Nothing screams summertime like grilling outside…and the month of July kicks off National Grilling Month. But we know that adding meat or any kind of protein to your toddler’s food list can be challenging, especially if they are a picky protein eater! Since the grill is an extension of your kitchen, we have tips to involve your toddler in the cooking process and eventually get them willing to eat their grilling creations.
Secret Sauce: Have your child make their own BBQ sauce! Choose a barbecue sauce for the main ingredient, and set out several condiments (1-2 tablespoons of each) for them to mix in to make their very own secret sauce. Have an empty ketchup container ready and label it with their name on it (e.g., made by Chef Drew). This gives them even more ownership of their tasty creation. Here are a few ideas for the sauce add-ons: ketchup, water, apple cider vinegar, light brown sugar, sugar, fresh ground black pepper, onion or garlic powder, ground mustard, lemon or lime juice and Worcestershire sauce.
Empty condiment squeeze container
Dry Rub: For the child who likes the sensory experience of getting messy, making a homemade dry rub is loads of fun! For kids who have difficulties with processing sensory information, have them wear gloves to help ease the sensation. There are several amazing recipes for dry rubs online, and you can purchase some at the grocery store too. To make an easy dry rub at home, try setting out 1-2 tablespoons of the following ingredients: cumin, paprika, granulated garlic and/or onion, chili powder, brown sugar, kosher salt, cayenne pepper and black or white pepper. Have your kiddos combine some of the ingredients in a large bowl, mix well and rub on the meat.
Grilling Gadgets: Grilling is all about using fun outside tools and gadgets. Introduce your child to some of Chef Dad’s favorite outdoor utensils. Here are a few to get you started: tongs, grilling brush, spatula, skewers, burger press, hot dog roaster, grill, meat fork, basting brush, corn holders and vegetable grilling basket. Dads are excellent feeders too, especially when they have their kids outside!
Bring on the Veggies: Whether you cook your veggies in foil, in a grilling basket or straight on the grill, veggies are a perfect barbecue addition for toddlers. You can put them on skewers or cut them to look like French fries for an easy finger food. Sprinkle them with salt, pepper and parmesan cheese to make them extra yummy. You can also have your toddler dip them in their secret BBQ sauce! Some of our favorite grilling vegetables are: bell peppers, yellow squash, zucchini, eggplant, cauliflower, mushrooms, asparagus, green onions, corn and potatoes.
Studies show that if children are involved in the activity of meal prep they are more likely to eat and enjoy it, so we hope these tips help you get your kiddos engaged in the next cookout! Celebrating National Grilling Month with toddlers can be a fun, family-centered eating experience. Tell us how you involve your children in grilling! #ezpzfun #NationalGrillingMonth #toddler
Dawn Winkelmann, M.S, CCC-SLP
Speech Language Pathologist & Feeding Specialist for ezpz