Cincinnati Family Magazine

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June 15, 2024

Harry Potter to the Rescue: Bye-bye to Picky Eaters


Harry Potter fans celebrated a banner year in 2007 with the Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix movie and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows book. While the literary phenomenon has renewed children’s interest in reading, it has also given parents a number of new food ideas to help entice their picky eaters to eat like Harry Potter.

After Harry Potter was sorted into Gryffindor at the beginning of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, the house table was covered with food. There were no picky eaters at the Gryffindor table. How can you use Harry’s example and encourage your children to eat a variety of food? Plan a Harry Potter meal.

With a little planning you can utilize your favorite Harry Potter movie to introduce new foods to your kids. If your children are younger, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone is probably the best movie for you to use. There are a lot of foods shown in the movie and it isn’t too scary for the little ones. The books mention more foods such as treacle torte, butter beer and pumpkin juice.

Pick out foods that might be completely new to your children or something they have had in the past and never gave a really good try. Use your own recipes or find great recipes online (see sidebar). Give every dish a Harry Potter name. Meatloaf becomes Magical Meat Delight. A fruit salad with a yogurt dressing becomes Fruit for Thought, a magical mixture to help your potion making. Asparagus and carrots become Green and Orange Wands of Power, perfect for putting the creativity back in your spell casting.

Take it Slow

“Try giving the new food with more familiar foods,” says Heather Fortin, a registered dietician. “If they’re not so big on green beans and they like carrots, put the green beans with the carrots.”

“They may not take it at the first eight to 10 exposures.” Fortin knows from experience; she has a 3-year-old daughter. She suggests offering new foods once a week for kids of every age.

“Have your children go to the grocery store with you,” suggests Lydia Witkiewicz, Nutrition, Exercise and Weight Management (NEW) Kids Coordinator with the YMCA. The NEW Kids Program is a holistic treatment program addressing overweight and obesity issues in children younger than 18. “Have them pick out something they want to try.” That way, the children have a sense of ownership of their food choices.

Here are some complete meal ideas based on Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone: Chicken wings and legs with corn on the cob, broccoli and pumpkin pasties; roasted leg of lamb with sweet potato french fries and peas; ham and eggs with roasted tomatoes and toast (great for breakfast any time).

Meals and dishes from other Harry Potter movies include: Breakfast at the Burrow featuring sunny-side-up eggs, sausage, roasted tomatoes, biscuits and jam (Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets); The Leaky Cauldron’s Split Pea Soup and French bread (Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban); Roasted Rack of Lamb at the Dursley’s (Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban).

Include Your Kids in the Meal Planning

If you’re not a Harry Potter fan, have your children help you plan the meal. Get them interested in the different foods Harry Potter and his friends eat. Watch the movie with them and design a meal for the weekend when they can help you make it.

As a former picky eater myself, if I know what’s in the new food I’m more likely to eat it. Mystery ingredients are great for adventurous eaters and most adults, but children who are unsure of foods need security in their dining experiences.

Be a Good Example

My kids are surprisingly good eaters. How did they start liking so many foods? We constantly exposed them to new foods. There was no pressure on the kids to like the new food, but they had to try everything once. This philosophy has been utilized by my children a number of times when we’re out to eat. “Mom, you have to try the spicy tuna roll. You’ve never had it before.”

Try new things in front of your children. You may know you don’t like spicy tuna rolls, but if you expect them to try something, you need to show them that it’s OK to try something you may not like. I didn’t like the spicy tuna roll and the kids had a great laugh out of my drinking half the glass of water to get it down as they all ate the remainder of the roll.

“If the child doesn’t like a particular food, it’s OK. Take it off the menu and reintroduce it later,” says Witkiewicz. “They might like something six months from now that they didn’t like last winter.”

When making a meal with a new food in it, be consistent. “Don’t make them their own separate meal,” says Fortin. Let them know that the family is sharing one meal. “Don’t make eating or not eating the new food a big deal.”

Spruce it Up

Try presenting food in a different light. Cut the fruit or sandwich into a different shape. Serve the new item on toothpicks. Use special dishes like the paper animal dishes available at the grocery store.

Other great movies for introducing new foods include Madagascar (sushi), Over the Hedge (the animals try a variety of new foods) and Ratatouille (featuring ratatouille, a French vegetable stew).

Trying new foods is always an adventure – sometimes fun, sometimes scary. Encourage your children to try new foods with you and Harry Potter.

Dawn Albrecht is a freelance writer.

out with the old, in with the new

Pumpkin Juice – Makes eight servings
6 cups apple juice
1 ½ cups pumpkin puree (or two to four cups of pumpkin chopped and juiced with a juicer)
½ cup pineapple juice
1. Combine all in a large pitcher and stir well
2. Let it sit for an hour in the refrigerator
3. Strain with cheesecloth (if too thick)
4. Chill or serve iced

Sweet Potato French Fries – Makes four to six servings
2 to 3 large sweet potatoes
olive oil
sea salt

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Peel and slice sweet potatoes into one-quarter to one-half-inch inch fries. Coat with olive oil and spread on a cookie sheet. Lightly sprinkle sea salt over fries.
  3. Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes or until slightly browned.
  4. Serve with ketchup or ranch dressing.

Recipes by Dawn Albrecht

Find more recipes at these Web sites

Trying New Things While Dining Out With Kids

  • Try a new food as an appetizer: Cheeses, zucchini and eggplant are good foods to try.
  • Share a meal with your children: This also helps adults with weight management and is less expensive.
  • Have your children try a new food and give them a safety net: Order a meal for yourself that they can eat off of if they don’t like their new item.

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