Siri Daly has her own cookbook, a food blog, and appears regularly on the Today Show to share her recipes, often with her husband Carson Daly at your side. But she’s also a mom who’s dealt with her fair share of picky eaters.
“I have four children. I would say that by around 18 months they all decided to get picky. It was very interesting. It was like the day,” Daly said.
For the author of Siriously Delicious: 100 Nutritious (and Not So Nutritious) Recipes for the Real Home Cook, food has always been a family affair.
“I grew up around big cooks, big eaters, my mom, my dad, my extended family, and family gatherings that were always about food,” Daly said. “It was a big part of my childhood, and I just developed a passion for trying things and creating things.”
It’s a passion she hopes to encourage others to share with their children.
“Cooking is a wonderful way to connect with your children. First, they just want to help you move, and next, you’re hearing about special moments from their day and creating memories,” Daly said.
She admits that cooking with kids can get messy.
“I’m a neat freak, so I kind of have to let go of that control,” Daly said. “I know it not only helps them with their creativity, but also with their taste buds and their diet, so it’s definitely worth letting go of control and getting your hands dirty and messy in the kitchen.”
Daly likes to make cooking together a frequent family activity.
“We try to do one or two days a week and then together do something 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 that they can bring as a snack, bring to school, eat after school, and they’ll look forward to eating them because they’re at helped manufacture,” Daly said.
How does Daly handle her picky eaters?
“It sounds simple and almost not simple at the same time, but you just have to keep trying. I found that,” Daly said. “Your palettes are always evolving, always changing. You have to get creative with the ingredients. You must try them in different methods. Like my daughter just discovered, for example, she likes apples when they’re dipped in peanut butter, so it’s just a process. You can’t give up They have to realize that one day they will get there. My 12 year old is a great eater now which gives me hope for my 21 month old.”
We asked Daly how she copes when most of the family likes to eat but one or two don’t.
“I’ve always told myself I would never cook multiple meals, and of course I’ve been into it now, I’ve found I do, but I try to cook meals that are very adaptable,” Daly said. “We made tacos last night, for example, and you can make them in a variety of ways that you don’t make four different meals, but like one likes a quesadilla with beef and one just likes the cheese and some avocado on the Side. So it’s great to find meals that are customizable in this way, so you can customize them for each child if you have picky eaters.”
When it comes to vegetables, Daly gets creative – and a little sneaky.
“Try out different ways of cooking. For example, my kids love fried cauliflower. You would probably never eat a raw cauliflower,” Daly said. “Besides, I’m not above sneaking them into certain things. I have a recipe for a white grape spinach popsicle. And so of course it’s light green, but you really don’t taste the spinach because the white grape juice is just so delicious and juicy that it overwhelms that spinach flavor.”
Daly has teamed up with Juicy Juice to create recipes that encourage families to spend time together in the kitchen. One of her favorites is the Fruit Punch Smoothie Bowl.
“It’s a deconstructed smoothie. You will have it in a bowl instead of a jar. It’s very simple, four ingredients. Four cups of mixed frozen berries, one banana, either fresh or frozen, one cup of Greek yogurt, and then one cup of Juicy Juice 100% Juice Fruit Punch. Mix everything together until smooth, then pour into a bowl. The fun part is of course the toppings and you can let your kids design their own bowls.”
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 baking together and then moving on to breakfast.
“For example, my son developed a keen interest in cooking, so he would start with something simple like scrambled eggs and then move on to different types of paninis,” Daly said. “You know over the holidays it was another interesting holiday where we kind of grappled with the pandemic so my son and I decided to do a little competition. So we did a chopped-style cook-off. “
Daly’s top advice for getting kids more involved in the kitchen:
“Be open to something. Let them guide you. For example, look at cookbooks and let them choose things they want to cook that interest them. Once you get that little spark of ‘Ooo, that sounds good’ from If you want to get them, go from there,” Daly said. “Take them to the grocery store. Just let them be part of the whole process.”
Click here to download Daly’s recipes for their Apple Cinnamon Granola Bars, Fruit Punch Smoothie Bowl, and Spinach & White Grape Frozen Pops.
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