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Gail Simmons: Picky Eater Solutions

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Gail Simmons recently sat down to chat with us about food, family, and finicky eater solutions. The culinary expert and food writer has become a household name thanks to her nine seasons as a judge on Bravo’s Emmy-winning Top Chef series and recent stint as television host of Bravo’s Top Chef Just Desserts.   

Do you have any golden rules to share with parents when it comes to getting kids to try new food?

You should try anything once. If you don’t like it you don’t have to keep eating it, but more times than not it won’t be as bad as you think. I’ve seen the pickiest kids become the fanciest food connoisseurs.

PLUS: Tried-and-True Picky Eater Solutions

What would you suggest to parents of picky eaters who would like their kids to develop a slightly more adventurous palette?

If you cook with children— if you cook with anyone—they are more vested in wanting to eat something new. Bring the kids with you when you go shopping; get them involved.

It’s just about keeping on them and letting them know that they don’t have to be afraid of food; that nothing will happen to them if they try it.  Oh, and the word “Ew” is never allowed in the kitchen!

PLUS: Smart Tips for Cooking with Kids

Do you have any tips to help busy parents make home-cooked family meals happen?

Family dinners are about thinking ahead and being organized. I never get to go to the grocery store more than one day a week, so I keep in mind how many meals I plan on making while I’m at the store. Try to keep your pantry stocked with basics so you’ll only have to buy fresh vegetables and meats. Also do any lengthy prep the night before; like soaking the beans or defrosting puff pastry. 

Do you have any help in the kitchen at home?

I do all the cooking at home it’s safe to say, but my husband is a very great cleaner and a really good eater; it’s a very good arrangement.

PLUS: How to Make Family Meals Fun

How much time do you put into a weeknight meal?

During the weeknights I never want to spend more than 30 to 40 minutes in the kitchen so I love making soups or stews; things that I can cook once and eat throughout the week. It’s also good to roast vegetables at the beginning of the week. You can eat them hot that night and than chop them up and put them in a salad; it’ll save you lots of prep time later on.

PLUS: Yum! Easy Recipes to Make with Kids

Food is such a big part of your life; do you think it will be the same for your children?

I’d like to someday be a mom and hope that my kids would have the same relationship with food—that of abundance and education—and I hope that taking pleasure in eating well will make them adventurous curious eaters.  I know that’s not an easy thing and kids get finicky, but I also have found that even picky kids, that if its around them they get more comfortable.

Click here for some of Gail's quick and easy recipes from her partnership with Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry that are fun to make, eat, and enjoy with your kids!