Feta Surprise Meatballs

Among Chef Jens Ruoff’s favorite family recipes is pork and beef with feta cheese. “Salty treasure in every bite,” one might read MiniMiniMenu I’m cooking dinner! Aimed at ages 5 and up, this series of books is perfect for equipping apprentice cooks with its illustrated cooking steps and tip videos accessible by scanning various QR codes.


  • 3 cups fresh bread crumbs, diced
  • 1/2 cup of milk
  • 1 pound medium lean ground pork
  • 1 pound medium lean ground beef
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 C. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. Nutmeg
  • About 20 cubes of feta cheese, 1 cm x 1 cm (the size of a cube)


  • 1. Preheat the oven to 400 OhF (200 OhVS).
  • 2. In a small bowl, soak bread crumbs in milk for a few minutes while you listen to your favorite song.
  • 3. In a large bowl, mix all the ingredients with your hands, except the cheese.
  • 4. Form balls one by one with an ice cream scoop. Put a piece of cheese in the center. Close each ball well with meat to hide the cheese and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  • 5. When all your stuffed meatballs are on the plate, ask your assistant chef (an adult) to put them in the oven for 12 to 15 minutes. Turn them with tongs after 8-10 minutes of cooking. Serve the meatballs with your favorite vegetables or a simple tomato sauce.
MiniMiniMenu - I'm cooking dinner!

MiniMiniMenu – I’m cooking dinner!

Cardinal publications

36 pages

Balls of cookie dough and small candies

Photo provided by PRATICO EDITION

Balls of cookie dough and small candies

Easy to make, this small-format dessert fits well in a lunchbox, notes Caroline Savard in her very colorful book Desserts “Wow”! — 75 recipes that are super fun to cook with kids.

Preparation: 5 minutes
Cooling: 1 hour
Yield: 15 scoops


  • 250 ml (1 cup) quick-cooking rolled oats
  • 160 ml (2/3 cup) chickpeas, washed and drained
  • 45 ml (3 tbsp) maple syrup
  • 45 ml (3 Tbsp) sunflower butter or other seed butter
  • 7.5 ml (1/2 tbsp) vanilla extract
  • 60 ml (1/4 cup) mini decorative candies


  • 1. Place all ingredients except the mini candies in the bowl of a food processor. Mix until a homogeneous preparation is obtained.
  • 2. Form 15 balls using about 15 ml (1 tablespoon) of the preparation for each one.
  • 3. Place mini candies in a bowl. Roll the balls into candies.
  • 4. Place the balls on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Refrigerate for 1 hour or until ready to serve.

Desserts “Wow”! 75 recipes that are super fun to make with kids

Practical edition

184 pages

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *