The autumn harvest brings a variety of mouthwatering produce for our Thanksgiving meal. Family favorites are pumpkin, squash, kiwi, apples, pears and, of course, sweet potatoes! To get the best of what fall has to offer, check out these tips to get your kids to eat and enjoy a delicious sweet potato.
When to introduce them: Sweet potatoes are rich in beta-carotene, iron and vitamin C, and if your kiddos eat the skin, you have the additional health benefit of fiber! For this reason, experts in pediatric nutrition rate sweet potatoes as the best veggie we can offer our kids (and it’s recommended to be one of the first foods we give to infants too!). So make sweet potatoes one of your child's first foods! Seasonally, sweet potatoes have the best flavor during autumn, so you can introduce them during the peak harvest season. Perhaps your infant or toddler will love them by Thanksgiving?!
How to cook them: Start by purchasing small sweet potatoes; they cook faster, tend to be tenderer and are the perfect serving size for toddler tummies. Once the sweet potatoes are washed, poke them with a fork and cover with foil. I usually cook them in the oven (45 minutes at 400 degrees) or a crockpot (4 hours on high, 8 hours on low) until tender. My trick to encourage kids to gobble up the skin is to use the crockpot, as this cooking method provides added moisture and the texture most children prefer. Yum!
Sweet Potato Bar: One of the most successful ways to teach toddlers to eat a new veggie is by giving them an element of control. That is why I introduce a sweet potato bar in feeding therapy! By offering a variety of toppings kids can have fun making their own creation. I usually offer toppings that are sweet but have some protein too. Give these yummy pairings a try:
- Bacon and syrup
- Ricotta cheese and cinnamon
- Brown sugar and chopped nuts
- Honey and cream cheese
- Butter and toasted coconut with pumpkin seeds
- Sour cream and dried cranberries
These toppings are festive, delicious and fun. Offer tiny serving spoons to encourage kids to step out of their comfort zone and try a small serving of a new topping!
How to continue the fun: Try using my sweet potato bar with red, white and purple potatoes for even more food fun! You can also introduce additional toppings, including blue cheese and chopped steak, BBQ sauce and shredded pork, hummus and red onions, and broccoli and melted cheese. Or, stick to the classics like sour cream, chives, butter and salt and pepper.
How did you introduce sweet potato to your infant or toddler? What are your favorite sweet potato recipes? Let us know how your sweet potato bar turned out! #sweetpotato #ezpzfun #thanksgiving
Dawn Winkelmann, M.S, CCC-SLP
Speech Language Pathologist & Feeding Specialist for ezpz