If your kid is anything like mine, she has four food groups: Peanut butter and jelly, "hot cheese" (grilled cheese), hot dog, and treat. Sure, she loves pretty much every fruit and could eat only sweet potatoes for the rest of her life if I let her, but when it comes to protein, we really struggle.

Some solutions are easy. Greek yogurt, nuts (carefully chopped), and other non-meat protein-heavy foods are regular snacks or treats around our house, but when it comes to actual meat, we're at an impasse.

"Do you want a bite of mommy's chicken?"

"I no like chicken."

"Try daddy's meatloaf. Do you like it?"

"It's good!"

"Do you want more?"


Rinse, repeat.

For a few weeks, inspired by a mom who called spaghetti sauce "frosting", I tried simply calling every meat "hot dog". Believe it or not, it worked. She gobbled down ham and bites of chicken no problem, but that short-term fix isn't going to help us build good food habits!


Instead, I started incorporating small amount of meat into the dishes that we're eating. Pastas get minced ground beef, mac and cheese gets tiny, minuscule shreds of chicken, and her applesauce gets flakes of salmon. As the weeks went by, I improved the ratio in my favor: more salmon, less applesauce.

Salmon with Walnut-Avocado Guacamole

Salmon with Walnut-Avocado Guacamole, aka Delicious Food She Won't Eat

Are meals still messy? Of course, from top to bottom. I look at restaurant menus and sigh knowing she's only eat the hot cheese with fruit. When I start to feel frustrated, I remember that she's two. This is a marathon, not a sprint, and we're in the training phase: building good habits that can last her a lifetime.Does your kiddo eat meat? Do you?

By Ashley Kappel and Ashley Kappel