Picky Eater Tips: Get Messy in the Kitchen – Caramel Pecan Brioche Rolls

At 15 months we learned that Logan had a severe peanut allergy, and we learned it the hard way: allergic reaction. Almost immediately we saw his predispositions toward being a picky eater turn into something much more.

Imagine your child being on guard all the time. And over time that fear of unknown foods turning into a habit. Suddenly, your child doesn’t like eating at all and emotionally loses it when around new foods – but he doesn’t even know WHY he is feeling that way. As parents, suddenly we found that despite our best efforts, Logan began to eliminate more and more foods from his diet.

logan on the slide

Food became a power-struggle. I was in a constant state of worry about Logan’s nutritional intake. And already on the smaller side, food strikes were not an option.

One of the most helpful parts of our picky eater experience was the time we spent in feeding therapy with Logan. Essentially that meant that we had bi-weekly appointments with an occupational therapist who specialized in feeding. We learned that Logan wasnโ€™t really a picky eater, but a โ€œProblem Feeder.โ€

The OT helped us learn techniques to encourage Logan to try new foods and expand his diet and to understand why this was happening. She also helped us break down the wall Logan had built against new foods. In the beginning of therapy (and at home) Logan couldn’t even handle having a new food on his plate without a debilitating meltdown. We also worked closely with a registered dietitian so we could closely monitor his nutrient intake.

kneading bread

Through therapy, our therapist worked with Logan to get him comfortable around new foods without the pressure of having to try something. Basically: we played with our food. A lot. We made jokes about it. Cut everything out with cookie cutters. Made our meals more appealing. Logan had to re-learn that he could be safe around food. And he’s still learning.

What I first saw as something rather silly is now something that I am very passionate about. Yes, sometimes elbows are on the table, napkins on the floor rather than laps, and even I have been guilty of eating with my fingers. I won’t even tell you the things Eric has done. But I will tell you: He is very much in touch with his inner child.

Play with Your Food

I know we’re trying to teach our kids table manners, but playing with food means you’re touching it and that’s one of the first steps to trying something new.

  • Make fun shapes our of sandwiches. You can go all artistic and fancy like these at Funky Lunch. Or just cut sandwiches out with a simple cookie cutter.
  • Make sail boats with cheese triangles and crackers.
  • Paint with chocolate pudding and pieces of fruit.
  • Roll out some dough. Kids love rolling pins for pizza, pie crust, or cinnamon rolls.
  • Remember to keep it pressure-free.

Involve Kids in Grocery Shopping

If you’re a mom with small children, you’re probably sighing at the thought of this. Trust me. I’m right there with you. BUT, the grocery store is a great place to teach your children about food without the pressure of eating anything.

  • Talk about the different colored produce.
  • Allow them to choose 1-2 new things per shopping trip as something new they’d like to try.

Let Kids help with Meal Prep and Menu Planning

Encourage kids to help out with meal selection. Just because they are kids doesn’t mean they won’t have great ideas. Plus, children who are involved in the meal preparation are more likely to eat what they’ve helped create. When appropriate, let them help as much as possible!

  • Logan isn’t to the point where he can realistically help plan the dinner menus, but he is great at helping choose ideas for breakfast.
  • Give a choice between a few options and let them select.
  • Set aside small tasks from a recipe that are age appropriate: tearing lettuce leaves, peeling an orange, stirring muffin batter, etc.

And so I’m really excited to tell you about the Clorox Cook up a Mess contest with you. Clorox thinks it’s awesome to get messy in the kitchen too and they’re offering a trip for 4 to New York for the person with the best getting messy story.

Clorox Clean-Up Cleaner removes tough stains, grease, and dirt, and most importantly, germs you might find after working with raw eggs or meat in kitchen activities.

If you’re interested in entering, head over to the Clorox Facebook Page for more contest information. Need some mess making ideas? Check out the cool resources here.

getting messy in the kitchen

We’re not in feeding therapy anymore and Logan is no longer considered “at risk.” I’m happy to report he is doing quite well compared to the day we started therapy.

He eats a wide variety of fruits, a couple vegetables, loves cheese and yogurt, and enjoys almost anything I make for breakfast.

He’s learned to put up with our monthly challenges where we focus on one new food for the entire month, but that doesn’t mean we’ve stopped getting messy in the kitchen.

picky kids in the kitchen

Logan’s in school every day now, but I let him help me as often as possible. The great thing is that I’ve been able to use the skills we learned in therapy continually in home and apply them to Madeline as well.

My kids are both very much a part of what I do as a food blogger. From taste testers, to grocery store companions to helping hands, we’re in the kitchen together (making a mess) all the time. They like taste testing best.

Kitchen messes are definitely not all bad. In fact, yesterday’s mess was so very worth it.

recipe for caramel cinnamon rolls

More Picky Eater Posts:

Caramel Pecan Brioche Rolls

Ingredients:

For the Dough:
1 1/2 cups warm water
2 packets granulated yeast
1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
8 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup honey
1 1/2 cups melted butter
5 cups all purpose flour
2 1/2 cups freshly ground whole hard white wheat flour

For the Caramel Topping:

8 tablespoons unsalted butter, soft
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup brown sugar
30 pecan halves

For the Filling:

4 tablespoons salted butter, soft
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

Directions:

To Prepare the Dough:

Dough is best prepared the day before.

Add the yeast, salt, eggs, honey, melted butter and water to a 5 quart bowl. Whisk to combine. Add the all purpose and whole wheat flour to the liquid mixture. Stir with a wooden spoon to combine, or use a stand mixer with a dough attachment.

Cover the dough and let rest for 2 hours, at room temperature, until doubled in bulk. Transfer to the refrigerator and chill. After chilled, remove a 1 1/2 lb. portion of the dough. Store the remaining dough covered in the refrigerator for up to 5 days, otherwise you can freeze it in 1 lb. increments for up to 4 weeks.

To Prepare the Topping:

Combine the butter, salt and brown sugar in a bowl and beat until well creamed. Spread in a 9 inch cake or pie pan. Evenly arrange the pecans on top. Set aside.

To Prepare the Rolls:

Combine the ingredients for the filling: butter, sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a bowl and beat until well creamed. Set aside.

Roll the dough out into a rectangle 1/8 of an inch thick. Spread with the filling and roll starting on the long end until it is in a log shape. Then, using a serrated knife, slice into 8 portions. Place on top of the prepared pan. Cover and let rise for 40 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 degrees F. After rising, bake for 30-40 minutes. Dough should be set in the middle and golden brown.

Immediately after baking, run a knife around the edge of the pan. Turn out upside down onto a serving dish. Serve.

Disclosure: The Motherhood asked me to participate in the Clorox Cook up a Mess Campaign and I was compensated for my time. However, everything in this post is real and sharing Logan’s story with you was long overdue.