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Fantastic picky eater advice from Melissa d’Arabian

[The following post was written as part of my paid ambassadorship with Hidden Valley]

Melissa d'Arabian_Ten Dollar Dinners_Jan2010_1I had the chance recently to talk to Food Network star Melissa d’Arabian, and I have to say it was one of the most enjoyable interviews ever. She’s the kind of person I would love to sit down with for a meal (preferably one she cooked!)

A little background on Melissa: She rose to fame by winning season five of The Next Food Network Star, and is currently hosting Ten Dollar Dinners on the Food Network (the new season starts this Sunday!). She was always on a budget growing up, and took her cooking inspiration from all of the women in her life – especially her grandmother – who taught her how to make simple but tasty dishes.

I learned so much from Melissa, I’ve had to divide it into two posts! This one will deal with the issue of feeding picky eaters, and raising kids who like vegetables. The next post will be about cooking, including some of her favorite go-to foods for busy moms.

The first question I always ask any foodie person I interview is what to do about picky kids. It’s become routine because I have a very picky eater in my family (my son) and would love a magic bullet to help him out. But the answers I get are never all that satisfactory. I have to laugh every time a certain perky daytime TV hostess says something like “Use wheat pasta – your kids will never know!” Have these cooks ever actually dealt with a picky child?

Melissa, though, had actual, concrete advice that she’s tested out in her own home. She has four daughters (aged seven, six, and five-year-old twins!), and as she put it, “The numbers are against me that all of them will eat everything. I’m their leader on their journey of life for everything, including school, body image, and food. But they’re also their own people, and I want to teach them that their opinions count, and they’re allowed to have feedback on food.”

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