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12-18 months

Broiled chicken yakitori

I find that broiled skewers of the chicken thigh are more tender and moist than chicken breast, and this yakitori glaze is delicious. These skewers would also be greatly grilled over coals.

Preparation Time: 10 Minutes

 Cooking Time: 15 Minutes

Serves: Family of 4-5

4 fairly large skinless, boneless chicken thighs

4 scallions

4 small bamboo skewers, soaked in water for at least 20 minutes

2-3 tbsp sunflower or olive oil

Yakitori glaze

3 tbsp soy sauce

3 tbsp mirin (sweet Japanese rice wine)

3 tbsp honey

2 tsp rice vinegar

1 tsp grated fresh ginger

1 small garlic clove, crushed

1. To make the glaze, combine all the ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer, stirring occasionally, until reduced to a fairly thick and syrupy glaze, about 5 minutes.

2. While the glaze cooks, trim away the excess fat from the chicken thighs. Cut each thigh into three pieces-they’ll be about 3⁄4 inch wide. Cut each scallion into three pieces.

3. Preheat the broiler and line the broiler rack with foil. Open out the pieces of chicken and thread onto the soaked skewers, alternating with the scallions. You should have three pieces of each on a skewer. Place on the foil and brush all over with oil.

4. Broil for about 5 minutes on each side, then turn the skewers and brush with half the glaze. Broil for 3 minutes, then turn over again and brush with the remaining glaze. Broil until the chicken is cooked through, 2-3 minutes longer.

5. Remove the chicken from the skewers and serve, with the cooking juices spooned over if desired.

Fussy eaters

Don’t be surprised if your newly independent toddler stomps his foot and demands his own way. Fussy eating is a hallmark of the toddler years; it’s best to relax and let it run its course. Persevere and continue to offer new foods confidently and positively.

If my toddler flatly refuses a food over and over again, should I give up?

Many toddlers are averse to trying new foods, but the good news is that research consistently shows that with perseverance, most will accept them eventually. The trick is to present the food in an enthusiastic manner, so that your toddler associates new tastes with a positive experience, and to continue offering it—in different guises, if necessary—until it becomes “familiar.” If the same zucchini keeps appearing on her plate week after week, she’ll soon lose interest in resisting it, and simply get on with the job of eating.

If your toddler shows a violent dislike to a certain food, gags or vomits when eating it, and refuses it repeatedly, you may want to discuss this with a doctor. You can try to leave that food off the menu for a month or so and then try again. Or, you can change the format of how you serve that particular food to your little one. If she won’t try a scrambled egg, for example, then offer some French toast instead. If the response is the same, don’t push it. It may be a temporary aversion, or something more long-term, and you’ll do no good by forcing her to eat something she genuinely doesn’t like.

My child only likes sweet foods, and won’t eat anything savoury. What should I do?

There is no doubt that the majority of toddlers prefer sweet tastes, but research indicates that most food and flavour preferences are “learned” rather than “instinctive.” In a nutshell,

this means that early experiences with food are important in developing a liking for different tastes. So, don’t give up! Start by blending together sweet and savoury-pork with apple purée, for example, or chicken tagine with sweet potato and dried apricots.

Choose some naturally sweet savoury foods, such as sweet potato, squash, or even red peppers, whose bright colours may also convince him that they are sweeter than they are. Gradually decrease the “sweet” element of the dishes, until he is eating savoury foods.

Ultimately, however, if you continue to serve just savoury foods, he will develop a taste for them.

 My toddler will only eat fruit and no vegetables. How can I encourage better eating habits?

A Fruit is undoubtedly sweeter and more instantly satisfying than the average vegetable, but it doesn’t supply the full range of vitamins and, in particular, minerals that your child needs. Try mixing fruit with vegetables-couscous with raisins, apricots, sautéed peppers, and onions is a good start. As long as the “fruity” taste is overwhelming, she’ll probably

give it a go. Also, use both fruit and vegetable juices when cooking savoury dishes. Try to use vegetables and fruit together too-a chicken dish with fresh pineapple and dried apricots go well with water chestnuts and steamed spinach.

How can I stop mealtimes from becoming a battleground?

Most toddlers have periods of fussy eating. One reason is that they are asserting their independence and like to have a say in what they do. This can make mealtimes tense for everyone. The most important thing you can do is to try not to make a fuss. If your toddler realizes that you are upset or angry when he doesn’t eat, he’s gained an emotional advantage, which he can play whenever he chooses. If you don’t react, he’ll likely choose a new battle. Continue offering the food you want him to eat, and silently removing the plate when he has eaten (or not eaten) what he wishes. When he realizes that he isn’t going to get a reaction by resisting certain foods, he’ll likely eat them. It’s also a good idea to offer your child choices.

My toddler is a fussy eater. Should I offer supplements?

While a healthy, varied diet will provide your toddler with the vitamins and minerals she needs for good health, fussy eating does mean that her diet is limited. For example, a fussy toddler who refuses to eat fruits and vegetables will be missing vitamins and minerals that are essential for her growth and development, as well as her immunity to infections. If she doesn’t eat meat, she may well be low in iron, which will affect her concentration and energy levels, among other things. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends vitamin supplements for all under-twos, which can help to supply what’s missing, and ease your mind, too. They can never take the place of a healthy diet, but they’re a good stopgap when kids resist our attempts to serve healthy meals. Drop form is best for under-twos.



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