Taking the fight out of picky eaters

Foodwise with Jillian Reid, RD

Published on March 3, 2017

Chicken Caldo Verde Soup

Do you find yourself in a constant battle to feed your family meals that everyone will enjoy, but are also nutritious and well-balanced?

This is a common problem – and one that often leads to supper at the nearest fast-food chain or throwing a frozen pizza in the oven to satisfy everyone’s taste buds. Unfortunately, these kinds of meals are often very high in sodium and saturated fat, and can lead to poor eating habits for your children now and in the future.

March is Nutrition Month and this year’s theme set by Dietitians of Canada is Take the Fight Out of Food, in hope of helping you overcome your food struggle, whatever it may be.

There are three basic steps to taking the fight out of food: 1) spot the problem causing your struggle; 2) get the facts using credible and reliable sources to plan what needs to be done about the problem; 3) seek support when putting your plan into action.

Using Maria, a mother of three picky children, as an example, let’s look at how these steps will play out. With numerous preferences from all family members, nearly all vegetables are out of the picture for Maria. With her family’s busy schedules, Maria does not have the time to serve as a short-order-cook for her family. To avoid constant complaints, she often leans on foods such as boxed mac and cheese and hot dogs to please her children’s wants, even though she knows these foods are not nutritious choices.

Maria uses the three-step approach:

Spot the problem: Maria gives in to her children’s protests against eating their vegetables. As a result, the whole family, including Maria and her husband, are missing out on a healthy, balanced diet.

Get the facts: Upon reading a resource on www.dietitians.ca about picky eaters, Maria learns that adults and children should have distinct roles at meal times. It is for Maria and her husband to decide what, when and where the food is served. The children get to decide how much of the food being served they want to eat. Maria discovers she can trust her children will know when they are hungry or full. In addition, she learns to try to offer at least one thing she knows they will like, but also offer a variety of foods so they have the option to try new tastes and textures as well. Ultimately, Maria also learns that children often take their nutrition cues from their parents and guardians – so it is important to create a positive mealtime experience and not to offer separate meals for each person. Having the kids involved as much as possible in the meal preparation – including meal planning, grocery shopping and cooking – can get them more excited to try new foods, as they are in charge of creating them!

Seek support: Knowing that she is not the only mother with picky children makes Maria more comfortable with the idea of seeking help from a dietitian in her neighbourhood who can help her with this issue. Maria chats with the dietitian about being more creative with adding vegetables to her family dinners, and then works with her husband to establish a positive eating environment by bringing family meals back to the table and avoiding the TV during these times.

One recipe Maria (and you!) can try is this Chicken Caldo Verde Soup. A classic Portuguese comfort food, this dish is brimming with good-for-you greens and hearty vegetables, plus spicy chorizo sausage for kick. Packaged chopped kale from the frozen foods aisle makes for easy prep. Serve with whole-wheat rolls for soaking up the last bit of broth from the bowl.


Chicken Caldo Verde Soup

Serves: 14


2 pkg (900 mL each) PC® Blue Menu Chicken Broth

2 PC® Free From™ Air-Chilled Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts

2 tbsp (25 mL) PC® New World EVOO Extra Virgin Olive Oil

2 onions, finely chopped

1 pkg (250 g) PC® Natural Choice™ Hot Spanish-Style Chorizo Semi-Dry Cured Sausage, sliced

2 Yukon gold potatoes (peel-on), diced

2 large carrots, thinly sliced

2 stalks celery, thinly sliced

2 bay leaves

1 can (540 mL) white kidney beans, drained and rinsed

10 cups (2.5 L) PC® Organics Chopped Kale

1-½ tsp (7 mL) salt

½ tsp (2 mL) freshly ground black pepper


1.     Bring broth and 2 cups water to a boil in large saucepan. Add chicken; reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and cook until chicken is no longer pink inside, about 15 minutes. Transfer chicken with tongs to cutting board; let cool. Remove broth mixture from heat; cover to keep warm. Set aside.

2.     Meanwhile, heat oil in separate large saucepan over medium-high heat; cook onions, stirring often, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add chorizo; cook, stirring, until lightly browned, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in broth mixture, potatoes, carrots, celery, bay leaves, beans, kale, salt and pepper.

3.     Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer; cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until potatoes are just tender, 10 to 12 minutes. Discard bay leaves.

4.     Dice chicken; stir into soup. Cook until heated through, about 2 minutes.

TIP: Freeze leftover soup in single-serving portions for up to 4 months to have quick ready-made lunches on-hand. Transfer to the fridge to thaw the night before.

Per serving: 160 calories, fat 4.5 g (1 g of which is saturated), sodium 610 mg, carbohydrate 15 g, fibre 3 g, sugars 3 g, protein 15 g

Source: pc.ca/insiders


Jillian Reid is a Registered Dietitian with Atlantic Superstore in Amherst.


Have a nutrition question? Want to book a free appointment or educational store tour for yourself or your community group or business? Contact me by phone at (506) 866-2115 or by email at jillian.reid@loblaw.ca.