Mom of Picky Eater

Turkey alternatives for the picky eater

My son talked about the turkey and Thanksgiving for weeks leading up to the big day.  At 5 years old, however, he is as picky as ever and I asked him if he was going to actually eat the turkey or just sing and dance about it.  He scoffed and said, “Ick, no way, of course I’m not going to eat it.  Yuk!”  True to his word, the big day came and he sang all around the kitchen about the turkey, poked it and even helped serve it, but he wouldn’t eat it.  So I had to find an alternative that would make this kid feel like he was part of the big bird celebration.  I happened to be making my Famous Brussels Sprouts where I take:

  • 3 slices bacon or turkey bacon
  • 2 tablespoons EVOO*
  • 1 pound Brussels sprouts
  • Juice and zest of half a lemon
  • Salt and Pepper

I dice the bacon and set in a pan over medium-high heat and brown until crispy.  Meanwhile, I wash and shred the sprouts with my knife and when the bacon is crisp, I add them to the pan with a little EVOO if needed.  If you use turkey bacon, for instance, it doesn’t give off much fat so you need something to prevent the sprouts from sticking.  If you use pork bacon, you will have plenty of grease and won’t need the EVOO.  I toss the sprouts and bacon and stir frequently until the sprouts begin to brown.  Then squeeze lemon juice over the pan of sprouts and bacon, salt and pepper and stir together.  Remove from heat and serve.

While I made that recipe, I made extra turkey bacon for my son and the poor fella got to say he ate turkey on Thanksgiving while the rest of us of course enjoyed the real thing with gravy and sides.  However, I don’t feel so bad.  Applegate Farms makes a delicious nitrate-free, organic turkey bacon that I have no problem giving my son for breakfast or his lunchbox.

How nice it is to eat bacon without guilt?  Well, if you like the idea of creating a healthier version of a fave, along the same lines of turkey bacon versus real bacon, try turkey burgers using ground turkey breast.  My son, the picky eater, would spot this switcheroo a mile away and would never go for it, however, even if you mix ground sirloin with ground turkey, you’ve lightened the load.  Here are some of Rachael’s turkey burger recipes, like the one pictured above called the Winter White Burger:



  • 2 pounds ground turkey breast
  • 4 scallions, white parts only, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • Grated peel and juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 ripe Bartlett pear, cut lengthwise into 8 slices
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • 2 cups shredded sharp white cheddar cheese
  • 4 tablespoons hot pepper jelly or jalapeño jelly
  • 4 extra-large English muffins, split and toasted

In a medium bowl, combine the turkey, scallions, mustard, lemon peel and thyme; season with salt and pepper. Shape into four 3/4-inch-thick patties.

In a small nonstick skillet, add the pear slices, wine, lemon juice and enough water to just cover the pear. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer until the pear is softened, about 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the pear slices to a plate.

In a large nonstick skillet, heat the EVOO, one turn of the pan, over medium heat. Add the turkey patties and cook, turning once, for 12 minutes. Top with the cheese and pear slices, tent the pan with foil and cook until the cheese is melted, 2 minutes.

Spread 1 tablespoon hot pepper jelly on each english muffin bottom; top with a patty and an English muffin top.


No-Joke Spinach-Artichoke Burgers
  • 1 pound ground chicken or turkey breast
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • A couple handfuls of freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
  • 2 cloves garlic, 1 finely chopped and 1 peeled
  • One package frozen chopped spinach (10 ounces), thawed and wrung dry in a kitchen towel
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme
  • Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), for liberal drizzling
  • 4 thick-cut slices of crusty bread
  • Four 1/2-inch thick slices of ripe beefsteak tomato
  • One can artichoke hearts in water (14 ounces), drained and thinly sliced
  • 8 thin slices provolone cheese

Pre-heat a grill, grill pan or large nonstick skillet to medium-high. If using a grill pan or skillet, pre-heat the broiler.

Place the ground chicken in a medium size bowl and season with salt and pepper. Add the lemon zest, Parmigiano Reggiano, finely chopped garlic, spinach, thyme and a drizzle of EVOO, about 2 tablespoons, and combine. Form into four patties and cook the burgers until firm and cooked through, about 6 minutes on each side.

If cooking the patties on a grill, place the bread alongside the patties, grill on both sides and remove. If using a grill pan or skillet, broil the bread on both sides until toasted. Rub the toasted bread with the remaining garlic. Place the bread on plates and top with a slice of tomato, then season the tomatoes with salt and pepper.

In the last 2 minutes of the burgers’ cooking time, divide the sliced artichokes evenly among the burgers, then cover each with two slices of provolone. If cooking on the grill, drop the lid to melt the cheese. If cooking on the stovetop, tent your grill pan or skillet with foil. Place a burger on top of each of the tomato slices and serve immediately.


The other turkey favorites in my house are hot dogs and sausages, again Applegate Farms comes to mind as the leader.  Thankfully you can get most of their products in grocery stores but you can order from their website as well.

Gobble gobble!

20 Responses to “Turkey alternatives for the picky eater”

  1. Hanna says:

    ahhh!! im a picky eater myself.. i never eat vegatabnles or fruit unless its an apple.. i really need to start but is there a way i can put tht vegatables in food that i like or food that ic could eat instead of putting it as a side?

  2. cassie says:

    I am a picky eater and unfortunatley my 4 1/2 year old son has taken after me. you can count what he eats on one hand. and trying to get him to try new things is impossible. any suggestions.

  3. Carmela says:

    My son is 7 & did the same thing so I had to make him chicken nuggets & chicken fries from tyson. So don’t feel bad I have the same issue going in my house.

  4. elin says:

    hey i am may frm malaysia. my son is the same way. picky on wht he puts in his mouth………great recipe though will try it

  5. Jill says:

    Hi, I’m Jill, and I’m a parent of a picky eater. (Is this support group named PPE?) My son was a great eater until he neared age two. Then there was a slam of the brakes and suddenly mealtimes became a battle to get him to eat anything other than fish-shaped crackers. I tried everything and in my desperation, I made him a magnetic food chart to go on our refrigerator. Suddenly he started feeling ownership in his food choices, and we were on the same team helping him fill up each color-coded food group. It worked so well for him that I took a leap and started selling them at The reason I made my own was because I wanted him to have magnets that showed a picture of the food. Plus, the colors and food group names match the USDA food pyramid. Maybe it could work for some of you, too, fellow parents of picky eaters. We need all the help we can get! Good luck!

  6. shannon says:

    my name is shannon . i am a mom of a very picky ,ten year old,eater, she picks thru everything i serve her, she refuses to eat any type of bell pepper because she thinks they are hot,she wont eat any type of squash,peas,green beans asparagus,artichokes, ect . i have tried everything from pureeing to mixing with other foods she does like and she just either refuses to eat or picks it out . what can i do to get her to eat these great-for-you-foods?

  7. Bianca says:

    I am a picky eater and ashamed of myself, I want to change my ways. I also have a 15 year old very picky eater! Help us both! LOL

  8. linda says:

    picky eater??????????????? parents create picky eaters. My kids always knew that they had to at least taste everything that was served (even down to 5 green beans for one). I think this is definitely something that parents have allowed. Believe me, after raising 5, they will eat…eventually. And they will not starve.

  9. Nicole says:

    im not a picky eater but a lot of my friends are so its hard to find a meal we both love!! Keep on trying is all i can say about picky eaters but for now im stuck with macoroni which stinks cause i love making new things for people especially from this web

  10. Tammy says:

    My family is very picky when it comes to vegetables. I have to mask them with cheese or maple syrup if its cooked carrots. I have learned to “mask” my veggies by various techniques such as: Cauliflower- boil small pieces & mash- mix in with mashed potatoes…they get an extra veggie without knowing it. I also puree veggies & add them as liquids in sauces I make. I have made eggrolls & finely chopped up veggies & put in there with the meat & cabbage. I make “green rice” with brocolli, rice, garlic, onions & cheese…sometimes I’ll also put cauliflower (finely chopped pieces) in it as well. They key is to “mask it” with the main course.

  11. Angela says:

    I need help! I have a 6yr who’s diet consist of peanut butter and cheese. He eats no animal meat, limited dairy (cheese and milk), no pasta, no rice, no vegetables, and limited fruit (apples slices (no applesauce) and red grapes). However, if it consists of 90% junk food (chips, candy, cereal, those darn gummy products), he will try anything without hesitation. Sometimes I think he has a six sense for junk food. Any need suggestions?

  12. Brenda says:

    I agree with Linda. Picky eaters are only made worse by their parents. My kids know if they don’t like the veggie served they at least have to eat 1 piece for each year old they are. My 4 year old has to eat 4 beans or 4 pieces of broccoli or carrots or whatever we are having. She has actually gotten to like more and more of the veggies. I have done this with all 4 of my kids and they have become really good eaters are the years have gone by. Never make them a seperate meal because they don’t like what is served. You only encourage the behavior!!!!

  13. Kristy says:

    My daughter will be turning 3 soon and everyone comments on how well she eats fruits and veggies, my secret to her was offering the veggie without anything else on her plate once that was gone she could have the rest, she can now have a full plata and ALWAYS eats her veggie first without me even needing to tell her. Dr. Oz said your child will take 12 times to get use to the taste of a food. Keep offering and likes others have said give them a number they have to eat and stick to it. Rachael Ray has wonderful dishes to hide the veggies even for picky adults! Eventually you as the adult will get use to them.

  14. Tamara says:

    does anybody have any recipes I can try on my 4 year old very picky eater grandson. Thanks,

  15. jess says:

    i am not a picky eater but have a 4 year old autistic child that is.he is extremly restrictive to what he will eat.does anyone have any recipes that mask friuts and vegetables so i can help balance his diet more.

  16. Carrie says:

    I think it is very irresponsable of people who have been fortunate enough to not have encountered picky eating issues to point the blame finger at the parents of a child with eating issues. I have been struggling with a picky eater since he was 15 months old (he is now almost 5). I have participated in every program available in our area and nothing has helped. I now have an occupational therapist coming to our house to our house to assist us with our son at meal time. I come to sites like these to get new ideas for meal time and to some how relate to other parents in my situation. So for the parents out there that feel they need to judge and play the blame game, consider yourself lucky that you don’t struggle everyday (at least 3 times a day) with something that you would think would just come naturally to your child and leaves you feeling like you are a failure as a parent.

  17. Lisa says:

    I have a very, very picky 7 year old..It is quite frustrating being that she is my youngest of four and the three boys eat well. She doesn’t eat veggies, fruit, bread, milk or “real” meat. The only meat she will eat is frozen or fast food nuggets or hot dogs and the only dairy she has is vanilla ice cream or gogurt. I have tried to bribe her but it just won’t work. I am more concerned about her having clogged arteries because she likes plain pasta w/ butter and romano cheese, french fries (at home I bake them) waffles and homefries. I recently tried a new recipe that I was so excited it worked!! I prepared a box of brownies as the recipe called for and I opened a can of black beans. I realized that the beans would show up in the brownies because they are grey on the inside. I decided to put the beans in the blender and made like a paste and added it to the mixture. To my surprise, She LOVED IT!! and so did the other kids. I even tested it out on some of the neighbors kids and all the parents were impressed. I also like to buy babyfood and put it in her pancakes. Although many baby foods have a taste she will not eat I have gotten away with butternut squash, pears and applesauce. One more recipe that worked..I asked her to make homemade chocolate chip muffins with me and I showed her a bag of white and chocolate chips and had her add them to the bowl. When my daughter was not looking, I diced up some green zucchini, very small and added to the mixture. When the muffins were done and she took a bite., she DID see the little pieces of zucchini and I reminded her that we put in vanilla chips and that must be what it is.. Well, once again she ate them and was very happy.. I know it is very frustrating to deal with a picky eater…But maybe together we can sneak some healthy food in there too!! Best of luck and I hope these ideas can help some of you..

  18. Jane says:

    My 10-yr old son is very picky too. He has a texture issue and cannot handle certain foods. His pediatrician says that he will eat what he wants and that he is growing fine and not to worry about it. At one point, his main source of food was toast and peanut butter; breakfast, lunch and dinner. Now, its cereal…thankfully, he likes his shredded wheat so he gets some goodness from it.

  19. mike says:

    Picky eaters are the result of parents who cave into their kids too fast. You have to make them try things about 6 times before they even know if they like it or not, otherwise it’s just a way of them controlling you. They will come around and eat if they get hungry enough, I never heard of a 3, 4, 5 year old, etc. starving themselves to death, have you? My kids were not given choices when they first started eating and we very rarely had any problems, they now love every vegetable we put in front of them and will try anything we make. Good luck and stay strong, you are the parent, they are the child.

  20. dedoughboy says:

    Thanks for sharing all your recipes. One thing I miss here in Malaysia is all the processed foods you folks in America have. Our’s are rather different and you’d never see bacon on the package label if it was real or not unless of course it was in the non-Muslim food section. I’ve tried finding this product in the Expat stores, (Tesco, etc) but it’s just not available. I’ve had to even resort to making my own style of English muffins out of desperation.

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