Getting picky kids to eat carbs and grains

My 6-year-old won’t eat potatoes unless they’re fried, and neither she nor her 13-year-old brother like rice, couscous or other grains. That pretty much leaves only pasta and noodles as a side dish. Any ideas on adding some variety they will enjoy?

I didn’t realize my late father never ate rice until after I was married. I thought I’d always loved rice. Apparently, it wasn’t part of my mother’s homemade meals when I was a child. The point is, your children’s diets will probably become more diverse once they start eating college meals or armed service chow. That’s where I developed my taste for lots of foods I wouldn’t touch in my childhood. Actually, that’s not quite true. If my mother cooked it, I had to at least taste it. So I just tried one piece of cooked celery from stew, and I slurped one teaspoon of stewed tomatoes. Strong tasting foods turn-off children’s palates. If you want your kids to taste rice and other bland carbohydrates, I think they would oblige.

One more editorial aside: Couscous is pasta. It’s semolina pasta, rolled and sieved into a granular size. During a food-lover’s tour of Tunisia, I witnessed the making of couscous by a woman using the traditional hand method. And I toured the world’s largest couscous factory in Sfax, Tunisia. My advice is to gently cook some couscous according to the package directions. Serve it with a sauce, the way you do pasta. And convince your children they are eating pasta.

Here is a recipe for Oven Steak-Style Fries. Season them with your kids’ favorite seasoning mix before baking. Try Old Bay crab boil mix or Mrs. Dash seasoning.

Potatoes your kids will love

Oven-Steak-Style Fries

  • 3 large baking potatoes
  • 1 tablespoon corn oil or peanut oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 475°F. Cut each potato lengthwise to make several 1/2 inch-thick wedges. In a large bowl, toss the wedges with oil, to coat evenly. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss to coat.

Coat a 15″ X 10″ no-stick jelly-roll pan with no-stick spray. Place the potatoes in a single layer on the prepared pan. Bake, turning occasionally, for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the potatoes are lightly browned and tender. Makes 4 servings.

Create a special flavor for these oven fries with spice mixes from your supermarket spice rack. Keep trying different brand mixes until your kids settle on the one they like. Make them Mom’s Own signature fries — potatoes your family will love.

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