Siri Daly shares her best advice for cooking with kids, dealing with picky eaters

Siri Daly has her own cookbook, a food blog and regularly appears on the Today Show to share her recipes, often with her husband Carson Daly next to her. But she’s also a mom who’s dealt with her fair share of picky eaters.

“I have four children. I would say they are all around 18 months old as decided to get picky. It was really interesting. It felt like it was daylight,” Daly said.

For the author of “Siriously Delicious: 100 Nutritious (and Not So Nutritious) Recipes for the True Home Cook,” food has always been a family affair.

“I grew up around big cooks, big eaters, my mom, my dad, my extended family, family gatherings always centered around food,” Daly said. “It was a big part of my childhood, and I became passionate about trying things and creating things.”

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It’s a passion she hopes to encourage others to share with their children.

“Cooking is an amazing way to connect with your kids. First they just want to help you stir and then you hear about special times in their day and create memories,” Daly said.

She admits cooking with kids can be messy.

“I’m a neat freak, so I kind of have to let go of that control,” Daly said. “I know it helps them not only with their creativity, but also with their palate and diet, so it’s definitely worth letting go of control and getting your hands dirty and dirty in the kitchen.”

Daly enjoys making cooking together a frequent family activity.

“We try to do like a day or two out of the week and then do something together that a.) they choose and then b.) they want to eat throughout the week. So something like mini banana muffins or apple-cinnamon granola bars, just things they can snack on, bring to school, have after school, and they’ll be happy to eat it because ‘they helped do it,’ Daly said.

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So how does Daly deal with her picky eaters?

“It seems simple and almost not simple at the same time, but you just have to keep trying. That’s what I found,” Daly said. “Their palettes are always evolving, always changing. You have to be creative with the ingredients. You have to try them in different methods. Like my daughter, for example, just found out that she likes apples if they’re dipped in peanut butter, so it’s just a process. You can’t give up. You have to know that they will get there one day. My 12 year old son is now a big eater, which gives me hope for my 21 month old son.

We asked Daly how she handles this when most family members like a meal, but there are one or two who don’t.

“I always told myself that I would never cook multiple meals, and of course I’ve been there now, I found myself doing that, but I try to make meals that are very adaptable,” Daly said. “We made tacos last night, for example, and so you can make them in different ways where you’re not doing four different meals, but like one liked a quesadilla that had beef in it, and the other just wanted the cheese and like some avocado on the side. So it’s great to find adaptable meals that way, where you can kind of customize them for each child if you have picky eaters.

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For vegetables, Daly gets creative – and a little sneaky.

“Try different ways to prepare them. My kids love roasted cauliflower, for example. They would probably never eat a raw cauliflower,” Daly said. “Also, I’m not above sneaking them into certain things. I have a recipe for a spinach popsicle with white grapes. And so, sure, it’s bright green, but you really don’t taste the spinach because the white grape juice is so delicious and juicy that it overpowers that spinach flavor.

Daly has partnered with Juicy Juice to create recipes that encourage families to spend time together in the kitchen. One of his favorites is the Fruit Punch Smoothie Bowl.

“It’s a deconstructed smoothie. You are going to have it in a bowl instead of a glass. It’s very simple, four ingredients. Four cups of mixed frozen berries, one fresh or frozen banana, one cup of Greek yogurt, then one cup of Juicy Juice 100% Juice Fruit Punch. Mix everything together until smooth, then pour it into a bowl, then the fun part is the toppings, of course, and you can let your kids customize their own bowls.

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Daly says potential toppings can include coconut, granola, mini chocolate chips, honey, or whatever you have on hand.

If you’re just starting to cook with your kids, Daly suggests cooking together and then moving on to breakfasts.

“My son, for example, got really into cooking, so he started with something simple like scrambled eggs and then moved on to different types of paninis,” Daly said. “During the holidays it was, you know, another interesting holiday where we were sort of dealing with the pandemic, and so my son and I decided to do a little contest. So we did minced style cooking. “

Daly’s top tip for getting kids more involved in the kitchen:

“Have an open mind. Let them guide you. Go through cookbooks, for example, let them choose the things they want to do that interest them. As soon as you like to get that little spark of, ‘Ooo, that sounds good,’ from them, go from there,” Daly said. “Take them to the grocery store. Just let them be part of the whole process.

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Click here to download Daly’s Recipes for its apple and cinnamon granola bars, fruit punch smoothie bowl and spinach and white grape popsicles.

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